Your editorial (29 July) is right that benevolent dictatorship is not the answer to the problems in the Middle East, but it is overly benevolent to Joe Biden and the US.
The editorial says: “Tunisia’s presidential power grab is a test for Joe Biden’s democracy and human rights agenda.” Throughout history, US global aggression has always been justified by the mantra of “bringing democracy” to the rest of the world. From the occupation of the Philippines to Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam and the Middle East, US intervention has been nothing more than establishing and maintaining its economic and military hegemony.
Biden is no different from his predecessors, as demonstrated by his indifference to dictatorial rule in Egypt, Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record and aggression in Yemen, and his belligerence towards Cuba. Only genuine support in helping to set up grassroots democratic structures, real economic independence and a clear ostracism of any dictatorial regimes can promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, but such polices are unlikely to come from a US government of any colour.
It is outrageous to portray the “regimes” of the Arab world as if their origins were primarily indigenous. The west has been imposing governance on Middle Eastern countries since the end of the Ottoman empire – having already designated their national boundaries – and continues to get rid of rulers it disapproves of.
The west tacitly supported the violent military overthrow of the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and instigated the more violent fall of the Libyan Jamahiriya, which had struggled with crippling US sanctions for decades. The west has prolonged Syria’s civil war, where it shares a regime change objective with jihadists. Nor was it the Iraqis who obliterated their own country, it was mainly US air power.
Overt interventions in the region have been well outnumbered by covert ones. The undemocratic Gulf states, plutocracies that are literally “regimes” and do not tolerate protest, are wholeheartedly backed by the democratic west.