Sunday, March 18, 2012

The "Arab Spring" and Foreign Policy

This past week there was debate in the Polytechnic Society on the “Arab Spring” and the future of the Arab world and Norwegian Middle East policy.

There was a panel consisting of the Secretary General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and a Norwegian under secretary of foreign affairs.

Video recordings are available (in Norwegian).

Yours truly was there and had the floor at two occasions. At the first occasion the questions were:

  • what parallels there are between the “Arab Spring” and Wilson's “war to make the world safe for democracy”
  • what reflections one could have on no monarchies thus far having fallen during the “Arab Spring”
There was apparently no other learning point from Wilson's war other than to be wary with imposing government systems from outside.

Given that there was so much talk of democracy apparently being the only way into the future, albeit not with without problems, including problems with minority rights, at this debate, and there had been some talk of Qatar, my follow-up question was:
Is it given that if Qatar were to be transformed from an emirate to a democratic republic, it will become a better society?
The answer was somewhat predictable:
Any society that goes from being authoritarian to democratic becomes a better society.
Talk about being categorical! Aparently, no matter how bad democracy turns out, democracy is better. Not surprising, but it is somewhat satisfying to provoke democratists into saying so explicitly.

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