Leadership worldwide is under scrutiny. From the uprisings in the Middle East, to “Occupy” protests in Europe and America, leaders everywhere are truly beginning to understand the hardships and responsibilities of democracy.
The recent Egyptian protests are a significant example. Months after the fall of the 40-year Egyptian dictatorship, the Egyptian masses have flooded the streets of Cairo demanding assurances that elections will be secure and safe. The Egyptian population has demonstrated that they are stringent in their push to create a truly just and, more significantly, lasting ruling system.
With the military council holding temporary leadership, the Egyptians have recognized that it is not enough to simply overthrow a dictator, but to continuously strike fear into the heart of any potential leadership. Leaders should not be accountable to greedy multinational corporations, but to the very people they are ruling.
The main frustration among the masses is that the Egyptian economy has been devastated, with unemployment rates still rising as students graduate into a jobless economy. Investments have also been unstable, forcing Egypt to reconsider a loan from the International Monetary Fund that was recently rejected because of the harsh conditions Egypt had to agree to, according to CNN.
The Occupy movement should be seen in direct relation to the Egyptian protests. As Occupy protesters pour into the streets in major cities in the most powerful nations in the world, the U.S. and the European Union must be able to confront the “Western Arab Spring.” The 2007 global economic collapse brought the largest financial industries into bankruptcy, leading many in the various nations into foreclosure, unemployment and, for some, homelessness.
As elections approach in the U.S., citizens’ responsibilities must not be underestimated. The duties of the people as protesters may not be to create comprehensive solutions to these problems, but to criticize the negative impacts of the leadership’s policies. Like the Egyptians, the American public must recognize and critically challenge all candidates to move toward serious reforms in the current, corrupt system.
And while foreign policy has been, for the most part, absent from the Republican debates, it must not be ignored. Indeed, America’s crisis is both economic and political. Economically, the so-called “War on Terror” in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan has had serious effects on America, with an estimated price tag as high as $4.4 trillion dollars since its launch, according to Reuters.
Whoever happens to be in any seat of power must be accountable to the people. That leadership will be proportionate to the people’s demands. If the leadership is constantly and harshly challenged, it will have no choice but to bow down to the people’s will. If, however, the people are naive and unaware of the crisis they are in, we will continue to have irresponsible leaders who will respond to mistakes as GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry has responded: “Oops.”
Nader Hasan is a senior majoring in international affairs and religious studies.