Keep Watching Tunisia

Reading the BBC reports, Tunisia is not a bunch of blog- and tweet-happy néo-démocrates. In fact, things French in Tunisia are being targeted in today’s riots. Prisons are burning, as well. We don’t yet know who the real president of Tunisia is – two different claimants to that role have yet to resolve the situation. If they’re able to come to a peaceful arrangement, whoever becomes the undisputed president will have a tall order in trying to restore calm and security.

And all this in a nation that Western leaders didn’t have on their lists of evil nations. Ben Ali was our dictator, after all. We could do business with him. We weren’t deliberately trying to undermine his regime, as far as I know…

But down it went. Obama and Hilary Clinton are quick to condemn Tunisia now, after its West-friendly dictator has fallen, but where was their stern disapproval before all this? Are they going to now step up their criticisms of other dictators that the US has helped prop up over the years?

More to the point, are those dictators going to wait for the US to start criticizing them? If I were in charge of a US-friendly nation, I’d be on the phone to Iran, China, and Russia right now to find out how to better oppress my people. I’d have to assume I’d need to do things to keep the domestic situation in order right now that my buddies in Brussels and Washington are going to strongly disapprove of.

I know whoever has the backing of Tunisia’s army will embark on a program of busting heads that get in the way of law and order. He’ll have to, or he won’t be able to rule. People are not going to like what will happen next in Tunisia, and Twitter and Facebook won’t forestall the bloodshed.

I see questions of “will this happen again?” Probably. The world’s in a mess. But what happens in the West when we start to feel like we’re being spammed with images, videos, and status updates from hordes of rebelling masses?

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