Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging, Decision '08, Ethics, Government, History, Media, Politics, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 9:01 am


Clio, the muse of history, can be a bitch of a mistress. Just when you think the world has settled into a nice, ordered regimen with the “March of Progress” proceeding at a stately pace, along comes the Countess of Chaos, the Mistress of Mayhem to throw all of our pretensions about controlling events into a cocked hat and teach us a lesson in humility, if not in respect for the gods.

Egypt; Land of the Pharaohs, cradle of civilization, crossroads of empire, and more recently, a linchpin in the strategic position of the US in the Middle East, has had enough. Enough of oppression, enough of dictatorship, enough of grinding, endless poverty, enough of being beaten down and ground to powder by a pitiless state.

In short, they’ve had enough of Hosni Mubarak and want him out.

Americans are of two minds regarding Clio’s intervention in Egypt. The idealists are swooning with joy over what appears as of this writing to be the possible exit of President Mubarak and the historic chance for democracy to flower in the ancient Nile valley. The realists are sounding the alarm about the probable participation in a post-Mubarak government of the Nazi-inspired, anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood. The push-pull of these two forces on American policy has always been part of our national life, so it’s not surprising that when historic events explode across our TV screens and computer monitors, that an acrimonious discussion would break out about what the US should do now, and how we should handle what comes next.

Clio is silent in this debate. She doesn’t do the future. She’ll occasionally lift her skirt and slyly reveal the broadest of hints about what is to come based on what we know of the past and what we can see of the present. But our vision is a clouded one; so much that is unseen, unperceived, and just unknowable.

Our hearts our with the protestors, urging them on, praying for their safety, and marveling at their otherworldy courage. This is the patrimony given to us by the Founders that every generation of Americans is charged with keeping safe; the belief that liberty must eventually spread across the world and that anything we can do to aid in that sacred mission must be done. We have spilled an ocean of blood and spent a king’s ransom a thousand times over to advance this cause. It is in our DNA and there’s no use fighting it.

But prudence dictates that we also be mindful of the future and the catastrophe that is possible if Islamists were to take a leading role in the formation of any “Unity Government” that emerges following a collapse of the old regime. Clio gives us hints about the outcome of any such folly. Before there was Lenin, there was a Karensky; before Hitler, Von Papen; before the Sandinistas, there was a “Junta of National Reconstruction” with the Sandinistas a minority; and before there was a radical Islamist state in Iran, there was the “moderate” government of President Banisadr. In each case, the hopes and dreams of the people were shattered when ruthless men with guns blew up the moderate intent of those whose earnestness and good hearts were no less than we find in Egypt today.

So it is with a mixture of awe and trepidation we watch as Clio pulls back the curtain on events in Egypt. As for the future, the Greeks believed that the threads of our life were spun by the Fates and everything that happens to us has been preordained. We can’t afford to be such fatalists. We are not helpless as the movement of peoples and ideas rolls forward, flattening the past and changing the landscape to reflect a new reality. In the case of Egypt, however, it might be true that our ability to effect events to our advantage will occur after President Mubarak is gone, rather than having us standing in the way of the juggernaut as it steamrolls the dictator and the remnants of his odious rule.

Titanic historical forces are now loose in the Middle East. Other nations - Jordan, Yemen, Syria. Qatar - are trying to forestall the wave by changing personnel, making symbolic liberalizing gestures, and overusing the word “reform.” I doubt whether their own citizens are buying it. As the spirit Dave Bowman keeps telling us toward the end of the movie 2010, “Something wonderful is about to happen.”That “something” is the awakening of a long oppressed people who have finally realized that the power to be free resided in the strangest of all places - within their own hearts and minds. The revelation itself is as liberating for the Arabs today as it was for English colonists 235 years ago who threw off the shackles of their own tyranny to begin the world anew.

There will probably be much disappointment across the Arab world when the wave recedes and the hard, slogging, grinding, work of creating a civil society where none existed before is undertaken. The kinds of governments thrown up by these protests will have a hard time meeting the stratospheric expectations of the citizens who braved the worst their oppressors could throw at them to will themselves to freedom. There will be triumphs and setbacks. Some governments will no doubt be freer than others. More blood will need to be spilled before the hopes and aspirations of so many can be fulfilled, and the liberty - however they perceive that term - so hard fought is to be fairly won. That is the way of the world, though we wish it were not so.

Many in Egypt have lived a lifetime this past week. But that mischievous minx Clio is just getting started.

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