Is democracy cool again?

It became fashionable to admire the Chinese government. Hezbollah was seen as a popular movement. When Iranian protesters were rioting in the streets of Tehran, Washington thought it best to keep quiet. Palestine, not Israel, was the wave of the future in the Middle East. Anyone who had a gun received automatic respect. As Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail put it only last month, the Western world seemed to have completely forgotten about anything except the need to keep on good terms with whatever government was in power…

After Bush was gone things promised to be so much simpler. But the world isn’t like that. Events in Tunisia are a reminder that there is a real reason why authoritarianism is bad. It leads to policies which ultimately engender unrest and ruination. Supporting such regimes may temporarily be necessary, but as rule they are bad in the long run. There is considerable irony in the fact that Tunisian street protests were inflamed by leaked State Department cables describing the shenanigans of Ben Ali’s family. Sooner or later the ends will not meet and the choice, when belated, is even more painful. These lessons should be borne in mind as the crisis in Lebanon unfolds. Hezbollah will not be dominant forever. Over the long term, freedom and prosperity win.

Don’t bet on the strongman forever. What doesn’t work cannot last indefinitely.