Monday, February 07, 2011

L’Affaire Egyptioan

The “Egyptian Affaire” has ended, leaving everyone with a sigh of relief and a lot of folks with egg on their respective faces. Two-thirds of the mainstream media considered this event so important that it dispatched its Olympian “anchors,” Brian Williams (NBC) and Katie Couric (CBS), to the action in Cairo, never mind that the networks already had the ground crawling with their representatives/spin-meisters. Couric became too tweeter-happy and so mistakenly tweeted that Mubarak had resigned, forcing an apology. Mubarak hasn’t resigned to date and most likely will not any time soon, if at all before the September elections.

Egyptian Vice President Suleiman made it a point to mention his belief that the newsy folks had conspired with elements on the ground to cause the upheaval. This is easy to believe since the Americans treated it much like they did affairs vis-à-vis Katrina, blaming the U.S. government then for allowing that disaster to become a calamity, notwithstanding that later investigation proved the stark ineptitude of New Orleans Mayor Nagin and Louisiana Governor Blanco to be the actual and damning reason for much if not all the suffering.

There was no doubt that NBC, CBS, ABC and their affiliates sided with the protestors and against the government, notwithstanding the grief the whole thing caused. Fox’s Shepard Smith had his usual hysterics, too (as he did in the Katrina thing), not least because a couple of Fox news-people were manhandled, not surprising since Suleiman, whether right or wrong, must have concluded that the reporter/commentators (no such animal as reporters anymore) were attempting to turn the whole world against the Egyptian government, never realizing the enormity of the stakes involved. After a tumultuous week, the Friday demonstrations in Cairo were peaceful. The reason: The news people from all over the world, especially from the U.S., were invited out, often in very harsh ways.

Venezuela’s Chavez announced that if the Suez were to be closed oil would rise to $200 per barrel. With the army on his side, Mubarak, who has kept the Suez open, stays until the army is not on his side. He’s no beauty but at least Egypt is only 90% Sunni Muslim instead of 99%, as in Algeria, about the same as most other countries in that area. Mubarak and Yemen’s President Saleh (also a 30-year + guy) are the only U.S. allies in fighting the terrorists, so there’s a natural trade-off vis-à-vis the respective populaces. Anyhow, the U.S. Congress is routinely dominated (and corrupted) by operatives with well over 30 years of service, so what else is new?

It’s impolitic and politically incorrect to do so, but the Muslim countries can be compared to the countries of Latin America, which were colonized largely by nations in which Roman Catholicism was perhaps the main player. The Catholic missionaries discouraged individual study of the scriptures, preferring indoctrination to understanding. This was another way of discouraging meaningful education concerning everything else. South America, if anything, is blessed with more natural resources than North America, with Brazil alone almost as large as the lower 48. Look at the difference between North and South America not only economically but governmentally, with South American governments largely fashioned at the point of the gun. North America was colonized by people accustomed to thinking for themselves, spiritually and otherwise. Education was a main difference.

The Muslim countries have little industry other than tourism. The power rests almost entirely with the ayatollahs, imams, etc., who operate under the Koran and therefore bloodthirstily. Compare that to the Inquisition-operated Dark Ages and the Catholicism of the colonial era that played upon ignorance, to see some answers. Ignorance is actually glorified in Islam, as evidenced, for instance, in the “honor killings” of girls, with no similar treatment for men, not that either would be right. The literacy rate in Afghanistan is 28%; Yemen, 58.9%; Egypt, 72%. An Afghan army officer complained the other day that only one of ten Afghan men could read or drive a vehicle.

Granted that much of the topography of the Middle East is hostile to development, people with freedom from religious fanaticism and consequent ignorance can be expected to take care of themselves. Corruption by both the religionists and the government is a factor, such as in Egypt, but there’s enough corruption in Washington and state capitals to make that fact almost moot. We survive that corruption because we have the tools, especially mentally, although the bent toward federal authoritarianism in this country is scary. For instance, the “salt” laws are in the works, government telling people what they may eat. Or, there are 777 exemptions now from the Healthcare law just passed for entities such as labor unions and favored businesses, with no accountability to anyone. Presumably, Sunstein, the main regulator, makes these decisions, entirely political in nature…but, who knows?

The supreme irony lies in the fact that Obama is attempting to gather all power to the “Beltway,” especially to the White House, with its many czars accountable to no one but the president, while at the same time inveighing against Mubarak and caterwauling about the Egyptian masses unfairly treated by their central government.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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