Poll Finds a Majority of Americans Support Democracy in Muslim World Only If It Advances U.S. Interests *updated*
So, democracy is good enough for us, but not so good for those pesky Arabs! I wonder if people realize that adding a condition that democracy in other countries always result in elected governments that advance U.S. interests, isn’t really true democracy?
I’d respectfully suggest that I think this is a result of a lot of the recent fear-mongering about a take-over by the Muslim Brotherhood, self-obsessed media and pundit commentary, hand-wringing over Israel, faulty comparisons to 1979 Iran, Islamaphobia, Fox News spreading misinformation if not outright lies (it’s an attempt to install an evil global Caliphate!) and basically our own entrenched double standards regarding people we deem worthy of the same rights and aspirations we currently enjoy. The fact that our government seems to be unsure of what it wants isn’t really helping either.
Maybe if the media, pundits and commentators spent a little more time actually listening to what the protesters were advocating rather than projecting their own fears and concerns onto them [the protesters] we’d be less afraid. Despite the fact that the protests have been about economic justice, ending corruption, freedom of speech, freedom from torture and false imprisonment and the right to have a say in how they are governed, the U.S. (and Israel) have largely been assuming that some evil purpose lurks underneath these understandable, legitimate aspirations. We don’t seem to be able to look past our own fears and our need to try to control every aspect of the Middle East despite the fact that we would be outraged if some other country tried to do the same to us.
I found this over at Haaretz:
A majority of Americans believe the United States should be cautious about backing democracy in the Middle East because elections could lead to anti-U.S. Islamist governments, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday said.
As an uprising to end Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule filled the streets of Cairo for a third week, the poll found most Americans are wary of efforts to spread democracy in the region.
A solid majority, 58 percent, backed a cautious approach because democracy could result in the election of Islamist governments that do not back U.S. interests. About one-third, 32 percent, said the United States should always support democracy in the Middle East, regardless of the risks.
The findings underscore the dilemma facing U.S. President Barack Obama as he searches for a response to the protests in Egypt, a longtime U.S. ally that was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
U.S. officials are concerned more instability could give rise to an Islamist government in the world’s largest Arab country, which controls the Suez Canal and the Suez-Mediterranean oil pipeline, both important energy conduits for the West.
They also worry about the impact of the unrest on other Arab allies and on Israel, where officials fear a successor government in Egypt may follow a radical Islamist line.
The United States has been cool to participation in a new government by the banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most influential Islamist group and an ally of the Palestinian Hamas movement, which both the United States and the European Union regard as a terrorist organization.
“Yes, we’re interested in these issues, yes we think it’s important that people speak out and attempt to control their own destiny,” she said. “But when we look a little more closely we see this caveat, where Americans support it only as long as it does not impact negatively on Americans.”
Can you imagine if other countries proclaimed they only supported democracy in the United States so long as they approved of who we elected and depending on whether it advanced their interests?
UPDATE: I just came across this over at Salon. It’s a Gallup poll which shows that a majority of Americans are “sympathetic” with/to the Egyptian protesters. The two polls are interesting in that they ask very different questions so this poll doesn’t necessarily negate the findings of the one above, but it’s worth mentioning.