Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 9:37 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Democracy's unlikely look

By Fred Hiatt

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- A congressional delegation led by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman today came to one country where democratic revolution has succeeded -- Lithuania -- to put pressure on a neighboring country where a democratic uprising in December was suppressed, Belarus.

But all the while the lessons from both were being considered in light of a third country where such an uprising could still go either way.

Events in Egypt are "very dangerous," McCain told a group of Belarusan students who are attending college here to escape repression at home. "But it's also a very clear lesson that no government can keep its people without their God-given rights forever."

McCain said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should have stepped down "a few days ago." But he also said he is "deeply concerned about the scenario where a small group of extremists could hijack this transition."

Lithuania has bravely given sanctuary to Belarusan dissidents, journalists and others, especially since Belarusan dictator Alexander Lukashenko's brutal Dec. 19 crackdown on citizens who rallied in downtown Minsk to protest an election he had just stolen. Ironically, when Lieberman and other members of the delegation urged even stronger sanctions against Lukashenko than the United States and European Union have recently adopted, Lithuanian officials, including its president, were cautious.

Belarus could be decades away from democracy, a couple of officials told me, and most Belarusans are satisfied with their lot and unready to rise up. Belarus lacks the strong sense of national identity that Lithuania and the other Baltic states maintained throughout Soviet occupation, they pointed out, and it spent a generation longer under Soviet rule.

They could be right. But their fatalism reminded me of the Asia experts who said Confucian societies would never embrace democracy -- until, in 1987, Koreans inconveniently forced a rewrite of all those textbooks -- and the many Mideast experts who were sure, until a couple of weeks ago, that Arabs would never take to the streets for democracy.

Dictatorships, including the one that stifled this nation until 1991, almost always seem impregnable, until that unpredictable day when they suddenly become utterly improbable.

By Fred Hiatt  | February 4, 2011; 9:37 AM ET
Categories:  Hiatt  | Tags:  Fred Hiatt  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Hey, it's my Constitution, too!
Next: Friday p-Op quiz: 'Fight the Power' Edition

Comments

Freedom is a God given right , meaning that ALL of God's creatures are entitled to it , God sees all of mankind as his children , and he doesn't care about the artificial division man imposed on his kind throughout history

God is great , God is good and God is LOVE

And He will be merciful , when we will ask Him , for mercy

Amen

Posted by: michel1835 | February 4, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Egypt will soon be as free as Iran. Great work Jimmy and great work Barack!

Posted by: jy151310 | February 5, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Freedom is not a god given right. If it were, we'd all be free. Freedom is a blood earned treasure.

Freedom is forever under assault. It is stolen in many ways; by direct suppression, a la today's fascist, communists, and theocratic regimes and also by so called democratic governments that steadily confiscate its citizens' life's work and economic freedom through irresponsible taxing and spending.

Once stolen, freedom is difficult and painful to take back. Even when freedom is stolen economically, as what's happening to us today. Thank goodness the blood paid by a forefathers help set up a system that restrains the thieves in Washington and gives us means to peacefully overthrow them.

Posted by: phrogger | February 5, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company