Saturday, April 16, 2011

Two faced

Well, the news is just a-bustlin' this week isn't it?
I'm sure we're all very excited that the stop gap bill has now grown up to be a real bill. And we're stoked that we have to raise the debt ceiling otherwise we're gonna default on government payouts. I'm personally also very excited that NATO has promised to keep fucking around in Libya until Qaddafi dies, quits or escapes, as Qaddafi ramps up his attacks on civilians and it's impossible to tell from the sky who the fuck is who. Not to mention American Idol was on last night, Coachella just started and there's a new YouTube video of a dog running into a wall.
So, it's no surprise that something like American funded revolutions would slip under the radar.
Yes indeed, the anti-activist, Muslim fearing, establishment supporting US of A is behind much of the training and funding of the revolutionary groups responsible for spawning the Arab Spring, particularly in Egypt. An interesting concept considering Mubarak and friends received $1.5 billion worth of US economic and military aid, annually.
Hmmm...I wonder if we could cut that from our crippled budget? No, no, much better to cut the budget that supports the crippled - sorry, got confused for a second.
Evidence of training leaders of opposition movements such as the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Yemeni activist, Entsar Qadhi has seeped through the intelligence cracks. It actually began years ago, with training sessions worldwide. Several activists attended a program in New York in 2008, sponsored by the likes of Facebook, Google and the State Department.
The real funding for these programs however, came from you and me: The International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and the non profit human rights org, Freedom House, all government sponsored. The Republican and Democratic institute were spawned by Congress, and financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, an NGO based on promoting democracy and freedom around the world - a little arrogant, but from my research, I can't find anything overly fishy or corrupt about their dealings. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets most of its income from the US government, however, it only gets about $10 million. Together, these groups have trained many of the political activists, even setting up programs in the lions den - such as a sessions held in Yemen focused on using social networking to spread their message and assemble like minded youth.
Many activists are very thankful for their training and attribute much of the success of their revolutions to the instruction they received. Of course, the US organizations behind the training insist that they never meant for it to amass to a revolution. Stephen McInerney, the executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy said, “We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking.” That's kind of the same thing. You don't teach someone how to shoot an arrow and not expect them to ever hit something.
The Project on Middle East Democracy describes its tenets such that: democracy is an inalienable right and it is the duty of the US to support democracy worldwide. "To be true to its basic principles, America must consistently and credibly support democracy abroad." OK - arrogant pricks. However, the last tenet back pedals a bit, ensuring that their necks aren't stretched too far over the line of fake diplomacy: "The U.S. can and will help but, ultimately, stable and secure democracies in the Middle East can only be built from within." Hmmmm, then doesn't that mean that outward forces have no fucking business forcing it upon people? Iraq is of course the classic example.
And to be honest, as asked in an NPR peace, "is democracy in the Middle East a good idea?" These cherubic young students waving American flags aren't necessarily in line to the throne - er, presidential seat. The Middle East is a hot bed for extremist activity and with good reason. Under these US supported regimes, many extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood were quieted by force. Now that the Arab Spring is upon us, whose to say that the winds of freedom won't kick up some extremist dust that will settle in the hearts and minds of protesters. I mean, in reality - it's not hard to draw up a list of our trespasses in the Middle East, even if we have engaged in peaceful training sessions, gleefully poking and friending activists on Facebook between talks with Mubarak on military posts.
As Flynt Leverett, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and former director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council said, "The legacy of 20th century colonialism in the Middle East, oil concessions and all the rest, mean that it is not popular for regional regimes to cooperate with hegemonic power. While there is no evidence that democracy reduces the incidence of terrorism, there is ample evidence — from places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia — that holding more open elections in these and other societies would produce governments that are more anti-American than incumbent regimes."
Interesting, so basically - we're supporting a movement that could further damage our already shit stained reputation in the Middle East. Wait - people in the Middle East don't like us? But, but - we're so cool!
Bashem Fathy, a driving force behind the Egyptian uprisings had this to say about the double edged sword:
“While we appreciated the training we received through the NGOs sponsored by the U.S. government, and it did help us in our struggles, we are also aware that the same government also trained the state security investigative service, which was responsible for the harassment and jailing of many of us.”
Hmmmm, tricky. So, the question remains - why the fuck do we bother? If the comments of Leverett and Fathy are any indication, we're not making many new friends here. Extremists love a revolution, and they will find their way up to the podium, with a list of grievances with our name on it.
A revolution is a mental shock to a nation - the people are open to ideas that support their original ideologies for protest: freedom. And freedom won't be portrayed as Uncle Sam calling the shots. We supported these revolutions, we egged them on, we've been trying to tidal wave through the Middle East since at least 2005 when these programs first started. We knew exactly what they would lead to - we wanted them to. No way in hell are we gonna allow all that hard work to go to waste with self governing democracies, particularly if that means we don't get to economically and militarily ricochet around their country like an inflatable bounce house.
Bottom line: democracy is not a divination we can crusade around the world, "saving" poor lost souls with. What is this, the 12th fucking century? The CIA could wrap itself in Lion Heart's clothes and you'd scarcely know the difference. Our religion is democracy, one we ironically don't follow very well on our own. But I guess the most corrupt priests are the ones most vehemently religious...When you pit religion against religion (Islam being theirs), you will never win. Religion is not logic based, and neither is our incessant invasions of countries, whether that be with tactics or tanks. It's about power, always has been. We crave power, and our two faced dealings in the Middle East have satisfied our addictive need, but at what cost? And we haven't even gotten warmed up yet.
The Arab Spring is in full swing - what happens when the fall and winter come around. Will we get the cold shoulder from the freedom loving masses we so philanthropically helped? Call me a cynic, but I don't see parades in our honor.
Arrogance is dangerous, made even more lethal when attached to a faith.
God help US.

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