Column: Other countries should determine their own freedom

Column: Other countries should determine their own freedom

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled from his Presidential quarters in Kiev on Feb. 21, following nearly three months of violent protests against him and his administration. Protestors have overtaken his quarters and have allowed the Ukrainian Parliament to set up a new election for late May.

These types of protests are not specific to the Ukraine, however, as they stand to reflect a wider desire for freedom and to constitutional, guaranteed rights throughout the world. Everywhere we look, we see signs of the formerly oppressed or misrepresented striving for individual and societal freedom. People aren’t necessarily going towards full-fledged democracy, but are still striving for many of the elements that give democracy its characteristics. And not only are individuals pining for this, but all across the globe people are recognizing and supporting efforts for freedom over unilateral control, a change from post-WWII foreign policy and foreign-relations thought. But with this newfound desire popping up around the world, the question is raised of how much outside support or influence should be given by democratic nations to those undergoing their own revolutions.

It seems like the answer to this should be relatively little to none, as countries need to determine for themselves how to establish freedom and liberties. Anything self-imposed is automatically far more powerful than something brought in by an outside nation, so in order for this ideology to truly take hold throughout the world, it needs to come from within. This may result in some foreign policies that don’t directly match up with every single policy of the American government, but it will result in greater freedoms overall.

Take, for example, two nations that have had varying degrees of revolutions as a result of the Arab Spring. Egypt underwent a massive overthrow and was aided by the United States, who helped usher in a new era of what seemed to be peace, democracy, and prosperity. However, that aided revolution resulted in only more turmoil, as years of cultural appropriation conflicted with some newly bred ideologies, creating a state that promoted violence, corruption, and fear over liberty and freedom. Conversely, Saudi Arabia, a nation with strong economic ties to America but has been subject to no direct political manipulations, is slowly undergoing its own reform in the context of its culture and religion. Historically, women have had very little rights there as a result of religious doctrine and a perpetuation of patriarchal ideals. Recently, however, women have taken steps toward empowerment, organizing a nation-wide protest by driving cars, something which is not allowed under Saudi Arabian law. And while this is a relatively small step compared to Egypt’s overthrowing of a tyrannical government, it has proven to be more substantive and long-lasting, ultimately proving itself as the more powerful of the two revolutions.

Again thinking about the Ukrainian revolution, and to any future revolutions that will undoubtedly occur, it seems like the strongest course of action is none. Outside intervention should only occur when cases of great human rights violations occur (as happened in Syria recently). Other than that, however, countries deserve the right to determine what is best for themselves and need that autonomy to create a state that truly will reflect the wishes of its citizens and represent each and every person with unalienable, undeniable rights.