NR Digital

The Fear of Worse

by Anthony Daniels

Comparing French and American responses to the Middle East upheavals

One of the problems with history is that it is lived forwards but written backwards. Those who are called upon to make it do not have the advantage of knowing how things will turn out; the precise moment at which democracies should ditch their dictatorial allies in favor of their opponents is therefore difficult to gauge. Treachery is an art that requires subtle judgment in its exercise.

When civil unrest breaks out in a dictatorship, how does one know whether it is a revolt or a revolution? One does not wish to be made to look naïve or foolish by supporting a rabble prematurely, just before it is squashed by the power; on the other hand, one does not want to appear to have supported a despot past his deposition date. It is all very perplexing.

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