A disturbing ambivalence is evident in some reactions to the popular uprisings in the Middle East. The Australian’s editorial “A balancing act for the West” (21/2) advocates unqualified support for rebellion against autocrats unfriendly to the West, but something less for the opponents of dictators convenient to us.
Their correspondent Greg Sheridan (“Revolts threaten to shake the world”, 19/2) even goes so far as to apologise for tyrants who nonetheless have “sophisticated methods of consulting their populations”, suggesting this is good enough for countries where real democratisation may result in a situation less manageable for the West, primarily meaning control of oil and security for Israel.
This equivocation is rationalised here and there as a paternalistic doubt over the readiness of the countries in question for democracy, a concern strangely absent in the case of West-unfriendly regimes.
Anything less than full support for democracy movements anywhere in the world makes hypocrites and liars of those who withhold it while supporting the wars that are now being waged ostensibly for the same goal.