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Posted at 01:13 PM ET, 08/31/2011

Dick Cheney isn’t the first to assign credit for Arab Spring


Libyans cheer the downfall of Moammar Gaddafi. Who can take credit for it? (Daniel Berehulak - Getty Images)
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has caused quite the stir as he promotes his new memoir, and the latest controversy is over a discussion he had on Fox News about the Arab Spring.

When “Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade asked Cheney this morning if it was “a reach” to say Libya’s unrest has to do with in Iraq, Cheney was careful not to outright take credit, but said, “I think that what happened in Iraq, the fact that we brought democracy, if you will, and freedom to Iraq, has had a ripple effect on some of those other countries.”

Kilmeade and Cheney aren’t the first to assign credit for the Arab Spring.

Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress, a progressive blog, points out that a number of former President George W. Bush’s foreign policy people have tried to claim the Arab Spring justified the Iraq war, as laid out in this piece in Commentary Magazine.

But “Iraq is hardly a model of democracy,” Seitz-Wald argues. “And its leaders, rather than seeing solidarity with activists in other Arab countries and encouraging them, have done little to help the pro-democracy movement.”

The credit grabbing goes beyond politicians. In early July, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released an online fundraising video mimicking Mastercard’s “priceless” ad campaign, in which he lists a number of WikiLeaks actions and the prices associated with them. The camera then zooms into footage of the Egypt protests in Tahrir Square as Assange says “Watching the world change as a result of your work? Priceless.”

Dan Murphy at the Christian Science Monitor writes that the problem with the ad's assertion “is that it isn’t true.”

Murphy cites a decade of protests, political organization, bridges between secular and religious groups, online blogs and social networking sites all as more authentic causes of the protests.

Of course, there are also those who have been assigned credit for the Arab Spring and aren’t too comfortable with it, first among those being being Facebook.

At a recent Israeli conference, Facebook Vice President David Fischer downplayed the company’s role in the revolution.

“The social network gives people a way to express themselves and have their voice heard by governments and dictators — this was not so before,” Fischer said. “However, I think Facebook gets too much credit for these things. In the end, the people who make the revolution are the brave ones here.”

By  |  01:13 PM ET, 08/31/2011

 
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