A few days ago I wrote about the potential that the world would be war-torn in 50 years as the spread of distributed power generation from renewable sources will make possible internet access and the spread of democratic ideals.
Today in Iran we see foreshadowing of that prediction. Perhaps Iran is an isolated event. I don’t think so, though. I believe it is simply one of the first countries that will see violence and revolution come about from the spark of information.
America has seldom created a democracy other than her own. Through the Cold War we simply tried to be, at the very least, a better alternative to the USSR. We tried to spread democracy in an attempt to win swing-nations to our side of the conflict but only to deny Soviet access to those same nations.
Our nation building attempts since then have too often focused on efforts to prop up a demokracy (like krab, with a ‘K’) after a violent overthrow of a rogue government. These attempts have failed to produce lasting change in the regions. Of course the United States CAN topple virtually any government and under the protection of US military might insert a pseudo-democratic government and insist on democratic processes. However, the life span of these initiatives is only as long as the attention span of the American citizen. For when Americans insist our troops come home and the new government must stand on its own, it is doomed.
The one thing a revolution must have to survive—to create lasting change—is bloodshed on the part of the people. Without that, what will prevent old-timers and hard-liners from taking back their government for themselves? They will know that they are only taking from the people something that was GIVEN to them and which they lived without for decades prior. However, when people fight, bleed and die for regime change, then that must give pause to anyone who wishes to topple a new government. If the people have fought and died for this government to exist, then malcontents must assume they will do so again. And if the people have been victorious once, they can be victorious again.
Iran is equipped today with all they need to bring about a change in their government—information and ideas. Iran is a fairly advanced society in many sectors. Internet access is prevalent and technology is accessible and understood. No longer can State-run TV and newspapers control what people see and hear. As the Al-Fasarh family in Iran sees what the Jones family has in US they can come to understand what their government’s policies are denying them. Understanding the idea and benefits of “liberty” is only a click away.
Our own revolution wasn’t a power grab; it was the result of ideas born in the minds of a small group of great men who had a notion about liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Today twitter, iPhones, and social networking websites are connecting the disenfranchised with the ammunition they need to mobilize. The very economic success that countries desire today will also be their death knell. For when the people have money they will buy technology and that technology will spread democratic ideals faster and more effectively than the US military ever could. It will create an invested population that mobilizes to confront those who deny them liberty. They will invest their blood in their own freedom. THIS will bring about lasting change.
The tools of effective nation building, the real instruments of power are ideas. America need only facilitate access to electricity and information in order to see the spread of the American principles of liberty, justice and human dignity. Today more than ever, the “keyboard is mightier than the sword.”