Kinsman: Syria is on the brink of civil war. Democracy is being undermined in Egypt. Is the Arab Spring over?
"Over?" It's just beginning. But democracy isn't a process, an "app" to download. It's behavioral. It has to be built, learned, tested and it takes time as well as capacity. It's about a lot more than free elections (which took Western well-wishing democrats a while to understand.) It's about what happens after uprisings and free elections. It takes national crash-courses in citizen engagement and responsibility. Winners need to accommodate losers. Pluralism needs validation and protection with minority rights (not quota entitlements) rooted in law and viable institutions. And then the people expect democratic governement to deliver security, prosperity, fairness, all probably for the first time. So getting there is no stroll in a rose garden. It's tough, complex, and messy. But are dictators better? Of course not. The "Arab Spring" shows for once and for all no part of the world is immune to the human democratic impulse. The question is what are we doing as democrats to help other people to build their own civil society, institutions, and human rights management we take for granted? That's what our foreign aid ought to be about but isn't.