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ghsts On February - 12 - 2011

Like most Americans I know very little of Middle Eastern languages, culture and politics that hasn’t be filtered through the eye of the main stream media.  Kifaya (كفاية) has been loosely translated as Arabic for enough, but even that word standing alone can define a movement.  Enough food, enough money, enough pain, enough love, enough of this?  We live in a world where that word’s positive connotation has been all but exorcised from public consciousness.  When the Egyptian protesters shout “Kifaya” they are not trying to say they are satisfied, they mean “No more!”

President Obama echoed yesterday, “This is not the end to Egypt’s transition, it is a beginning,” and somehow it feels more like Frodo saying “… and you want me to take the ring where?”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr8RV3YXXkk[/youtube]

Most have already seen this Bill Maher’s New Rules segment that brings the sad truth home for all of us and we are left to laugh uncomfortably if only to stave off paralyzing depression.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5_EbZlLPfw&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

The Middle East has shown the world that with enough will, demonstrators and activists can achieve a voice that cannot be ignored or outlasted.   In one sobering sense this was a people’s coup, however without the support active participation of the Egyptian armed forces one can only envision Tiananmen Square.  Cautious optimism was the tone from our administration for good reasons and we have seen where elections are not a panacea for social justice and peace in the region, [sic] Tehran.

So what do these changes mean for US?  The imperial line has always been to divide and conquer in regional politics and as one blogger here reminded me that abandoning our old “friends” would have been schizophrenic (got to love that word.)  I would suggest that our country needs to collectively refill its Thorazine prescription as US foreign policy has been nothing but schizophrenic over the past 30 years and most recently downright delusional.  We look at Egyptian secularist government, education and culture and see a positive reflection of western Id.  As CNN’s Mark Tutton writes, ” TV soap stars are the favorite subject of the region’s celebrity magazines. While celebrity culture may not be as all pervasive in the Middle East as in, say, the United States or India, Egyptian entertainers appear on magazine covers and fill column inches and TV air time throughout the region.”

We must ask at what cost, not only in US aid dollars comingled with munitions and arms contracts to the point much of it ended into the bank accounts of General Dynamics Corporation or GM, but also to the Egyptian people.  MSM seems to have a single voice; Mubarak severely oppressed only the Islamists, a small minority.  Egyptians tell a more complex story and the sooner the US acknowledges its role or errors in supporting the repression the closer we come to being allies of the people not just the state.  How much oppression is enough to keep us safe, should not be an acceptable way to frame the question for Egypt or the US.

Are we witnessing a peaceful revolution or merely a changing of the guard?  Noah Webster when defining revolution as;  rev·ō·lū′tion, n.  8. overthrow of a government, form of government, or social system, with another taking its place, he wisely places our relevant meaning at the bottom of the list as to add the emphasis of ‘last but not least.’  When Obama emphasized “the Egyptians hunger for change,” and used the Egyptians as qualifiers, I couldn’t help but cringe slightly not just to his words or meaning, but my belief that it is much easier long for enough of the “good stuff” than it is to be satisfied.

Written by ghsts

glass house stone throwing society

16 Responses so far.

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  1. Buddy McCue says:

    Egypt from space:
    [img][/img]

    I KNEW Cairo was a big city, but this is an impressive picture.

  2. Sabreen60 says:

    A little side information:

    I turned on AJE last night and caught part of a story detailing what has happened in Egypt since 2008. It seems that a few people instrumental in the current revolution in Egypt met with a leader of the Serbian revolution. (Sorry I don’t have names). The Serbian shared a lot information and impressed on them the absolute importance of remaining non-violent, along with providing some pointers on organization.

  3. choicelady says:

    ghsts -- and Khirad while I’m at it. I’m confused here. For the past week smothered in both on-the-street contact with Egyptians and vast numbers of emails from them and supportive Muslims, I’ve been pretty clear that they were pretty clear about what they wanted. I’ve also gotten huge feedback that they thought Obama did everything right at the right time. They told me they believed he honored what they wanted instead of telling them what they wanted, that he accepted their choices rather than demanding they protect US interests.

    So here is what I got told last night -- the goal was to get out both Mubarak AND Suleiman. They trusted neither man or the ruling class. They do not have the same relationship to the military that other nations have -- it has NOT been an agent of repression (that was Mubarak’s police who were) but still, as with any group controlling large weaponry, it’s not wholly trusted either. But they believe the military is on their side. For now. They have said it will take a year to get parties formed, to begin to find candidates, for constitutional revisions, etc. They are prepared to invest the time, let the military run the machinery of government until then, AND they believe the miliary WILL accept the votes of the people.

    I am not Egyptian. This is not my call. I have to trust the people -- crying for finally achieving the success after decades of work -- and trust that they will either shape a democracy or resist whatever threatens it.

    I saw an interesting blurb yesterday by a TP member who snorted -- “Millions in Egypt is a democratic revolution but millions at tea party rallies in the Capitol is not?” Well, of course, respondents said they’d had only 87,000 -- but everyone missed his point. He ADMITTED that they wanted to overthrow a DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED administration. That is night and day from what Mubarak was. He admitted the goal was treason.

    Wow.

    And now, snarkily, Maher wants us to have a revolution, too. Oh? I don’t. I want us to have a massive protest against CORPORATE domination and against the elected officials who support that -- but overthrow a democratically elected president and administration? No.

    I want none of the pseudo-progressives’ (who never do a lick of work to create change)whiny BS. For my Egyptian American friends, whose lives have been utterly transformed by this, our whiny complaints are those of children. In fact the Egyptian kids last night were more knowledgable and engaged than MAher or the constant whiners. They know what secret police really ARE. They have friends and family who have disappeared, or reappeared only -- not who they once were.

    So if we’re going to confront the corporate menace in American politics, we need people more like the Egyptians and vastly less like Maher. The enemy is clear, and it’s not Obama. It’s not our differently inclined neighbors. It’s not someone who doesn’t fit a narrow view of being politically correct. The enemy is a small class of people and their elected lapdogs who have nothing less than absolute control of America in mind. They say they want “to get back before Roosevelt” only they mean Teddy, not Franklin. And they MEAN it.

    So if we DO wish to emulate the Egyptians, Mr. Maher, we all need to focus on the REAL enemy as they did -- not the snarky scattershot at everyone who pisses you off but a focused target of who has the real power, who is the real threat. If we can do that, maybe we will make change. But we have to know who the real threats are, not just rip off jokes at who’s handy.

    • Khirad says:

      My favorite moment of bagger obliviousness was when Glenn Beck was weaving his conspiracies, telling the Egyptian PEOPLE they were being played by nefarious forces, that it wasn’t a TRUE populist movement. After all, who was organizing and paying for this?, he asked. They were good people, but they were misguided and naïve, they didn’t understand the consequences of radicals which would come to power and make things even worse than they are now.

      Breathtaking, no?

    • ghsts says:

      Yeah, I don’t get HBO, only see the clips of Bill, this one highlights the overthrow of corruption and digging your heels in. Not the farce that is the bagger movement (Bill Maher is not bill oreilly). You seem to be misplacing your anger here, Maher is not a whiner to suggest one look in the mirror it seems wholly appropriate at this time. I remember working quite hard for an elected official who promptly handed the keys of the hen house back to the foxes.

      So who is the enemy in the US, since you’ve been out of the country a while give us some perspective.

      • KQuark says:

        I beg to differ about Maher. Just because he’s suppose to be “one of us” he should not get a pass. If he wanted to start a revolution against corporate influence why didn’t he start with just asking AH a few tough questions? That’s cowardice and hypocrisy in my book. Of course he’s not O’Reilly and CL did not say that.

        • ghsts says:

          Corporate influence in Government is NOT the same as in Entertainment. Hypocrisy is expecting the court jesters, who have very little influence, to the same standards as elected officials. He was a critic of Clinton, w, Obama, most congressional nonsense, consistently.

          • KQuark says:

            Who said it’s the same for purely entertainers?

            But corporate influence over the news media is hugely dangerous to democracy. Bill Maher in that regard likes to say he’s entertainment when it’s convenient but his show is one big op-ed column trying to be humorous.

            Aryanna still claims her site’s blog is 15% about news and politics.

            I bet when it’s Fox News you worry about corporate influence over the media even if part of their pundits claim to be entertainers.

    • KQuark says:

      I missed your insights CL.

      Where was the revolutionist Maher when he was throwing softballs at corporatist Aryanna?

      Yeah right Maher will want a revolution until he can’t get the organic foods he likes.

  4. KQuark says:

    I have more confidence in the Egyptian people than most and thing the that the end will result in some flavor of democracy not involving a government run by Islamic law or a military junta.

    I’m just glad the traditionalists are not ultimately in charge in the white house. The NYT has an excellent article about how the two factions in the white house battled it out and why the message was mixed at times. Clinton, Biden and Gates seemed to have their heads stuck in the foreign policies of the past while Obama moved forward at a much greater pace because he recognized what was happening on the ground.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/world/middleeast/13diplomacy.html?_r=1&hp

    • Khirad says:

      I was comparing that with this.

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/barack-obama-is-not-jimmy-carter-1.342646

      I guess in some ways he was. He had his own little Brzezinski v. Vance dynamic.

      And yes, several articles at Jadaliyya.com have also given me more confidence than most, too.

      At worst, we have a junta, at best, Turkey. What people fail to note is that in one of the MANY differences to Iran 1979, the military did not melt away. And, that relying on tourism, not petrodollars, the military caste (which have many business interests in the tourism industry) has a vested interest in retaining some of the status quo culturally and diplomatically.

      But, I don’t have a crystal ball. Many snags can get in the way yet.

  5. Khirad says:

    Great stuff.

    We look at Egyptian secularist government, education and culture and see a positive reflection of western Id

    And in that we lose that Mubarak, in part of his repression of the Brotherhood actually adopted its moralism to try and undercut it, in addition to exacerbating tensions between Muslims and Christians with his policies of pitting groups against one another -- its partly why Coptic majority enclaves actually voted for the Brotherhood.

    Mubarak was playing all the wedge issues (minus Islamophobia) that the GOP does here. I had a fantastic article explaining all this better than I can here. It’s posted somewhere in my Egypt thread, and there’s no way I’ll find that needle in a haystack!

    BTW, for those unaware of the Kifaya Movement, I will try to find one of the articles I had on that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefaya

    And yes, their color was Yellow. Have at it Color Revolution woo-woos who threw the Green Movement under the bus but supported Egypt.

    I also loved "People's Coup". :-)


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