Monday, November 28, 2011

Elections in Egypt

Let’s understand the stakes.

Today Egyptians are voting in a reasonably fair election.

The news will be touted across the media as a victory for democracy. By implication, it will be presented as a sign that the situation in Egypt is stabilizing and is moving in the right direction.

More importantly, we will be told that it shows how well the Arab Spring has been managed by the Obama administration.

With the election fast approaching and with North Africa looking like one of the most important foreign policy failures of our time, the media will do everything in its power to make it look like a success.

Like the Obama administration the cognoscenti quickly jumped on the Arab Spring train. Thinking like idealistic youths, they saw what they wanted to see in Egypt.

Knowing less about history than about philosophical fictions like “revolution,” they misinterpreted events and thrilled to the prospect of an outcome that would prove that the Bush administration had failed in Iraq.

Yesterday Anthony Shadid andMoises Saman expressed the hope that all liberals felt in February. They put the feelings in the mouths of everyday Egyptians, but clearly they are expressing the viewpoint of educated Western opinion.

In their words: “When the revolution began last winter, the prevailing wisdom in Cairo was that Egypt, imbued with so much history, could navigate change by virtue of its homogeneity, shared culture, ferocious pride and reverence for its past.”

I never bought this illusion. I still consider it to be pie-in-the-sky. In these past weeks Egypt has descended into chaos and anarchy. One election is not going to solve Egypt’s problems.

To provide information that has been elided by the mainstream media I have often relied on the work of David Goldman, aka Spengler.

From the beginning Goldman has presented a realistic picture of the Egyptian present and future. Unfortunately, time has proven him more prescient than most.

While the media is cheerleading the Egyptian election, keep the context in mind.

Goldman wrote: “The ugly denouement of the so-called Egyptian Spring is visible in the collapse of Egypt’s stock exchange (down 11% in the first three days of this week) and the impending collapse of the Egyptian pound, as residents and foreigners flee to hard currency. A unique sort of brutality characterizes Egypt’s currency crisis: banks cannot meet the demand for currency because it is impossible transport bank notes. Mobs hijack the armored cars….

“It is entirely understandable that the Egyptian mob wants to help itself to the contents of armored cars, considering that the Egyptian press and blogs have reported for months that the country’s leaders are stealing rice, diesel oil, propane, and other commodities whose distribution is controlled by state companies. If everyone is stealing, why shouldn’t the man in the street get his share, too? Massive theft from state warehouses has been reported widely in Egyptian print and Internet media, but under the mainstream media’s affirmative action policy for failed states, not a word about this has made it into the conventional press.”

He ends on a sobering note: “The Obama administration, the mainstream media, and the liberal punditeska sit insensate before this hideous spectacle like children at a matinee of ‘Peter Pan,’ hoping that Tinkerbell will come back to life. ‘If you believe in the Arab Spring, clap your hands!’”

1 comment:

RKV said...

One man, one vote, one time.