Anne Applebaum and the ‘Delugist’ narrative on Tunisia

There is a powerful constellation of forces in the Middle East that wants to see Tunisia’s current popular uprising fail. This constellation includes: (1) All the other U.S.-supported autocrats in the Arab world, now terrified that Pres. Ben Ali’s hasty departure from the country his family has looted for so long may foretell their own; (2) The U.S. securocracy, which for years now has relied heavily on inserting military “advisers”, “trainers”, etc into the highest levels of all these autocracies to help it pursue some of the most repressive portions of the so-called “Global War on Terror”; and (3) The Israeli establishment, which sees the rule of autocrats in Egypt, Jordan, etc as essential to the continued repression of pro-Palestinian activities in and by these countries.
Last week, we saw so many amazing scenes of the unarmed, intentionally nonviolent Tunisian demonstrators taking to the streets of Tunisia’s cities… and they succeeded in forcing Ben Ali’s departure.
How could the various portions of the region’s anti-democratic constellation respond?
Mainly, they rushed to invoke (and also, perhaps, to help activate) an “Apres lui le deluge” kind of narrative designed to warn the citizens of other Arab countries that: (1) The downfall/departure of Ben Ali would lead only to chaos, instability, and social strife inside Tunisia, and (2) Therefore, the regimes of all the other US-supported countries where a Tunisian-style mass uprising might threaten should immediately be strengthened in their capacities to withstand any repeat of a similar uprising– including by being able to “point” to the Tunisian example as one of strife and chaos, rather than democracy and enhanced national unity, emerging from an autocrat’s overthrow.
The kind of example that Tunisia provides to other countries in the region has broad, regionwide implications…. and the framing of the narrative about Tunisia has already begun.
Exhibit A: This op-ed in today’s WaPo by rightwing columnist Anne Applebaum. (Only occasionally do the WaPo editors remind readers that Applebaum has been married for some years to the rightwing Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.)
Here is Applebaum, rewriting the (still so fresh!) history of the Tunisian uprising:

    Violent street demonstrations, followed by the toppling of a dictator, are an exhilarating way to bring democracy to an authoritarian society. They are not, however, the best way to bring democracy to an authoritarian society.

Violent street demonstrations??? What on earth is she talking about?
With this one little phrase she sullies the magnificent achievement of the hundreds of thousands of Tunisians who turned out on the streets last Thursday and Friday, still uncertain whether their unarmed bodies would be confronted with the bullets that the regime’s “security” forces had been so happy to rain down onto numerous other unarmed demonstrations around the country since mid-December.
And she stains the memory of the 60-100 demonstrators killed by the (U.S.-backed, U.S.-trained) “security” forces around the country in that time.
Since Ben Ali’s departure from the country on Friday, yes, there has been some violence and looting. Much of it (as the NYT and Al-Jaz, among others, have reported) was apparently committed by “security” men still loyal to the deposed dictator, and/or various members of different “security” forces duking it out on the streets after the collapse of the central authority.
Applebaum also tries to shrug off the degree of responsibility that Washington had for keeping Ben Ali in power– and still has, today, for the behavior and misbehavior of the country’s military and other “security” forces.
She blithely writes: “Americans don’t matter much in Tunisia, where France, the former colonial power and largest investor, has indulged and supported Ben Ali for decades, both materially and ideologically.”
But Ben Ali himself, who came to politics in the 1980s after a long career in the military, received his advanced training at the Senior Intelligence School (in Maryland, USA) and the School for Anti-Aircraft Field Artillery (Texas, USA), after doing his earlier training in France. And last year, the U.S.’s reported military aid to Tunisia was $16.9 million (p. 46 of this PDF.) People who know more than I do about the country say that while the U.S. is the main backer of the military, France has played an important role in supporting the country’s police.
The bottom line here: The U.S. is deeply implicated in both the behavior of the previous Ben Ali regime and the behavior of the “security” forces today.
… My main motive in writing this short post about Tunisia is to warn about the “Apre lui le deluge” narrative about Tunis that is already being heavily pushed by numerous parties very interested in preventing popular empowerment and the spread of real democratic rule in the Arab countries of the Middle East.
It remains true that the decades of (only thinly veiled) autocracy in Tunisia have left a legacy in the country where there are no robust, well-organized political parties of any coloring, that are currently able to exercise and project clear leadership around a unified program, negotiate with other parties in a clear and coherent manner, and– most importantly of all– to defend the country’s popular movement(s) from the plotting and schismatic interventions of various agents provocateurs who may be supported by who knows what forces from outside the country?
The sad fact is that anyone who tried to organize such a party or popular movement throughout the past decades has been subjected to torture, other forms of grave repression, or exiling. Just read the numerous reports that Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have published on the country throughout the past 20 years!
So the popular movement in Tunisia– let us please not infantilize it by giving it a western-style brand-name like the “Jasmine Revolution”!– faces some big challenges.
Al-Jazeera has good coverage. I was watching this short report in English from James Baize, which showed ordinary citizens acting in an orderly, calm, and nonviolent way as they stood in long lines to buy bread, or at makeshift neighborhood watch points. To me, that was good news.
There is something of an infant political process emerging… But yet, the attempts of other media to paint what’s happening in Tunisia as a “deluge” of violence and chaos still continue.
It’s far too early to say yet the real political change the country’s 10 million people need can all happen within the framework of the country’s existing (but long-ignored by Ben Ali) constitution, which mandates the holding of elections within, I think, the next six weeks– or whether some broader form of consultative and constitution-revision process will be needed.
Those calling for early elections may well be jumping the gun, since Ben Ali’s own party is the only one that has an intact nationwide infrastructure at this point and thus has a quite unfair advantage over all others… Also, in a time of rapid political change, elections can be very divisive, rather than fostering a sense of national unity and helping to build nationwide endorsement of agreed rules for the nonviolent, respectful interaction of differing political forces in the democratic system going forward.
So let’s look carefully and supportively at the political activities of all the now-emerging popular political forces in Tunisia. But let’s look, too, at the way the developments there get portrayed or misportrayed by ideologues elsewhere.

41 thoughts on “Anne Applebaum and the ‘Delugist’ narrative on Tunisia

  1. David

    The only thing more amazing than your claim above “(3) The Israeli establishment, which sees the rule of autocrats in Egypt, Jordan, etc as essential to the continued repression of pro-Palestinian activities in and by these countries” is how thoroughly the Arabs go along with it.
    And it’s not like there are big pro-democracy movements in these countries whose voices occasionally manage to get through there are at best isolated individuals that Tom Friedman from the NYT meets and then tries to convince everyone that these ideas are widely held just below the surface.
    If what you think is true – that authoritarian regimes are an Israeli plot then the Arabs are obviously their own worst enemies.
    Heck, even the Palestinians are moving from more democratic (PA) to more authoritarian (Hamas).

  2. bevin

    This is from the Angry Arab:
    “”Meanwhile, the full horror of repression over four weeks of demonstrations is beginning to emerge. Human rights groups estimate at least 150-200 deaths since 17 December. In random roundups in poor, rural areas youths were shot in the head and dumped far from home so bodies could not be identified. Police also raped women in their houses in poor neighbourhoods in and around Kasserine in the rural interior.
    Sihem Bensedrine, head of the National Council for Civil Liberties, said: “These were random, a sort of reprisal against the people. In poor areas, women who had nothing to do with anything, were raped in front of their families. Guns held back the men; the women were raped in front of them.” A handful of cases were reported in Kasserine and Thala last Monday. Rape was often used as a torture technique under the regime; opposition women report they were raped in the basement of the interior ministry, as were men, too.
    Rights lawyers were also gathering information on those murdered and dumped far from their villages, thrown into cemetery grounds, or offloaded at the side of the road or outside hospitals. These shootings were believed to have taken place in the past ten days. “Lots of these bodies are yet to be identified; they were purposely dumped far from their homes. Families think their young ones have been arrested. They don’t know they are never coming back,” said Bensedrine, who herself had been beaten and forced into exile before returning in recent days. You have to understand that under Ben Ali, it was a regime of torture, with beating, harassment and intimidation but not necessarily mass killing. The past four weeks has been different; it’s a massacre, it’s something else.”” (thanks Emily)

  3. JohnH

    David is being disingenuous, as usual. There is little more threatening to Israel that popular democracies in the ME, which like Turkey’s, would reflect popular opinion and not tacitly tolerate and keep quiet about Israel, as the dictators do. And so, it is in Israel’s interest to have dictators with whom it has unspoken understandings.
    Given the corruption and illegitimacy of these tyrants, it would not surprise me in the least if the understandings included extensive security cooperation with Israel, particularly in Jordan.

  4. Domza

    Why do you walk straight into Anne Applebaum’s Sunday punch, Helena?
    Of course the uprising was violent, and surpassingly so, and it would have been violent even if no demonstrator had thrown a single rock. This is the forcible overthrow of a government, which is the same kind of necessary and desirable violence that Marx and Engels referred to in the Communist Manifesto. It’s violence!
    The bourgeoisie and in this case Applebaum on their behalf are very clear. The bourgeoisie is ready for violence and demands a monopoly of violence for itself. It spills blood and expects to continue doing so. The violence that it cannot tolerate is not this blood-spilling kind, but the kind that is a regime-toppling act of collective will – the very thing that we have seen in Tunisia.
    I wish people would not waste time writing stories about the stories in the media, but instead would go and get some first-hand stuff. Who are the actors? What are they saying? How old are they? Which ones are Hoxha-ists? What flavour are the Tunisian Islamists? Who cares about the reformist ex-Communists? Are there any Social Democrats and if so, does anybody give a damn? You read Arabic and French. You can do this. Why then bother with the Applebaums?

  5. Chris Taus

    They’d all collapse within five seconds if we stopped funding and arming them. The west’s interest in Tunisia is cheap Labour so they’ll be opposed to anything that could open the way for democratic trade unions to form.

  6. Domza

    “Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly, and modestly. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”
    – Mao Zedong
    A revolution is violent ONLY because it makes change without asking permission. In any other respect revolution is not essentially violent, and usually not actually violent. But it is precisely in the sense of violence as doing-without-asking that the bourgeois Imperialists despise revolution.

  7. brian

    so what is the truth?
    ‘The first lady has also made domestic violence prevention a major priority of the AWO, and has called for greater public attention and reporting of violence against women in the home.[9]
    In a recent interview in Trends Magazine, the First Lady asserted the importance of Arab women in sustainable development and bettering the Arab women’s image were her main objectives as president of the AWO.[6]
    The first lady has been recognized for her contributions to these organizations in a variety of publications.
    In 2000, she was selected as the “World Family Personality” and in 2003 deemed “Person of the Year” in the Russian magazine The World of the Woman, for her activities to promote social welfare and women’s rights.’
    http://aangirfan.blogspot.com/2011/01/hitchens-on-tunisia-revolt-lies-about.html

  8. David

    There is nothing disingenuous about it, the question is obvious. If it’s such an obvious Israeli plot to maintain authoritarian governments in the Arab countries so Israel can continue to exploit the Palestinians, Why do the Arabs go along with it? Even the Palestinians are moving towards less democracy not more.
    During the cold war the Soviet Union would foster and sponsor popular uprisings against colonial governments. In blind cold war logic we (the US and the west) would then support some strong arm government who would suppress the popular uprising. Hence today we have a bunch of authoritarian governments across the Middle East and elsewhere. (I know this is overly simplistic).
    But popular uprising didn’t necessarily mean pro-democracy, it more often just reflected dissatisfaction with the status quo. Is the Tunisian uprising a pro-democratic one or just a rejection of the status quo? I hope it is a pro-democratic one but we’ll have to wait and see.
    Today’s NYT makes it sound very optimistic that some form of free elections may be held in the next few months. Democracy however takes more than just free elections. You also need an open and free economy – a true democracy can’t exist when 40% of the people are employed by the government. To have a free economy you need to eliminate corruption in government. To eliminate corruption in government you need an independent judiciary. And on top of all that you need a free press that can warn the people if any of these things start to go astray.
    There are no movements in Arab countries to achieve any of these things. This isn’t the fault of Israel and the US. For whatever the reason, the people in these countries do not seem to value the institutions that are required for democracy.
    Stop blaming Israel for everything wrong in the Middle East.

  9. Jack

    David, occasionally you hit the nail on the head –
    “To have a free economy you need to eliminate corruption in government. To eliminate corruption in government you need an independent judiciary. And on top of all that you need a free press that can warn the people if any of these things start to go astray.”
    These are some of the items to consider in assessing the current state of US democracy. Bail outs of the banksters,protecting the insurance and drug companies, Bush v Gore, striking down limitations on buying of elections, legalized corporate corruption of elections, the government mouthpieces in the NYT, WAPO, and the rest of the MSM?
    We are not there yet, but we are well on the way.

  10. David

    Jack,
    I’m interpreting your final statement as sacastism that we are moving away from democracy.
    Unfortunately, I agree with you. Especially your statement “the government mouthpieces in the NYT, WAPO, and the rest of the MSM”. We may disagree when it started but the jumb on the bandwagon for war with Iraq was the end of a large part of the balance in the MSM.

  11. John

    David:
    “If it’s such an obvious Israeli plot to maintain authoritarian governments in the Arab countries so Israel can continue to exploit the Palestinians, Why do the Arabs go along with it?”
    The Arabs don’t but, given their authoritarian governments, they get clobbered for speaking out (as peace groups in Israel are increasingly doing).
    “(I know this is overly simplistic).”
    So don’t over-simplify things to bolster your argument. We’re grown-ups; we can handle complexity, shades of gray, etc.
    “[…] you need a free press that can warn the people if any of these things start to go astray”
    Just what the people of Tunisia are asking for and (for what it’s worth) almost the first thing the new government has agreed to.
    “For whatever the reason, the people in these countries do not seem to value the institutions that are required for democracy.”
    That’s a mighty broad statement. Can you give us some evidence to back up a statement that says, in effect, that no citizen (or denizen) of an Arab country favours democracy?

  12. John

    David:
    “If it’s such an obvious Israeli plot to maintain authoritarian governments in the Arab countries so Israel can continue to exploit the Palestinians, Why do the Arabs go along with it?”
    The Arabs don’t but, given their authoritarian governments, they get clobbered for speaking out (as peace groups in Israel are increasingly doing).
    “(I know this is overly simplistic).”
    So don’t over-simplify things to bolster your argument. We’re grown-ups; we can handle complexity, shades of gray, etc.
    “[…] you need a free press that can warn the people if any of these things start to go astray”
    Just what the people of Tunisia are asking for and (for what it’s worth) almost the first thing the new government has agreed to.
    “For whatever the reason, the people in these countries do not seem to value the institutions that are required for democracy.”
    That’s a mighty broad statement. Can you give us some evidence to back up a statement that says, in effect, that no citizen (or denizen) of an Arab country favours democracy?

  13. David

    John,
    That’s right as Israeli peace groups are now doing. As civil rights marchers risked life and limb here in the US. As groups all over the world defy authoritian regimes as they advocate for change. The threat and use of force alone does not stop protesters. It may reduce the occurence but not eliminate it.
    I make it overyly simplistic for space. I think whole books have been written on this subject.
    I did not say “no citizen”. I said that “the people in these countries do not seem to value the institutions that are required for democracy”. My evidence is as in paragraph one above – nothing will stop a people from advocating for change. I just don’t see the evidence of people yearning for democratic institutions. I don’t mean this as a slur, definitely a disappointment but not a slur.
    Again, let me state it for the record. I hope democracy breaks out in Tunisia and across the Middle East. Egypt. Jordan. Morocco, Algeria are excellent candidates. And the best candidate of all, Palestine. (I even used your preferred name). But where is the evidence that the people demanding it?

  14. David

    Sorry, I don’t think I made myself clear on the overly simplistic thing. I was trying to make the point that the authoritian regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere are not that way because Israel and the US planned them that way. It was to a certain extent in the interest of the US for them to be that way. Israel had nothing to do with it.

  15. JohnH

    Oh, David, cut the BS. We have all watched as Israel Firsters vilify Erdogan for trying to democratically change the Turkish constitution and assert civilian control over the military. Bottom line–Israel and its chorus in the US are terrified of democratic regimes in the Arab world. And for good reason. Democratic regimes, like Turkey’s, do not take lightly to Israeli shenanigans, like assassinations of their citizens on the high seas. Politicians in democratic regimes are also more likely to tap into and exploit that deep well of resentment caused by Israeli dispossession and oppression of Palestinians.
    No, it’s not ALL Israel’s fault, though you are certainly quick to pull the victimization card every time Israel’s behavior gets criticized.

  16. David

    JohnH,
    Just so you’re certain, I don’t speak for the Israeli government. I am fairly sure however that my views are shared by a good many although probably not in the Likud.
    If there were democratic governments there quite possibly would be peace and Israel wouldn’t be oppressing the Palestinians.
    I’m glad to hear you recognize that it’s not all Israel’s fault but it sure would be good to hear someone on this blog voice an opinion sometime of something that isn’t Israel’s fault.

  17. JohnH

    If the self-anointed “international community” allowed a Sudan-style election in the Occupied Territories, you can bet that they would separate from Israel’s heavy hand immediately.
    Would you and your Likud friends support that kind of democratic outcome? But, no, that’s not Israel’s fault, either.

  18. Domza

    Same old same old – the Hasbara wants all the attention, me, me, me, me. Somebody else takes the bait, you, you, you, you. Waste of time. Snore, snore, snore snore.
    Would somebody mind awfully paying attention to the fact that Tunisia is an African country and is an integral and inseparable part of the African liberation “narrative”?
    Hey, you, get offa my narrative!

  19. Shirin

    there are at best isolated individuals that Tom Friedman from the NYT meets and then tries to convince everyone that these ideas are widely held just below the surface.
    Wow! Are you actually citing Tom Friedman as someone who 1) has real connections in the Arab “street”, 2) has any credibility with anyone here regarding the Arab world? Or are you joking?
    If what you think is true – that authoritarian regimes are an Israeli plot…
    I think you need to reread what Helena wrote because I am sure you are not intentionally misrepresenting what she said.
    Heck, even the Palestinians are moving from more democratic (PA) to more authoritarian (Hamas).
    Oh, I get it now! You have been trying out your latest standup comedy routine on us! Gosh, David, I think it needs more work before you take it live.

  20. David

    JohnH,
    The “Occupied Territories” are just that, they are under military occupation. Countries, peoples, areas under military occupation don’t get to “vote” to end that occupation. It’s a matter of meeting security needs that led to the military conflict that caused the occupation.
    What group wouldn’t vote to unilaterally end a military occupation?

  21. David

    Shirin,
    The comment about Tom Friedman was poorly phrased without any quotes from specific columns he wrote. And no, he lost any crediblity he may have had when he supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
    I don’t think I have mis-read Helena’s post. Her three points above imply that the US and Israel prefer and actively work towards supporting autocratic regimes.
    It’s not a stand up comedy routine, but thanks for the review. For whatever the reason the Palestinains had for voting for Hamas, whether it’s they share the rejectionists goal of destroying Israel or a repudiation of the corruption of the PA, Hamas is a less democratic orgainzation than the PA. Hamas is an Islamic Fundelmentalists organization.
    Whether it’s Islamic Fundelmentalist, Christian coalition in the US or the Orthodox parties in Israel, they are not going to be protective of individual rights or democratic institutions such as an independent judiciary. These groups have a preconceived idea of what society should be and will always work towards forcing society into their ideals. How open and honest they are to forcing society to their ideals varies with every group.

  22. Domza

    Tzipi Livni has cancelled a speaking tour of South Africa scheduled for this week for fear of being arrested as a war criminal. Viva the revolutionary South African people, Viva!

  23. N.Z.

    Why do they love oppressing us?
    This movement of middle class, educated young men and women in Tunisia is intoxicating to those that are hated, and alarming to those that hate.
    Just take a moment and compare regime change in Iraq by those who hate, and regime change in Tunisia by those who are hated !
    If a people wanted life, destiny will surely respond.

  24. N.Z.

    Why do they love oppressing us?
    This movement of middle class, educated young men and women in Tunisia is intoxicating to those that are hated, and alarming to those that hate.
    Just take a moment and compare regime change in Iraq by those who hate, and regime change in Tunisia by those who are hated !
    If a people wanted life, destiny will surely respond.

  25. Domza

    “Alternative” is what hippies are. I’m not a hippy, Brian. Parking me in some “alternative” pigeon-hole is not just insulting, it’s lazy. What are you, a dilettante? Are you playing games? Is this “recreational” for you, or what? Explain.

  26. brian

    ‘Whether it’s Islamic Fundelmentalist, Christian coalition in the US or the Orthodox parties in Israel, they are not going to be protective of individual rights or democratic institutions such as an independent judiciary. These groups have a preconceived idea of what society should be and will always work towards forcing society into their ideals. How open and honest they are to forcing society to their ideals varies with every group. ‘
    Dave…the defender of israel and ‘democracy'(?)
    Individual rights? What about the rights of communities? Individual rights to what?
    Given the behaviour of the US judiciary to the Cuban 5 and Posada Carriles, how independent is the US judiciary?
    Also democracy(rule by the people) exists nowhere.
    ‘Stop blaming Israel for everything wrong in the Middle East.’
    the list of wrongs caused by israel ranges from the lavon affair, thru the invasion of Lebanon to the murder in Dubai….and hat were those dancing israelis in NY doing being so cheerful on 9-11?

  27. anonym

    It is ironic that Mrs. Appelbaum, wife of Mr Sikorski, would talk like that – her hubby would not be what he is today and she would not benefit from his position now – if not for sometime violent demostrations of the Polish workers, and the Solidarity movement. It is sickenignto read how she twists her thinking.

  28. Ai Weiwei

    nationalinterest.org/article/israel-and-arab-democracy-561
    “In April, President Bush hosted Prime Minister Sharon at his Texas ranch. As they discussed the future of the Middle East, the president stressed the significance of democratization in the region. “It is a precondition for security, stability and prosperity”, said Bush, according to the Israeli participants, “since only a democracy would want to halt terrorism and promise a better life for its citizens.”
    The Israeli leader responded: “I have no doubt that if the Arab world surrounding us would be a true democracy, Israel could take far greater risks than today.” This was music to Bush’s ears, but Sharon also asked the president not to overlook Israel’s interests in the process. The greatest obstacle for peace, he said, “is the Arabs’ reluctance to acknowledge the birthright of the Jewish people to establish a Jewish state in their historic cradle.”
    MJ Rosenberg made a similar argument at TMP Cafe a couple of years ago. “Make deals now while we still can” etc.
    warincontext.org/2011/01/15/will-tunisia-be-a-turning-point-for-arab-democracy/
    voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2011/01/obama_to_mubarak_dont_change.html
    Hezbollah represents the Majority in Lebanon David.

  29. Ai Weiwei

    “Heck, even the Palestinians are moving from more democratic (PA) to more authoritarian (Hamas).”
    Learn to read,
    http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/18/building_a_police_state_in_palestine
    ———–
    “If we are building a police state — what are we actually doing here?” So asked a European diplomat responding to allegations of torture by the Palestinian security forces. The diplomat might well ask. A police state is not a state. It is a form of larceny: of people’s rights, aspirations and sacrifices, for the personal benefit of an élite. This is not what the world meant when it called for statehood. But a police state is what is being assiduously constructed in Palestine, disguised as state-building and good governance. Under this guise, its intent is to facilitate the authoritarianism which creates sufficient popular dependency — and fear — to strangle any opposition.
    The transition from the lofty aspiration of statehood to a scheme intended to usher West Bank Palestinians into a new alleviated containment — a new form of remotely-managed occupation — is not some unfortunate error. The roots of this manipulation of the Palestinian aspiration into its opposite — cynically dressed up and sold as statehood — were present from the outset. Professor Yezid Sayyigh has shown how U.S. and EU rhetoric “promoting democratic development and the rule of law is pious at best, at worst disingenuous”. Both America and Europe bear responsibilities for this betrayal.
    ———-

  30. Domza

    [Nahda Party’s Rachid] Ghannouchi told the Financial Times: “Democracy should not exclude communists … it is not ethical for us to call on a secular government to accept us, while once we get to power we will eradicate them.”
    Sounds good to me.

  31. Donald

    It’s ironic, but in today’s NYT Week in Review section you have Elliot Abrams (the ultimate neocon) cheering for the Tunisian protestors and criticizing the Obama Administration for not supporting democracy in the Arab world. Except for his pretense that Dubya was truly supportive of Arab democracy, I agree with him on this. (While still thinking Abrams should be in prison). link
    But probably more representative of the neocon viewpoint is the Robert Kaplan piece. link Kaplan clearly thinks it’s fine for the US and Israel to support friendly Arab autocrats and he fears any Arab democracy which might not be as friendly to Israel.

  32. BughouseWW

    Well, I can sleep soundly, and so should Tunisian protesters who are using their bodies to demand control over their own lives in their own country: Jeffrey Feltman is on the case. As Feltman did in Lebanon in 2006, Feltman will attempt to do in Tunisia.

  33. super390

    David,
    I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before, but I haven’t been here in a while so I will say it again.
    Google “A Clean Break”, the paper written by Cheney’s PNAC associates for the Likud. It calls for the construction of an ultra-capitalist Israeli economy that could ignore any US sanctions against what the Likud wished to do next, and the neutralization of all the Arab nations, meaning to make them like Egypt. Then those same bastards helped Cheney plan the invasion and occupation of Iraq, to neutralize it.
    Iraq and Gaza are the same war, David.

  34. David

    All,
    I made a comment in one of my posts above that I wish to retract or at least am reconsidering: “For whatever the reason, the people in these countries do not seem to value the institutions that are required for democracy.”
    In an article from someone at the American University in Cairo on Huffington Post (sorry no link) pointed out that Mubarak has systemically marginalized opposition groups. And this got me to thinking maybe my analogy is wrong. I use the civil rights movement in the States as a comparison. On the news two weeks ago, the birthday of MLK, the story of the first black student at the University of Georgia was shown. In the newsreel from the time you see this tiny black woman of 18 in this sea of whites shouting racist slogans as she enters the campus and I can’t help but think “how much courage that required”? And it’s not as if the worse that could happen was someone would throw bubble gum in her hair. At that time the police regularly tortured and killed blacks who challenged the Jim Crow segregationist laws.
    So if an 18 year old black girl can risk her life to challenge authority, I have a hard time understanding why can’t pro-democracy forces in Egypt can’t. But maybe there are other factors to consider.

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