Just how many of the people protesting in the Arab world are who we want them to be? And by we I mean most of us in the west. I don’t know. Certainly it is hard not to admire them as they dodged bullets in Tripoli and now sit and wait outside that city for Ghadafi to attack or how they resisted in Tahrir Square. It is reassuring to see that the Egyptian constitution has been changed already to preclude any president serving more than two terms. Like that a lot. If we hear more about having different branches of any new government structure creating a set of checks and balances against the consolidation of power we may be on our way. It is hard to not get too excited. However, there are issues. Some provisos include opinion polls in these states which in the past regularly showed that they are, let’s say, traditional (to the point of not even being modern in the 1920’s sense) regarding the role of religion in the society or rights for women or gays. The word freedom is being used a lot. Especially by protesters interviewed by western media outlets. But as Edmund Burke said in regard to the French Revolution, and I am paraphrasing here: Let us wait and see what they do with their new found freedom before we celebrate too much. I would consider myself in that category, hopeful but willing to wait and see.
There are those who argue that access to information and the technology around it is creating a leveling process. Again, I am not sure. The whole Army of Davids idea. The long term power of this new reality may not be discernible as yet. Iranian government repression was successful and Mugabe is still in power. Maybe it is just a matter of time. I am more convinced by the historical examples of amoral men surrounded by family, tribesmen or true believers crushing popular movements. Tweeting the mullahs out of power seems like a fantasy.