Den Tandt: Canada should tread cautiously in murky waters of Arab  world

By Michael Den Tandt, Postmedia  NewsNovember 27, 2011

You’d think, at this combustible stage of the so-called democratic  transformation of the Arab world, that Canadian policy-makers would be less  prone to wishful thinking, and triumphalism.

What part of this country’s recent experience of democracy-building in a  religiously ultraconservative nation with no tradition of pluralism, does our  political establishment not grasp?

At the risk of sounding cynical, what evidence is there to suggest that  Egypt, Libya and Syria will turn out differently and better than Afghanistan?  And why should anyone believe that populist democracy across the Arab world will  not simply give free rein to the anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Western  sentiment that has been bubbling away at a slow boil since the 2003 U.S.  invasion of Iraq, and before?

It was U.S. president George W. Bush who boldly trumpeted the notion that, if  a single democracy should bloom in the Arab world, the entire region would soon  follow. Bush most clearly articulated this idea in a speech to the World  Economic Forum at Sharm el Sheikh, in Egypt, in May of 2008. The then-president  unabashedly tut-tutted his Egyptian and other Arab hosts for their failings,  then asserted that democracy was inevitable and they should get aboard.

“Democracy does not threaten Islam or any religion, Bush proclaimed. “Democracy is the only system of government that guarantees their  protection.”

Then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was in the audience that day, must  have thought Bush had gone mad. Mubarak had made a science for three decades of  repressing both Arab populism and Islamist nationalism, in the service of an  international order founded on detente with Israel and secure U.S. access to  Middle Eastern crude.

Egypt’s elections were to begin Monday. But the mass protests in Tahrir  Square could lead anywhere now. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice  party is on the ascendant. An Islamist autocracy of some sort is certainly  possible. Indeed, the brutal repression of Egyptian Coptic Christians since last  spring suggests such a regime is already taking shape.

The truth is that Western policymakers don’t have a clue where these  revolutions are headed, and won’t for years still to come.

Anthony Cordesman, a scholar at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and  International Studies — and who famously predicted in early 2003 that Iraq would  be a quagmire — says it is simply too early to make informed predictions about  the direction or outcome of the Arab Spring.

He notes that those in charge two years into a revolution are hardly ever the  ones who launch it.

He further points out that the Middle Eastern and North African region has  deep-seated economic and demographic problems that can’t be solved by revolution — the most important of which is a skyrocketing youth unemployment rate. “You  don’t have experienced political parties or people who have any experience with  sharing power or giving it up,” he adds. “You’ve buried as in Iraq and  Afghanistan, long-standing sectarian differences. You can’t change whole sectors  of the economy, or the education system, in a way that meets expectations.”

This is not to say Canada should adopt isolation. But caution seems sensible.  The Harper government has already committed $10 million to Libyan mine-clearing  and an additional $10.6-million in humanitarian assistance. Additionally,  according to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s office, the government is “actively exploring further options aimed at helping the Libyan people rebuild  their country.” The Opposition NDP suggests that development experience hard-won  in Afghanistan should be redeployed in Libya now. The Liberals are equally  enthusiastic about getting more deeply involved.

But perhaps, rather than leap to the aid of the Libyan people as they set  about building a Sharia law-infused democracy, Canada should bide its time. And  arguably, the government from here on should impose strict, transparent and  uncompromising conditions on any aid given.

If women and girls are not treated as equal citizens, and if religious  freedoms for Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and others are not  protected, then what business does Ottawa have spending Canadians’ tax dollars  in Libya?

NATO’s Libyan air campaign was a success. The lunatic dictator Gadhafi is  gone. That’s wonderful. Libya is free. Tunisia is free. Egypt is working on it.  And Syria looks to be heading inexorably down the same revolutionary path. But  it is foolish to assume that any of this is in the West or Canada’s immediate  national interest. Or that the near-term outlook is something anyone can  predict, influence or control.

Until the outlook is less murky, the watchword on the Arab Spring should be  caveat emptor: Buyer beware.

© Copyright (c) Postmedia  News

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  1. HOW TRUE THIS COMMENT IS: If women and girls are not treated as equal citizens, and if religious freedoms for Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and others are not protected, then what business does Ottawa have spending Canadians’ tax dollars in Libya? Or for that matter ANY ISLAMIC COUNTRY. Syria want are help but after they will want us out and start making Christians suffer there. You can never win with these kind of SICK BRAINS. The best thing to do with these SAVAGES is to let them kill each other. This will keep them occupied as well as not to bother us as they are just doing the work of their follower Muhammad and satanic allah.

    • I would love to see the entire West out of the Middle East, yes…Just let them cull their own herds there..They love killing, maiming, destroying..Eventually between the inbreeding and bombing they’ll completely self destruct..

  2. Ah, the LIES of the West is played to the fullest in this rotten, deceitful account by Satan’s minion Anthony Cordesman.

    Gaddafi fought Al-Q terrorists , with honour. He shared Libya’s wealth with his people. His bodyguards were all women. Libyan women were not compelled to wear the hijab. And this does not suit the West.

    The UGLY fact is BANKRUPT Washington ran NATO’s imperial war against Libya to colonise, occupy and plunder another vassal state. Democracy and humanitarian considerations are non-starters. Only wealth and power matters. The West is BANKRUPT, period! Europe suffers 24 million unemployed, and the figure is rising. America depends on China to give daily hand-outs to function for 24 hours. Filthy, Evil Britain with its 500 years insatiable greed now plunders Libya’s gold to save its sorry lost empire of parasites.

    The TRUTH: Peaceful nonbelligerent Libya was ravaged, raped, and devastated. Many thousands became homeless refugees.

    “16 Things Libya Will Never See Under NATO-Rebel Regime,” listing benefits Gaddafi provided, including:

    government-supplied electricity, water, and practically free gasoline;

    interest-free loans from Libya’s state-owned bank;

    housing as a human right for everyone;

    newlyweds given $50,000 for their first apartment to help start family life;

    free education and healthcare;

    literacy raised from 25% in 1969 to 83% – higher than in America;

    farmers given free land, equipment, seeds and livestock;

    state subsidies to study abroad and receive specialized medical treatment if not available at home;

    half the cost of new car purchases;

    gasoline at $0.14 per liter;

    no state debt or banker occupation;

    average professional salaries paid graduates unable to find employment in their fields until finding jobs;

    sharing a portion of Libya’s oil wealth with everyone, credited to personal bank accounts;

    mothers giving birth given $5,000;

    subsidized food, including 40 loaves of bread for $0.15;

    one-fourth of Libyans are college graduates; and

    –Gaddafi’s Great Man-Made River system made the desert bloom to supply water to households and for agriculture.

    CURSES on US & NATO, it’s all gone. Libyans lost everything, many of them their lives, other lost loved ones. Your time will come filthy West. As you did to Libya, so it will be done to you.

    Now, refute that. Let’s have a debate. Facts for facts. No polemics. No lies. America and Britain were sleeping with Gaddafi luring him to LIES . And the wily fox fell for the West’s (as usual) LIES. Unlike N. Korea. Savvy?

    BUT, the West is paying for its crimes. Soon, your cities will be burning, and riots will be the norm. The muslims will slit your throats. Your enemies will bomb your cities. And I hope you filthy vermin will have the same pleasure and enjoyment when you pick up the dismembered bodies of your kith and kin, and your city reduced to rubble.

    No, God will not have mercy on you savages. The West knows NO Shame! But then, Satan’s people never do!!

  3. Get out while the getting is good.

    Well, 6 million Americans have FLED the Marxist USA. And now the wealthy are too. They see riots, anarchy, death coming, and their cities reduced to rubble.

    Hollywood film director James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic, Terminator) is moving to New Zealand so that he is better able to weather the massive monetary upheaval that is upcoming or he is escaping U.S. taxes and regulations. He’s approved to purchase 2000 acres of prime N.Z. agriculture land.
    John Malone, chairman of the board of Liberty Media with a personal net worth of $4.5 billion, reported that he had purchased a significant piece of property along the Quebec border,
    Malone: Well, my wife, who is very concerned about these things, moved all her personal cash to Australia and Canada. She wants to have a place to go if things blow up here…

    The number disgusted with how America treats its successful citizens continues to grow. As Bugnion of ACA notes, “It is a sad outcome, but I personally feel that we are now seeing only the tip of the iceberg.”

    As it is, we find Americans practically everywhere out here.
    Whatever happened to America’s BULLSHIT of ‘democracy’ ‘human rights’ rammed down the throats of nations?

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