Sunday, February 13, 2011

More thoughts on Egypt

An article at National Review deserves quoting:

Many other questions are not being asked in the general euphoria over Mubarak’s demise. Why are the more oppressive governments of Syria, Iran, and Libya not subject to the same degree of popular unrest that is said to be surely spreading to Jordan or the Gulf? Is it because for all the authoritarianism of a Mubarak or a Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, there was never the threat of a genocidal Hama, or thousands perishing on the proscription lists under a Khomeini, or international assassinations of dissidents in the Libyan manner? (Would Egyptian-like protests ever have deposed Saddam and his Baathists [cf. the failure in 1991 after the Shiite/Kurdish uprising]?) Does the greater anti-Westernism of a Syria or Iran counterbalance its oppression in the minds of the populace? Much of this reminds me of a Gandhi being fortunate, to paraphrase Orwell, that he was rebelling against the British, and not Germans of the Third Reich.

What if Mubarak wasn't really that bad...he was just pro-American...

Much has been made of Western social-networking technology, whose entrance in the Arab world has ignited popular outrage over the absence of the elements of civilized life — decent housing, plentiful and safe food and water, effective sewerage, available employment. But how odd that brilliant Western technology — text messaging, Skypeing, iPhones, Google, Facebook — can facilitate the furor over endemic poverty and political oppression, but has so far been unable to materially alleviate the conditions of Middle Eastern poverty — as in novel, inexpensive methods of creating housing, cheaper energy, more plentiful food — that might trump the cultural and political impediments to wealth creation. We can spread Facebook page making to create anger over poverty, but not comparable Western innovations to more directly alleviate poverty.

In a flat world, you're value is defined by how intelligently you use a computer. Egyptians have only themselves to blame for falling behind...

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