iPlayer Radio What's New?
Listen
On Now : Inside Science
Y chromosome; Everest avalanche; Aphid survey; Longitude
Image for Tolerating Authoritarian Regimes

Listen now 45 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Tolerating Authoritarian Regimes

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 02 February 2011

Is it morally justifiable to tolerate or support unpleasant, authoritarian, undemocratic regimes because we feel the likely alternatives might prove worse for the citizens countries such as Egypt. With hundreds of thousands of protestors on the streets of Egyptian cities and calls for a general strike, President Mubarak's stranglehold on power looks to be weakening. The authoritarian leaders of a number of other countries in the region will be looking on nervously - as will leaders in the West who've ploughed billions of dollars in to keeping President Mubarak in power and the region stable. It's not just a question of better the devil you know - Mubarak has been a key ally in the Arab Israeli peace process.

Is democracy a morally unambiguous value? Should we always be on the sides of the masses regardless of the consequences to them and our national interests? Or is preserving life a greater moral imperative than promoting freedom - even if that means in the short term backing the stability of authoritarian rulers? Is democracy only ever the means to an end and should the only moral imperative for us in the West be to always safeguard our interests?

Witnesses:
Professor David Cesarani , Research Chair in History, Royal Holloway, University of London
Daniel Johnson, Editor of Standpoint
Dr Omar Ashour, Director, Middle East Studies, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter
Dr Emile Nakhleh, a former director of the CIA political Islam strategic analysis programme

Chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo and Matthew Taylor.

Broadcasts

Free download

  1. Image for Moral Maze

    Moral Maze

    Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.