Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tunisia, Egypt

A few thoughts...not necessarily connected.

I think the Tunisian and now Egyptian stories are quite exciting, and I hope the Mubarak regime is at an end. It's a mixed bag because both liberals and Islamists have been repressed; they have common cause now, but are probably incompatible. And more generally, opposition to economic stagnation, corruption, and dictatorship is not equivalent to support for a better system. But this revolution is a necessary thing, if these societies are to modernize, as they must. It's also inevitable. A regime can't perpetually govern against the will of the majority. Mubarak now seems to prefer civil war to losing power...a sure route to losing power. May he go soon, and to hell with him. And may Egypt move to a freer society and economy.

This revolution also reminds me of the limits of America today. The administration seems utterly unable to fathom what to do. (Condemning dictatorship a long time ago might have been a nice start.) The American media seems unable to cover the story coherently -- both government and media seem to have been blindsided by these events and very slow to respond.

AlJazeera, on the other hand, has had great coverage. I particularly recommend their live English language webcasts, which are quite informative, professional, and non-sensational. As I listen now, there's more or less a war of attrition in Tahrir Square.

AJ also has a very surprising op-ed (surprising to me, at least) on Jews praying for the Egyptian opposition. I found it sort of moving.

But for sheer Middle East strangeness, it's hard to beat the this one: the Saudi government has arrested a vulture for suspicion of being an Israeli agent.

Of course, when it comes to being blindsided, Unforeseen Contingencies is right up there. My own recent dismissal of social networking looks silly to me now, after Tunisia, and after seeing how frightened Mubarak is of Facebook and Twitter.

As usual, I see these events as part of a growing process for human civilization. Kardeshev theory predicts tumultuous times. Here's hoping we build something better out of the tumult.

Flag of Egypt image courtesy of 4 International Flags

Update: the war of attrition just got hot, as there's substantial gunfire and tanks moving. It sounds very much like the anti-Mubarak protesters are being attacked, and the army is -- maybe -- trying to intervene. If indeed Mubarak's forces are attacking, he should be tried for it.

hmm...Charles, your remarks are much appreciated as usual. I would have hoped to read your opinion on Belarus,too. I stay in touch with our friends there via Twitter and FB by the way! NV
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