August 25, 2011
by Jack David
While the uprisings of citizen-victims in Libya and Syria are a cause for hope, it is far too early for believers in individual liberties and popular elections to celebrate. The outcome in each country is far from clear, even assuming that the dictator in each and his apparatus of terror are removed. There is no assurance that new leaders will share Western definitions of individual liberty or be willing to submit to a truly popular will. On the contrary, there is reason for concern.
For example, although the Draft Constitutional Charter of the Libyan opposition has some reassuring words along these lines, Article 1 of its General Provisions provides that "the principal legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia)." This may well be intended to provide justification for some among the new Libyan leadership who may not share Western views of personal liberty and democracy to move in another direction. We will see.
Under the circumstances, it would be wise to carefully monitor the words and acts of the new leaders who are emerging and energetically support the moderate voices among them as best we can. We should not celebrate prematurely. We should celebrate an Arab Spring in Libya and Syria — and in Egypt as well for that matter — only when new voices of moderation who support freedom and democracy for their people have truly won the day.
This is part of an NRO Symposium on the Arab Spring and the situation in the Middle East: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/275512/long-hot-arab-summer-nro-symposium
Jack David is a Senior Fellow and a Member of the Board of Trustees at Hudson Institute.
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