The recent chain of events occurring throughout the Middle East and North Africa should come as a welcome shift in politics for a nation promoting freedom and democracy, yet our actions contradict this logic.

For years, it has been America’s policy to support authoritarian governments around the world in lieu of democratically elected socialists and various other candidates (Morales in Bolivia, Chávez in Venezuela, Mossadegh in Iran, Torrijos in Panama…).

It appears, from a historical standpoint, that the United States is less interested in democratic republics than neoliberal trading partners, as the only kind of democracy seemingly encouraged is a coerced one, supported politically and militaristically by our government.

“Democracy” in Iraq was brought about by U.S. military intervention and democracy in Iran was replaced by the first CIA-instigated coup, in favor of a monarchy.
The bottom line is, if it isn’t created, supported and indebted to the United States, it’s not desirable.

Popular arguments against this idea abound and we are never short on “examples” of why democracy, in particular cases, is bad. (In fact, forcing any kind of political structure upon a nation often exacerbates pre-existing socio-political tensions).

Hamas, the extremist group in Gaza, was popularly elected, and this serves as an impetus for fear-mongering and paranoid rhetoric against free elections.

It is important to understand the context of any given state, however, as there cannot be one method or technique that will function perfectly across the board.

Gaza is in a deplorable state: International aid, when given, is first “examined” and often confiscated by Israeli border controls.

The territory is completely cut off from coastal trade routes, as the sea space belongs to Israel, therefore restricting any possible trade from the Mediterranean. The PLO, also democratically nominated, is not recognized as an international government and Palestine itself has been repeatedly deprived of statehood.

The list goes on. However, these limited examples demonstrate the horribly unique position the Palestinian territories, specifically Gaza, find themselves in.

To use this as an example for why democracy should not be encouraged in the Middle East is a fallacy.

It will be interesting to see America’s stance regarding Egypt, and other revolutionary countries after they hopefully succeed in overthrowing undesirable governments, seeing as how a social movement brought these changes about.

Concerns regarding the Muslim Brotherhood proliferate, although this group has been demilitarized, cooperative and shown no interest in the pursuit of political power.

The movement was national — Egyptian, not Muslim or Coptic.

Hopefully, we will see open support of true democratic states become the new U.S. policy, replacing the corrupt and intolerable practice of authoritarian support, defended by rhetoric, which wrongfully constructs images and situations “existing” in the area.

A fear of al-Qaida gaining a foothold in politically active and tumultuous places translates into support of the status quo and a sacrifice of human rights.

Instead of thinking what is best for America, we should redirect our thoughts to encompass everyone: What is best for Egyptians? Libyans? The world?

Living freely and openly, without fear of inward or outward oppression, should be sought after and defended by “the leader of the free world.”

Our imperial legacy is steadily collapsing, and being remembered as altruistic should surpass being remembered as self-serving.