Kinsman: If 9/11 defined the last decade, will the Arab Spring define the next?

By: /
September 11, 2011
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

As a democracy activist, I hope so. But defence of vital interests is always a more powerful policy driver than supporting others’ idealistic aspirations.

The fact is that the zeitgeist of the Arab Spring (a name Arab activists dislike as trivializing their revolution) is going global. One-man and junta dictatorships will go down, in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Theocracies and ideological one-party states, prospering China or failing Cuba, will need to open up. Clashes may again involve daunting challenges at the UN over using international force to override the national sovereignty dictators hide behind.

The crucial perception for democracies is to recognize the arc of history in all this, to ensure we don’t embrace dictators for the sake of a “war on terror” as we did last decade, but line up at last on the right and winning side. It’s who we are as much as what they want.