Egypt: Why it is too early to be optimistic

Posted on Updated on

Friday, February 4, 2011 – A Word on the National Interest by Benjamin Ra

PARIS — February 3, 2011 – Shock waves are being felt throughout the Middle East as the troubles which began in Egypt and Tunisia have spread as far as Jordan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

Are we witnessing the democratic revival of the region? The New York Times believes so. David Brooks believes it to be “a great time to be alive… the world will be far safer when more of the world is normal, meaning mostly open and democratic.”

Anti-government protestors react in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011. (Photo: Associated Press)

Such outright optimism from a sophisticated observer shows the extent to which the current conflagration in the Middle East has taken a hold on the imagination of Americans.

Is Brooks correct? I sure hope so, but let us not forget the wise words of Alexis de Tocqueville – that in a revolution, as in a novel, the hardest part to invent is the end.

Rebellions and riots are not unique to the democratic age. They have occurred throughout history wherever tyrants and oppressors have underestimated the patience of the people they rule. Starting a revolution is the easy part.

Let us therefore observe these events from afar and judge them according to their merits. Are the revolutionaries living up to their standards? What are their standards? Are they hungry for freedom? If so, are they just as hungry for the rule of law, without which freedom degenerates into anarchy?

None of these questions have yet been answered and until they are, it is wiser to hold one’s tongue. I for one am inclined toward pessimism.

Brooks writes, “If we have to go through a period of turmoil to get there, it is more than worth it.” I will excuse his use of the word “we” – as if he is identifying himself, unconsciously and wrongly, with the protestors and their spirit. I find it difficult, however, to excuse his blasé attitude toward turmoil when we have yet to see how great that turmoil will be.

Read more:

Egypt: Why it is too early to be optimistic | Washington Times Communities.


One thought on “Egypt: Why it is too early to be optimistic

    Egypt: Machiavelli’s advice « Don’t Tread On Me said:
    February 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    […] Egypt: Why it is too early to be optimistic ( […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s