March 28, 2011
Is That a Cry for Democracy in the Middle East?By Jim Yardley
The White House and their media flunkies have been spinning the not-exactly-a-war in Libya, the a-lot-more-than-ordinary-protests in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria and the general unrest in other Muslim nations in the Middle East as the embodiment of a yearning for democracy and self-determination.
It seems odd that this same sort of activity, when seen on the Mall in Washington, and involving as many as one million Tea Party activists, who aver that they too are seeking democracy and self-determination, is described as being "Astroturf" and is being directed by shadowy figures who are manipulating poor rubes who have no idea who will really benefit from their sacrifices.
These authoritative voices, who describe the not-exactly-a-war in Libya as a "kinetic military action," tell us that the people of the Middle East have had enough of dictatorial regimes and yearn for the same thing America enjoys, which is a representative government and democratic reforms.
Why would they want that?
Americans think that the desire for democracy is somehow innate in the DNA of all humans. Two hundred and thirty-five years ago, thirteen of the British colonies in North America banded together to gain their independence. Was this after millennia of being subject to an absolutist, authoritarian government? No, not really. Was George III a tyrannical monarch? Of course he was. But why didn't America, with only a monarchy as a governmental model, do something so radical as to create a democratic republic to replace that monarchy?
Americans chose democracy because America already had over 150 years of ruling themselves through local democratic institutions to guide them. The Mayflower Compact began an evolving process for developing America's democratic institutions. So even though England, as well as many other nations in Europe, viewed America's new form of government as radical, they failed to see the century and a half of experimentation that preceded it.
Where is the history of that sort of experimentation, and learning from those experiments, in the Middle East? Prior to the Islamification of the region, government was based on an absolute monarch model.
Sort of a "divine right of kings", but with sand.
It was then replaced, almost universally, by a government based on an Islamic theocratic model. So where did the people on the streets of Cairo, Benghazi, Sanaa, Damascus, Manama and Amman develop this taste for democracy? When did it burn so brightly within them that they pursue a change from an Islamic theocratic model, based primarily on the strictures of the Koran, which codifies their religious belief that Islam is most properly embodied by complete submission to the will of God, as interpreted by his priestly class, the imams and mullahs of the region. Shari'a law is the source of great debate in Great Britain today. The application of shari'a law within a democracy would be impossible, since secular law is always considered subservient to sharia by devout Muslims, and only religious leaders can properly interpret sharia.
That looks a lot like a return to the Islamic theocratic model, regardless of the packaging.
So again, the question must be asked, from whence did this burning desire for democracy spring? Could it have been surreptitiously encouraged by the Muslim Brotherhood? Could the Muslim Brotherhood be covertly using pro-democracy slogans to gain support among western nations for their own efforts at regime change?
Once a "democracy" is established, who is better prepared than the Muslim Brotherhood to dominate and control the first elections in any newly democratic Middle Eastern nation? No one.
When one examines the countries most aggressively under attack from within, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen are the three that are currently, if not active allies of the United States, at least passive in their resistance and rhetoric toward the west. Bahrain is less passive, letting the United States base our fleet in their harbors.
The more viciously anti-American a Middle Eastern regime appears to be, the less street demonstrations for democracy seem to occur. Yet this is also deceptive. Syria, under Bashar al-Assad, is experiencing pronounced protests in Damascus as well as other Syrian cities. Why would this happen? Assad is anything but a friend to the western powers and is clearly an enemy of Israel. Could these demonstrations be orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood as well, as a sort of "Nice little country you have here, Bashar. Be a real shame if something happened to it" type message?
So who is actually showing the signs of being "Astroturf"? Tea Partiers, or the so called "rebels" in Benghazi?
President Obama made it perfectly clear that Hosni Mubarak had to go. Now he has made it perfectly clear that Muammar Gaddafi has to go. Obama has gone so far that he is putting American lives at risk to oust Gaddafi, by waging a not-exactly-a-war in Libya. Obama's intervention appears to be completely coincidental to any efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood. Or perhaps not.