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Thursday, February 17, 2011


So, right, like everybody, I've been thrilled and moved and excited and enthralled, and if we stop the movie right here, right now (watching the world wake up from history!) and the credits roll, then man, that is one feel-good Hollywood-ready adventure.

But I fear the hard part is just starting.

Up until now there has been a solid alliance between, if you'll forgive the bleak analogy, the Girondists and the Jacobins. My take is that the literate urban Facebookers can actually win democracy and civil liberties, at this point, if they can deliver to the military a functioning economy pretty soon. The military will go for a "Turkish solution" in return for stability. But to do that, the remarkable Wael Ghonim (from web 2.0 marketing dork to national hero in a month! -- his twitter feed from Jan 9 to Feb 9 is the most inspiring and eyeball-kicking SF narrative I've read this year, not to mention the Dream TV interview) and his buddies have to prove that they can get the workers -- whose pressing issues are economic, not political -- to stop striking. That won't be easy. Liberty, once awakened, is hungry.

I want them to win -- all of them, the geeks with villas in Dubai and the workers at the Suez canal. May their solidarity with one another not be a passing thing. Go Egypt go!

(Which doesn't, by the way, mean I think the workers should stop striking just to placate the military. That's for them to decide. I just think the democratic forces, Jacobinite and Girondist, should hang togther -- or else they will hang separately.)

Update: this is a fascinating, distinctive, and seemingly plausible take. And this is in some ways a good counterpoint to it.

Posted by benrosen at February 17, 2011 06:25 PM | Up to blog

In such situations, only organization counts. There are only two groups with the necessary organization to win: the military and the Moslem Brotherhood. We have seen what Moslem Brotherhood rule looks like: Hamas is the Moslem Brotherhood in Gaza. Ask the PLO supporters in the Gaza Strip what their rule is like: Absolute brutal suppression of any other point of view. I am betting on the military and I hope they win.

Lots of brutal dictatorships have taken over under the guise of free elections and democratic processes. Hitler, Stalin, the Iranian clergy, etc. They all claimed to support a democratic system until they got in power. After that it was: support us completely or be eliminated.

As far a Turkey goes, the Turkish constitution demands the secularity of the state. The Turkish army is the guaranteer of that under constitution.

The Moslem Party which now rules is, like the Moslem Brotherhood, led by very smart people. Their plan was, and is, to proceed very slowly with Islamicization, even keeping good relations with Israel, lest the army throw them out. What they have done is, starting at the bottom, they have filled the ranks of the army with mostly religious people. They now control up to through Colonels. They are going to win, have already won, really, and will soon reveal their real agenda which is a Moslem state ruled by Sharia and a program to destroy Israel.

Posted by: DMR at March 9, 2011 04:15 AM

Which was the democratic election which allowed Stalin to take power, exactly? Not that your point isn't well taken, but it's a funny example; Stalin succeeded Lenin who had already established a dictatorship off the proletariat.

I read that MB in Egypt, while an offshoot of the same movement that led to Hamas, is a good deal more moderate. I think there are plenty of nuances between Muslim parties, and to me your take on Turkey's moderate Islamists seems alarmmist. Got any links to actual data? (You like Wikileaks, so if any of it is classified you can always leak it there first, then link). My sense is that they are the exact equivalent of European Christian Democrats; not that European Christian Democrats are always disinclined to skullduggery, see Project Gladio in Italy (a false-flag operation in which the Christian right engaged in terrorism to discredit the left) I'm sure the Turkish Muslim party is not particularly keen on Israel -- hardly surprising, that -- but you have a lot of convincing to do, to establish that they are plotting Iran-style theocratic takeover. Filling the army with "your guys" is not necessarily proof of that; I think that's pretty par for the course for administrations all but the most developed countries.

Frankly, realistically, even Iran does not have a program to destroy Israel, other than waiting for Israel to go away. They are of course developing nukes, but they are no more actually hoping to use them than the USSR was hoping to launch against the US in the Cold War. Even if abandoned up by the US, Israel would itself retaliate and Tehran would be vapor. Nukes might provide cover for conventional attacks without fear of Israeli nuclear retaliation -- except of course for the fact that in a conventional conflict Israel can hand its ass anyway.

Iran's short term plan, in my view, is to act enough like a "rogue state" to keep oil prices high, increase their regional influence, and be the heroes of the Muslim street, while not actually doing something (like starting a hot, non-proxy war with Israel) that would invite real retaliation or get them invaded. Their long term plan is to wait for the US to collapse economically, China to become the major power, and see what the new field of play looks like. This is not to say they wouldn't like to establish Shari'a throughout the world, but that's about as relevant as the number of US congresspeople planning for the total conversion of the Jews in Israel just before the Rapture. Religious dreams are one thing, realpolitik another.

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at March 14, 2011 12:45 PM
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