Made in the USA & France, sold to Ben Ali

Aristotle, in his studies of predisposition factors contributing to leadership failures, had discovered what I refer to here as the “triangle of tragedy and evil”. He discovered that, once combined, hubris, hamartia, and anagnosis, (classic Greek, meaning self induced intoxication of overly inflated ego, missing the mark or to err, and lack of knowledge or inability to see how different elements fit together) lead to a loss of reality and eventual destruction. Viewed in this paradigm, Ben Ali, the U.S. and France, failed to see the attribution error they committed. All three accomplices failed to realize that if people are not allowed to decide their own destiny, democratic institutions are not given the opportunity to grow and build their resilience, the outcome is generally tragic for all.

For over twenty years, the United States and France, Tunisia’s economic and political partners, have looked the other way when Ben Ali’s accusers spoke. His documented human rights abuses, corruption, and downright self enrichment were never a concern for these guardians of freedom and peddlers of democracy. Today we read how Sarkozy and Obama are encouraged by the recent events of the Tunisian revolution. And how cheerful they are to witness simple citizenry, armed with nothing more than the will for self expression, and the desire for jobs, have toppled the most ruthless dictator since Uganda’s Idi Amin. One would actually think that both countries have reprimanded, at least privately, and recommended the deposed president tone down his practice of torture, kidnappings, nepotism, and downright “quasi-mafia” practices. The U.S Government and Sarkozy went as far as publicly acknowledging in 2007 Ben Ali’s contributions to progress and stability in Tunisia, labeling him “a true partner”.

From my point of view, although they have not personally committed any direct crimes against the Tunisian people, France and the U.S. should be held accountable for looking the other way in the name of regional stability, the fight against terrorism, and geopolitical strategic interests. What leaders of these countries need to consider is, when condoning such policies, endorsing murderers, and endorsing one-sided agendas, they are in fact inviting the very elements these policies were put in place to defend against. The ends do not always justify the means, especially when the means are what you publicly stand against.

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