Free Markets, Free People

revolution


Egypt: So how’s that “revolution” going?

Not so hot if this story is any indication:

An Egyptian blogger was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for criticizing the military in what human rights advocates called one of the more alarming violations of freedom of expression since a popular uprising led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak two months ago.

The blogger, Maikel Nabil, 25, had assailed the Egyptian armed forces for what he called its continuation of the corruption and anti-democratic practices of Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Nabil often quoted from reports by established human rights groups.

[…]

The charges against Mr. Nabil included insulting the military establishment and spreading false information about the armed forces. The tribunal charged him with spreading information previously published by human rights organizations like Amnesty International on the army’s use of violence against protesters, the torture of those detained inside the Egyptian Museum and the use of forced pelvic exams, known as “virginity tests,” against detained female protesters.

Can’t have anyone “insulting the military establishment” or protesting against torture and “virginity tests” can we?  Sure seem much like the regime they just “threw out” doesn’t it?  Next: Islam begins to push the secular to the side. 

Yup, I can feel freedom ringing out from here.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 30 Jan 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the situation in Egypt.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


After Mubarak

It’s difficult to have any sympathy for Hosni Mubarak, or any other member of Egypt’s current ruling elite. Egypt has been ruled by a succession of authoritarian dictators since 1954, when Gamal Abdel Nasser took control of the Government in 1954, a dictatorship continued by Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, in turn. One always hopes that a popular movement to overthrow a dictaror will be followed by a flowering of democracy, but, sadly, that rarely happens, historically, and is even less likely to happen if Mubarak is toppled.

In all probability what will follow Mubarak in Egypt will be a government run by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their allies.  This means that Egypt’s most likely post-Mubarak government will be an Islamist, radical government, similar in many respects the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As Lawrence Wright points out in The Looming Tower, Mubarak’s jails have been an incubator for Islamist radicals. And why should we expect otherwise? The liberal, Western, Democratic states have been fairly supportive of Mubarak, and Sadat before him, ever since Sadat disavowed warfare as a method of destroying “the Zionist entity”, as Israel is generally known by the Arab states. Even among proponents of democratic reform inside Egypt, the support that the West has given Mubarak has made the West appear to be, at best, amoral, and, at worst, positively duplicitous. This has undercut the influence in the popular culture of Egyptian proponents of Western-style democracy.

As a result, it has been the Islamists who have seen their influence rise among the general population in recent years.  Indeed, the Islamist influence on Egyptian culture is immediately noticeable by looking at the following pictures posted a year ago by Pajamas Media. The pictures are of the graduating classes of Cairo University in 1978 and 2004.  Notice how the women are dressed.

Cairo University Graduating Class, 1978

Cairo University Graduating Class, 1978

Cairo University Graduating Class, 2004

Cairo University Graduating Class, 2004

The devolution from the modern era to a more conservative past is obvious.

The upshot of all this is that a post-Mubarak regime is likely to be undemocratic, Islamist, and hostile to the West in general, and the US–and, of course, Israel– in particular.  With Egypt having such a large population and corresponding cultural influence on the rest of the Arab world, there is much reason to believe that that a post-Mubarak Egypt will be the cause of a significantly less stable, and more troublesome environment in the Middle East.

Our policy failures in Egypt have been bi-partisan, and made for ostensibly the best of reasons, but their results seem likely to be disturbing. Still, it’s difficult to see what other choices were available to us.  Had we imposed too much pressure on the Mubarak regime to democratize, the end result would likely have been either a) much the same as we are facing now, or b) simply caused Mubarak to turn to China to replace the security and stabilization support provided by the West.  Sadly, the policy options we faced were those presented by the real world, and not the idealized world we might wish for. Although, one notes, had we forced Mubarak into the arms of the Chinese, we might have more acceptable moral support to offer the proponents of Egyptian democracy at the present moment.

Now, we don’t even have that.  The Egyptians are going to do whatever they’re going to do, and we have little choice but to sit by as passive observers.


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 01 Aug 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael and Dale discuss the possibilities of Revolution, Secession, and Constitutional conventions.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Might there be a “second revolution” and if so, what would it look like?

Investor’s Business Daily is asking "Will Washington’s failures lead to a second American revolution?"

Good question. I don’t see it in the offing at the moment, but if the course continues – i.e. governmental overreaching coupled with increasing cost and incompetence – anything is possible.

Says IBD:

People are asking, "Is the government doing us more harm than good? Should we change what it does and the way it does it?"

Sure they’re asking that.  And sure they’re wondering if they should change it.  But that’s really all they’re doing at the moment.  There’s no impetus – other than talk – to make the fundamental change that is necessary to rein in this government.  Not yet anyway.

That’s because most of us are still comfortable enough that we’re not willing to do what is necessary (and destabilizing) to make those changes.  We’d rather complain and threaten politicians.

I’m not saying I’m any better or any more prepared than anyone else – I’m just putting forth an observation.

Nope – unfortunately, things will have to get even worse than they are now before I can imagine a “second revolution”.  And I’d wonder what form it would take.  Peaceful but determined overthrow of the system?  A new “Constitutional Convention” where the “people” again try to limit government to a specific and downsized role in our lives?

Or would it incorporate the enshrinement of certain “entitlements” and various programs that much of the libertarian right find unconstitutional and intrusive?

Who knows?

IBD seems to think Obama is driving us toward such a revolution.  Yet somehow, as unpopular as George Bush was, it didn’t happen then.  Perhaps its the cumulative effect of having two relatively unpopular presidents, one from each side, which will trip the trigger?

Again, I’m not seeing it or feeling it.

I’d love to see a second “Constitutional Convention” if I was assured that its intent would be limiting government.  But in today’s political climate and with the decades of “entitlements”, I have no faith that’s what it would be.  I also have no faith that the outcome of a Constitutional Convention would be acknowledged, much less followed by this government.

It’s a real thought to ponder.  How, short of a bloody revolution – which may or may not come out the way freedom loving people would prefer – do we get government under control?

If there is a 2nd revolution, what form would it take?  What would be the tipping point?  Would we survive it?

Looking out over the political landscape today, I simply don’t know the answers to any of those questions.

~McQ

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Podcast for 21 Jun 09

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Letterman/Palin controversy, and the situation in Iran.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.