Friday, 28 January 2011


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the US response to the revolt in Egypt is mild, cordial to the old despot, as if in these past three decades, he could most heinously be called the Grinch who stole Twitter. The sympathy is creeping although, and however shameful the lack of support and commitment may be for revolution, it is perhaps more telling of America’s dwindling relevance.

The US and the West have supported this and similar regimes with billions of dollars in aid and resources in the interest of preserving the status quo, idealized and reflexive banana republics to American eyes and perhaps models for their own civil aspirations. There has not been any esteemed revolutions that America could not equivocally claim it managed for quite some time—those of the greatest pitch and moment being the dissolution of the Soviet Union and various influence peddling in the Middle East and Central America. The West, overall, is left speechless when it comes to unmanaged change, because, like the Grand Inquisitor of Dostoyevsky, rapture, democratic reform, is unwanted. There is too much profit to be made in encouraging freedom with one hand and maintaining this friendly arrangement with the other. There is fear, whether genuine or not, of what will fill the power vacuum, dangerous radicals or other despots not of their choosing. No one remembers, it seems, that real reform is difficult but can turn out well in the end. These matters are serious and persecution should cease, no longer suffering the grace-and-favour tyrants. Another important lesson, though masses are mobilized all the same, is in that a very sizable country, with the population of Germany, could completely censor all forms of communication. The American government, for one, wanted to invest itself with such martial powers, over some uncomfortable disclosures. This should be a cue for all peoples to scrutinize broadening authority, especially as that government’s intimacy with the media has made the incriminating, suspicious and otherwise undesirable transparent and instantly discoverable. Enough rope—even if the outlets and the conduits are not closed off, it is becoming possible to monitor and prevent civil unrest before it has a chance to organize and express itself.