It has been fascinating and troubling listening to conservative radio talk-show host Mark Levin lambast fellow conservatives who have been siding with the revolutionaries trying to end the 30 year rule of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Levin argues that such support is foolish and ignorant, because there is no way for the United States to be sure that the resulting new government, even if it is more democratic than the current one (hardly a difficult bar to clear), wouldn’t be worse for the interests of the United States.
Citing history’s depressing list of countries that removed of dictators, strong men and despots only to get more of the same or worse—Cuba, Iran, Russia, too many African and South American countries to count—Levin has pointed to the prominent Muslim Brotherhood as a force likely to turn any new democracy into an anti-American democracy, or worse. Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Chris Plante, Sarah Palin and other conservatives on TV and radio echo Levin’s fears, Beck, naturally, doing so more hysterically than the rest.
Levin, as you may know, has written a best-selling book called “Liberty and Tyranny,” in which he uses historical and legal analysis to argue that the U.S. government is slowly strangling American freedom. Levin, a skilled lawyer and a passionate Tea Party advocate, believes that the first principles of American democracy are rooted in individual human rights to freedom, choice, and self-determination.
But apparently Egyptians don’t deserve any of this, because they might do something that America doesn’t like.
Ever since the United States allied itself with Josef Stalin to defeat the Third Reich, the nation has periodically established ties with despots in the interest of world stability or when national interests were at stake. Such arrangements have frequently backfired over time, as oppressed nationalities came to look upon the U.S. as an accessory to their domination. Unsavory allies are unavoidable in the often amoral jungle of international diplomacy, but the United States supports tyrants against a popular uprisings at peril of its integrity and its core values. The United States is not just any country, formed only for the benefit of its own citizens, but a nation with a mission: to support the inalienable rights of not just U.S. citizens but mankind, as defined by the Declaration of Independence.
Not just Americans, but all inhabitants of the planet, have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The fact that a nascent democracy or revolt against tyranny may not continue the friendly, beneficial or profitable policies of the autocracy it removes is unfortunate and may even be dangerous, but the United States’ ultimate interest, its reason for existing, is to stand for the rights of all people to determine their own fates. The right course for the United States in the Egyptian upheaval was determined long ago, in 1776. Conservatives, who claim to revere the founding documents and the principles they champion, show the shallowness of their loyalty to those principles when they argue that only Americans and those who agree with us have the right to be free.
In any battle between the forces of entrenched authoritarian power and the people who no longer are willing to be dominated by it, the United States is morally, ethically, and historically bound to favor the cause of freedom.