Monday, January 31, 2011


Neocons Must Surely See Irony of Arab Revolutionary Activity

Along with most freedom supporting westerners I'm heartened by the changes in Tunisia and more recently the events in Egypt. Mubarak is an autocratic dinosaur who has persistently manipulated elections and employed repressive police methods including routine use of torture to extend his undistinguished years in power. Egypt has a huge wealth and income gap and the ruling elite is notoriously corrupt.

I've just seen Tony Blair saying Mubarak's fall is 'inevitable' and wondered if he and the US neo-cons he was so close to have reflected on the fact that their project seems to have been superseded by a more 'natural' political process. Rumsfeld and his cronies believed Iraqis would spontaneously rise up and welcome the western invaders rather than see them as, well, western invaders. Secondly they believed -Bush too- that a democracy in Iraq would establish a template others would seek to emulate, producing over time a democratic Middle East which it was assumed would be pro western.

Well, the crazy optimism of these assumptions has been exposed many times over by events yet now we see the possible beginnings of the very movement so desired by the neo-cons. One is tempted to think: 'If only they had waited a few years...'. It's kind of reminiscent too of the revolutions in Eastern Europe when the Iron Curtain came rattling down in the late 1980s. But there is no bipolar world divide this time and the radical Islamist threat is a new spectre sitting at the international table. The strength of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is a danger that Egypt could go the way of Lebanon where Hamas represents a distinctly undemocratic tradition. Israel and the US are clearly on tenterhooks, divided between welcoming the fall of a reviled autocrat and anxiety at the potential loss of a staunch ally.

Will Mubarak survive? I rather doubt it now but the awful Burmese leadership does so unabashed having outfaced a popular uprising, not to mention fellow geriatric Mugabe. Old Hosni is no doubt cognisant of his fellow autocrats' survival as well as what happened to the likes of Saddam Hussein, Caesescu and the like. He will hold on till the last but the role of the army will be crucial. So far it has seemed very happy to mingle in friendly fashion withe demonstrators but tomorrow's mooted one million people march could prove the decisive event for the future of Egypt and possibly the wider Middle East.

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