Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism?

Liberal Democrat blogger Daniel Furr looks at whether the Blair/Bush doctrine of liberal interventionism has been vindicated by the revolutions sweeping the Middle East.

Following the amazing events in Egypt and Tunisia since the turn of the year, the whole Middle East has witnessed unprecedented scenes – with protesters prepared to die for freedom:

In Libya the death toll from protests against the despotic regime of Colonel Gadaffi has risen to 84; in Bahrain, four protesters were killed on Thursday and at least 50 wounded on Friday; in Yemen, at least five people have been killed; in Iran, a student was killed on Monday; and there have been widespread clashes in Jordan

Liberal Democrat blogger Daniel Furr looks at whether the Blair/Bush doctrine of liberal interventionism has been vindicated by the aforementioned revolutions


A dictator has fallen in Egypt, people power has proven to be irresistible across the Arab world. The actions of the Tunisian public – what seemed an innocent event – have created a machine of liberty and freedom, inspiring many to revolt and protest against the state. The international community refused to ignore the aspirations and have shown solidarity with the Arab people.

President Obama, the most vocal, applied crippling pressure to Hosni Mubarak to stand down and release his dictatorial power over Egypt. The British government played its part, threatening to downgrade diplomatic ties – if Mubarak refused to abdicate the Office of President. Ironically, both Mr Cameron and Mr Obama found liberal interventionism to be execrable and incompatible, yet these two Western leaders unconsciously embraced the Bush and Blair doctrine.

One has never been afraid, to state publicly, that one supported the liberation of Iraq. Even though my loyalties are to the Liberal Democrats (who think the war was illegal) I always admired liberal interventionism and the merits behind it. This blog has also stated its opposition to the war, describing it as:

“…the most regressive policy of the [last] decade… the policy is, in the view of Left Foot Forward, the worst of the decade.”

However, I feel that the international community should not downgrade the desire for freedom, just to appease dictators and authoritarian regimes. If the people desired for change, we had a moral right to ensure that change came about. I was not, however, morally blinded and ignorant towards the aftermath of Iraq – it was truly shocking.

The Iraqi people were denied an opportunity to shape their own country, a truly organic and rich natural construction of civilian government. Sadly, influence from Washington and, to an extent, London self imposed a system of choice upon the citizen.

Secondly, Washington was too quick to seek an international solution immediately by introducing sanctions and issuing threats of military action. The outcome was already predetermined and was only a matter of time before the invasion. However, regarding Egypt, the new American administration have been rather patient and allowing the people to be the main driving force for change.

The international community would only intervene if Mubarak refused to go, or the military turned to belligerent actions to deal with the protesters. In other words, we have finally seen the true development of the manifesto laid out in Mr Blair’s infamous Chicago speech. We are, finally, starting to advocate liberal democracy and encouraging support towards those who oppose overt totalitarian and hostile regimes. What Mr Blair always envisaged.

Mr Blair himself believed the removal of Saddam would become a catalyst, a beacon, to encourage the spread of democracy across the Middle East. Once the main reactionary in the region was removed, then other authoritarian regimes would either fall or resort to democratic reforms. Even though we are heading for the seventh anniversary of the Iraq war, I believe we are being vindicated by the revolution in Egypt and the lesson from Iraq helped us to advocate intervention on a more pragmatic and realistic option – people power was the main ingredient. Not foreign military.

Democracy is the greatest form of government man has truly devised and a unique gift that all of humanity should experience. The neoconservative hawks of the previous Bush administration did, grotesquely, hijack the merits of Mr Blair’s Chicago speech but the former prime minister’s vision has been taken up by the people of Egypt.

If the people cried out for democracy, then we should hear their calls and give them a voice within the international community; then using diplomatic means and international institutions, we should protect their aspiration and apply pressure to bring about the goals, which the revolution aspires for.

That is true liberal interventionism and how Egypt brought down a dictator.

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