The Obama administration treated the creation of "democracy" in the Middle East as a Good Thing. Ironically, those who created the United States of America viewed democracy with fear-- and created a Constitutional republic instead.
Everything depends on how you define democracy. In its most basic sense, democracy means majority rule. But there can be majority rule in a free country or in a country with an authoritarian or even a dictatorial government.
In this age of sloppy uses of words, many people include freedom in their conception of democracy. But whether democracy leads to freedom is an open question, not a foregone conclusion.
In the United States, when the Union army of occupation withdrew from the South, years after the Civil War, majority rule returned to the Southern states-- and the freedom of blacks was drastically restricted from what it had been under military rule.
Those who applauded the spread of democracy in the Middle East seemed to assume that the "Arab Spring" meant greater freedom. But there was no reason to assume that beforehand-- and certainly no reason to believe it after the fact. Christians in Egypt have already lost whatever security they had under Hosni Mubarak.
The idea that "all people want freedom" is one of those feel-good phrases that some people indulge in. But you do not get a free country just because everybody wants freedom-- for themselves. You can have a free country only when people are willing to let other people have freedom.
Nazis were free to be Nazis under Hitler and Communists were free to be Communists under Stalin and Mao. But nobody else was free.
Toleration for others is a precondition for a free society-- and it is hard to think of more intolerant societies than most of those in the Middle East. There have been female heads of state in some other Islamic countries, but not in the Middle East.
Democracy in the Middle East context means majority selection of which individuals get the power to oppress. Why would anyone have seriously believed that it would mean anything more than that? Certainly not from the history of the region.
Too many people tend to think of democracy as a consumer good, so that high voter turnout on election day makes them happy. But the purpose of an election is not to make people feel good about participating. Its purpose is to select the best leaders available, to whom the well-being, and ultimately the lives, of the people can be entrusted. That is serious business.
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