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Tuesday March 8th 2011
American politics
Democracy in America
Arab spring
Who lost Egypt?
Mar 1st 2011, 14:11 by M.S.
EIGHT years after the craziness that was the invasion of Iraq, I barely have the patience to address neo-conservative fantasies about how to turn political evolution in the Muslim world into a story that's somehow all about America liberating grateful locals. So I'm glad Daniel Larison still does, though, in responding to Niall Ferguson, he seems to be almost out of patience too:
The sobering thing about rapid political change in these countries is that there really is very little that the U.S. could have done differently in just the last few years that would have produced a significantly different outcome. Democratists look at what happened in the 1980s, they reason foolishly that 1989 happened because of what the U.S. and Western allies did in supporting political dissidents, and they conclude that “we did it before, we can do it again!” Just as Iraq war supporters stupidly invoked Japan and Germany as meaningful precedents for the political transformation that could happen in Iraq, Ferguson is invoking the successes of eastern European dissidents as precedents for what could have happened in the Near East.What makes Ferguson’s comparison even harder to take is the presumption that Western support for eastern European dissidents was important to their success, when the success of eastern European revolutions in 1989 rested almost entirely with the peoples of those countries. Ferguson’s analysis and recommendations seem to hinge on believing that Western support for dissidents in communist states was important to the successful political transition in those states, because Ferguson can’t seem to imagine foreign political movements that succeed or fail regardless of what Westerners do or don’t do...If there is anything more pathetic than the usual round of “who lost [fill in the blank]?”, it is the risible attempt to claim that all would be well if there had just been more American emphasis on democracy promotion earlier on.
I think I can suggest one thing that's more pathetic than the usual round of "who lost [fill in the blank]", and that would be a round of "who lost [fill in the blank]" when we won. Nobody lost Egypt! Egypt just ousted its dictator in a non-violent popular revolution! It's going to have democratic elections in six months! In what perverse universe does this count as a defeat for American foreign policy, for the West, for enlightenment civilisation, for lovers of human rights? Sweet Douglas Feith, what do these people want?
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Turkey Vulture wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 2:56 GMT
These people want their Team to regain power.
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hedgefundguy wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 3:16 GMT
Nobody lost Egypt! Egypt just ousted its dictator in a non-violent popular revolution! It's going to have democratic elections in six months! In what perverse universe does this count as a defeat for American foreign policy, for the West, for enlightenment civilisation, for lovers of human rights?
Neither you nor I are on the ground in Cairo.
Perhaps you might want to watch the Frontline program that was filmed on the ground in Cairo.
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LaContra wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 3:25 GMT
Who lost Egypt?
...Well Hosni Mubarak of course and its a fantasy to think it was anyone else's to lose.
It would seem that for all of its liberal democratic rhetoric and patter, the West still cannot shake itself free of its historical narrative of imperialism.
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RestrainedRadical wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 3:28 GMT
This debate from 2007 between realists and neo-cons may be of interest to some: http://intelligencesquaredus.org/index.php/past-debates/spreading-democr...
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willstewart wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 3:40 GMT
The West will have enabled the Arab awakening to a significant extent by:-
1 - existing; showing what free countries look like
2 - providing the technology to enable Egyptians to see (1)
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afvincent wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 3:55 GMT
"Sweet Douglas Feith, what do these people want?" Spectacular, sir!
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Faedrus wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 3:56 GMT
"Sweet Douglas Feith, what do these people want?"
They want their monthly pay checks from Murdoch, or the Koch Brothers, or Red State, or whoever is paying them to crank out reams of infantile nonsense against whatever Democratic politician they happen to be gunnin' for.
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Pacer wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 3:57 GMT
Nonviolent democratic revolutions are pretty much lost customers for the defense industry. That's probably the source of the angst coming out of certain foreign policy circles.
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Pacer wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 4:01 GMT
I'd add that if there's a loss for America in all of this it is that our brain drain power diminishes as nasty inopportune places around the world develop into more pleasant places for the best and brightest to remain and prosper.
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jomiku wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 4:02 GMT
I was working out at the gym and one of the tv's had FoxNews on. They brought on an expert to "grade the WH" on Egypt. Repeating his words as closely as I can remember: "I'm going to be objective, not biased so I'm giving the WH a D-."
That's why. Political gain = lying.
I guess then you go home and kiss your children with that mouth and then you go to your church and mouth words about goodness and salvation and then you go to your job and lie.
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Doug Pascover wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 4:03 GMT
What these people want is for someone to have lost something so they can write about it.
By John Lennon's beard, M.S! With all the cause the world has for celebration, why would you be so petty to deny the neocons a share?
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Djyrn wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 4:42 GMT
Hey, I found Egypt...
30°01'N 31°14'E
I'll take my share of the celebration.
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OneAegis wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 4:50 GMT
The white man's burden sure got easier once we figured out all we had to do was exist as an example. Foreign lands in poverty? Well shucks, they aren't paying attention. Foreigners rising up and casting off the shackles of despotism? Finally they paid attention to what we've been saying! (Oh, and never you mind the large cash transfers to your former oppressor; I'm sure you all understand the political realities, right? Right?)
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martin horn wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 5:45 GMT
I get really tired of the Eastern European comparisons. America was POPULAR in Eastern Europe.
Ferguson and other "intellectuals" of the neo-conservative movement refuse, UTTERLY refuse, to accept the fact that being accused of "collaborating with the American government" is an INSULT, not a badge of honor, in the Middle East. Here's a major hint: Qaddafi is accusing protesters in Libya of being brainwashed by American agents. Ahmadinejad accused protesters in Iran of being funded by the CIA. Does anyone else notice a theme?
The worst thing President Obama can do is endorse reform movements in the Middle East. People like Ferguson whose screensavers are montages of Ronald Reagan standing underneath the American flag need to understand that having lived with U.S.-supported autocrats for so long, and learned what the U.S. and British did to Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, Arabs are not inclined to believe American claims of democracy prioritization.
Ferguson should stick to writing about how slavetraders and colonists did Africans a favor.
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martin horn wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 5:48 GMT
For those of you confused by the last line in my previous post, here's an article explaining how Ferguson feels that even with the slavery and oppression and the theft of resources, colonial powers did Africa a favor by conquering it because it eventually led to economic development of Africa.
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cs r wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 6:14 GMT
No surprise that neocon naives who believe in nation-building at the end of a gun barrel also imagine we could have sprinkled pixie dust across Egypt.
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Meg from Seattle wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 6:34 GMT
Let us go beyond Egypt. There are reports of losing 'key allies' across the MidEast with these uprisings and protests, most recently in Yemen where America's (weak) ally against terrorism is under fire; therefore, so the media concludes for us, we should be extremely worried. Few seem to be able to look any farther ahead, to where the U.S. State Department once again sends ambassadors to transitioned governments and Mr. Obama will once again visit Egypt under a peaceful, non-dictatorial government.
No one in the U.S. lost anything. Instead of complaining and worrying, we should be celebrating with the people of Egypt for a victory of peaceful protesting and perseverance by the people, an ideal Americans hold so dear.
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LaContra wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 7:27 GMT
Martin Horn.
When Niall Ferguson departed Oxford and Cambridge to continue an academic career in the US (and finally assume the Chair in History at Harvard), many saw it as a sign of the ascendancy of US university system over the British.
Not quite....Ferguson's revisionist approach to history and his neo-con tendencies marginalised him somewhat in mainstream British academia and the US proved greener pastures for his 'style'.
While I agree with many of the counterfactual arguments which Ferguson makes, he refuses to stop at the historical 'truth' of his perspective and attempts to extend his 'truths' to a moral dimension of certainty and righteous certitude.
Apparently its not enough for his assertions to be correct, he needs them to be morally superior as well.
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Danny Ferry wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 8:53 GMT
". . .we won. Nobody lost Egypt!"
We won? Really? While you're in the future, analyzing the results of Egypt's democratic election which apparently put ElBaradei in power and saw the Muslim Brotherhood win no significant representation, could you also let me know what the stock price of Apple does over the next few months and years?
"Egypt just ousted its dictator in a non-violent popular revolution! It's going to have democratic elections in six months!"
Egypt's dictator was our ally. Egypt's people, with good reason, are not big fans of the West generally or America specifically. These democratic elections may well be won by the Muslim Brotherhood, who may well turn out to be far more radical and fundamentalist than we hope. Iran's 1979 revolution replaced an autocracy with supposedly democratic elections. You're arguing that the Iranian Revolution worked out well for the West? Or for human rights? Or for enlightened civilization?
"In what perverse universe does this count as a defeat for American foreign policy, for the West, for enlightenment civilisation, for lovers of human rights?"
In what perverse universe are those groups coterminous?
This was a remarkably and unusually bad post. Your insistence that this is an obviously good development is as foolish as your opponents' insistence that it's obviously bad. It's actually worse, because you're supposed to be smarter.
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Jaylat wrote:
Mar 1st 2011 10:57 GMT
"the craziness that was the invasion of Iraq"
Yes, Sadam Hussain was such a great guy, and I'm sure he'd never invade Kuwait again or build another nuclear weapons program, or keep gassing Kurds or start another war with Iran that killed 500,000. Besides, his two sons were groomed to take over and they seemed perfectly nice fellows.
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