WHAT IS THE WAY TO SELF DETERMINATION ?
THE "RIGHT" TO INTERFERE
Some time ago, I wrote a Hub reflecting upon the way in which the "Arab Spring" of 2011 seemed to have lost its way in Egypt. Egypt is of special interest to us as we own an apartment in Hurghada on the Red Sea. The Red Sea area, together with Luxor and the River Nile account for 15% of the GNP of the country. As a result, the civil uprisings in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said etc have not been seen in the Tourist attracting zones. Even so, Tourists, with a whole world to choose from, are exercising their right to exclude Egypt from their plans. An Egyptian source advised me only last week that Tourists in Hurghada were down by 75 to 85% on levels pre- uprising. Regardless of opinion on the Mubarak regime, ousted by the actions, the current results cannot, at least in the short term, be said to have benefited the Egyptian people across the board. In fact the opposite is true.
Personally, I know nothing of Tunisia or Libya who were also key countries in the Middle East/North Africa, affected by similar activities in 2011. Now in Tunisia and Egypt, the Western powers restricted their actions to political statements but in the case of Libya, the "right to interfere" with military force was invoked. Cynics point out that Libya, like Iraq before was and is an oil rich country and that that alone was the real reason for intervention by the big guns. Others take the liberating view that the reason was to free the peoples of those countries from harsh and despotic leaders and regimes.
There does seem to be a double moral standard developed by the West, almost without people being aware or sanctioning this so called right to involve others in the internal affairs of other countries. Examples which cause concern on these grounds are numerous but for example, can anyone decipher why if action was taken against Iraq and Libya, that Zimbabwe, Somalia and others are not so treated. The cynic again says that it is because those countries lack the sort of wealth in the other two examples and that as a fact cannot be denied, though whether it is the reason or not is conjectural.
Be all that as it may, the dilemma surfaced strongly last week in Libya where the very people, the West helped overthrow the Gaddafi regime were involved in desecrating the war graves of British soldiers who were instrumental in World War Two, in keeping those countries from the clutches of the Hitler War Machine that was then, if not at all now, Germany. These graves were in Benghazi and had some special significance to me as my father was stationed there for part of the war. Happily he survived, but colleagues of his there did not and it rankles that the very people we, the West, recently assisted in their internal struggle were so easily persuaded to behave as they did.
This incident is but one factor to throw into clear relief, the so called right to interfere. The lot of the ordinary person in the countries supposedly liberated by the Arab Spring appears to have advanced not one jot because of the actions taken, with or without Western intervention and assistance. Thus, hard though it is to swallow, at some point, someone has to ponder if both Iraq and Libya both then under despicable regimes were actually better off than where we have now put them. The terrible events from Syria produce much hand wringing but no United Nation action as Russia and China use the veto. Absolutely disgraceful ! Or is it. Consider for a moment if the Russians and Chinese have looked at History and determined that internal affairs are just that, namely internal. Perhaps, however horrible it is, it is time for the West to accept that the world is a place peopled by many disparate views and ways of life and that it is not for one to impose by might as opposed to persuasion, on others. In other words, let us consider for a moment that we in the West may not have all the answers on everything.
Now I am aware that the question posed above will meet with total dismissal by some and I understand why that will be. However, last week in the UK we also received news that by 2030, Christians will be in the minority. I regard that as significant for History teaches me that most conflicts arise from two things. Firstly, greedy and megalomaniacal leadership and secondly, Religion. The events in Libya last week, as were others elsewhere, resulted from the crass burning of the Koran by stupid or misguided Western soldiers. In the West we do not seem to appreciate and thus respect, the importance of the Koran as a symbol to Muslims, nor do we understand the importance they place on their National Flag. These are two symbols of the intertwining of the higher authority and the state, and is not generally equalled in the Western world.
The Muslim religion is essentially a peaceful Religion, but we have ample evidence of how Religious fervour can be used by the unscrupulous to whip up fierce demonstrations and hatred. Essentially, this is the ultimate danger for us all. The West would do well to tread extremely carefully in the future in the affairs of other countries, especially in Muslim countries where the opportunity for zealots to spark off ever increasing activities is readily available and which can easily spread outside those countries and into the very heart of the West. In the UK,we may recognise a rabble rouser but are powerless to deport him legally. This does not augur well for 2030 and beyond. It therefore seems pretty sensible to me for the West to cease trying to act as the World"s Police Force and instead, plough the resources thus saved, into more productive and persuasive activities for the longer term and bigger picture . The alternative is more and worse of the same, for as we all know, if things do not alter they will stay the same.