Saturday, 5 February 2011

Careful what you wish for!

Since the start of the demonstrations in Egypt many people who I follow on Twitter praise the bravery of those ordinary Egyptians who have gathered in support of freedom and democratic government in Egypt. There is nothing more noble than democracy but it's always at the back of my mind to be careful what you wish for. Egypt may well elect a democratic government and it may improve the lot of the Egyptian people, or, on the other hand it may not, Egypt may well end up the same as Iran.

I tend to agree with Julie Birchill in her column in the Independent last Thursday, "Armchair revolutionaries: be careful what you wish for in the Middle East," where she says,
It would be wonderful to think that what replaces Mubarak will be better. But here's the thing about Middle Eastern regimes: they're all vile. The ones that are "friendly" are vile and the ones that hate us are vile. Revolutions in the region have a habit of going horribly wrong, and this may well have something to do with the fact that Islam and democracy appear to find it difficult to co-exist for long.

Julie concludes by saying,
"Don't let's allow the vicarious thrills we are currently getting from the events unfolding in Egypt to blind us to the effects of what happens in the Muslim world when revolutions go wrong."

Perhaps in uncertain times such as these it's better, "the devil we know."


The Judge said...

I can scarcely believe I'm reading this on a Plaid website.

Quoting with approval the screechings of a noted froth-mouthed columnist (a sort of Essex Girl Melanie Phillips)?

Of course, those poor, deluded Muzzies can't be trusted to elect a government we approve of can they, so they should be shown the error of their ways and be led by a sequence of US clients like so many others in the region (Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia).

The people of Egypt have the right to be ruled by whomsoever they wish; anything else is patronising colonialist twaddle.

This site hasn't been hacked by Kim Howells, has it?

Draig said...

I'm afraid I've got to concur with the Judge here. I suspect that there are certain elements that would love to have us believe that Egypt may be about to morph into some kind of fully-fledged islamist-nutjob regime. But if it is, I can't see it.

I was amazed to ready today a very interesting piece in the Guardian by journalist Jack Shenker which points out that the demonstrators in Tahrir square are to all intents now developing a type of participatory democracy that has more in common with the "Neighbourhood Assemblies" of Argentina back in 2001.

I suspect that this is what the US and Co. are really afraid of, - this really is a "leaderless revolution" and no amount of muddying the water by the Murdoch-led media is going to stop it.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We have idealism and we have pragmatism. I don't think Muslims are deluded quite the opposite actually. I'm not saying that Egypt would end up like Iran if Mubarek is overthrown but neither can you deny that it's a possibility. Would that make the world safer? Of course not. Plaid Cymru shouldn't fear discussing these issues. From your comments I don't think you've read Birchill's article in full.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Time will tell! and the reason I read the Independent is that it is not a Murdoch rag! Your comment about 'leaderless' to describe what is going on tends to support my argument that there is potential for a vacuum at the top and then what happens.

Draig said...

I've read the article. Julie Burchill tries to conflate Egypt with Iran. They are two different countries. Would you conflate Wales with England, Mr. Gwersyllt?

glynbeddau said...

But the real problem is that when the Western governments and it seems you talk of democracy, they base it on our interpretation
If the Egyptians in a free and democratic election vote for an Islamic party we should accept it.

Such a result however it will make it more likely if the USA and UK end up being perceived there as interfering in Egypt's future.
The West propped up the Shah's regime in Iran and that led to the Islamic revolution.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

The point I am making is that Egypt COULD go the same way as Iran and the reason why Iran has gone the way it has is down to colonialism pure and simple - Churchill wanted Mossadeq out of the way in 1953 and replaced him with the puppet Shah. He did this because Mossadeq had the cheek to nationalise the Anglo Iranian Oil Company and as a matter of interest Eisenhower was AGAINST overthrowing Mossadeq until the domino theory was introduced to convince him the USSR would invade if Mossadeq remained. Likewise with the Suez crisis the reason why Britain and France backed off because of a lack of US support, Eisenhower again. US foreign policy was far more restrained in the 1950's than it is today. Perhaps the recollections of the Second World War helped the restraint.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Thought this link to Johann Hari's column in Friday's Independent would be more to the Judge's centre left view of the world -
Let's hope that Egypt does progress to democracy Indonesian style.

Anonymous said...

Better the Devil you know, maybe. Egypt *could* go down the route of Iran, maybe.

The same could have been said for Indonesia under Suharto, Chile under Pinochet, Argentina under Videla etc

Having succeeded to opress and brutalize for 30 years doesn't justify their continued rule.

They might well become an Islmaic theocracy, but at least that would be their choice, after all isn't that what democracy is all about? The history and liberal attitude of Egyptians tends to suggest otherwise.

The Tories have governed the UK for the best part of the last 150 years. Better the devil we know? I'm not sure whether we can trust these plebs!

Imagine if the Home Rule movement would have succeeded in Wales in the early 20th century with the Methodist revival of 1905 still fresh in the memory. Could Wales have become a theocracy with a Bush-like president? Better the devil we knew I suppose and so we stuck with a centre right UK London Government! Just imagine if Wales had continued with the Home Rule movement instead where we would be today!

Good luck to the Egyptians I say. Let the people decide.