Category Archive 'Revolution'

29 Jan 2011

Americans Wondering Which Side We Are On

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Latest news from Egypt:

Looters broke into museum, destroyed two Pharaonic mummies late Friday, says nation’s top archaeologist – Reuters. BreakingNews

Demonstrators loot luxury homes, gated compounds in Cairo’s suburbs as residents try to defend their property – NBC BreakingNews

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Tim Cavanaugh, at Reason, wonders what will happen.

Hosni Mubarak seems to have gotten another day to pursue his bold vision of remaining president of Egypt for another day. …

[W]ho’s lined up to take over Egypt[?] Ayman Nour, the Mubarak challenger who spent four years in prison following the 2005 election, has reportedly been injured in the demonstrations. Nobel laureate Mohammad ElBaradei, who just two days ago seemed like a joker trying to jump in with the winning side, has had his reputation burnished by being hosed down and put under house arrest by the regime. He also has a history of opposition to U.S. policy that makes it hard to tag him as an American puppet. But those are both long shots. Mubarak’s prisons hold plenty of innocent people and honorable dissidents, but they also hold some of the worst people on this planet.

Mubarak’s going down at all is another long shot. Apparently phone usage has been restored and the internet can’t be turned off forever. But what is euphemistically called Egypt’s “extensive security apparatus” plays out in reality as a situation where a great many people are implicated in the regime’s crimes and have a lot of incentive to keep it in place. In a world where you can’t even count on The New York Times to go out of business, you can never underestimate the ability of a discredited institution to linger.

Americans pay an immense annual bribe of American tax dollars annually to the illegitimate Egyptian dictatorship for being, to some degree, an American friend and ally. Being an American friend and ally, as far as I can see, in the Egyptian case consists of not attacking Israel and getting beaten again, declining to support fundamentalist Islamic efforts to overthrow corrupt regimes including itself, and now and then supporting some American policy at the United Nations. What a deal!

We Americans obviously do not care very much about who is president, or pharoah for that matter, of Egypt. We do tend to desire the government of that country to refrain from starting wars, building an arsenal of WMDs, or supporting terrorism. America has been supporting, propping up, and lavishly bribing, the government of Hosni Mubarak out of a not-unjustified fear that popular revolutions in Islamic countries do not turn out well.

Our bien pensant mainstream media is actively cheerleading the rioteers in Egypt’s streets, but has not done a very successful job of explaining what exactly they are so unhappy about.

Allegedly, Egyptians are up in arms because their country, which has never its thousands of years of history been a democracy, is ruled by a dictator who was not legitimately elected. American news outlets are assuring me that Egyptians generally feel profoundly chagrined by the lack of their ability to cast individual ballots in elections decided by millions of votes, and object strongly to the current government’s corruption.

I find it difficult not to be skeptical. If I could arrange to have the United States governed by an unelected, unremovable robot who enforced the original constitution reliably and impeccably, who arranged for adequate foreign defense and operated a rational and reliable system of courts, never made any new laws, and otherwise never bothered us at all, I think that I’d be very happy to live under a robotic dictatorship. Vivat Robbie!

It there any reason to believe that forcibly replacing Mr. Mubarak will cause free and fair elections to occur at regular intervals, or political corruption to vanish from Egyptian life? Maybe if we could arrange to have Mubarak replaced by a British viceroy, but that option is no longer on the table, regrettably.

I suppose the United States has an ideological obligation to support democracy. I’m willing to endorse a presidential decision to send in the marines to oust the dictatorship and install a legitimate government enjoying popular support, as long as that new government’s fundamental identity did not consist of Anti-Americanism and its political agenda was not focused on tyranny, war, and terrorism. But, in Middle Eastern countries, Anti-Americanism, jihadism, fundamentalist Islam, subjugation of women, and the active pursuit of quaint local customs like stoning people tend to be what new regimes enjoying popular support are all about. We can hardly send in the marines to install our own enemies into power and to bring the gift of barbarism to a people suffering under a peaceful and tolerant dictatorship, now can we?


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