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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18 Responses to “Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism?”

  1. Ben Lyons

    RT @leftfootfwd: Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism? http://bit.ly/f4YhXE by @DanielFurrUK

  2. Daniel Furr

    RT @leftfootfwd: Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism? http://bit.ly/f4YhXE by @DanielFurrUK

  3. Protestwatch.org.uk

    #Protest Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism?: A dictator has fallen in Egypt, people power … http://bit.ly/fCb5xv #Egypt

  4. Alex Hern

    I’m not sure how you can class Egypt as a vindication for liberal interventionism when there was conspicuously no intervention. You seem to be basing it on two things; a veiled threat of intervention if Mubarak refused to go, and the ‘lesson from Iraq’.
    I’m not so sure that there was that veiled threat; the leaders in the west were embarrassingly quiet on everything except general support for the protests, and as their lack of reaction to crackdowns on other protests in the region has showed, that was only so much hot air.
    As for the lesson from Iraq, I think that the only thing we’ve learnt is to stay well away from using force to achieve propagandistic aims.
    Egypt isn’t a vindication for liberal interventionism, its a nail in its coffin. A nation has shown the West that the best possible result is achievable only if we stay the hell away.

  5. liberalideals

    Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism?: Ironically, both Mr Cameron and Mr Obama found liberal interv… http://bit.ly/enzkpg

  6. liberalideals

    Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism?: Even though my loyalties are to the Liberal Democrats (who th… http://bit.ly/dSUnrS

  7. Robert

    But lets see in a years time if we have a better or worse government, lets see the freedom women will have, no good going from one despot government to another.

  8. Daniel Furr

    Robert, you are correct. Let us hope this does not pan out like the French revolution, when the new administration becoming far more draconian.

  9. Ash

    Huh? How on earth does the success of ‘people power’ plus international diplomatic pressure in toppling dictators in the Middle East vindicate a policy of military intervention in the region? If anything, the uncomfortable implication of recent events for the Bush/Blair camp is that Saddam could in fact have been removed without military force. To conflate the military interventionism of Bush and Blair over Iraq with the diplomatic interventionism of Obama and Cameron over Eqypt just seems absurd (even if both forms of interventionism can be seen as ‘liberal’ in some sense).

    And if LFF are going to publish articles by ‘freelance writers’ of this calibre, they really should be employing a subeditor. “The actions of the Tunisian public – what seemed an innocent event”? “One has never been afraid, to state publicly, that one supported the liberation of Iraq”? “I always admired liberal interventionism and the merits behind it”? “influence from Washington and, to an extent, London self imposed a system of choice upon the citizen”? “If the people desired for change”?

  10. Blair at the Iraq Inquiry. A Chilcot nod, a Freedman smile. Why? « Tony Blair

    […] 2. Just to prove that all is not lost from within the ranks of the presently lost historically liberally caring Left read this from Daniel Furr. Mr Furr is, wait for it, a Liberal Democrat -“Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism?” […]

  11. Joe

    Er, Robert… why don’t you try having a word with Egyptians and other Arabs involved in these revolutions about what they think of ‘liberal interventionism’ and Blair and Bush?

  12. kyle smith

    Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism? | Left Foot Forward: Egypt: A vindication for liberal interven… http://bit.ly/gt7lrO

  13. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @leftfootfwd: Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism? http://bit.ly/fbVNjz

  14. Mark Stevo

    Robert hits the nail on the head, the hard work starts now.

  15. David Mullen

    You are wrong on a number of levels Firstly, Saddam Hussein was not the main reactionary leader he was just a useful idiot who outlived his usefulness.Secondly Blair was just as much a reactionary as Saddam Hussein only with Saddam Hussein you knew where you stood.Thirdly you also assume that liberal democracy aka capitalism is a force for the good However in the so called liberal democracies where the a handful of rich and powerful individuals have tainted the political system. I don’t imagine that the protestors in the middle east want to buy into that system as it is the same system that props up the dictators they overthrew.

  16. The Middle East protests are NOT a vindication for liberal interventionism… « My Political Ramblings

    […] Daniel Furr writing over at Left Foot Forward, believes the Middle East protests are actually a victory for […]

  17. Egypt – a new dawn or a sunset on religious freedom? | Left Foot Forward

    […] Egypt: A vindication for liberal interventionism? – Daniel Furr, February 19th […]

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