Western politicians love to demand democracy—but only where it suits them. US president Joe Biden has threatened sanctions against Myanmar after the military overthrew prime minister Aung San Suu Kyi. He said it was a “direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy”.
Boris Johnson joined in. Neither were quite so vocal about the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslim population, which Aung San Suu Kyi tried to cover up.
One fact Johnson won’t mention is this repressive regime has its roots in the rule of the British Empire. But democracy and imperialism never go hand in hand.
Democracy seems a noble thing to call for when Western leaders want to invade countries such as Iraq, back coups in places like Bolivia, or prop up brutal leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi.
But they don’t like to talk about democracy in places such as Saudi Arabia—a Western-allied dictatorship—or Israel, where Palestinians live under apartheid.
And it’s not a concern for them when they use lockdown and anti-union laws to clamp down on protests in their own countries either.
So it’s right to be suspicious of calls to back right wing Russian politician Alexei Navalny under the guise of “democracy”.
It’s better to back protesters by fighting for democracy from our own rulers.