Summary: Other posts on the FM website provide important information about the riots in Egypt (listed at the end). This post gives guesses about America. Our reaction to the riots, often disproportionate to any likely geopolitical effects, reveals much about us.
Correction: these are protests, strictly speaking not (yet) riots. Especially since what violence has occurred has been mostly by government agents or provocateurs.
America’s relationship with the world has become increasingly problematic since (arbitrarily) 2000. Revolutions in the Middle East expose fault lines in our thinking, cutting through the realpolitik pretensions to our naked fear of the future.
But first, a note about our allies in the Islamic nations of the Middle East. Mostly a batch of low legitimacy oligarchies, leeches on their people, waiting for their inevitable slide into the dustbin of history. Tunisia foreshadows their futures, wondering if their time has come. Is this 1848, when a wave of revolutions swept Europe? The fire ignited in 1848 took a several generations to burn down the last of western Europe’s ruling monarchies. With modern communications a similar process might take several years.
Then there’s Israel. Any regime change in Egypt probably counts as a strategic disaster for them.
Why should America fear regime change in Egypt — and in the broader Middle East?
- They’ll push up oil prices
- They’ll all attack us. They hate our freedom.
- It’s a tangible sign of America’s eroding hegemony
- Our elites empathize with Middle Eastern rulers
(1) They’ll push up oil prices
OPEC already does that today to the maximum extent they can without wrecking as the global economy. As would I in their place. And you, too.
(2) They’ll attack us. They hate our freedom.
Our fears make us more easily governed. No surprise that political strategy since WWII has increasingly consisted of inciting terror in the citizenry. The bomber and missile gaps. AIDS. Global warming. Now we’re carpet bombed: the deficit, hyperinflation, Islamic jihadists.
“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it. That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”
— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about how to start the Cold War. On 12 March 1947 Truman did exactly that. From Put yourself in Marshall’s place, James P. Warburg (1948); in 1941 Warburg helped develop our wartime propaganda programs.
Our paranoid fears are useful, and imaging a demonic enemgy (and the justified violence we can unleash against them) lightens otherwise drab lives. Also, what would Hollywood (from James Bond to NCIS) do without a powerful and implacable enemy from SMERSH to al Qaeda) to drive their plots?
To play devil’s advicate — might they stop attacking us if we stop supporting oppressive regimes and invading Islamic nations. And stop supporting Israel’s theft of Palestinian land might also help. Or we can continue to escalate the struggle, each step further radicalizing and angering people.
Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. That’s a saying from Alcoholics Anonymous, its origin lost in their past. How appropriate. Perhaps the Long War will only end when America checks into a rehab program.
(3) It’s a tangible sign of America’s eroding hegemony
The Middle East is one of the world’s most important areas, now largely ruled by US-friendly regimes. The overthrow of those regimes probably reduces our influence, especially if their people hold grudges.
Worse, the delusional refusal to accept the inevitability of a multipolar world creates cognitive dissonance when confronted with its reality. It should not happen, therefore evil people must be at fault. Obama! Islamic fundamentalist extremists! Like Green Lantern in every issue, with sufficient willpower we can defeat these bad guys.
(4) Our elites empathize with Middle Eastern rulers
The revolutions of 1789 and 1848 horrified the aristocracies of Europe, showing the hollowness of their regimes. Even they no longer believed in the divine right of Kings, or that there was any basis for their rule. Their Kings were like the Wizard of Oz, old men posing as the “great and powerful” — fearful that a small barking dog will reveal their deception.
Similarly the plutocracy ruling America has vastly expanded its power and wealth since 1980. Lower taxes, deregulation of their corporations, massive corruption of the political process, reduced social mobility, greater concentration of income and wealth. This resulted on a successful indoctrination campaign, putting much of our knowledge about economics and government down the memory hole. Cutting taxes increases revenue. Society prospers with light regulation of banks. Cutting expenditures on schools makes society stronger. Regulation of industrial safety and pollution hurts society.
What happens if people re-learn the truth from either our history or other nations (the most successful of which have prospered taking the opposite path)? Our elites can only watch and fear.
Other posts in this series about Egypt