Thursday, February 3, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For - You Just Might Get It

Watching the events unfolding in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt, I'm reminded of a moment in Denial Stops Here, the DVD compilation of Michael Ruppert's speaking engagements from 2004-2005. The movie is a fantastic document of his political and economic predictions for the future, many of which came true with startling accuracy. At one point as he is describing the layout of the coming economic collapse (he believed it would occur in 2005, he was off by three years), he predicts that General Motors will have to file for bankruptcy. The crowd bursts out with applause. Ruppert then cautions them, "Hold on! Before you cheer, think about what that means". After then explaining what the worldwide economic ramifications of such an event would mean (General Motors eventually did file for bankruptcy on June 8, 2009), Ruppert concludes saying, "So be careful what you wish for. You just might get it".

We are witnessing a revolution in the Middle East, probably the largest such revolt in a region since the Eastern bloc revolution of 1989. With each passing day, the phenomenon seems to grow. The president of Tunisia flees the country to live in exile in Saudi Arabia. Yemen's president has said he will not run for re-election in the wake of protests there. But of course the largest and bloodiest revolt is happening in Egypt, where the course of history is changing radically on a daily basis.

But this may only be the beginning. This recent article from The Guardian highlights some new developments:

Spirit of Egypt protest spreads to Yemen, Algeria and Syria

Demonstrators gather on streets of Sana'a as Algeria aims to defuse tensions by lifting 19-year state of emergency

Protesters in Yemen
Opposition demonstrators wave Yemeni flags as they take part in a ‘day of rage’ in Sana’a. Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP

Reverberations from the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt continued to be felt around the Arab world as demonstrators gathered on the streets of Yemen for a "day of rage" and Algeria became the latest country to try to defuse tensions by lifting its 19-year state of emergency.
More protests are expected across the region following Friday prayers, including in Syria, where activists have used Facebook to organise demonstrations in front of parliament in the capital, Damascus, and at Syrian embassies across the world.

But hey, this is all good isn't it? These are all non-democratic, mostly military dictatorships that are the focus of the protests by their respective citizens, so what's wrong with them rising up against their oppressors? You would think the neo-cons of all people would be rejoicing the rise of freedom and democracy in the Middle East! Especially when their pResident George W. Bush had this to say in the aftermath of another "regime change":

"Yet there's a great challenge today in the Middle East. In the words of a recent report by Arab scholars, the global wave of democracy has -- and I quote -- "barely reached the Arab states." They continue: "This freedom deficit undermines human development and is one of the most painful manifestations of lagging political development." The freedom deficit they describe has terrible consequences, of the people of the Middle East and for the world. In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines."
"The great and proud nation of Egypt has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East, and now should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East. (Applause.) Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it's the only path to national success and dignity.

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey."

These words are from November 6, 2003. Eight years later, Egyptians are doing exactly what the fearless neo-con leader asked for. Yet instead of neo-con ecstasy, the mood from the talking heads around Fox News is one of sheer horror. One of the biggest fraidy-cats is former State Department stooge John Bolton, who came up with this thoughtless strategy:

Bolton: If Mubarak falls in Egypt, Israel should bomb Iran

By Eric W. DolanTuesday, February 1st, 2011 -- 11:24 am

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the ouster of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would speed the timetable for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
"Do you think that the Israelis are going to have to strike — they are going to have to take action?" Fox News Republican opinion host Sean Hannity asked the former ambassador on his radio program Monday.
"As you pointed out, ElBaradei ran cover for the Iranians for all those years that he was with the IAEA. And, I just don’t think the Israelis have much longer to wait… they're going to have to act in fairly short order."
"I think that's right," Bolton responded. "I don't think there’s much time to act. And I think the fall of a Egyptian government committed to the peace agreement will almost certainly speed that timetable up."
Bolton chided the protests in Egypt last week, saying that "the real alternative is not Jefferson democracy versus the Mubarak regime, but that it’s the Muslim Brotherhood versus the Mubarak regime, and that has enormous implications for the US, for Israel, and our other friends in the region."

Why all the fear tactics in regards to the Muslim Brotherhood? True, these are not good guys by any stretch of the imagination. They have documented historical ties with the Nazis and questionable ties with al-Qaeda. But in proportion to the population of Egypt in the event of a democratic government actually occurring, they really are what Chris Matthews described them as: the Tea Party of the Middle East. In a democratic society, both have a right to exist, but as columnist Bob Norman said, "and then be put on the fringes where they belong". Perhaps the real reason for all the commotion in the reich-wing echo chamber is that this is what they want: an Armageddon slugfest between these counterpoint crackpots. It certainly wouldn't be the first time there was an association for their mutual benefit:

Michael Hughes
Posted: September 3, 2010 08:15 AM

When Right-Wing Christians and Neocons Loved Islamic Jihadists


In the mid-1950s, the C.I.A. and the British MI6 had developed a close relationship with an Islamic extremist group called the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and forged a partnership with Saudi Arabia to defeat the secular and nationalist policies of Egyptian President Gamal Abddul Nasser. The C.I.A. enabled the Muslim Brotherhood to return from banishment and infect Afghan society with a radical version of Islam that began to supplant the traditional and more moderate indigenous form. According to Gould and Fitzgerald:

The radical Islam of the Muslim Brothers returning to Afghanistan from exile in the late 1960s and early 1970s shared none of the "celebratory, personalized and ecstatic" traits of Afghan Islam -- nor did it offer itself as a political or economic reform movement. Instead, what reentered Afghanistan following its exile was a violent, antimodernist hybrid (described by French expert Olivier Roy as more akin to the extremist Catholic sect Opus Dei than anything native in Afghanistan) which at first challenged the weakened boundaries of the old patriarchy, then in triumph broke free from traditional limits on violence and clan rivalries.

While Afghanistan's progressive King, Zahir Shah, tried to institute modern reform, how mind-boggling is it that the U.S. backed antimodernist fundamentalist Muslims whose goal was to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and establish an Islamic Caliphate?

Fast forward to the late 1970s when a Pentecostal inhabited the White House while neoconservatives, led by hawkish National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, preyed on Carter's ingrained end times theology. Brzezinski pushed forward the agenda of what became known as "Team B" -- a cabal of neocons such as Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Nitze, Seymour Weiss, Richard Pipes, Richard Perle, Daniel O. Graham and Leo Cherne, who exaggerated Soviet nuclear and military capabilities to force U.S. leaders to take a hard line against communism.


So does this alliance put President Obama between a rock and a hard place? Not quite. As my good friend Octafish pointed out, he's got Frank Wisner from inside the bowels of Washington's power elite. Whether Muburak stays until summer or leaves office today, Wisner is the man with the connections to smooth things over. Whether it's power to the people or sustaining the status quo, we can rest assured American interests will be protected.

I'm sorry, do I sound cynical? Well, in light of this recent find by vanlose kid at Rigorous Intution, I most certainly am. As you read this, think about it in the context of the Carter Doctrine, which I am quite certain President Obama would uphold if push came to shove:

Saudi Hiccup?

As riots raged in Cairo on Friday and dominated the news wires around the globe, Saudi Arabia, it appears, may be getting ready to join the list of Arab nations protesting their governments.

In the port of Jeddah relatively heavy rainfall combined with a non-existent drainage system to wreak havoc on the city and its 4 million inhabitants. The city is literally flooded and the torrential, and very rare, rains have caused around $ 1 Billion USD worth of damages.

So far there are 11 dead and over 100 injured as a result. Incredibly, over 11,000 cars were stranded in floodwaters as water levels were reported to be 4 meters (13.2 feet) deep in some areas. Rescue helicopters have ferried almost 500 people to safety!

Oddly enough, and unfortunately for the government, the same scenario happened in 2009!

Back then it was dubbed Saudi's "Katrina Moment". Over 122 people were killed (some estimate it was more like 500) and hundreds injured as the government fell on its face during the response effort.

That led to widespread discontent and a fury of criticism of the local government mainly via, you guessed it...Facebook. The main theme was "Where are the billions in oil revenue going?".

Back in 2009 and according to the CS Monitor:

Mr. Khair, the lawyer, says he intends to file a class action suit against Jeddah's municipality. He does not think any official will be forced to resign, he adds. "In Saudi Arabia, we didn't hear about someone leaving his office."
The attorney says that the Facebook page was a useful alternative because street protests are illegal in the kingdom. The Internet "is the only way. We don't have another way," he says.

The episode has demonstrated "how technology allows people to shout out loud. I have never seen this before in Saudi," says Asaad, the lecturer. Even if people commenting on Facebook "use pseudonyms, it's a start," she adds. "But nowadays, people are using their real names."

Which brings us to today.

A mass blackberry messenger message has gone out in Jeddah calling for a demonstration on Saturday, the 29th. It says:

On Saturday there will be a demonstration in front of the municipality for Jeddah … gather as many people as you can,” the message ran. “We need brave men and women. We don’t want any more lies … We have to do something.”

Another message also sent via Blackberry urged all government and private sector employees to hold a general strike next week in protest at the authorities’ neglect of the city’s infrastructure.

This is very serious news if it happens. The ruling Saud family's main areas of support are centered around the capitol city, Riyadh. There are long standing historical tensions with the people of the western provice, Hijaz, of which Jeddah is the largest city. Jeddah is also the second largest city in Saudi Arabia overall and is the port of arrival to the more than 2 million Muslims who make the pilgrimage to Mecca every year.

Also, in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia are most of the shunned Shia Muslims of the country. They are regarded as infidels by some hardline Wahhabists and face a glass ceiling when working in public bureaucracies. There have been tensions there also and several protests.

Here is an excellent paper about the ethnic and religious background of Saudi Arabia.

In addition to the religious and social tensions in Saudi, perhaps the economic tensions are the greatest of all. According to a recent report by Booz & Co., unemployment in Saudi Arabia is estimated to be 13-14% in 2008. Additionally, 48% of Saudis between the age of 20-24 are unemployed as well as 31% of Saudis between 25-29.

70% of the population is under the age of 34 and the Median age is 24.9.

In other words, the powder is dry...

Here is a video of the clashes between police and Saudi Shia's (keep in mind the source is Iran's Press TV)

Here is a video of the catastrophic floods in Jeddah this week: ... iccup.html

Sometime in the future, there will come a real day of reckoning for the USA. It may happen in the wake of revolution spreading across the Middle East this year or it may not happen until the 20's. But sometime in this generation we will face the day when we face the reality that maintaining an empire of friendly regimes protecting a permanently decreasing supply of non-renewable resources is economically unsustainable. As a result of this, governments in the future will have to focus on relocalization, regardless of whether they are 1st world or 3rd world countries, if they want to serve the interests of their citizens and alleviate the risk of a revolt.

Oh sure, we could get lucky where Saudi Arabia is concerned. Maybe the House of Saud can continue their stranglehold on power like the House of Kim in North Korea, just starve 'em into submission. Or perhaps a democratic uprising will result in a representative government that wants to remain allies with the US. But what if they don't want to? Over 60% of all proven oil supplies in the world are in the Middle East. 25 percent is in Saudi Arabia alone. 100% is currently priced in dollars. What if they decided to price it in another currency? Where is it carved in stone that the indigenous people of countries halfway across the globe must have our best interests at heart, even at the expense of their own? Are we prepared to use the same armed forces currently stretched to the breaking point in Afghanistan and Iraq to enforce our interests at the expense of a population trying to express the freedom for self-determination?

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

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