The series of rebellions that swept across the Middle East in 2011 and were given the name “The Arab Spring” are still going on today. Like the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the USA, these revolts were largely spontaneous protests among people who feel marginalized by governments that are unresponsive to their plight.
Nowhere in the world is the gulf between rulers and those they rule as great as it is in the Middle East. For example, Iran has immense oil wealth, but 40% of its population lives in poverty.
As Americans, there is a popular myth that we can control the world and bend every nation to our will. It is a myth and a dangerous one. As you watch these revolutions continue to unfold, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
First, we can’t control what kinds of governments arise from these revolutions. For decades the U.S. supported oppressive, largely secular regimes across the Middle East.
During the 1980s men in the Reagan administration, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, sold
weapons to Saddam Hussein before those same men declared him to be a threat in the early 2000s. One of
the reasons that Iran is so hostile to the U.S. today is that for decades we supported the cruel dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi.
For the past 30 years we have supported authoritarian governments in Egypt, Tunisia, and the
Persian Gulf. It is only logical that these countries that are majority Muslim will attempt to create governments that reflect their religious beliefs. It is also natural to expect that these liberated nations may not view us as friends.
Second, they may all threaten Israel because a hatred of the Jewish state is how many Middle Eastern
nations unite their people. When the violence in Syria began, the government drove protesters to the Syrian-Israeli border and had them attempt to cross it.
The purpose of this wasn’t to threaten Israel with an invasion of 30 unarmed men, but to force Israel to
shoot these men so the Syrian government could use it as a propaganda tool to stop the protests. It didn’t work.
Thirdly, as Christians we should also be upset that our nation doesn’t hesitate to send troops to countries that have oil such as Iraq, Kuwait, and Libya, but sits on its hands when oil poor countries like Syria descend into chaos.
In Iraq we removed a dictator at the loss of 4,484 soldiers and over $1 trillion. Meanwhile in Libya the U.S. helped remove a much bigger threat at the cost of no U.S. lives and roughly $1 billion.
We saw the Libyan people rise up and we supported them instead of inventing a reason to have a war. We should use this new model of President Obama’s as a way to help the Syrian people to be free.
What the Arab Spring teaches us is that Americans should value our rights such as the ability to protest.
Most importantly, we should support people who attempt to create free democratic nations, even if we are
not thrilled with the results.