The West simply doesn’t understand what’s going on in these countries, she says. And it’s been wrong about the Arab Spring movement all along.
“Libya, a country from where I reported for the Standard at the beginning of the Arab Spring, is certainly almost as dangerous now as it was under Colonel Gaddafi. Rival gangs patrol the streets, settling scores with machine guns and rocket launchers, while democratically minded groups including feminists are forced out of the country,” Ramdani writes. “Islamists have won elections in Tunisia — provoking further accusations that a corrupt, pro-West regime has merely been replaced by a religious dictatorship that does not reflect the views of ordinary people.”
But those are the views of the ordinary people — they elected the religious extremist parties.
Our mistake was believing that people will always choose freedom. They won’t.
British philosopher John Gray, writing for the BBC in August, explained this dangerous delusion.
“Not long after the start of the 21st Century, we like to tell ourselves an uplifting story in which freedom expands whenever tyranny is overthrown,” he wrote. “We believe that freedom and democracy are inseparable, so that when a dictator is toppled the result is not only a more accountable type of government but also greater liberty throughout society.”
But not so long ago, philosophers knew better.
And that’s what we’re seeing happen now.
“The reality is that when a tyrant is toppled we can’t know what will come next,” he says.
Hence the Arab Spring, which has been so badly misread.
“The simplistic view of so many people in the West is that ‘good’ Arabs were fighting ‘bad’ Arabs at the start of the revolutions in 2011, and that a victory for the forces of decency would instantly usher in peace, stability and economic success,” Ramdani writes.
The truth is far more complicated — and the future is unknowable.