Earlier this week, President Obama addressed the United States in regard to the shooting that took place in Arizona last weekend. While slightly jaded at the Presidents’ responses recently to events around the world I tried to listen with an open mind. As he eulogized the young girl who lost her life, tears came to my eyes for the children around the world killed senselessly simply for being caught in the middle of adult conflicts.
The President stated “We should do everything to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.” I would say we should do everything to make sure this world lives up to our children’s expectations. It is with a heavy heart I have to confess my country has failed me in this. Once an optimistic, world-loving, aspiring politician, a few years of life in Washington DC and frustration over hypocrisy has left me hardened. In recent weeks I began to see news of the strikes in Tunisia popping up in my Twitter feed. Little by little the pieces of the story came out and I scoured American news sources for coverage. Only to find none.
Now as Tunisians have finally ousted their President/dictator sources are picking up the story. The New York Times, Foreign Policy and NPR, especially their online reporters, were consistently active in the scene. With the departure of Ben Ali, the traditional evening news dedicated a few minutes to discuss the story. I question why the mainstream media and US government remained largely silent for so long. Secretary Clinton went so far as to say we won’t choose sides. When the Iran protests began after their most recent election every major media source was in Tehran and Washington was giddy with the prospect of a democratic revolution. Of course we’re America we love democracy, we love freedom! We love free speech and the right to protest and assemble…but wait isn’t that what the Tunisian people want? Throw in the right to work, the ability to provide for your family and freedom from police brutality, sounds down right Tocquevillian…
This should have had Washington salivating. It is the first post-colonial democratic revolution in an Arab country! The people of Tunisia want democracy for themselves and while I think it is safe to argue no one in Tunisia was asking for American intervention, certainly the recognition and celebration of their right to self-determination would have been welcome. If the Tunisian revolution succeeds in establishing a democratic stronghold in the region it seems only a matter of time before other regional neighbors attempt to follow in their footsteps. The United States should understand that democracy cannot come to a nation through force (as can be seen by the relative failures in Afghanistan and Iraq) but rather should be supported when citizens make the move for self-determination. Instead of imposing our will we should celebrate with and give support to our global neighbors when they make their own choice for freedom.