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Young Geoffrey

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Protest like an Egyptian [Feb. 6th, 2011|07:04 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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Lessons from Egypt

Barack Obama is the probably the best possible President the United States could have, but all of his genuinely good qualities don't make a damned bit of difference in terms of U.S. foreign policy. There is a very simple reason for this: He's not the boss. The real boss, of course, is all of that fucking money, all of the profits to be made, and which have to be made because that is the criteria according to which corporations — and hence the U.S. economy itself — lives or dies. Profit must be made, and it is not made exclusively, or even primarily within the U.S. but outside of it, all over the world. That is the necessity that governs U.S. foreign policy. Not morality, not justice, and not Obama. In that sphere he, like any other President, more closely resembles Stepin Fetchit. Thomas Dow, via email.

It's been getting harder and harder for anyone in the Western world to pretend we live in a genuinely democratic society. Ironically — but also tellingly — our rulers have felt in ever-less necessary to hide the fact that they hold "the people" in contempt, just as they hold in contempt the idea of democracy itself.

As a Canadian, last summer's government-sponsored riots in Toronto (see "Dominion of Fear" from last July) tore a lot of the proverbial wool from my eyes, but not all of it. I think it Tony Blair's calmy racist para-logical contortions in support of anything but democracy for the Egyptian people to bring home to me the fact our own democracy is little (if anything) more than a potempkin voting booth.

Which prompted the following, an editorial first published in this past Friday's True North Perspective. Long story short, there are two lessions for those of us in the West to learn from the courageous men and women facing down the thugs in the streets of Egypt.

First, it's not our place to manage Egyptian affairs. Even if we accept the myth of Good Intentions, the result is almost always a torturer like Mubarak.

And second, we need to take back our own democracy; the men in black body armor are at the ready any time we step out of line.

Click here for the rest (behind the fake cut).

This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/213477.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: thefed
2011-02-12 08:50 am (UTC)
I hadn't read this before, good stuff. I really enjoy your analysis.

I only fear that the example in Egypt does not continue in the same vein as Mexico a state once similarly controlled by one party whose transition into democracy was a flimsy excuse for wealthy nationals and drug overlords to take over the country and prop up a failed state whose democracy is still questionable and whose efficacy as an international system of influence is best illustrated by the staggering numbers of migrants fleeing the once prosperous nation into unfriendly reluctant arms. That isn't to say that democracy isn't the best answer for either country. I just hope transparency and international cooperation are included in the checklist for fixing the broken system left by an abuser such as Mubarak.

I am excited and join the people of Egypt in celebration of their courage and success in standing up to a stubborn oppressive government. Corruption is a difficult monster to slay and aiming for the neck of the beast was a bold and risky strategy. I applaud and support the Egyptian people in this realm and look forward to what comes next. I hope that the west can impart guidance and assistance to whatever protoform emerges from the proverbial soup.

Like you I do see the need for calling out the West and its apparent hypocrisy on such matters but I credit the complications of world governance to the chains of history. The United States may not be able to take back George Bush's reign as over seer of the world for 8 years or make up for all of the mistakes of their past or realities of world systems but I want to think that part of believing in progressive politics requires resilient optimism and a keen look forward instead of a continuous resilience against perceived interest.

I don't want to sound like an apologist I just would like urge trepidation in criticizing the timing of western response with the basic realities of current history. Globalization has changed the game in so many ways that I think all of us are still trying to figure out the rules and if one side or another is moving pieces in new and surprising ways it should warrant a calculated response and not a knee jerk reaction. President Obama has supported Egypt and will continue to do so, the spin accompanying the tornado is all an attempt to make sense of the hurricane of new action in a controversial and highly volatile area.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2011-02-12 06:51 pm (UTC)

There's nothing 'apparent' about the hypocrisy (imho)

Like you I do see the need for calling out the West and its apparent hypocrisy on such matters but I credit the complications of world governance to the chains of history ... I don't want to sound like an apologist I just would like urge trepidation in criticizing the timing of western response with the basic realities of current history.

I think you're making the mistake far too many of us progressives and leftists have been making for decades. That is, we assume that behind the tortures and slaughters — the millions of dead in IndoChina in the 60s and 70s, the hundreds of thousands of dead in Latin America in the 80s, democratic government after democratic government overthrown or subverted when they didn't obey Western dictates, etc — is not imperial malice, but Good Intentions gone awry.

We need to stop pretending. Good intentions don't spend a trillion dollars a year, for decades on end, to crush the will of the people all over the world. Good Intentions don't pay for the training of torturers for decades on end. Good Intentions don't start wars based on lies (I'm not talking about Iraq this time, but about Nicaragua in the 1980s, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1970s, Grenada in the 1980s, and arguably even Serbia in the 1990s. Good Intentions don't sell arms to both Iran and Iraq and profit from the mutual slaughter of two million Persians and Arabs ...

The list is endless. Our governments don't really represent us and haven't for a long time. The crimes won't stop until we show the same courage as the Equptian protesters recently did.
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