Beyond the Cusp

June 26, 2011

What the World Should Have Learned From the French Revolution

The World, truth be told, had far more than simply the French Revolution from which to learn, we can also include the Russian Revolution, The European Year of Revolutions 1948, and lastly, the long series of revolutions throughout the Americas south of the United States over the years since they attained freedom from their European colonial powers. In virtually every case, the new government was in some ways more violent, more restrictive of freedoms, ended up becoming far more authoritarian and, more often than not, dictatorial. This begs the question of why we expect an area of the world that has only experienced dictators or monarchs since the end of European Rule which replaced Ottoman rule which was preceded by Islamic rule from about year 1000 forward and before that they lived through varying rule by whichever empire held dominance of the period back all the way before the Bronze Age is going to match the miracle of the American Revolution which is most usually related to 1776 though it started a decade and a half earlier. It is even overly optimistic to even expect similar results to the revolutionary political changes in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The main difference between the American Revolution and all of the others boils down to two main factors. First, the political philosophical debates of the period which included choice ancient philosophies and texts and luminaries as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Aristotle, Plato (especially his work called “The Republic”), Greek Democracy, the Old Testament about the limits that G-d told the Israelites must be placed on any King (ruling body), Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington (whose description of government as fire is one of the best descriptors of governance I have ever heard) and even Abigail Adams who saw opportunity for women to gain equal rights should the revolution succeed. Second, the individuals who made up the heart of our founders who wrote the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights were men who, at best, could be called reluctant leaders. Almost all of them had little desire to rule but saw public office as a divine opportunity to serve the people, not lord over them. George Washington wished to go home after the Revolution; instead he chaired the constitutional Conventions in Philadelphia, far from his beloved Mt. Vernon. Washington figured he had done more than should be required of any man after the Constitutional Convention, yet he bent to the insistence that he alone was the sole person who could give the new country and its government the validity and acceptance that was so desperately needed. After two terms, George Washington could have continued as President for the rest of his life, but finally insisted he would do something for George Washington, and he retired to Mt. Vernon which had fallen to disrepair and Washington was close to broke, but he was home and at peace at last. Almost every other revolution has had leaders who wished power and glorification for themselves. This holds true all the way back to when Korach and the 250 other rebellious souls challenged the leadership of Moses in the Book of Numbers.

The recent changes that occurred in Eastern Europe were milder revolutions which sort of resembled evolutions. Of course, it was necessary to remove the ruling communists, which was much aided by the loss of their supporting patron and the troops of the Soviet Union. These revolutions had the history of the rest of the Western World to support their instillation of parliamentary governments tailored to their specific needs. These countries had highly literate populations which the Arab regimes have assured are not the case in their countries. It is much easier to rule over people who are incapable of reading and thus learning knowledge on their own. So, the expectations of having successful transformations from the monarchial or dictatorial governance in the Arab World to some form of Republic, Parliamentary, or other representative governance is just so much fantastical wishful thinking. Once again, I will call this presumed Arab Spring what it will evolve into, the coming Arab Winter where Islamist governments form new Sharia based constitutions. Once in power, they will assign a clerical committee which will be empowered for solely one purpose, to make determinations on which candidates are suitably Islamic enough to be allowed to run for public office. As we all know, when the government can make determinations on who is and is not allowed to run for office, there is no freedom “and their vote becomes a meaningless joke.” (Quoting Steppenwolf’s song Monster) But are we near the end of the uprisings or should we expect more?

Checking my Ouija Board, my bones, and my Magic Eight Ball, my conclusion were, in reverse order, “Cannot predict now”, “Not yet, still one more surprise”, and “After Yemen falls and Syria is calm then all will become eerily silent”. So, as you can see, somewhat inconclusive, but I would say that Yemen and Syria are probably the end unless Iran and Turkey get into a power struggle for supremacy, but that is a more normal Middle East event than an actual revolution. Yemen is not looking optimistic at the moment, but should Yemen explode violently and start to threaten the peace in southern Saudi Arabia, then Yemen will end quickly, violently, and however Saudi Arabia decides after they assure quiet on their southern borders. As for Syria, if it is left simply to Syria, then Bashar al-Assad will simply continue murdering as many as it take even if the result is his ruling a kingdom of a few thousand loyalists, he does not care and will do whatever it takes to remain in power. Assad is fully aware that should he lose, it will now cost him his life, so fight on he must. And for those who find his brutality too severe, let me remind you of what happened in Saudi Arabia and you might realize that Assad was simply not brutal enough the first day. In Saudi Arabia, as I predicted in Next Challenge Saudi Arabia and Where Will Muslim Unrest End?, I put forth that the Saudi Royals with their close ties through donations of millions of their petro-dollars with the Wahhabis could control almost all the Sunni Muslims and would engage overwhelming force to cut short, actually abort as it turned out, any attempt of an uprising by their Shiite minority. When the first planned Day of Rage arrived on Friday March 11, 2011, the Saudi Arabian Security Police, backed up by Military personnel in case such became necessary, were out in force and placed outside every Shiite Mosque in the whole of Saudi Arabia. When, at the few Mosques where the Imam instigated revolt, the Shiite Muslims came into the streets, they found both ends of the street blocked and themselves outnumbered often by ten-to one by the Security Forces. And before it could even start, the Day of Rage was over. It was one of those nonevents that received scant, if any, coverage by the media. It was literally a blink and you missed it moment. Soon after the Saudi Royals were assured they had kept complete order in their country, they established relatively complete order in Bahrain. For the future, there has been an arrangement between the Saudi Royal Family and the Royals of Bahrain to assure no chance of any violence in the future. Bahrain’s Sheik Khalid bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa signed a marriage contract with the daughter of Saudi King Abdullah. So, that takes care of Bahrain and the GCC, with reliance on Saudi military power, is safe from unrest as they have a mutual support agreement which will keep things in the Gulf oil nations just the way they are for the foreseeable future.

In conclusion, the unrest will continue until each country either establishes a new government, as is already in progress in Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia, or the current leader fights on refusing to surrender his position, as is happening in Libya, Syria, and to a lesser extent, off and on in Iran. If the contested countries remain in the clutches of their current leaders, it should be expected that the near future will hold purges and mass killings of those thought to be behind the attempted revolts. The countries that will end up with new governments will see one of two likely outcomes. Egypt and very likely Tunisia will form governments that will either immediately, as in Egypt, or eventually, as in Tunisia, be Islamist in nature. This also applies to both Syria and Libya should their revolts succeed. Yemen is probably looking at the worst case should al-Qaeda turn out to be the winner of the three way struggle. The three forces in Yemen are, in the central part of the country and controlling the capital is President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his existing government, the rebels, who are supported by a number of political leaders who have made good faith offers only to have President Saleh break them subsequently, are also in the capital and to the north, and in the south, gaining control of more and more land as the unrest continues, is al-Qaeda. Many of the rest of the North African states which include Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan, Morocco, as well as Jordan and Oman have had their governments offer concessions and the verdict is uncertain as to how effective these offers will turn out, but one can be hopeful.

Lastly, there is Lebanon, probably the original revolution back in 2005 when they threw out their Syrian occupiers, which has lost its attempt for freedom and is now under the crippling rule of Hezballah which takes their orders mainly from Iran and occasionally Syria. This is why it is quite possible that an attack from Lebanon against Israel is a definite possibility should the violent uprisings continuing in Syria. The object would be to refocus the world’s and the media’s attention away from Syria and on the Hezballah war with Israel. The difference this time is that Hezballah is now the Lebanese government for all practical measure and Israel has already threatened to treat a Hezballah attack as an invasion by the whole of Lebanon should this occur.

Beyond the Cusp

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