Brog's Blog

March 1, 2011

Reflections on the Revolutions in the Arab World

Filed under: All Posts — brogsblog @ 6:16 pm

As a popular uprising overthrew the French monarchy in 1789, freedom-loving people throughout the world celebrated. Americans in particular – led by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine – cheered the French revolutionaries. To such celebrants it was self-evident that the seeds of the American Revolution were taking root in European soil.

A minority of sober souls skipped the parties. Of particular note, a member of the British Parliament named Edmund Burke stepped forward with a famously prescient warning. Yes, he, too, admired the spirit of the French revolutionaries yearning for liberty. But he cautioned them and the world that while they may have “subverted monarchy,” they had not yet “recovered freedom.”

Burke noted a crucial distinction between the American Revolution he supported and the French Revolution he loathed. The Americans fully embraced their English heritage of law and morality. They were not rejecting these traditions; they were actually fighting to recover them. The French, on the other hand, discarded their legal and moral institutions along with their monarch. As they executed their leaders and destroyed their churches, they were left with nothing more than flawed human nature to guide them. The guillotine, Burke argued, was inevitable.

As we celebrate what appears to be the birth of freedom in Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab nations, Burke’s warnings should haunt us all. Not every revolution is the American Revolution. We may see ourselves in the faces of those protesters who fought for their freedom in Tahrir Square, but that is no guarantee that those who protested today will be those who wield power tomorrow.

Indeed, the history of popular uprisings is far from encouraging. The French Revolution replaced the monarchy with mob rule and then Napoleon. The Russian Revolution exchanged czarist murderers for Communist mass murderers.

With the limited exceptions of Israel and a nascent Iraq, the Middle East has seen neither the organic development nor successful transplant of democratic institutions. Thus it should come as no surprise that the region’s popular uprisings have fared no better than those of Europe. The 1958 revolution that overthrew Iraq’s monarchy paved the way for Saddam Hussein. The 1979 revolution which deposed Iran’s shah left a power vacuum eventually filled by the Ayatollah Khomeini and his mullahs. The 2005 Cedar Revolution that freed Lebanon from Syrian domination has now succumbed to Iranian hegemony through Tehran’s Hezbollah puppets.

And let us not forget that Hosni Mubarak himself was the inheritor of power first won in a prior revolution. In 1952, Egyptian army officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew King Farouk, and the Egyptian streets were jammed with celebrants. In the decades that followed, power passed from Nasser to Sadat and then to Mubarak without free elections. The crowd that gathered in Tahrir Square was celebrating liberation from their liberators.

In each of these cases, secular middle-class folk just like you and me led or at least cheered the revolutions. Yet they were not the ones who emerged triumphant in the ugly power struggles that followed. It doesn’t matter who wins the first battle in the revolution. All that matters is who wins the war. In the absence of strong institutions to block them, the most ruthless are too often the ones who ultimately seize power.

So what’s the source of our near-universal faith that the recent Arab uprisings will follow the script of the American Revolution? It’s now fashionable to claim that we’ve crossed a great watershed in human history due to the development of online social networks. We are told that Facebook and Twitter are providing unprecedented power to the people with which they will democratize the world. Such speculation presumes that the barrier to human freedom lo these many centuries has been inadequate communications. Burke recognized long ago that the true hurdle lay deeper, in our flawed human hearts. Democracy is a generational project. Technology and toys cannot change that.

So yes, let us cheer the forces of liberty in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Libya. But let us also recognize that the struggle for democracy in the Arab world has only just begun. If history is any guide, those at the forefront of this fight may well be among the first consumed by its flames. It’s far too early to pop the champagne.

David Brog is the executive director of Christians United for Israel and author of a new book, In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity.  You can follow David on Facebook by clicking here and on Twitter by clicking here.

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13 Comments »

  1. Great message David – You need to know where you are going and it needs to be a place of greater freedom for all, which means your rights end where the other persons rights begin!!

    Comment by Teresa Weaver — March 1, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  2. Yes, great message! Democracy can only work when it is based on Judeo-Christian principles. If people’s lives are not based on the concepts of truth and righteousness, fairness and liberty, they cannot adhere to a democratic constitution. Freedom is a matter of the heart, based on the Word of God – and cannot be legislated.

    Comment by Brenda Kelley — March 1, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

  3. Consider that even the American Revolution fell victim to a counter-revolution. The government created by the founders, The Articles of Confederation was soon replaced by a much more powerful and centralized government. Consider that our first President and his right-hand-man, Alexander Hamilton were great admirers of the British. Much of what the original revolutionaries achieved was overturned in the first eight years of government under the Constitution. Can you say “Necessary and Proper Clause,” or “Interstate Commerce Clause”?

    Comment by M Harris — March 1, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

  4. Excellent Historical perspective David and very well written! The other historical fact people seem unwilling to face is the correlation of war, that is civil war, and revolution. Historically, the two nearly always go hand in hand. People are protesting the bloodshed that has already occurred, but they haven’t seen anything yet! This will get ugly. The basis of judgment is the Word of God. That is what our founding fathers were guided by in their revolution. These people do not judge by the truth of the Word of God, they judge by the Koran. I repeat, this will get ugly!!!

    Comment by Philip Fortenberry — March 1, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

  5. Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.” Hang in there guys, don’t give up hope.Syria may cough up. (scripture Isaiah 49)

    Comment by Glenn L. — March 2, 2011 @ 1:07 am

  6. Dear Mr. Brog, Why didn’t you finish the irrefutable argument that every Arab document created since Muhammad began his “crusade” to take over the world has nothing to do with freedom or democracy. The concepts that bind our blessed nation are truly anathema to all Muslim societal dictates. The Koran, the hadiths, the sunna, the Sharia Law etc. all reject the notion of Freedom or democracy. Eventually either a dominant Jihadi Muslim like Amadinejad or a dictator like Mubarak will come to power in ANY so called “revolution” in the middle east. These little “uprisings” are but an opportunity for Al-Qeada or Muslim Brotherhood type groups to work their way into power. In his book; “The Virtual Caliphate” Yaakov Lappin shows vividly how the Internet has become the temporary caliphate with infinite information and instruction on how to recruite Jihadi terrorists in every country where Muslims live. Certain countries are selected to try to establish the first location for a physical caliphate. This will continue thruought history until the ultimate conflagration is instigated, and these little “revolutions” are just cover for the true Muslim Jihadi struggle to dominate the world.. which, of course, they never will.

    Comment by Noel Leerskov — March 2, 2011 @ 2:54 am

  7. An excellent article with excellent observations on history. Egypt will fall into anarchy and then fall to the Brotherhood. The Arabs know only one thing: Islam. They invented it, they ruled with it, and they built a great empire with it. We are seeing a revival of Islam throughout the Arab world. An excellent analysis of this can be read here:

    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/32894

    Unfortunately, we will soon hear the cry “The Brotherhood are coming!”

    Comment by John — March 2, 2011 @ 3:08 am

  8. TRUE FREEDOM WILL COME WHEN JESUS SETS FOOT ON EARTH AGAIN IN THE 2ND COMING. THEN HE WILL GOVERN ALL MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN THE WAY HE ALWAYS WANTED IT TO BE FOR US ALL.

    Comment by JOHN MURILLO — March 2, 2011 @ 4:12 am

  9. Well written. I am new to this site and although I have always believed in standing with Israel, I am just learning more about why. I appreciate the comments and incite that I get from them. Looking forward to reading and learning more. Thanks to all. In His name.

    Comment by Nicolaus Swanson — March 2, 2011 @ 6:32 am

  10. An excellent article by David with a sobering historical perspective.Scripture is being fulfilled before our very eyes and it is clear the hour is late..The call of men to war surely can be heard..’So Let the weak say I am strong, and the strong say I am weak..”God will defend His people.Thanks to all.

    Comment by pete kihara — March 2, 2011 @ 8:50 am

  11. An outstanding recount of historical revolutions and their dire outcome when the revolutionaries are not guided by the Word of God. There is absolutely no doubt that the former powers of the Arab nations will be replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood. Through the Brotherhood, what we will see is the forced uniting of all the Arab nations that will surround and rise against Israel and her allies. As mentiond by Noel Leerskov, these Arab revolutions for “democrasy” is nothing more than a false pretense to open the door for dominant Jihadi Muslim types to come to power. Let us not be fooled, all of these little revolutions are combined as one giant revolution to take over the entire Arab world. Such did not errupt spontaneously, but are a part of a much greater plan that has been in the works for years if not decades.

    So, where does the U.S. stand in this historical change occurring? Well, considering the fact that Pakistan showed their country stomping on the U.S. flag–saying–”OBAMA YOU ARE EITHER FOR US OR AGAINST US!” and Obama’s seemingly covert attempts to bring sharia law into the U.S., I believe that the answer is obvious. Should Israel fall under threat of attack, regardless of the will of the majority of Americans, I fear that Obama and his socialist administration would do nothing to come to Israel’s aid. After all, he did state that he “would forever stand on the side of Islam”, and so far his actions in the White House have proven his stated conviction.

    Comment by Charles — March 2, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  12. Excellent analysis. I sincerely share your fears.
    The revolutions are masquerades propelled by evil forces and die-hard Muslim extremist. By the time they unmask, the world will have more problems to handle than presently.
    I believe that the Lord God Almighty will arise when He will.

    Comment by Kris Ishiekwen — March 3, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  13. Said beautifully. It takes a bit of maturity and thinking to understand this. We are all in favor of free societies, but it’s so important to ask the question whether these revolutions are indeed leading to free societies. Very recently, Iran’s horror of a government that threatens the world. And nobody seems to notice that everything there started with a hope for freedom. You are so right!

    Comment by Dalya Horowitz — March 8, 2011 @ 2:01 pm


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