The Arab Spring caused me to think more broadly about the role of decades (if not centuries) of Western imperialism in shaping the world today. I am thinking especially of the Middle East, southern Asia, Africa and Central and South America.

For example, when the imperialists left a county, what kind of state had they built? Did they leave the basis for a stable and sustainable economy and a stable political situation? How did the arbitrary boundaries imposed by the imperialists impact the prospects of nations? Are the now "independent" nations truly independent?

It appears that the odds of any nation that has been pillaged by Western imperialists achieving a successful transition to a functioning democracy are not very high. Sometimes imperialists relied on a puppet leader to retain effective control. In addition, many of the former colony's resources had already been exploited by the imperial power, often leaving an economic basket case.

However, a number of South American countries have shown recently that it is possible to successfully challenge imperialism.

Unfortunately, the Egyptian situation shows the more usual outcome. For example, Egypt has long-term economic and environmental crises, and it is unlikely to see improvement without a shift from the Western-imposed, failed neo-liberal model.


The money provided by the U.S. to Egypt and its military, in combination with the neo-liberal policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, make it difficult for any Egyptian ruler to bring about change that benefits the Egyptian people.

Former Egyptian President Morsi made a lot of mistakes. However, even if he had done everything just right, I don't think he could have formed a government that would have resolved Egypt's problems. The long-term and continuing effects of imperialism make it very difficult for any government to succeed in the short term.

Egyptians have shown and continue to show courage and a tremendous desire for a government that represents all of them. Unfortunately, the Morsi government seemed to think that it only needed to represent the interests of a segment of the population. In particular, Morsi tried to consolidate power and he also failed to address Egypt's economic problems. However, no matter how bad the Morsi government was, to support a military coup of a democratically elected government, even if it backed by a large portion of the population, sets a terrible precedent.

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" column runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.