Thursday, December 01, 2016

Invest in Tunisia

It would really be in our government's interest to invest heavily in Tunisia right now. Tunisia is the only Arab Spring success, in the sense that it replaced a dictatorship with a democracy. And a real democracy too, as Tunisia has already had a peaceful transfer of power between rival parties after an election, without any foreign occupying power there to make it happen. They really did it themselves. The country's progress in the last five years is really fragile, with its economy in tatters and being a small country right next door to the basket case that is Libya.

During the Bush years conservatives liked to talk about how having a successful Arab democracy would improve the Middle East by providing a positive example to other countries in the region. At the time, they were talking about the hapless dream about Iraq. But why wouldn't that same argument apply to the actual success of Tunisia? Just a few years ago, North Africa was viewed as so critical to American interest to warrant military intervention in Libya. Surely, our interests extend to not blowing shit up and killing people in the region.

I doubt if the Trump Administration would be inclined to help Tunisia. Trump himself probably doesn't know anything about the country, and his advisers on foreign affairs who might otherwise be able to talk him into doing something positive are a bunch of Islamaphobes who only see the Arab world as a military problem. But I would love it if our new allegedly business savvy administration proves me wrong and sees Tunisia as an real opportunity to make things a tiny bit better.