“US should stop acting “shepherd” to the Arab world” – historian

The processes in the Arab world, including Libya, can hardly be called revolutions, much less battles for democracy, agree the Nation’s editor and publisher Katrina Vanden Heuvel and New York University professor Stephen Cohen.

”In America there is a sense: Oh, democracy has come! No, regime change has barely come,” Katrina Vanden Heuvel said. ”These dictators have been ousted and what follows will be a measure of international support, of non-meddling, of countries’ ability to come together and find the resources.”

”I come back again to economic development. I really think that is going to be critical in this region,” she added.

”Part of the problem in the United States is that a lot of the lessons being drawn in the media are the wrong lessons,” Stephen Cohen said. “People are saying: this is democracy. It is not and that will be a long journey. Maybe, it is the first step, but this is a long journey, this is far from certain.”

According to Cohen, what is happening in the region are also hardly revolutions.

”People say this is a revolution, but as a historian, I react badly at this generalization,” he said. “In Egypt, for example, Mubarak is gone, but the regime is still there, the military regime that governs the country. That is not a revolution … at the moment it is only leader change.”

Stephen Cohen added that the US should drop the illusion that its interference with the region’s affairs is crucial.

”There is a lot of misperception,” he said. “The idea that the United States has to ‘shepherd’ these countries is a false lesson. That always ends badly. These countries will make it on their own or they will not make it at all.”