Outside pressure is welcome after election fraud in Belarus, Ivory Coast
Defenders of autocrats in Belarus and Ivory Coast warn the world not to interfere in internal affairs in those countries. The world should do just that.
Once again, in the global struggle over democracy, the sovereignty card is being played in defense of election fraud.Skip to next paragraph
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Outsiders must not meddle with “internal matters” such as elections, warn supporters of autocrats in Belarus and Ivory Coast – two distant points on the globe that are joined in their recent defiance of honoring free and fair democratic elections.
But meddle, outsiders did – and still must.
World attitudes about trespassing on other nations’ sovereignty coalesced after the cold war, prompted by the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and before that, the spread of democracy in Latin America and Asia during the ’80s.
A kind of global consensus formed that a severe humanitarian or human rights crisis could justify diplomatic, economic, and even military intervention – especially if it threatened to destabilize an entire region. The tragedy of nonintervention in the 1994 Rwanda genocide reinforced that view.
Terrorism acted as another catalyst, with George W. Bush on a democracy tear, attempting to spread freedoms in the Middle East that would dry up the appeal of Islamist jihad. That fervor has been tempered under President Obama – as seen in his weak response to Egypt’s recent sham elections.
But the democratic “color revolutions” of the early 2000s – in Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere – united autocrats around the sovereignty defense. These leaders, from Iran to Venezuela, feared the advice, funds, and pressure from foreign supporters of budding democracy movements that could shake things up at home.
Thus it is that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev – the supposed modernizer of Russia – can defend the clearly fraudulent election on Dec. 19 of Alexander Lukashenko. The Belarusan president, known as Europe’s last dictator, is disdained by Russian leaders. But not for his strong grip on power.