The enemy of our enemy is not our friend

There have been many revolutions in human history. A revolution is an overthrow of an established government by another group that subsequently becomes the government. I think that there are two kinds of revolution. The first kind is a revolution led by ideas. The United States of America, the South American states, France and Russia have all experienced revolutions in which the power changed from those to govern to those who became the governors and garnered support by the strength of the ideals expressed.

It is hard to read with American Declaration of Independence, for example, without understanding the strength of the ideals that formed the basis of the revolution. In Latin America and many other countries the driving ideal was one of nationalism- that people of a particular nationality and culture should govern themselves, rather than be governed by others whose language, customs and values were very different. Sometimes people are exploited mercilessly and revolt against the exploitation. The British Empire experienced a series of revolutions or armed opposition which ultimately led to many nations freeing themselves from government and exploitation by Great Britain.

In some nations a revolution was driven by religious ideals and others by political ideals, such as communist.

These revolutions may have had god or bad outcomes, but revolutions driven by ideals and ideas can be assessment when they start as to whether we can or should support the aims of the revolutionaries or those of the established government.

The second kinds of revolutions are those driven not by ideas or ideals but by one group simply wanting to seize power, for wealth or self aggrandisement. These revolutions change not the status quo but usually replace one despot with another.

Today there is a revolution in Libya and the western nations have decided to support it with military help and will probably support it with economic assistance. I cannot figure out whether this revolution is driven by ideas and ideals or simply by an opportunist attempt to seize power. We seem to have simply declared the existing Libyan government as our enemy and are supporting the enemy of our enemy, which strikes me as very dangerous policy.

I rather suspect that it would have been a good idea to know the rebels in Libya and their cause; I have no confidence in any of the established governments supporting the rebels because their record of supporting causes and understanding what is going on in the world is very poor.

Perhaps we should support the rebels, but we have to remember that the enemy of our enemy (albeit a very recent enemy) is not the same as our friend.

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