Who Runs Things When the Revolution is Over?
“Been Down So Long Don’t Know Which Way is Up”
by Peter Stern
What do revolutions in Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and other areas around the world have in common? No one knows what is going to happen once the revolution is over.
Most of the people finding themselves in the midst of fighting know they want “freedom” from generations of tyranny, but what happens when you finally attain that freedom? We all know that “cream rises to the top” but how does that work in governing once the powerful dictator is overthrown?
Ten years ago the U.S. invaded Iraq to finally eliminate the Hussein family from its reign of terror. While the people rejoiced in their supposed freedom from tyranny, they did not want western forces to govern them; however, decades of tribal warfare and turf competition are still alive, vying for power and control. It is not by chance that many of the countries finding themselves in revolutionary conflict are ones in which oil is a precious commodity. It is also not by chance that the U.S. and/or western nations are maintaining a presence in these chaotic, oil-wealthy areas of the globe. We know those in power have control over the oil and are those with influence over western nations.
However, once achieving freedom from dictators who takes power and what happens to the majority of the people under the new leadership? Or, another way of putting it is “We know what we don’t want, but it’s not so easy to know what we do want.”
People may think they want democracy, but how to achieve and maintain it may be a more difficult process. In Libya, the rebels taking of Tripoli prompted wide celebration and triggered a more than 300-point increase in the American Stock Market; however, what happens now and who takes power? Will democracy flourish, or will another western-backed dictator rise to take charge? If the people want democracy, how do they accomplish it? Who teaches them how to construct a democratic government and who ensures the safety of the majority? These questions are much harder to answer and/or to achieve.
As we have seen in areas like Iraq, the people and tribal leaders may say they want democracy, but the old ways die hard. Many tribal leaders fight the building of a democratic government every step of the way. Vying for power and fighting for control is a way of life in many countries. It is one of the reasons our military is still in Iraq. As soon as we pull out our troops the country may spiral back into the chaotic rule of tribes and feuds, returning the people to a dictatorial government and an unsafe environment.
So, eliminating a powerful dictator and fighting for freedom may be the easier task when compared to what happens after freedom is attained. Furthermore, in today’s high tech world and rapid communication of events, what happens in one part of the world often has a major impact on other areas. It will be interesting to observe how each nation currently under siege progresses with its march to freedom and how it affects the rest of the world.