Don’t wait for the web to bring democracy

As Iran teeters and the Supreme Leader warns protestors, Zionists, foreigners and the media to back off – he would be comical if this wasn’t so serious – many in the West should be cautious about heralding the Twitter Revolution. As I write in my book The Blogging Revolution, new technology doesn’t on its own bring down a government or impose Western-style democracy. They are important tools but merely that.

Now we have British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arguing that the internet has changed foreign policy forever. Then this gem:

You cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly about what is actually going on and the public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken. Foreign policy can no longer be the province of just a few elites.

This is utter nonsense. Brown wants to give the impression that the web has truly democratised so-called elite pursuits, but I see little evidence that foreign policy is being drafted by a wider circle of people. It’s the same elites with the same considerations; the maintenance of state power.

And events like Rwanda tragically can and will continue to happen – witness the devastation in Sri Lanka, Gaza etc – because Western governments see no real reason to intervene. Human rights are rarely a consideration.

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