Debating IR

Probing the philosophical underpinnings of the international system and anything else of interest.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Evidence of Liberalism?

I've been thinking a lot about my last comment in class on Monday. For reference, I basically stated the liberal position that the burning of the Norwegian and Danish Embassies in Syria could possibly be explained by an information/communication breakdown where Danish and other Western officials have been unable to properly inform many Middle Eastern people about freedom of the press and the fact that most Western governments have little to no say in what is printed in newspapers and other media outlets.

As I look more into this issue, it is apparent that this explanation doesn't work. Governments in Iran and Syria, who can be presumed to be more educated and possess a greater understanding of Western media freedoms, have reacted in similar ways to the angry mobs. Instead of torching embassies,, they have cut of diplomatic relations with Denmark, which is basically the same since its evidence of placing blame on the governement instead of the independent newspaper. In fact Iranian elites (friends of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who own a newspaper) have issued a contest asking for cartoons about the Holocaust in order to test Western principles of freedom, basically giving evidence of their understanding.

I don't know what theory best explains the events of the past week. I like to think that by allowing protesters to burn the Danish and Norwegian embassies, even after police had set up barricades, was a power-play designed to demonstrate how morally offended the Syrian people were and win the Syrian government a little more moral power, to make up for its abysmal record on human rights and the recent debacles in Lebanon. But who knows?


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