When in the course of human events; again a sentence I repeated last week. This, however is for a different resolve. We are witnessing possibly a fundamental shift in the political landscape in the middle east, a portion of our world that has more than seen it's share of turmoil.
What started out as an uprising in a small, impoverished country has spread to multiple nations that have endured authoritarian rule for decades. Often these countries have been subservient to a ruler that has supported a small ruling class from the profits of exporting oil. A people held down is often a powder keg waiting to erupt. On the surface the pains of servitude appear rooted in wealth, or lack thereof. But I believe something else has finally bubbled to the surface: freedoms.
America has often been the whipping-boy for many of these leaders. Some, we have even supported, using them as a hedge against others; the lesser of two evils as it were. Others have been the harbingers of terrorism and have overtly or covertly worked against the United States. Perhaps what we have grown to take for granted has simmered as resentment from those now challenging their governments. Freedom and the western way of life seems to have crept into a world, a world we see only through the newscasts, a world that is alien to many of us.
Things though are not always as they seem. Until the eighties Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ruled Iran with an iron fist. He was overthrown by a popular uprising led from without. What began as a popular movement inspired by religious radicals (we would now call them) simply supplanted one autocrat for another which was at least as brutal as the one it replaced.
There is no way of knowing how the current struggles will unfold. This could be a minor blip in the ongoing struggle that has enshrouded this region for centuries or it could be the start of a true democratic revolution. Likely it will become something more in the middle. I hope we are seeing the seeds of nations who wish to enter the world community and take their place as brothers and not bullies. Only time will tell; lets hope these small steps are only positive and one step forward does not necessitate two steps back.