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How foreign media affect revolutions by John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor

For 41 years, Colonel Gaddafi has carried out his unconventional, sometimes cruel experiment in government. Supposedly it has all been done by and for the people.
And for those people suddenly to be able to tell the world’s press openly that the old system was actually run by a corrupt and hated clique, is a liberation in itself.
Sometimes this revelation of what people really think has been enough on its own to bring down the ancient regime.
The revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989 happened essentially because people rose up and confronted the crass fiction that the state was run for them and by them.

The more vulnerable a country is to Western pressure, the more likely its leaders are to step down when a revolution comes.
If President Hosni Mubarak had not been America’s ally, he might still be in his impressive palace in Heliopolis now.
Colonel Gaddafi has so far managed to hang on because he is too way out, too friendless internationally for anyone to be able to stop him using his tanks and air force to bombard his own people.
So the West’s care for human life and its free press are great at bringing down the less extreme dictators and not so good at bringing down the really nasty ones.
It is something to muse on.

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