On Monday October 22, The Huffington Post published an article that posed a very important question concerning the future of U.S. foreign policy. The question that was posited asked whether U.S. voters believe that the pro-democracy uprisings during the so-called Arab Spring are good or bad. More specifically, a recent study from the Pew Research Center asked respondents if they believed such uprisings would be good for the civilians involved, good for the U.S., and whether democracy in these nations is generally more important than a guarantee of stability.
As the last Presidential debate is only hours away, there has been a flood of predictions about how the foreign policy-centered debate will go. This flood of media speculation would be occurring anyway, but it is exacerbated by the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya as well as the bizarre exchange in the last Presidential debate, when President Obama avoided having to explain the security breach and subsequent intelligence mistakes because of a semantic misstep by Romney.
There is only one political ramificationÂ—if the Pew poll is accurateÂ—and that is more people are skeptical or firmly against President Obama’s support for these democratic uprisings. It would be hard to imagine that Pew’s findings could be interpreted in any other way, politically. The bigger issue, however, is unless the increased skepticism is a result of the public’s feelings toward President Obama, there are increasing numbers of American citizens who are simply unconvinced that freedom and democracy is the best way forward for nations in the Middle East.
While there are sound and logical arguments to be made against specific U.S. policy from every point on the political spectrum, the Pew study found “a majority of Americans (54 percent) continue to say it is more important to have stable governments in the Middle East, even if there is less democracy in the region.” It is hard to tell if this is the case because respondents feel it progresses U.S. interests, or if it is because they believe that democracy will only provoke more sectarian violence.
Regardless of why they answered the way they did, it is puzzling and shortsighted. What many have seen during the Arab Spring is that a stable nation that lacks freedom and democracy is essentially a future unstable nation. Modern history also proves that this question is misleading, because it implies that democracy works on a spectrum. There are many forms of democracy, and it could be argued that some implement the democratic ideals most effectively, but democratic nations share certain fundamental attributes like checks and balances on power. If a nation allows citizens to vote on many things, but the leaders have access to unimpeded power, media control, and the might of the military at their command, that nation is not a partial democracy or simply less democratic than others. That nation would be considered to have a dictator.
If people are not free and do not posses the ability to have a voice in creating the nation they are a citizen of, revolt and chaos will be the ultimate result. Other events can cause chaos, but tyrants and oppression will inevitably lead to chaos.