I have been bad tempered all day. It’s because I had the misfortune to listen to Tony Blair on Egypt – sticking very much to the line that Mubarak is our bastard, who has delivered “stability” to the Middle East and we should be wary of any attempts to remove him. So much, so predictable. What was infuriating though was not just that this man had launched an illegal war against Iraq in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there. If the beneficiaries of the Egypt revolution turn out to be the Muslim Brotherhood, then we only have ourselves, or Tony, to blame. What is happening in the Middle East is the Muslim equivalent of the revolutions that overthrew communism in Eastern Europe twenty years ago. The movement is overwhelmingly peaceful, broadly based and determined to introduce democracy to countries that has lived under dictatorship for decades. What right do we have as outsiders to try now to dictate the course of the revolution?
But the truly maddening thing is that the West could have been the passive agents of freedom in North Africa, just as in Europe in the 1990s, and could have played a significant constructive role in helping countries like Egypt move into the democratic age. But because of Iraq, we have no credibility in the region whatsoever. Hardly surprising. If Bush and Blair had just let the Middle East alone, instead of using military force to impose US democracy, we would probably be seeing secular liberal democracy established in countries like Egypt through force of opposition by the people.
Thanks to the stupidity of the Iraq war, as brought to your screens by Tony Blair et al, we in the West have opted out of history. We behaved so badly that we even made the dictators look reasonable by comparison. And now, of course, we are bigging up Mubarak as if he were a noble statesman and democrat, which he isn’t. He is a tyrant and torturer. The people in Tahrir don’t trust us, and who can blame them.