The Season of Revolution

I’ve seen reports that Qaddafi (or however you spell it) has fled Libya- still not sure what to believe because the reports are so sketchy. I do, however, want to state again, that I find the almost celebratory reactions by Americans on twitter to be odd. Not to be an old fart, but the fear of the unknown is just too much right now. While I’m all in favor of people being able to democratically choose their own future, I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States. Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate us.

We really don’t know what is going to happen, and that should be unsettling for everyone. For all we know, these repressive regimes might be replaced with even more repressive regimes with the veneer of Democracy. I just don’t know what is going to happen.






157 replies
  1. 1
    c u n d gulag says:

    Look, I don’t want the people in those countries to hate us and vote in leaders who’ll make the US’s life harder, but it’s not like we haven’t given them plenty of reason for the last 60+ years.

  2. 2
    BGinCHI says:

    I really learned a lot from this post.

    Wait, no I didn’t.

  3. 3
    cleek says:

    i think it depends on what kind of statements Obama and Clinton make today. if they aren’t sufficiently supportive of X, the whole thing will end up in a Islamofascist Petro-Caliphate nightmare.

    X will be determined when things reach their next level.

  4. 4
    agrippa says:

    Obviously, you can’t predict how that will work ut in the end.

    But, it does look like the events in Tunisia started some sort of ‘revolutionary situation’.

  5. 5
    matoko_chan says:

    As a muslimah, ill protect you from the New Caliphate, Cole.
    but i cant protect you from seven dollar a gallon gas.
    that is what they pay in europe right naow.
    ya-haqq!

  6. 6

    It *is* unsettling, and a complete unknown as to how it will impact us.

    I, however, am tired of worrying how people’s fights for their rights in other countries will impact *me*, which seems incredibly self-centered. The people in the Middle East seem to be sincerely fighting to have a more open, Democratic, free society, and until I have indications otherwise, I will happily cheer them on in their efforts.

    In other words, there’s nothing we can do about it right now, so we may as well cheer for those ideals we supposedly believe in!

  7. 7
    henqiguai says:

    While I’m all in favor of people being able to democratically choose their own future, I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States. Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate us.

    Americans, through an almost opaque lense of parochial self-absorbedness[sic], think everyone everywhere is ‘just like us’. That everyone everywhere wants a society just like America. And that everyone everywhere defines the world just like America. Hell, I can’t come to that degree of understanding even in my little 15 headcount company.

  8. 8
    Trentrunner says:

    Seems short-sighted, JC.

    Freedom is a moral good. Period.

    And if those countries become “free to hate” us, perhaps the question is what the fuck we’re doing to them to make them hate us.

  9. 9
    West of the Cascades says:

    Qaddafi never exactly made life easy for the US (see, e.g., Lockerbie bombing). Every country in that region obviously is different, but it’s hard to imagine a popular revolution against Qaddafi that brings a government even more hostile to the US.

  10. 10
    jwb says:

    I agree with your caution—unfortunately the new devil rarely turns out to be much better than the old devil, and, yes, the changed world can turn out to be much worse than the status quo—but I find it difficult not to celebrate the re-emergence of the revolutionary spirit.

  11. 11
    Ogami Itto says:

    I suspect a great many of these folks already hate us and, in many cases, justifiably so. 5 or 6 decades of screwing around in other people’s countries’ economies and politics tends to have that effect.

  12. 12
    hildebrand says:

    While we may or may not like the governments that evolve out of these crises, we have to recognize that the people in these countries have the right, and need to take the chance, to try to make their nations into what they want them to be. Change may be uncomfortable, but maintaining the status quo is hardly pain free.

    Patience and subtle advice – that is the only game plan that we can pursue right now.

  13. 13
    D. Mason says:

    I just don’t know what is going to happen.

    Usually, after returning home, chickens tend to roost… or so I’ve heard.

  14. 14
    Guster says:

    @Trentrunner: I don’t think ‘free to hate us’ is the biggest point. I think that’s ‘repressive regimes might be replaced with even more repressive regimes.’

    Revolution against repression? Good. Even more repression? Bad.

  15. 15
    morzer says:

    I think we should allow John to indulge in a moment of nostalgia for a simpler, easier world, in which the Steelers won superbowls, Tunch weighed 20 pounds, and we knew who our enemies were. Except when we had spend decades arming them and helping them slaughter their people. But that was because they were devious Orientals who didn’t know how to behave like gentlemen and who would never have been invited to Sally Quinn’s parties. Except when she really needed something, anything to help her cobble together a few hundred words of malice and ignorance for her deadline.

  16. 16
    homerhk says:

    I think the joy that is expressed is in the main a human reaction to seeing other human beings freeing themselves from oppression. Where that may lead who knows and it is right and proper to be concerned about that. However, that should not detract from the obvious emotional response that is naturally felt upon seeing what we are seeing. Hopefully this will all have a positive impact on Americans and the rest of the Western World in that it help people see other countries populations, who are commonly only treated as “other” in western media, as extended family members in this race we call human.

  17. 17
    LittlePig says:

    Watch out John, fear is the mind killer. Fear leads to hatred. Hatred leads to conservatism.

    Seriously, I think you’re getting pretty close to having a “white people problem”. I’d rather pay a little more for gas than prop up some of the thugs our country is so historically fond of.

  18. 18
    M. Carey says:

    Them Muzzlims are coming to get you!
    Wait, Glen Beck will save us.

  19. 19
    Corner Stone says:

    Maybe this will force us to get off our ass and actually engage these countries (and their peoples) again.

  20. 20
    Joe Beese says:

    I did learn a lot from this post.

    I learned that Mr. Cole is one of those “liberals” who is all in favor of democracy… as long as we can be sure that it’s only used to elect people we approve of.

    Not surprising. But informative.

  21. 21
    Michael says:

    @cleek:

    The whole thing will end up in a Islamofascist Petro-Caliphate nightmare.

    I think that’s where it all heads, unless Saudi erupts as well. Those fuckers love stirring up instabilities.

  22. 22
    Roy G says:

    While I’m all in favor of people being able to democratically choose their own future, I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States.

    Did the new union busting regime in Wisconsin bring this to mind?

  23. 23
    matoko_chan says:

    @morzer: no its because they wouldnt take the judeochristian democracy our missionaries with guns tried to ram down their throats.
    no one wants our stupid anti-intellectual New Evangelical Protestantism.

  24. 24
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    What is happening in the middle east is awesome and should be celebrated regardless of the outcome. Because even if the outcome is worse than the status quo, now the people know they can rise up and effect change and they can do it again.

  25. 25
    morzer says:

    The Guardian has a sort of live report on the various doings in الشرق الأوسط

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl.....middleeast

    Supposedly Gaddafi/Qaddafi/Whathaveyou/Libya’s Haley Barbour has vowed to fight to the last man standing. This does sound rather like dictator-speak for “I am crapping myself. Where’s the fucking plane already. Did you stash the gold bars, Rumsfeld?”

  26. 26
    matoko_chan says:

    @cleek:

    The whole thing will end up in a Islamofascist Petro-Caliphate nightmare.

    unless you’re a muslim. then its a dream come true.
    GTFO Big White Christian Bwana.

  27. 27
    Alex S. says:

    Even the downsides have their upsides. More expensive oil means more incentives to develop alternative energy sources. Even an anti-american dictator does not change the prospect of peak oil. The 2 worst scenarios are:

    – a flood of theocratic islamist regimes. That would be really bad, very expensive and potentially violent. But that’s what we have already in Saudi-Arabia. Oil countries need customers.

    – a takeover of the arab oil production by China, which makes it important to support the fledgling democratic movements, because they will side with a democratic America.

  28. 28
    Svensker says:

    While I’m all in favor of people being able to democratically choose their own future, I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States. Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate us.

    Perhaps if we stopped fucking with them, they might be less likely to hate us? And maybe things like not vetoing the UN Res. on settlements might be a good place to begin? (Also, too, Canada, I’m looking at you.)

  29. 29

    @Joe Beese: I don’t think it is that. I think Cole has good reason to be worried. After all, I can see this point that it is easy for us to cheer the people in other countries when we aren’t the ones getting shot at, and bombed(as might be happening Libya). Still, with that said, I support the people of the Middle East to determine their own governance.

  30. 30

    Possibly more to the point (by which I mean: Entirely more to the point):

    Free societies are also free to make choices that will continue to be bad for minorities, the poor, women in their own society.

    What does or doesn’t happen will redound primarily on the people of Libya (Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran).

    Americans would start well by starting to think first of those communities as they rise up, and not of ourselves.

  31. 31

    @Joe Beese: I learned that on the internet there’s always someone champing at the bit to put the worst possible construction on anything you write, whether or not what you wrote actually supports it.

    Wait, no I didn’t. I knew it already.

  32. 32
    morzer says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    Free societies are also free to make choices that will continue to be bad for minorities, the poor, women in their own society.

    *cough* USA *cough*

  33. 33
    Alex S. says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    I have heard this point before. And there is reason to worry, but the most repressive country is one of America’s staunchest allies, the absolute monarchy of Saudi-Arabia.

  34. 34
    Amir_Khalid says:

    If America avoids giving these nations reason to dislike her, there’s always a chance they might be less inclined to pick the most rabidly anti-American leader in sight. Because these people didn’t start out with WE HATE AMERICA among their core national values.

    I’m talking about doing fairly simple things like respecting their sovereignty, not making war on them for trumped-up reasons, not treating their citizens’ lives cavalierly, not acting as though their only value was the oil under their feet. I mean, how hard can it be?

  35. 35
    Corner Stone says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    Americans would start well by starting to think first of those communities as they rise up, and not of ourselves.

    Free societies are also free to make choices that will continue to be bad for minorities, the poor, women in their own society.

    Maybe we should, in fact, consider thinking of ourselves first.

  36. 36
    matoko_chan says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther: surely as a “scholar” of MENA, you understand that American attempts to impose/proseltytize judeochristian democracy have made the situation far worse for minorities and women and the poor IN EVERY FUCKING PLACE we have meddled?
    do you want to see SOME DATA Emily?
    How does building schools for girls offset SLAUGHTERING THEIR FATHERS AND UNCLES AND BROTHERS with reapers and predators?

  37. 37
    Cat Lady says:

    I like it that it seems no one knows what’s going to happen next. It means the people who’ve been benefitting from the status quo don’t know either, and haven’t figured out how to rig the new game yet until the new players emerge. Until that happens we’re all North Africans now.

  38. 38
    Cris says:

    I’ve seen reports that Qaddafi (or however you spell it) has fled Libya

    If this turns out to be true, can we see some triumphant headlines about how the Libyan people have done what Reagan failed to do?

    Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate us.

    God damn, you sound like Pat Buchanan in this post.

  39. 39
    matoko_chan says:

    @morzer: physician, heal thyself.

  40. 40
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Well, I aint no scholar, but as a point of reference, the revolution that brought Nasser to power in Egypt had nothing to do with the United States, and Nasser-era Egypt certainly was not pro-American (someone can correct me if I’m wrong). So its entirely possible for anti-American rulers to come to power, regardless of what is going on in Mesopotamia or Afghanistan.

    My take on JC’s post was that revolutions are just as capable of bringing rulers to power who are just as repressive *towards their own people* as the old regime was. Not getting his feefees hurt by the prospect of anti-American governments coming to power.

  41. 41
    matoko_chan says:

    @Cris: why shouldnt they be free to hate us?
    we have earned their hatred.

  42. 42
    Poopyman says:

    @Dr. SkySkull: Thanks for saving me from typing this.

    @LittlePig: Yeah, we’ll be paying more for gas … until we learn how to be independent.

  43. 43
    agrippa says:

    How this is going to work out is unknown.

  44. 44
    PeakVT says:

    Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate us.

    So? Doesn’t mean we should try to suppress their FSM-given freedoms. Or keep doing it. Aside from the morality, we just can’t afford to play global cop any longer, especially since we refuse to tax ourselves to pay for the toys needed to play that role.

  45. 45
    Jack Bauer says:

    The fear…

    The people in these countries want what we have. Relative freedom to pick the idiots who lead us and an improvement in their day to day lives without repression. This is why they are protesting.

    It’s going to be all good. Just look at what a few years of wikileaks, facebook, twitter, and al-jazeeria has wrought. A mass of young informed people unwilling to accept their bullshit lot in life. And they have identified the correct culprits for their situation, it’s the dictators fucking their shit up, not the US and the Jew.

  46. 46
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Not that Cole agreed with it, but remember the free and fair elections held in Gaza? Where Hamas won? And the “civilized world” promptly went in for collective punishment of the Gazans for having the temerity to vote for an anti-Western party?

    The same Hamas, of course, that was responsible for creating and supporting hospitals and schools for Gazans?

  47. 47
    bob h says:

    And I guess we have to acknowledge that our economy does still depend on their cheap oil, and that the long-term consequences might not be a more reliable, cheaper supply of such energy. When gas is at $5, the celebratory Tweets will cease.

  48. 48
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko:

    Well, in the case of Nasser, it was the US that stopped Israel, France and the UK from overthrowing him. Just saying there are always exceptions in history…

  49. 49
    matoko_chan says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: probably true in Iran……but you have to unnerstand, unlike Sully, that around half the country supports Nejad and the tryrant Khamenei.
    the army, the rural, the ostentatiosly pious, the uneducated.
    like Redstate America. ;)
    Khomenei broke his own law in appointing Khamenei his successor….well he had to change the law. Iranian law after Shah said the Supreme Ayatollah had to be both a sayyid(descent from the line of the Imam) and an islamic scholar.
    Khamenei didnt qual as a scholar and Khomenei bent the rules.
    so Khamenei is the Iranian equivalent of Dubya.
    selection for stupid.

  50. 50
    Scott P. says:

    I’m pretty sure the Libyan government hates us, insofar as that term has meaning. If Gaddafi is overthrown, the new government might hate us, might not. We go from 100% chance of hating America to something less than 100%. That’s progress in my book.

    Besides, freedom is a moral good regardless of whether it serves the short-term interests of the United States.

  51. 51
    matoko_chan says:

    @bob h: gas is going to 7, like i told Cole.

  52. 52

    bob h and (spit) m_c are right. crude oil is spiking on the markets because of the unrest in Libya – to a 2 1/2 year high. 2 1/2 years ago was the summer of 2008. As much as housing bubble brought the u.s. economy to its knees, the oil spike in the summer was also a huge cause. Sap twice as much money out of the avg. american’s take home pay for gasoline, and the economy is going to get worse again.

    I do, however, disagree that this will spur increased alt. energy efforts. Big oil is going to make a killing off of this stuff. As is Goldman Sachs and all the other MOTUs.

  53. 53
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Scott P.:
    Weren’t the Libyans behind the Lockerbie Bombing?

    Just sayin their hands haven’t always been clean either…

  54. 54
    Cris says:

    @matoko_chan: I’m all for it. I know it puts the hurt on the working class, but high gas prices are going to hurt all the way up the scale. The only way we’re going to have any incentive for meaningful energy policy reform is for petroleum to be viscerally painful.

  55. 55

    @Cris:

    I’m all for it. I know it puts the hurt on the working class, but high gas prices are going to hurt all the way up the scale. The only way we’re going to have any incentive for meaningful energy policy reform is for petroleum to be viscerally painful.

    This is b.s. It is *not* going to hurt all the way up the scale. See my previous comment.

    And if you think meaningful energy policy reform is going to happen while Repubs hold one house of congress, you’re almost as delusional as m_c.

  56. 56
    morzer says:

    Apparently Gaddafi has now got the navy to open fire on Tripoli, which doesn’t sound like good news for the regime.

    Sorry to offend the timorous, but Gaddafi is a snake, and crazy with it. It’s hard to imagine any regime that could be as dangerous and hateful taking over from him. If we had any sense, we’d be sending in the Marines to help the Libyan people and getting on the right side of this quarrel.

  57. 57
    rikyrah says:

    this isn’t going to end well, at all.

  58. 58
    morzer says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Indeed. And the Blair junta cut a deal to release al-Megrahi in order to get cheap oil.

  59. 59
    Keith G says:

    While I’m all in favor of people being able to democratically choose their own future, I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States. Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate u

    (Holding back sarcastic annoyance)

    We will get through this and probably will eventually be much better off as trentrunner said, “Freedom is a moral good. Period”

    cornerstone also got there before me:

    Maybe this will force us to get off our ass and actually engage these countries (and their peoples) again.

    These rebellions seem to be against despotism and not aimed at modernity and might well remain so as long as we do not get stupid and get involved. Once the people win, we can go in with low key food and infrastructure help. We may even end up with a more peaceful world.

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    @Cris:

    I know it puts the hurt on the working class, but high gas prices are going to hurt all the way up the scale.

    This is crazy.

  61. 61
    burnspbesq says:

    @LittlePig:

    I’d rather pay a little more for gas than prop up some of the thugs our country is so historically fond of.

    Easy for you to say. What about the idiot who votes Republican and supports the tea party even though the layoffs at his company mean he is doing 1.7x as much work with no salary increase, and drives a F-350 Super Duty because America Fuck Yeah?

  62. 62
    Corner Stone says:

    People want jobs. They want to be able to provide for themselves and their family. They want self determination and self respect. Both here at home and abroad.
    It’s not hard to be on the same side if we do this right.

  63. 63
    morzer says:

    @Keith G:

    If we do nothing to help the people as their own ruler kills them, we aren’t going to get much goodwill for turning up with a few cans of soup and a willingness for Halliburton to build a couple of NASCAR tracks.

  64. 64
    Svensker says:

    @Amir_Khalid:

    That’s crazy talk.

  65. 65
    burnspbesq says:

    @morzer:

    If we do nothing to help the people as their own ruler kills them

    What are you suggesting we do?

  66. 66
    Cris says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: you’re almost as delusional as m_c.

    ouch

    Back on the greater topic, I hear what you guys are saying, but I just can’t echo “Freedom is a moral good. Period.” with a straight face. It’s just not that simple. (Freedom is a moral good, semicolon.)

    First of all, what Emily said. The Taliban was a popular movement.

    Also, popular uprising =/= freedom. We get all starry eyed about popular revolutions because of our own history of throwing off unpopular rule (once). But once the tyrant is overthrown, it’s no guarantee that he’s going to be replaced with someone who serves the people who overthrew him. Lenin, Pol Pot, Khomeini, all followed on the heels of a popular overthrow.

    I’m not saying we need to intervene. I’m not even saying we shouldn’t be happy. this is a very exciting time. I’m just saying it’s not this simplistic “moral good full stop.”

  67. 67
    Corner Stone says:

    @morzer: Just like Egypt, if we step into Libya in any real way it will give the Gaddafi govt the excuse to rail against “outside influences” meddling in the true, honorable and peaceful destiny of the Libyan peoples.

  68. 68
    morzer says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Send in the Marines or whatever we can deploy to the region. Make it clear that we will not permit further slaughter by the regime. Actually show that we mean business when we talk about democracy and freedom. We sat on the sidelines in Egypt and talked out of both sides of our mouths. Didn’t go down so well.

  69. 69
    Cain says:

    Man, I feel really bad for Obama. The home front is a mess, and now with Arabs bringing revolution from one country to another he will have to completely re-work all diplomatic ties to the middle east.

    This will be a big campaign thing in 2012. Expect the Republicans to start buffing up their “we will keep america safe and the oil cheap”. But right now expect our oil prices to start hitting the ceiling.

  70. 70
    morzer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Gaddafi’s done that for years anyway, without our doing much of anything. If we are going to stay on the sidelines just because he might throw some accusations, we might as well admit that we don’t count as a power and that all our fine words about freedom and justice don’t mean diddly. If we intervene and do so to stop him killing his own people, I doubt they’ll take it badly.

  71. 71
    El Cid says:

    The people of the region have suffered decades of US-imposed stability for oil & sea passage interests.

    There comes a stage at which independence from the superpowers is about locals versus our interests.

    We’ve been subsidizing ourselves with their suffering.

    It may be awful for our citizens what happens after; but if we hadn’t had a foreign policy establishment with complete asshole policies to install, hire, and back tyrants and tyrannical regimes (“anti-communism”), we could have actually allied with pro-independence and social policy reformists.

    We would have been much, much farther along, and simultaneously undercut any appeal by the USSR, given that liberal-left reform would be on our side.

    On the other hand, after colonial independence in Africa, economic policies achieved most of the most profitable elements of colonial control after independence.

    It sucks to now see such a risk of radical sectarian religious fundamentalist governments when we so supported the crushing of secular independence and/or democracy movements over most of the 20th century.

    In the end it’s usually worse to support the mafia as your allies.

  72. 72
    Corner Stone says:

    @morzer: You honestly want an armed US Marine to step foot in Tripoli?

  73. 73
    Anya says:

    We can always elect Donald Trump and he will show these assholes why not to mess with the USA.

    But seriously Cole, maybe this will be a catalyst for America to change its fucked up foreign policy. People in the middle east or the muslim world don’t hate the US because its hating the US earns you some Muslim merit points or its cool and fasionable. They hate US’s underhandedness and its unconditional support for Israel but most of all, they hate the US government because it propped up dictators that ruined their countries.

  74. 74
    El Cid says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko: Elections are okay when they result in what the US foreign policy establishment (FPE) wants.

    Typically even with degrees of election monitoring and findings of free and fair, but if the elected government radically departs from US FPE preferred gov’ts and programs, then suddenly the elections are illegitimate, tainted, elections taking place under the domination of repressive forces.

  75. 75
    morzer says:

    @El Cid:

    I heat what you are saying, but we don’t actually have any reason to believe that the only alternative to Gaddafi et al is fundamentalism. It’s actually quite possible that people who have escaped a tyranny may not be very keen on seeing a theocracy as the new boss.

  76. 76
    PeakVT says:

    @morzer: I disagree with that. Not only is it really not our business, the US is so hated in Arab countries that it would backfire.

    This country has to stop trying to be the global cop.

  77. 77
    Jason In the Peg says:

    @morzer: I don’t think the Marines will be greeted as liberators this time either.

  78. 78
    Cris says:

    @morzer: If we intervene and do so to stop him killing his own people, I doubt they’ll take it badly we’ll be greeted as liberators.

  79. 79
    morzer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I think that if we intervene to tell Gaddafi he must go, and make it clear that we support the Libyan people and their aspirations to self-government and democracy, and that we will withdraw as soon as Gaddafi has gone and an interim govt has been set up to manage the transition, yes, we can send in the Marines with a good degree of confidence. This ain’t Mogadishu.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    morzer says:

    @Cris: @Jason In the Peg:

    If we just sit on the sidelines, I doubt the Arab world will think much better of us either. The protesters in Cairo weren’t impressed by our inaction and double-speak, that’s for sure. We have a chance to start over with the Arab world to some degree here, and it’s not one that will come round again for a long time. It’s more risky for the long-term to play it safe here.

  82. 82
    morzer says:

    @PeakVT:

    We made it our business years ago, when we started playing games with the Arab world, propping up dictators, cosseting Israel and so on and so forth. It’s a bit late for us to declare non-involvement now. The only question on the table is the form our involvement takes.

  83. 83
    Triassic Sands says:

    @Guster:

    I don’t think ‘free to hate us’ is the biggest point. I think that’s ‘repressive regimes might be replaced with even more repressive regimes.’

    Caution seems like the only reasonable attitude toward what is happening in Egypt, Libya, Morrocco, etc. People should be free to chart their own futures, but sadly, having that freedom doesn’t guarantee wise choices. It is easy to support the people in all of these countries, and still worry that an outcome that may be more desirable for today’s protesters will end up leading to new governments that will still be hostile to real freedom. Any government that isn’t secular will be a grave threat to at least some of its constituents, and pose a genuine threat to stability and peace.

    One has to look no farther than Wisconsin to see what the vote in the hands of genuinely stupid people can lead to. (Of course, Wisconsin is joined by all the incredibly stupid people in 49 other states as well.) A significant percentage of Wisconsin voters went to the polls last November and voted for people who are actively working against those voters’ interests.

    There is no excuse for a country as wealthy as the US to end being run by a bunch of ignorant grifters who have created fiscal problems and then used those same problems to scare their way into power, but here we are. And as if things weren’t bad enough already, 2012 promises to make things even worse.

    I’ve never been less optimistic about this country’s future. I only hope that if brave protesters in other countries are going to risk their lives for more political freedom, that they don’t get sucked in by crooks and thugs the way the American people have.

  84. 84
    Jason In the Peg says:

    @Cris: Owe me a coke.

  85. 85
    Jay C says:

    While I’m all in favor of people being able to democratically choose their own future, I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States.

    Pessimistic much today, John?

    For one thing, “Middle Eastern countries” – despite the similarities in the pattern of recent uprisings in the region – are all separate entities with quite different societies and different sets of foreign relationships: in Tunisia, AFAICT, the country is still basically part of the Francosphere, and Euro-oriented; Libya is the Arab North Korea – a self-inflicted pariah state, and the US is involved there mostly as a bogeyman; We DO have a much larger involvement in Egypt, and the Gulf States; and tamping down whatever anti-American sentiments might arise out of their revolts will take a real concerted effort of diplomacy: REAL diplomacy, that is, not the militarized crypto-imperialism the Bush Administration favored.

  86. 86
    par4 says:

    Dear John; They already hate us. It doesn’t matter which tyrant comes or goes.

  87. 87
    eemom says:

    hmm…..Cole is essentially taking the same position as the various entities, including Israel, who wanted us to keep propping up Mubarak. They didn’t know what would happen if he fell, but they knew it might be REALLY BAD for THEM.

    innnnteresting….

  88. 88
    Scott P. says:

    You honestly want an armed US Marine to step foot in Tripoli?

    Maybe they could work it into the Marine Corps’ hymn.

  89. 89
    Corner Stone says:

    @morzer:

    I think that if we intervene to tell Gaddafi he must go, and make it clear that we support the Libyan people and their aspirations to self-government and democracy, and that we will withdraw as soon as Gaddafi has gone and an interim govt has been set up to manage the transition, yes, we can send in the Marines with a good degree of confidence. This ain’t Mogadishu.

    And if he doesn’t go? Then we pick sides in a civil war, or a side in a multi sided war?
    If we host that “transition govt” (which the viability for is dubious to a degree it should have its own NatGeo special), then we will own whatever the outcome is.
    Gaddafi has ruled for decades. De facto, there aren’t a lot of people with any legitimacy who can step in and make beneficial decisions.
    We’d own another Muslim country.
    And I for one am tired of spending Monopoly money buying MENA countries.

  90. 90
    PeakVT says:

    @morzer: So what if the US has stuck it’s nose into the business of Arab countries for decades? It wasn’t right then, it hasn’t worked out so well, and there’s good reason to believe the US will keep on fucking up.

  91. 91
    hilzoy says:

    Sure they might hate us. And they might choose governments that make our lives difficult. That’s the thing about sharing the planet with people with minds of their own.

    That sounds flip, but I really mean it. It’s their right.

    Moreover, if ever there were a country that was well positioned to protect itself against a bunch of angry Libyans, it’s us. If we, protected from invasions by oceans, massively prosperous, spending I forget how many times as much as our closest competitor on the military, cannot find it in our hearts to welcome democracy in Libya even if the Libyans choose a government that we don’t like, then we have much bigger problems than what they think of us.

    For my part, I’m worried about the possibility that the various changes of government in the middle east will not, in fact, lead to democracy. But I’m not that worried about the policies that any democratically elected governments might adopt. On these matters, I tend to take a very long view: In the long run, dictatorships are not stable, and both their instability and the costs of dealing with it tend to increase, while democracies flail about a lot but tend to provide enough of an outlet for their citizens’ concerns, and enough responsiveness, that over time, things settle down.

  92. 92
    Jason In the Peg says:

    @Scott P.: Thanks. Now I’ve got burned sinuses and there’s coffee all over everything.

  93. 93
    morzer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Well, if Gaddafi doesn’t go, it’s unlikely that he commands enough force to matter, compared to what we could bring down on him. It looks as if his regime is tottering already, so I very much doubt there’s huge risk in giving it the final push. I’d be surprised if an offer of asylum and personal safety didn’t appeal to him, with a quick butt-kicking and trial as the alternative. As for multi-sided war, if we get a transition government representing all sides set up, there’s no reason why such a war has to happen.

    I could understand caution if this were Iran, which does have a big and quite fanatical army, but Libya really isn’t much to write home about, as countries go. Total population: 6.4 million. Gaddafi’s already struggling to survive. Minimal risk, and potentially some serious diplomatic gain.

  94. 94
    John Cole says:

    I learned that Mr. Cole is one of those “liberals” who is all in favor of democracy… as long as we can be sure that it’s only used to elect people we approve of.

    How could you possibly get that from this post? I’ve spent the last month wanting the White House to STFU about this and not play any role at all and let the people of their respective nations sort this out.

    Jeebus, you asshole.

  95. 95
    Cain says:

    @morzer:

    If we just sit on the sidelines, I doubt the Arab world will think much better of us either. The protesters in Cairo weren’t impressed by our inaction and double-speak, that’s for sure. We have a chance to start over with the Arab world to some degree here, and it’s not one that will come round again for a long time. It’s more risky for the long-term to play it safe here.

    It doesn’t matter, but that revolution is pretty much home grown and is not tainted by “western influence”. That gives them a lot of leeway on how to setup the government. Otherwise cynicalism seeps in the population will not trust the government that was setup with the aid of foreign powers. We need to keep our hands off and let them deal with it themselves. If they need help, we give em the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    cain

  96. 96
    morzer says:

    @PeakVT:

    Which means that we are already involved, right? We might as well try and make our involvement a bit more constructive and better received than our previous appearances on the Arab stage.

  97. 97
    morzer says:

    @Cain:

    Christ, what did they do to you? The Constitution? You really want Libya to have the joys of Scalia seminars and originalism?

  98. 98
    Cain says:

    @hilzoy:

    Sure they might hate us. And they might choose governments that make our lives difficult. That’s the thing about sharing the planet with people with minds of their own.

    Frankly, it also means that we get to move on green energy, trains and a infrastructure makeover. We’ve been riding a gravy train since Reagan on the backs of other nations. We care about our freedoms but not so much others since it seems that we are also a capitalistic country as well.

    Arabs need to figure things out themselves. From what I see, in Egypt and Tunisia they aren’t stupid. They are still out there making sure the Army is going to implement democracy. There also is a protest in Tunisia to make sure that there is separation of state and religion. I see good things. I think they want to take as much of the Western philosophy as possible and make it their own.

    Plus we seem to be looking at revolutions done entirely de-centralized. That’s a pretty fucking amazing accomplishment. There is no leader to kill or negotiate with, no pressure tactics on any one group.. all twitter.. a hive mind. Fucking awesome.

    cain

  99. 99
    morzer says:

    @hilzoy:

    You forgot our Libyan/Mexican border, where the terrorists and libruls slide into our country. Don’t you listen to the wise words of Peter King?

  100. 100
    morzer says:

    @Cain:

    We aren’t going to move on any of those things until either the GOP discovers some sanity, or the voters discover some intelligence and boot the rascals out.

    I’d predict the Tunisia Titans will win the Superbowl before that happens, but I live in hope of being wrong.

  101. 101
    Cain says:

    @morzer:

    Christ, what did they do to you? The Constitution? You really want Libya to have the joys of Scalia seminars and originalism?

    Why are you bringing Scalia into this? We had plenty of good decent justices before that who made the right call. We have woman’s sufferages, school integration all from all that.

    The fact that our country has turned stupid including our congress can happen to any country regardless of the form of Democratic government. But the Constitution is a good start if you want to start somewhere. If you don’t like our constitution pick the EU one, it doesn’t matter. Pick one, and modify or improve upon it to suit your needs.

    I remember at one point that India was looking into moving from the Britisih form to an American form with a U.S. style presidency in order to tap down on corruption..
    cain

  102. 102
    eemom says:

    @John Cole:

    I’ve spent the last month wanting the White House to STFU about this and not play any role at all

    and as was repeatedly pointed out to you when you said that, it was a totally insanely unrealistic thing to want the WH to do.

    And it is, to say the least, challenging to reconcile that attitude with your current worry that whatever shit goes down might make things “difficult for the United States.” So now you’re saying we should sit here and worry about that…..but not DO anything about it?

    You ought to try thinking things through once in a while.

  103. 103
    Corner Stone says:

    @morzer: I just don’t see an upside. Right now we are certainly not considered a benefactor of the Gaddafi Regime. Stepping in and telling someone what “they must do”, and backing it up with armor, would put is four square into the sights of self determination of Libya.
    Big difference between rhetoric and beach landings.
    I can only imagine the propaganda victory we would be handing those against us in that part of the world if we established a couple Marine Barracks and started patrolling.
    We could probably also start taking tips from the locals about who’s a Gaddafi collaborator. Bust into their domicile, smack their women around and toss them in the Libyan version of Abu Ghraib.
    I’m sure we could probably also identify 20 or 30 #3 men in the Gaddafi Intelligence Network and drone their ass to death at weddings if we really felt like it.
    The possibilities for freedom and democracy are endless.

  104. 104
    Corner Stone says:

    @Cain:

    They are still out there making sure the Army is going to implement democracy.

    Errrr…

  105. 105
    Cain says:

    @morzer:

    We aren’t going to move on any of those things until either the GOP discovers some sanity, or the voters discover some intelligence and boot the rascals out.

    Yeah, I agree with you. Hopefully stuff like Wisconsin might help. I’ve been telling people to just turn off 24 hour news. That’s the first step. Once we starve those fuckers of their gravy maybe they’ll STFU. Destroying the culture in Washington I think is a priority.

    cain

  106. 106
    Cain says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Errrr…

    yeah, that came out wrong.. but I think pretty much the army is the king maker. That’s the ruling party to negotiate with as strange as it seems.

  107. 107
    El Tiburon says:

    This post brought to you by “What The Fuck Are You Talking About”.

    Every now and then you relapse back into your old, ignernt conservative ways Cole.

  108. 108
    El Cid says:

    @morzer: I didn’t mean to suggest that such fundamentalism would be the outcome.

    I was addressing JC’s fears that the outcomes might result in more repressive regimes, and the most common expression of that fear has to do with Islamic theocracy.

    Just pointing out that such risks come with independence.

  109. 109
    morzer says:

    @Cain:

    We do indeed have quite a bit of women’s sufferage in this country, unhelped by the suffrage.. but let that pass.

    We have a kludge of a system, set up to make reform slightly less likely than a tap-dancing polar-bear (yes, yes Bristol Palin), and yet we have the strange idea that inflicting it on other nations might win us anything but puzzled, polite looks or active irritation. Send them the Constitution?

    Useless, to say the least.

    Take some actual action to stop Gaddafi killing his own people, make the intervention neutral politically once the guy is removed/quits. In other words, no political arrests, just a guarantee of no coups and time for the interim administration to draft a constitution suited to Libya, have a referendum, and, all going well, arrange for elections within three months or so of that. Have the UN oversee the elections, and keep them scrupulously clean. Thereafter, salute the new president and leave.

  110. 110

    @hilzoy:

    On these matters, I tend to take a very long view: In the long run, dictatorships are not stable, and both their instability and the costs of dealing with it tend to increase, while democracies flail about a lot but tend to provide enough of an outlet for their citizens’ concerns, and enough responsiveness, that over time, things settle down.

    This is more or less what I was thinking. Dictatorships are inherently unstable, and are destined to blow up eventually. They’re a sort of ticking time bomb with an unknown amount of time on the clock. As far as I can tell, the Egypt “bomb” blew up in the best possible way I can imagine: Christians and Muslims working together, peacefully, with a strong participation of the young and women in the country, and apparent support of the military. Things can still go to hell, of course — they always can — but for the moment things look better than they have in decades for the region.

  111. 111
    burnspbesq says:

    @morzer:

    Wow. I guess I shouldn’t have deleted “Sending in the Marines has a long record of failure” from my prior comment.

  112. 112
    morzer says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Well, faced with that searing addition to your post, what could I possibly have said?

    Of course, doing nothing and hoping to be thanked for it doesn’t really have a great track record either.

  113. 113
    burnspbesq says:

    @hilzoy:

    For my part, I’m worried about the possibility that the various changes of government in the middle east will not, in fact, lead to democracy.

    I think that’s a given. We’ve seen how difficult it has been for real democratic institutions to take root in the former Soviet Union. Why would any North African country with no history of democracy be any different?

  114. 114
    Calouste says:

    @John Cole:

    I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States.

    I think the American electorate is doing that job of going “with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States” far better than the people in the Middle East ever could.

  115. 115
    Calouste says:

    @<a href="http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....&quot;

    It will take some time, but keep in mind that real democracy is less than a century old almost everywhere, and that there are some now very solidly democratic countries that dictatorships a generation ago, Spain for example.

  116. 116
    Maude says:

    @morzer:
    We can’t send in the Marines to Libya.
    The people of Libya would be slaughterd by their own government and a war would erupt between the US and Libya.
    We can do nothing about Libya. We have no influence.
    The best thing to do is just call for non violence.
    One very positive thing is that the leaders of the ME countries know that the US isn’t going to nudge, nudge, wink, wink, call for democracy and support the despotic leaders. That makea a huge difference.
    The Saudi royal family is nervous about the US because Obama hasn’t said he would support them if the Shia start an uprising.
    Gaddafi is a monster. He is clinging to power and killing his own people. We can’t stop him.
    Yes it’s heartrending, but that is how it is.

  117. 117
    Bob Loblaw says:

    the fear of the unknown is just too much right now

    Yeah, and you said this stupid bullshit during the Egyptian uprising as well. You were just as wrong then. The status quo is untenable. You can’t have it back, you masturbatory conservative hack. Revolutions don’t care about useless fence straddling or navel gazing. That’s the point of them. If you can’t understand that mindset, you never will.

  118. 118
    VidaLoca says:

    The best thing to do is just call for non violence.

    Sadly, the gates of hell have opened in Tripoli — so it looks like we’re too late for that too.

  119. 119
    WyldPirate says:

    @morzer:

    Of course, doing nothing and hoping to be thanked for it doesn’t really have a great track record either.

    What part of “it’s their country and the people living there have a right to self-determination” do you not understand, morzer?

  120. 120
    Cain says:

    @morzer:

    We do indeed have quite a bit of women’s sufferage in this country, unhelped by the suffrage.. but let that pass.

    Right, because women marching for political freedom had no effect at all and the consequence of making their case to the govt. I suppose we should have instead sent in the marines.

    We have a kludge of a system, set up to make reform slightly less likely than a tap-dancing polar-bear (yes, yes Bristol Palin), and yet we have the strange idea that inflicting it on other nations might win us anything but puzzled, polite looks or active irritation. Send them the Constitution?
    Useless, to say the least.

    I think you’re not quite exposed to how other countries are governed. We’re still waiting for the kind of reforms that would make India advance. It’s always two steps backwards and one step forward. How the U.S. has been governed change is way faster than India despite being a democracy.

    The weakness is not in the government but always the citizens. How our constitution is amended and enforced is a reflection of its people. The flaw is in those who are governed. If you want to make a change then you’ll need to organize as a body. Won’t happen any other way. Start by encouraging others to turn off CNN and MSNBC. Let them fight over the crazy 30% in our country. Don’t let advertisers have access to us.

    Take some actual action to stop Gaddafi killing his own people, make the intervention neutral politically once the guy is removed/quits. In other words, no political arrests, just a guarantee of no coups and time for the interim administration to draft a constitution suited to Libya, have a referendum, and, all going well, arrange for elections within three months or so of that. Have the UN oversee the elections, and keep them scrupulously clean. Thereafter, salute the new president and leave.

    Perhaps we should setup a base or something so that we can make explicitly sure that Libya was will be stable, right?

    There is no such thing as neutral when you send in a foreign power into local soil. The fact that we have boots on the ground in Libya but didn’t for any other country especially when those other countries have no resources we want will be interpreted quite differently than you and I. Maybe if we didn’t go into Iraq something like that might be possible, but not now.

    Secondly, this is revolution by hive mind. Know any big names in the Egyptian revolution that is centralized? All it takes is one casualty and a pic and watch it get twittered all over creation. What kind of damage control do you think we have at our disposal in that environment? This is war it is all unpredictable.

    What kind of training do we have to make sure that we know who is a protester and who is an government agent masquerading as one? The devil is in the details and there absolutely be no good end by sending in troops. Troops who do not know how to deal with revolution. What pressure will Israel and Saudi Arabia will bring on political leaders? What the fuck do you think Republican senators and House members are going to say in public? How will we protect our troops from their stupidity?

    (re-edited for clarity and punctuation)

  121. 121
    Comrade Mary says:

    Meanwhile, Berlusconi is sucking Gaddafi’s cock.


    This Metafilter thread
    is a pretty fast-moving collection of info from various sources.

  122. 122
    morzer says:

    @WyldPirate:

    Oh, so you’ve moved on from attacking Obama for saving millions of jobs to demonstrating your illiterate stupidity on foreign policy. Buy yourself a brain, read posts intelligently, make an honest argument, and I might find it in my heart to waste another second on you. Until then, I strongly suggest you find a yoga instructor who can explain why your foot doesn’t belong in your mouth and your head doesn’t belong up your ass.

  123. 123
    morzer says:

    @Cain:

    I will remind you that the Egyptian protestors expressed intense disappointment with an anger towards the Obama administration when we tried to play footsie with both sides. We don’t have the luxury of doing nothing and calling ourselves neutral, because no-one believes it. If we simply let Gaddafi kill his own people, and then turn up with soup and the Constitution after it’s all over, they will rightly suspect that we just want to make sure of getting any oil that’s going.

    As for our Constitution, it is a mess. Cutting-edge back in the day, but now more of a hindrance to governing than anything else. Yes, our citizens are not without blame – but the system makes people what they are, and our system is broken. Look at how hard it is to make good policy, once some ignorant yahoo from Asscrack Alaska gets her knickers in a twist. What happens? Howls, screaming, a national conniption. We couldn’t even manage end of life counselling for the elderly without that becoming death panels.

    As for not knowing how other countries are governed, I suggest that you do some learning about the realities of diplomacy, about our involvement in the Middle East, and about how and why we have never managed to export our Constitution. In fact, we’ve barely ever tried to do so – and there are solid reasons for that. Moving back to other countries, I wonder how many you have visited or lived in, and how many languages you know. I’ve travelled, lived or worked in six countries in Europe, a good part of the US, China, and Japan. When it comes to languages I can read, write or speak 12 with reasonable fluency, if you include classical languages such as Latin, Attic Greek and Sanskrit.

    Big names in the Egyptian revolution: ElBaradei for one.

  124. 124
    JWL says:

    Today in Libya there are two sides On one side are the protestors. On the other is a despotic regime out to slaughter them all in order to get back to business as usual.

    If I were Allah, I would strike down the military and let the people sort it all out.

    But I’m simply an American onlooker. Still, if the Libyan insurgents do prevail, and proceed to despise my red white and blue guts, I’ll consider it a small price to have paid.

  125. 125
    Yutsano says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I guess I shouldn’t have deleted “Sending in the Marines has a long record of failure” from my prior comment.

    Marines are not nation builders. Marines are not TRAINED to be nation builders. They are trained to be efficient, obedient, killers, and they do that with amazing efficiency and skill. Sending them into Libya now or any time is a recipe for sure disaster. And I’m already damn tired of 21 gun good-byes from Afghanistan as it is. And yeah I’m biased here, sue me.

  126. 126
    morzer says:

    Right, because women marching for political freedom had no effect at all and the consequence of making their case to the govt. I suppose we should have instead sent in the marines.

    People who cannot spell “suffrage” are on shaky grounds making snarky remarks about it.

  127. 127
    Svensker says:

    @morzer:

    Why not, we’re not the world’s daddy? As long as they’re not fucking with us we shouldn’t be fucking with them? It’s never too late to start not being an asshole.

  128. 128
    morzer says:

    @Yutsano:

    The point isn’t to make them “nation builders”. The point is to remove Gaddafi, show that we really do care about freedom and democracy, and try to achieve a partial restart with the Arab world. We’ve spent decades fucking up by supporting dictators while babbling about freedom. We have a very rare chance to begin again. We’ve mostly screwed that chance up in Egypt by trying to play nice with both sides, and the protesters have taken note. We really can’t make policy on the basis of being scared of our own shadows. We are already heavily involved with the Arab world – the question now is how we want to shape that involvement. Do we go for business as usual, or take the chance of winning some genuine goodwill and being far-sighted for the future?

  129. 129
    Snarla says:

    It’s spelled القذافي.

  130. 130
    morzer says:

    @Svensker:

    Removing a dictator and stopping him killing his own people is hardly fucking with them. Not unless the meaning of that phrase has changed radically. Right now, we run the risk of doing nothing, missing our chance to put something right, and looking weak and timid into the bargain. The way the Arab world is shifting is not something we are likely to see again any time soon. This isn’t a chance we should let go.

  131. 131
    Corner Stone says:

    @morzer:

    We’ve mostly screwed that chance up in Egypt by trying to play nice with both sides, and the protesters have taken note.

    Let’s be real for a second. When the Egyptian military decides who will head the country, do you think for one nano second they (military) will start rejecting US foreign aid?

  132. 132
    morzer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Just suppose that they decide to open the border to Gaza, and tell the Israelis to screw themselves – do we still give them foreign aid?

    Nor are we sure that the military will make that decision. The only thing that is sure is that we haven’t done much, if anything, to shape events in our favor. We stood on the sidelines, sent mixed messages by the bushel, and generally conveyed an impression of not really knowing what we wanted, much less caring about the fate of Egypt. Whatever regime does emerge will do so knowing that it owes us nothing, has nothing to fear from us, and has no reason to feel goodwill towards us either. This isn’t really an optimal outcome.

  133. 133
    Corner Stone says:

    @morzer:

    Whatever regime does emerge will do so knowing that it owes us nothing, has nothing to fear from us, and has no reason to feel goodwill towards us either

    Whatever regime emerges will do whatever the military tells them to. Full stop.
    And I continue to believe the Egyptian military can not easily replace our funding. So, IMO, we will have a modicum of say so.

  134. 134
    Svensker says:

    @morzer:

    This isn’t a chance we should let go.

    This is our chance to wish them well and let them make their own future. By interfering, the only thing we guarantee is the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    Interfering for “their own good” — when we’re actually trying to curry favor so they’ll like us? Does not bode well.

  135. 135
    Corner Stone says:

    If we had gone balls out and diplomatically told Hosni he was done from Jan 25th onward, what realistic influence does anyone believe we would have with whatever power comes into place?
    The military is it! It will decide what happens next. And we have a history with a lot of the bigwigs in the Egyptian military.
    Between Sandhurst and assorted US Military schools I would hazard a SWAG to say “we” have trained 30% or more of the players in control.
    I don’t have anything to back that up, it’s just a SWAG.

  136. 136
    Svensker says:

    @morzer:

    Whatever regime does emerge will do so knowing that it owes us nothing, has nothing to fear from us, and has no reason to feel goodwill towards us either.

    This is an optimal outcome. A neutral party. Our actions toward that future neutral party would, one hopes, cause it to feel disinterested goodwill toward us. As for this new government feeling it “owes” us or “fears” us — god save us. Why should they owe or fear us? Why does the US, as a country, need this? Bully behavior, if you ask me.

  137. 137
    morzer says:

    @Svensker:

    Trying to build good relations with other countries is the reverse of bully behavior. It’s called common-sense and diplomacy. We just haven’t done a very good job of it recently.

  138. 138
    morzer says:

    @Svensker:

    Look, not doing anything is also a form of action. You can’t escape unintended consequences that way.

  139. 139
    morzer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The military may decide that it will be the next best thing for Egypt – but I am not sure that will happen, or that the people will allow it to happen. Either way, if the military do take power, they may just remember that we were Hosni’s dear friends, until the going got tough, at which point we waffled and lectured and let him twist in the wind. Don’t be too sure that this is going to impress the military much either.

  140. 140
    Calouste says:

    @morzer:

    Recently as in about the last 150 years or so? Or from whichever point the Monroe Doctrine turned from “self-determination in” to “US hegemony over” the Western hemisphere?

  141. 141
    morzer says:

    @Calouste:

    I suspect the Arab world thinks that the last 30 some years are enough to be going on with – at least, as far as judging us by our record and behavior goes.

  142. 142
    Corner Stone says:

    @morzer: We’re not going to make much headway here.
    I’ll stand with my opinion that the Egyptian military is THE power in Egypt, they will decide what happens next, and they will keep one hand outstretched to the US for billions of dollars per year.
    As for Libya, I have no idea what will happen next there but I firmly and resolutely believe our armed forces should have nothing to do with it.
    Do a first aid and supplies drop. Use a secret anon 3rd party source and fund the hell out of the Red Crescent.
    Hell, even back a resolution the UN should go in and do things.
    But armed US men and women in country? Hell to the no.

  143. 143
    Cain says:

    @morzer:

    I will remind you that the Egyptian protestors expressed intense disappointment with an anger towards the Obama administration when we tried to play footsie with both sides. We don’t have the luxury of doing nothing and calling ourselves neutral, because no-one believes it. If we simply let Gaddafi kill his own people, and then turn up with soup and the Constitution after it’s all over, they will rightly suspect that we just want to make sure of getting any oil that’s going.

    Hi morzer, thanks for your response. They have been momentarily angry, but they have accomplished their goal and are busy trying to re-build their nation. They really don’t have time to agitate about America. When the time comes, we’ll see what the future brings.

    As for our Constitution, it is a mess. Cutting-edge back in the day, but now more of a hindrance to governing than anything else. Yes, our citizens are not without blame – but the system makes people what they are, and our system is

    Perhaps, it does at that. But there is really is no such thing as a perfect system? As long as we can change the document then we have a chance. What we have going on now is a temporary blip in our history. Once you put jerks like Republicans in charge, they’ll ruin the country to the point that just like Egypt we’ll be forced to do some bloodletting and vote them out.. it just hasn’t gotten bad enough and they still have the the large block of baby boomers they’ve feared into doing their bidding.

    broken. Look at how hard it is to make good policy, once some ignorant yahoo from Asscrack Alaska gets her knickers in a twist. What happens? Howls, screaming, a national conniption. We couldn’t even manage end of life counselling for the elderly without that becoming death panels.

    It is hard, because you have a number of states who seem to subscribe the idea that the rich needs no strings attached to them. Only when it affects them directly will they see a change. The safety net they are destroying affects them as well. People can easily go from rich to poor in this country. The best thing we can do is continue to fight and never give up. Shun the newspapers, tv, and what not that are promoting one sided debate.

    There is a way to fight back.. first you need to stop wormtongue from whispering in the kings ear.

    As for not knowing how other countries are governed, I suggest that you do some learning about the realities of diplomacy, about our involvement in the Middle East, and

    I think I enumerated a decent list of things that would come into play if you were to send troops there. Perhaps you can tell me what you believe would happen if we were to send troops there as an exercise?

    and there are solid reasons for that. Moving back to other countries, I wonder how many you have visited or lived in, and how many languages you know. I’ve travelled, lived or worked in six countries in Europe, a good part of the US, China, and Japan. When it comes to languages I can read, write or speak 12 with reasonable fluency, if you include classical languages such as Latin, Attic Greek and Sanskrit.

    I’ve lived in India, and live and breathe that culture. I have grandparents who remember living under colonial rule. I’ve witnessed various accusations about the U.S. from familiy members. Mostly, there is enough people here who knows what it was like to get screwed by a western power. I don’t have the background that you have, which I think is pretty awesome. I wish I was able to do that and I hope i still might. But I think I have enough idea of what former colonists think in their mind.

    When they reach out to the U.S. for help, they really thinking about the romanticized idea of the U.S. coming in to save the day on a white horse. The reality isn’t as pretty. I know that I felt the same way many times as a young adult when I was frustrated about what goes on in the world.

    Big names in the Egyptian revolution: ElBaradei for one.

    Yes, I believe he is a big name, but he’s not the only name. He’s not the head of the revolution, he’s only one of the players. His influence though is not going to overcome any mistakes done by the U.S.

    cain

  144. 144
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    For all we know, these repressive regimes might be replaced with even more repressive regimes with the veneer of Democracy.

    Veneer of democracy is what we’re all about. When our beloved Founders penned the words, “all men are created equal” they could hardly have known that the women, slaves, natives, and poor that made up the vast bulk of the population and were being systematically disenfranchised would some day be allowed to participate, hence ruining the little party that “all men” were having. “All men” have responded to each encroachment; a vast public relations industry, restrictive electoral laws, packing of the courts, and so on. So yes, other countries will develop their own veneers of democracy governed by “all men” within their respective borders, but fear not, “all men” in the USA will continue to spend more than the rest of the world combined on weapons to protect us from those nasty, brown-skinned veneers.

  145. 145
    Brachiator says:

    While I’m all in favor of people being able to democratically choose their own future, I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States. Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate us.

    You either renounce the imperialist, “right” to fuck with other people’s countries in order to make sure your own life is cosy, or you become a Republican.

    Simple choice.

    And yeah, this means you might have to go to war with people if they decide to go nuts. But consider what has happened. The people in the Middle East have gotten wise to the game of Western puppet authoritarian leaders who crush their own people, but play to the West. This has led to a blowback of leaders who are even more hostile towards the West, and a “street” which despises the industrialized world.

    And if you are uncomfortable now, just wait.

  146. 146
    morzer says:

    @Cain:

    Look, I’ve never said the reality was going to be pretty, and I have laid out what I think is a practical approach in earlier posts. I do believe that we have a chance to make things a bit better for the Arab world, and to make some amends for our screw ups in the past. ( I also don’t believe that the only choices are isolationism or imperialism – that’s just a false dichotomy. We can engage and be constructive without making other countries into colonies.). If we go in to remove Gaddafi, make it clear that we do not seek and will not seek permanent bases or anything of material value, and that we will refuse to support any political faction by any public announcement or use of force, then I believe we can hope to receive goodwill from the people of Libya. We can make clear that we will support an interim administration drawn from all factions, and that we will assist it as requested with food and other basic necessities. We should ask the UN to manage elections and help with constructing a new constitution (or whatever name one wishes to assign to it). If we genuinely act as honest brokers, I don’t see that we shall be badly received or become targets. This isn’t Mogadishu, nor is it Iraq. This ought to be within our capabilities.

  147. 147
    Calouste says:

    @Cain:

    Perhaps, it does at that. But there is really is no such thing as a perfect system? As long as we can change the document then we have a chance.

    Technically the constitution can be changed. Practically the requirement that 3/4 of the state legislatures are needed for approval means that $50 million or so to the right pockets will stop everything.

    What we have going on now is a temporary blip in our history.

    Civil War, Gilded Age, McCartyism. Temporary blips for sure, but it’s kind of annoying and not a little concerning that these blips seem to reoccur every few decades like clockwork.

    Once you put jerks like Republicans in charge, they’ll ruin the country to the point that just like Egypt we’ll be forced to do some bloodletting and vote them out.. it just hasn’t gotten bad enough and they still have the the large block of baby boomers they’ve feared into doing their bidding.

  148. 148
    Comrade Mary says:

    Gaddafi is to make a public statement soon. Try the English Al-Jazeera feed to catch it live.

    (Guys, I know Wisconsin is important, but this is fucking huge. Can we get a thread closer to the top of the page? With all the Badger posting today, this is going to roll off the front page pretty soon.)

  149. 149
    Comrade Mary says:

    Latest from Metafilter:

    Whoah, I didn’t realize until now — the fatwa against Qaddafi uttered live on Al Jazeera Arabic by Al Qaradawi was not just “it is wrong to side with him”, the fatwa (as translated by Sultan AlQuassemi’s twitter feed) was calling for Qaddafi’s murder:
    __
    “I am issuing a Fatwa now to kill Gaddafi. To any army soldier, to any man who can pull the trigger & kill this man to do so. Save your countrymen from this brutal tyrant. It is wrong of you to stand by while he kills innocent people”
    __
    At this point, things are turning against Qaddafi so quickly and so violently that I think he won’t even get a perfunctory military trial like Ceaușescu or a formal hanging like Sadaam; he’ll probably just go down Mussolini style: shot and then hung up on a meathook over a local gas station while being pelted with stones from the crowd. Or something like that.
    __
    Sic semper tyrannis, motherfucker.

    The tweet in question.

  150. 150
    something fabulous says:

    @morzer: Maybe it ought to be, but it hasn’t been. This was exactly the argument before we went into Iraq: that “Saddam” was a monster to his own people, and that we would go in and neutralize him quickly and efficiently, and get out when a democratic form of government– “an interim administration drawn from all factions”– was installed. I think you are the willfully naive one if you think our presence in Iraq now is not still and actively resented by people in the region.

    PS: “but Libya really isn’t much to write home about, as countries go. Total population: 6.4 million. Gaddafi’s already struggling to survive. Minimal risk, and potentially some serious diplomatic gain.” That’s heading awfully close to “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” dismissiveness, to me.

  151. 151
    Ruckus says:

    My first thought was this is probably the same thing people were saying 200+ years ago about the US. Little did they know that 200 years later they would be proved correct. We have inflicted dictator after dictator on others because we thought it would be better for us, the ole devil you know over the devil you don’t. Sure a lot of countries have a lot to hate us for. Maybe, just maybe we should change that. If they don’t hate us maybe we wouldn’t have to do crap that makes them keep hating us.
    Maybe it’s time that conventional wisdom is replaced.

  152. 152
    Cain says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Ugh. I DO NOT like the idea of some religious guy issuing a religious decree to murder Gaddafi. Really, that’s beyond the pale. This is fucked up.

    I don’t think it matters, I think the country is out for blood and they are going to find Gadaffi and he better get the fuck out of there. Well done, Libyans. Well done.

    cain

  153. 153
    Cain says:

    @morzer:

    I think we have the same goals but differ in tactics. I think that it will be hard for people to believe us as honest broker given the 40 years of support we have been giving dictators and of course our support of Israel.

    You’re asking people to have faith in this country to not screw them over. Faith you yourself don’t have. You’re already soured on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If you don’t believe in this country why should they?

    cain

  154. 154
    morzer says:

    @Cain:

    I believe in this country, I simply think it has a pretty mediocre system of government that is increasingly showing its age. There is a difference, and playing the Bush-style “belief in country” card is a pretty unimpressive way to behave.

  155. 155
    Brachiator says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Gaddafi is to make a public statement soon. Try the English Al-Jazeera feed to catch it live.

    By the way, I understand that there is an iPad app for this. Not too sure how well it works. But people who have been watching events unfold here have praised the coverage of the BBC and English Al Jazeera.

  156. 156
    Chris Wolf says:

    This is an attempt to not hire a new right-leaning blogger, right?

  157. 157
    valdemar says:

    The point some people miss is the European influence. A lot of people from the Middle East and North Africa have been to Western Europe, have worked or studied here, etc. Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians – Muslims in general are not actually penned behind 10,000 volt fences.

    This year the British census will have the ethnic category ‘Arab’ for the first time. I live in the English provinces, far from London, and recently found myself giving directions to a student from Kazakhstan. Many tens of thousands of intelligent young Muslims have seen at first hand that a country can be stable, prosperous and free. That counts for something.

    I went to Tunisia on a package holiday about 15 years back. Unemployment was obvious by the number of young men and women simply hanging around doing nothing on weekdays. Repression was apparent by the uniformed guys with guns on every major street.

    Islam was a lot less obvious than Western influence. Walking down the street I often heard French being spoken and after a few days I could guess from the accents whether people walking behind me were locals or French tourists. (I never felt remotely in danger.) I saw Hollywood movies and bootleg American rock CDs on sale in stores alongside French pop and Arab music.

    As for a super-Caliphate – it’s like suggesting that the Pope will re-unite all the Christians to see off the Muslim threat.

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