“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Glenn Beck's Warnings Become Mainstream

It hasn't been even two weeks since I wrote this post concerning Glenn Beck's warnings about the Egyptian revolution that deposed Hosni Mubarak last week. His use of the term 'Caliphate' drew criticism from mainstream media outlets.

No more.

In fact, as I watched various news programs last week, it became clear that most pundits possess a serious concern that the Muslim Brotherhood will, over the next year or so, manage to gain control of Egypt's government. Meanwhile, other north African countries continue to simmer in sympathetic response to recent events in Tunisia and Egypt.

It's also worth noting, thanks to the scope of information available in today's media, that veteran pundits are reminding Americans of several long-forgotten aspects of the Carter-era Iranian hostage crisis.

First, hard as this is to believe, the US welcomed the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran from France after the Shah's downfall. Yes, we thought it would help the situation.

Second, the Iranian military, then I believe the fourth-largest in the world, or, in any case, quite large and well-trained, by the US Army, was thought to be a stabilizing bulwark against chaos the country. Just like people speak of the Egyptian military today.

However, in just a year, the military leaders were pushed out by Muslim radicals who ultimately took control of the revolution and the Iranian government.

Thus, the current Egyptian revolution, viewed with this historical perspective in mind, has a long way to go. And comforting bromides concerning how things have turned out so far, in fact, may mean nothing at all.

Between the shock wave of revolutionary energy against regional dictators, the Islamic zeal for a Caliphate, and the knowledge that Western energy needs depend so heavily on the region, it's far too early to breathe a sigh of relief that oil prices won't soar even higher.

There's a deeper moral to this story, of course. One we could have, as a nation, chosen to learn when the Shah was deposed. That is, backing dictators anywhere ultimately puts the US in a morally untenable position. Even now, Egyptians in the streets, when interviewed, say the admire American freedom and liberty, but despise our government for propping up a dictatorial, embezzling strongman.

How do we keep getting it so wrong when it comes to foreign relations with dictators? Was the last 30 years of relative calm in Egypt, at a $70B price tag, really worthwhile if it all comes unglued now? And results in justified anti-American sentiments across so much of the so-called 'Arab street' for backing regional dictators who suppressed individuals' desires for more freedom and liberty?

Regardless of party, the US has to figure out a better, more effective and moral approach to interacting with regimes which suppress their people unjustly, or we'll continue to be on the losing end of populist uprisings around the globe.

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