2011/02/06

Further updates on Egyptian revolution

Why did Egypt's revolution occur to begin with? The answer given by the reporter Robert Fisk is that the dictator Hosni Mubarak failed to keep the country infantilized. Egyptians had gotten used to a strongman telling them what to do to the point where they had been transformed

...into political six-year-olds, obedient to a patriarchal headmaster. They will be given fake newspapers, fake elections, fake ministers and lots of false promises. If they obey, they might even become one of the fake ministers; if they disobey, they will be beaten up in the local police station, or imprisoned in the Tora jail complex or, if persistently violent, hanged.

As Harper's Scott Horton suggests, Egypt's economy was doing reasonably well, but wasn't keeping up with population growth. Economic shortcomings, especially as they impacted the employment opportunities for young men, were ultimatley decisive in getting Egyptians to shake off Mubarak's hold over their imaginations. A writer at FDL makes the comparison between Egypt's long-abused population and a battered wife/family. The primary difficulty Egypt is having is convincing the batterer that he is not the hero/protector he imagines himself to be, he is the problem. The problem, of course, with Egyptians depending on the US to play the hero and to help them is that the US has an authoritarian problem of its own.

The Obama governing pattern is consistent: When the economic elites crash and loot the economy, devastating millions, tell the public you’ll fix this. But then make only superficial changes in the power structure, promise to oversee them better using the people who were asleep or complicit the first time, but leave the essential structure and those who crashed it or let it fail in power.

So how has the “Bush Doctrine” fared? Has it been verified or has it been discredited? A piece in Daily Kos argues that the Doctrine has been hopelessly discredited. What precisely happened in Iraq?

Instead of being greeted as liberators, we were greeted as invaders. Long-simmering sectarian tensions caused a bloody civil war. Civil institutions collapsed completely. Law and order disappeared. Millions became refugees. A trillion dollars borrowed, spent, and never repaid. And many, many, of our finest citizens cut down in their prime. All to build up a democracy that chose our worst enemy as its closest ally. This is the final verdict the Bush Doctrine of democracy by gunpoint: a fragile, weak state propped up by a coalition of gangsters and theocrats. This is not what America should stand for.

What has the revolution in Egypt cost the US? Virtually nothing as it's run pretty much entirely by “People Power.” What did the US have to do with sparking the revolution in the first place? Again, virtually nothing. The decision was made there, by the people themselves. As Horton points out in the piece cited above, it's far from clear that out of the neoconservatives and the war on terror fearmongers,

Neither group seems to have any real mastery of the dramatis personae of the conflict and its economic and social underpinnings, or to understand Egyptian law as it affects succession, and so forth. The message they deliver seems keyed to domestic partisan politics and not towards helping us understand what’s happening in Egypt.
It’s dangerous to venture summary opinions about the developments in Egypt without understanding something about the country’s culture, economy, history, and political structures. I know enough to recognize that the great bulk of the “experts” being offered up on the U.S. media feed are no experts at all.

What baffles Professor of History Juan Cole is that Europeans are sensibly preventing G.W. Bush from visiting Switzerland by threatening to put him on trial for torture, but at the same time are supporting Omar Suleiman

for interim president of Egypt, even though he was the one who undertook the torture for Bush? Suleiman tossed some 30,000 suspected Muslim fundamentalists in prison, and accepted from the US CIA kidnapped suspected militants, whom he had tortured. Some were innocent. One, Sheikh Libi, was tortured into falsely confessing that Saddam Hussein was training al-Qaeda operatives, an allegation that [went] straight into Colin Powell’s speech to the UN justifying the Iraq War.

So, if everything goes well anyway and Mubarak and his henchmen are tossed out of power and some legitimate person is placed in power, is local Philadelphia columnist Christine Flowers correct and will Egypt quickly turn into an even worse place than it is now, with a Western-inspired dictatorship being replaced by an Islamic fundamentalist-inspired one? Dan Froomkin of the Huffington Post thinks that's unlikely.

"There is a liberal tradition in Egypt of people who support strengthening the rule of law, constraints on state power, and the notion that government is accountable to the people," he said. "I don't think they'd support any kind of theocracy."
As for the Brotherhood: "It's a middle class institution. Its leaders are lawyers, doctors, engineers and so on, who have in a very careful and systematic way over the last 15 years, debated how to reconcile the principals of Islam with democratic governance and have come up with thoughtful ways to do that."

Things are still uncertain and there are many things that can still occur. It's hard to come up with any predictions at this point, but there appears to be good reason to hope that a democratic revolution is just a matter of time.

Update: Angry Black Lady has a hilarious take on Sarah Palin's latest talk on the situation in Egypt.

1 comment:

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