For over a week now, my television screen has been poisoned by the pictures of tens of thousands of Egyptians in the streets of Cairo demanding the removal of their President-for-Life, Hosni Mubarak. If there's a silver lining in this particular set of Muslims-rioting-in-the-streets footage, it is this: at least I haven't had to look at or listen to President Marriot-Suites 500 times a day (again) making the case that Reparations-for-Slavery-Disguised-as-Wise-Economic-Policy has been an absolute godsend for the American people.
(I watched some of that much-vaunted Bill O'Reilly vs. Barack Obama interview prior to the Super Bowl, and I will say this about it: Obama hasn't any real core principles. He simply says whatever he thinks he needs to say at any given moment. That has been obvious for the last three years to anyone with basic brainstem functions, so it wasn't as if O'Reilly got anything new out of him, and if it wasn't already crystal clear to you before, it should be after yesterday's tour-de-force of bullshit: Barack Obama has no answers to whatever question or problem is put before him).
What is happening in Egypt at the moment was, up to a point, entirely predictable. Which is why our government, press, intelligence and diplomatic services all seem to have been taken by surprise. Even the dumbest people on this planet, given time, will eventually get fed up with some situation and then decide to do something about it, even if they're not quite certain as to what they're pissed about, or what to do about it. I'm not going to pontificate on whether or not Mubarak is a prince amongst Men, or the worst sort of douchebag, because I have no first-hand experience, and because I know that at least 80% of what passes for information on the nightly newscast is someone's opinion, rather than facts. Mubarak's record, so far as I'm concerned, is not germane to the argument I'm about to make. I'm fairly sure that given the mold from which the typical Middle Eastern potentate is cast, he's probably the second-biggest Dick in the Universe, it being a toss-up as to whether Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, or Micheal Bloomberg deserves that title.
Egyptians are fed up with slowly starving to death. They are fed up with a country that is a police state in all but name. They have tired of a President who's appearance of a democratically-elected term of Office seems to have run nearly one third of his lifespan. He's an old man, now, which in the rough-and-tumble of what passes for politics in that part of the world, makes him vulnerable. Like the aged jackal which can no longer hunt or scavenge and which becomes vulnerable to the hyenas all around it. Yeah, yeah, spare me thee-mails; I did just compare the entire population of the Middle East to predatory canines. It fits. They certainly smell like offal-scavenging, predatory canines.
Anywhoo, the one thing that becomes painfully clear to anyone who is watching and paying attention is that despite all the lip-service being paid to "democracy" by some of those protesters, it's that no one in Egypt actually knows what democracy is, and it's even more apparent that no in in the White House knows what it is, either. So, all you talking heads on television can shut the fuck up about whether Obama makes a "powerful" statement in support of the Egyptian "democracy" movement. For a start, no such movement exists (more on this in a second), and secondly, because Obama talks so much that no one actually gives a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut about anything he has to say. There is no "statement" -- "powerful" or not -- that does any good in this situation. More than anything, the moment requires action more than grand elocution, and when it comes to action, well, that's not Obama's strong suit; he's not a doer.
And his elocutions are usually written by somebody else, too.
As to what actions I would take -- since I've opened my mouth -- you don't want to know what I would do. Suffice to say, the only way you'd ever be able to know there was such a place as Egypt when I was done, would be a visit to a museum. The same for Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, et. al. But, I digress.
For those of you who are beginning to buy the "democratic movement arises in Egypt" theme the American Press so fervently hopes to spin you with no actual facts to back that assertion up, I say this: you are engaged in wishful thinking, for there can be no democracy -- as we would understand it -- in the Middle East. There are no democratic institutions, for a start, and they could not be magically created overnight (see: Iraq). Sure, Egyptians could vote, but that's not the same thing. Purple fingers do not a democracy make, despite what George W. Bush and Barack Obama have told us. In fact, if given the chance to vote in fair, democratic elections, Egyptians are likely to do what the Palestinians and Lebanese have done, and....vote for the Terrorists and Islamonazis amongst them.
It's predictable. It's inevitable. It's what their culture compels them to do, because they don't know any better. When the smoke clears, and Mubarak and the other despots in the region who are also under threat from this nascent "freedom movement" are gone, we're likely to see even worse forms of government arise. "The Shah always falls", the saying goes, and what usually follows him is likely to be our worst nightmare. That part is always unspoken.
When someone speaks of "democracy" in the Middle East, what they're really talking about is the means by which people will willingly vote to destroy any vestiges, or possibility, of Freedom. At the moment, all the talk about "Freedom" in Egypt is little more than people using this month's new buzzword. A society which has no history of Freedom, which has gone from Pharaohs, to Caliphates, to Foreign Occupation, to Presidents-for-Life, all of it overshadowed by the threat of force, is a land totally devoid of even the simplest idea of what freedom is.
Primarily, Freedom is the ability to ask the simplest of questions -- Why? -- without getting a less-than-social visit from the Death Squads, Gestapo, or Clerical Authority intent on stamping out heresy. Heresy, in this case, being not strictly limited in it's scope to strictly religious subjects. In a place where it is illegal, perhaps even deadly, to question secular authority as well as religious, Freedom cannot exist. The foundation of Freedom is that ability to ask "Why?", and then get an answer from an authority which is compelled by force of Custom and Law to provide an answer that doesn't involve firing squads or false confessions signed under threat of continued beatings in a dank basement cell.
A very interesting aspect of this whole "What Happens in Egypt Now?" drama being played out on the television is the differences in point of view between so called Conservatives and so-called Liberals. The ersatz-Conservatives worry about "what comes next", while the ersatz-Liberals openly question why their Great Man of History, Barack Obama, has been relatively silent. The differences are mainly between people who;
a) wish to convince us that they're intellectuals, in all ways smarter than we,
b) wish to give the appearance of substance to their act of pretending to be intellectuals
And in neither case does either side come close to accomplishing their goal.
For Conservatives, the question "What Happens in Egypt Now", revolves around a binary star of Right-Wing bugaboos; the fate of Israel, and the need to prove that George W. Bush was right, all along. The Israel question is a difficult one, because it requires that a Right-Wing intellectual balance his Reason while never telling the truth about his real attachment to Israel. On the one hand, he has to argue that Israel is a Western-style, pluralistic society in a region where no others exist, and that on that basis it is the task of the United States to do everything in it's power to protect and support such a state, because in so doing, we live up to our ideals about freedom. Intellectually, this is a powerful argument, and in my opinion, absolutely true.
However, there is a strong element in American Right-Wing politics which sees Israel not so much as a democratic flower in a desert of despotism, as much as it sees in Israel the fulfillment of God's Prophecy, for without the State of Israel to build that Third Temple, the primary requirement for the Rapture cannot occur, and these religious idiots will be stuck here on Earth with all us sinners for eternity. For them, the preservation of Israel is a means by which to bring about Armageddon. Any threat to Israel threatens to delay what God hath ordained. They can't come out and say it, because these are largely the same people who decry the Islamic Theocratic states, and people in glass houses, etc, etc. It's why Mike Huckabee broadcast his weekly dreck from Israel this weekend, you know, when there was apparently no reason to do so (guess who is running for the GOP nomination in 2012, and just burnished his Godbot credentials on the backs of Egyptian protesters?)
Conservatives have a third reason for giving a turd about what happens to the sandy little buttholes in Egypt, too. This has to do with proving the point that George W. Bush was essentially correct without having to tell the truth about how half-assed his efforts truly were, that the Reverse Domino Theory (topple Saddam Hussein, watch the entire Middle East go democratic) works, and that The War, it's expense and it's sacrifices, Guantanamo, Renditions, all of it, was justified; we were on the side of the Angels all along -- even if we didn't find WMD's or direct links between Saddam and Al'Qaeda. The end result of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq would automatically be Democracy, and "stability", and therefore, less terrorism, more Freedom (vaguely defined) and more commerce. What Conservatives of this ilk never tell you, though, is that so far as they're concerned, "Stability" means nothing more than the free flow of Middle Eastern oil to Western Industry. If you've ever needed proof that even fire-breathing-Freedom-for-Everyone Conservatives will deal with the Devil, here's a short list of them: The House of Saud, The Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, The Jordanian Monarchy, Hosni Mubarak.
"Stability" (meaning there is no "trouble") often trumps the call to Freedom, it seems.
For Liberals, the question of "What Happens in Egypt Now" is more about what their self-described Elitist figures of the Mentally-Deranged Cult of Personality do and say. Appearances are always more important than substance in Left-Wing Circles, which is why a great many Liberal Flapping Rectums on the Idiot Box have been gravely disappointed with Obama on this issue. Where are the grand pronouncements from the Oval Office? Why hasn't there been a U.N. Resolution condemning this, but supporting that, and making it perfectly clear that while it apears as if somebody is being admonished and someone is being praised, no one is really taking sides? Where is the Shuttle Diplomacy between Washington and Geneva? Where are the grand-but-empty gestures of Treaties, and Memos and White Papers?
Where are the Kennedyesque, Cuban-Missile-Crisis-Quality, dramatic black-and-White photos of Obama in the White House Situation Room, surrounded by grave-faced dolts who have even less of a clue than he does, passing papers, looking all stern and concerned and Statesmanlike, feverishly "working" to solve a problem they neither understand, or have any workable solution to.
Great Men of History do these things. Whether they achieve anything of consequence is besides the point; they at least have the appearance of Great Men of History, with all the suitable backdrops -- the White House, the U.N. General Assembly Hall, the huddled masses of useless diplomats and sycophantic journalists enthralled by the oratory pearls of a Man Who Speaks Much But Says Little. They go through the motions, only with Drama, and most of that has to be manufactured for strictly domestic consumption.
Liberals don't actually expect Obama to be able to do anything (doing requires action, and ultimately, responsibility, neither quality is in Obama's, nor in the Libtard's in general, character, for that matter), but they wish to be seen as being effective, as being strong, capable, smart, on top of things, when the truth is that they're really just pretending.
Neither Liberals or Conservatives has an answer for Egypt, primarily because they don't understand, or cannot admit to themselves, the reasons why what has happened has happened. Egyptians are dissatisfied with their lot in life, as people usually are, and what they are crying and bleeding for in the streets of Cairo (just as they did in the streets of Tehran, Beirut, and Damascus) is that they at least want to have the opportunity to choose which demented douchebag inflicts their misery upon them, whether despotic secular or despotic clerical, or a combination of both. This is not, strictly speaking, democracy.
The answer both Libtards and Godbots come up with is essentially the same: a newer, kindlier-and-gentler version of the White Man's Burden, in which "enlightened" Westerners gently nudge (on the one hand with bombs and infantrymen, on the other with grand-but-empty gestures and words) our Islamic-nutjob-retarded-cousins in the "right" direction. Both sides ignore the real problem because the means by which it can be solved is too terrible to contemplate and leaves too many open questions which our so-called Elites cannot answer; how does one change an entire culture?
Because that is the real problem. Islamic culture, an oxymoron if ever there was one, is like a disease. Terrorists and despots are merely the visible signs of it, the pustules or the bad rash that occurs upon infection. The Terminal Phase of this affliction begins with shouts in the streets and ends with airliners being plowed into office buildings. One side believes the disease can be dealt with by simple comparison and learning lessons from with the West and calls to reason, and the other believes that it can be cured with good intentions, greeting card slogans, and dreams of Rainbows, Pixie Dust and Purple Unicorns.
Ultimately, the best solution lies in something far more sinister and destructive, which is a Pan-Islamic Asswhipping followed by a 200-year Cultural Enema, delivered by a strong, untied, and determined West. George W. Bush was correct in this assumption, but he didn't follow through and make his War on Terror a Terrible War, which might have begun the process of radically changing Islamic culture (just ask Japan and Nazi Germany how that worked out for them in the long run). Neither side in this Great Debate has to courage or the intellectual honesty to speak that truth, or even to acknowledge it, because in so doing they both trip all over their most cherished dogmatic beliefs, and would have to, necessarily, reveal their true motivations.
Whatever happens in Egypt is none of our business, insofar as Egyptians have the right to be led astray and given the shaft by anyone they chose. So far as I can see, if the protesters are successful, and Mubarak is chased from office, all they will have accomplished is a choice between Bad and Worse; another dictator-for-life, or another version of the Khomeini Revolution, but they will not have fundamentally altered either the source or the severity of the cancer which eats away at them. They will not have changed themselves or their culture.
When the American punditocracy (a.k.a The Flapping Rectums) asks the question in another decade, "Who Lost Egypt?", the first people they'll look to blame will be the American political class, but the real culprits will have been the Egyptians themselves.
Personally, I hope they all turn on each other and spend the rest of the century killing one another (their only real talent), because it saves us the trouble of having to do it ourselves. However, if I'm wrong (it's been known to happen from time to time) and there is a glimmer of hope that what is now happening in Egypt can evolve into something approaching a true democratic nation, then by all means, let it happen. Stay out of it. We can't do it for them; they have to figure this out -- and even perhaps fight it out --for themselves.