Monday, 31 January 2011

Goodbye peace

Churchill had just stepped down and Chamberlain popped up and dismissively retorted, "Well, to listen to Mr. Churchill, you'd think that Hitler wanted to kill every Jew in Europe." That brought on a general din of laughter throughout the House of Commons.

About forty years ago I spent a summer holiday on the beautiful island of Menorca. I remember sitting in the shade of a local cafe gazing at an idyllic small harbour. The cold beer flowed profusely. As is the case with young revolutionaries, the discussion turned to politics. This time to the Middle East.
My discussion partner informed me that Israel would have to go. I asked him to clarify this remark. He said that Israel was a colonial-settler state impeding the march forward to world socialism. It would have to be destroyed, in the name of a better tomorrow for all humanity.
And the Jews who live there, I asked him, would they have to be killed? Yes, he replied, if it is necessary. So, I said, it is not a question of the size of the country, it is the very existence of the country that is the problem. Yes, he replied.
After that everything turned a bit nasty. I had to be restrained from wringing his neck. It was the first time I had met anybody who advocated mass slaughter in the name of a higher political ideal.
In the years after that I met quite a lot of people in the Netherlands who were not adverse to a bit of genocide if it furthered the goal of world socialism. Mainly during my study of Political Science in Amsterdam: Maoists, Trotskyists and the supporters of Soviet communism. Well you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, can you?

Mass slaughter is not only something that is advocated for a higher political ideal. It is also promoted for a higher religious ideal.
Hamas advocates the mass slaughter of Jews. Do I hear a "general din of laughter"? Hamas is only against the Israeli persecution of Palestinians?
No, this is not the case. Hamas is against the existence of the state of Israel and will gladly kill any Jew who lives there. Their Charter is quite clear about this:
"Muslims will fight the Jews [and kill them]; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: Oh Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” 
Actually the language is quite poetic.

President Jimmy Obama is now facilitating the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Brotherhood is the mother/father (I am still having trouble with that) of Hamas.
An Islamic Republic in Egypt will lead to the resumption of the existential wars between Israel and her neighbours. That is one of the attractions of the Brotherhood for the Egyptian people.

Just don't whine when Israel defends itself.

Friday, 28 January 2011

I could be wrong

Of course I could be all wrong. And not for the first time.

Mubarek now seems to be caught between the hammer and the anvil.
On the one hand, he has to contend with the Americans and/or the army who cannot stomach bloody repression.
On the other hand, he has to contend with not only the growing number of demonstrators but also the growing boldness of the demonstrators. Even the not so courageous now realize that they can demonstrate.

For me, Obama and Clinton are beginning to sound as weak and indecisive as Carter when the Iranian revolution started. They still believe in Mubarak but they threaten to reconsider a $1.5 billion programme of foreign aid if Mubarak does not respect the rights of his citizens.
And what do his citizens want? They do not want concessions, they want his head.
So the U.S. is saying, we support you President Mubarak, but we will reduce our aid to an already failing economy if you do not let the demonstrators overthrow you.
By the way, all the demonstrators are not only anti-Mubarak. There are two other things that the Islamists and the Internet generation agree upon. They are against America and the Zionist "project/entity".

Egypt is not Tunisia.
Since independence Tunisia has been ruled by secular despots and there is quite a large middle class. It is actually one of the most advanced Arab countries.They could elect a secular or moderate islamic government. Also Tunisia is not important for regional or world politics.

Egypt is really backward. Look at the Pew percentages. They are e.g. much worse than Lebanon (and Hezbollah).

Egypt is home to the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the mother/father (can't really say mother) of all the extremist Islamic groups in the region. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt was and is the largest and most important Arab country and it controls the Suez Canal. Actually I loved Egypt when I read The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. Justine and Balthazar are my favourite books. Then I went there on holiday and changed my opinion.
A Sunni Islamic republic is a disaster for American foreign policy in the region. What will happen to king Abdullah in Jordan and the PLO? I would not bet on their chances of survival.

With all respect. I sometimes think that Americans are a bit naive about spreading democracy. For them it seems to be only about the rule of 50% plus one. Obama and Clinton are happy, they smell the scent of democracy.
Don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

From Cambodia to Egypt

Remember Cambodia. The gallant struggle against the imperialist Americans. They were fighting the devil, so they had to be angels. Marching in support of the Khmer Rouge was a privilege. And then it all turned sour with the "killing fields". Of course no-one can blame us, how could we have known?
Actually we could have known, if we had bothered to look at the Khmer Rouge's ideology beforehand. We could have also investigated the warnings. Instead of just dismissing them as imperialist lies.

Remember Iran, the revolution. I was studying Politics at the University of Amsterdam. The Marxists (of many different plumage) were ecstatic. Marx had predicted this, the prelude to a socialist Middle East.
There were once again warnings, but they were again dismissed. Lies spread by imperialists and the new devils, the Zionists.

Remember Egypt. You should, it is today. The people are rising up, just like in Tunisia. The people want democracy. A new wind of liberty is blowing in the Arab world.
Or is it?
Here comes the warning. The only reliable information we have on how Muslim Egyptians think comes from a Pew Research Center poll on harsh punishments:

82% favour stoning women who commit adultery;
77% favour whippings/cutting off hands for theft and robbery;
84% favour the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion.

I find these percentages pretty chilling. But nobody needs to listen. I am just another imperialist and Zionist.