Sunday, February 20, 2011

Protests the World Over

Protests in Iran, Morocco and China, as protests against repression circle the globe.

With protests now planned for China, it seems that no dictatorship is immune to the protests sweeping the world. The Middle East protests in particular show the power of our ideals of democracy. Concept of human rights and democracy are steadily taking hold even in the Arab speaking world. This has surprised me, but I am not the only one. It shows how little we know about the daily life of peoples throughout the world. Ultimately, I believe that democracy is the only answer to the question of peace. As long as whether there will be peace or war is in the power of a single man or ruling oligarchy, the incentives for war remain high. Further, opposition movements can tout their "purity" and use a platform of war, against Israel and the U.S. in this case, to bolster their memberships. Democracy causes governments to count the cost of war. Throughout history, war has been the great ravager of wealth. Most people understand this, which becomes a built in bias in the electoral system against those who would wage war. (I know there are contra-examples, but this is due to the delusion and promise by politicians that war can be fought on the cheap with benefits that will exceed costs, which is seldom true.)

But their is danger as well. A strong undercurrent of Islamic fundamentalism, long suppressed in some of the secular dictatorships could lead to more theocracies like Iran's with attendant threats to what little peace there is in the region. In such an event we would be trading a dictatorship friendly to our interests to one inimical to our interests. This is why those who profess to practice Realpolitik believe that we should prop up regimes like the Sauds' and Mubarak's. However, that is recipe for long term disaster, because no regime lasts forever, and the people eventually associate the U.S. with repression, not liberty. Why is America wildly popular in the former East Bloc nations? Because we consistently called for and pushed for their release from Soviet hegemony. The opposite is true today in Egypt.

However, I am still hopeful, we see that the public can learn from events. A war would be a disaster for Egypt for example and might take the wind out of the sails of antisemitism. The people there are unhappy with their economic condition, and need tourism to get their economy moving. There are powerful forces of self interest that might prevent a take over by an Islamic fundamentalist movement that is hostile to democracy. However, the fundamentalists seem the most willing to use violent means to seize power, reminiscent of the Bolsheviks in 1917. These are indeed dangerous times, war is by no means out of the question, as a result of these events. Our government needs to be prepared.


  1. I don't believe Egypt is as susceptible to theocratic overthrow as other regimes in the area.

    The money is in the oil, and the thin thread of power held by the Saudi family becomes a balancing act.

    A few months ago, I was perplexed by your apathy of the need to become disengaged with our dependence on foreign oil.

    Since our domestic supply is still untapped and will require years to bring to fruition, do you not see the need with such power hanging in the balance?

  2. Dawg, agree about Egypt, but it is still scary. Maybe I will address the oil situation later.

  3. I am so old that the person who wrote Eisenhower's military industrial speech was the president of the college I attended. That speech has heavily influenced my political views.

    You say throughout history war has been the ravager of wealth. To reach $100 billion in federal budget reductions, the Republican leadership needed only to call for the complete withdrawal of all troops and support for the "poppy" country disaster. Unfortunately, the Republicans leadership is as captured by the military industrial (as well as FIRE) establishment as Obama. Rand Paul is my only hope.