Two Questions for Claire

 

Claire, like everyone, I’m watching the Arab world gobsmacked, trying to keep both hopes and fears on the low boil.  Two fragments of uncooked punditry keep popping into my mind.  I’d like to know your opinion – and that of the Ricocheteers.

1.  Like some of your commenters, I can’t help wondering if the most important thing to happen in the Obama administration is going to turn out to be the fruition – for good or ill – of the Bush freedom agenda.  How big a role, if any, did W’s policies play in the current situation, do you think?

2. In my frequently hopeful moments, I’ve often wondered if the rise of Islamic extremism was a literally reactionary movement–the last horrific flame-out of an attempt to stop the reformation we all keep praying for in the in Muslim world.  (I keep reminding people that the horrors of the Inquisition and the 30 Years’ War were of a piece with Christianity’s ultimate reformation.)  Is this just my naturally sunshiny disposition talking, or is there any chance that what we’re seeing now is the very reformist wave the terrorists feared?

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Pseudodionysius

    This is an economic revolution about jobs and the future. Yes, GWB set the wheels in motion so thankfully Barry’s got another 2 years of psychological projection to fuel him.

    This one is up for grabs and thanks to the internet, we can one day have Egyptian tea with them.

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    @IreneFStarkehaus

    I have heard the theory that this uprising was sparked by the combination of a free Iraq, the Tea Party Movement (of all things) and Twitter. Maybe this is all true, but I cannot wrap my brain around the idea that democracy(?) is moving forward in the Middle East. And even if that was the original intent, how many times have we witnessed a good idea gone bad because power hungry individuals were able to take hold of the momentum and use it towards their own ends?

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    @Pseudodionysius

    And even if that was the original intent, how many times have we witnessed a good idea gone bad because power hungry individuals were able to take hold of the momentum and use it towards their own ends?

    The Obama administration can’t be in two countries at the same time.

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    @KenSweeney

    This prairie fire of uprisings across the middle east is extremely unsettling. When the Iranians cheer in support of the demonstrations in Egypt, it caused my ‘spider sense’ tingling in anticipation of danger. I leave the experts to confabulate on the Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian conspiracy, but continue to wonder how and why Thomas Jefferson ever admired the Revolutions in France.

    Echoing the performance of President Obama’s disgraceful handling of the Iranian uprising early in his administration, our esteemed Vice President demonstrated his affliction of foot-in-mouth disease by declaring that Mubarak is not a dictator. Although today the White House threats of pulling US funding out of Egypt if Tiananmen Square-like violence occurs does appear that the prescription for stupid pills has run out, I have zero faith in this administration’s capabilities (and the US State Dept) in handling these crises competently.

    I congratulate Claire on predicting the domino effect that Tunisia would cause across the region. There are also reports coming from Jordan that public uprisings are cropping up in selected cities.

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    @KenSweeney
    Kenneth: What no one is talking about here is the Iranian connection. · Jan 28 at 11:51am

    Good thing President Obama’s sanctions will prevent Iran from getting nukes, right?

    I’m also watching how the Saudi Arabia government reacts (especially with Yemen about to errupt).

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    @KaneCountyFarmboy

    This would be like the Clinton Administration reaping the benefit of Reagan / GHWB managing a successful end to the Cold War…

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    @drlorentz
    Pseudodionysius: And even if that was the original intent, how many times have we witnessed a good idea gone bad because power hungry individuals were able to take hold of the momentum and use it towards their own ends?

    The Obama administration can’t be in two countries at the same time. · Jan 28 at 10:57am

    Are you sure about that?

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    @Sisyphus

    “…[A] free Iraq,….” Iraq may have achieved a Democracy with the assistance of Western armies, but the brutal oppression of Christians is as high as ever. And, of course, fifteen century old Muslim schisms are still playing themselves out in blood in Iraq as in much of the Muslim world. But our Founders would not be surprised in the least, knowing from their history studies that the only hope for a Democracy to provide freedom is a strong protection of rights and rule of law.

    American romantic misconceptions led us to let revolution play out in Iran, confident that Westernized Persians with Western educated elites would prevail on the ground. As the dominoes fall, will this Regime even care in a year when a resurgent fundamentalist Muslim bloc takes a huge chunk of the worlds oil supply off the market?

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    @Pseudodionysius

    If we were mad at Egypt, we could suggest Schwarzenegger.

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    @anonacademic
    Andrew Klavan:

    1. Like some of your commenters, I can’t help wondering if the most important thing to happen in the Obama administration is going to turn out to be the fruition – for good or ill – of the Bush freedom agenda. How big a role, if any, did W’s policies play in the current situation, do you think?

    Well, according to the New Yorker‘s Talk of the Town section, “When the Bush Administration invaded Iraq, it set back the cause of promoting democracy by tying its ideas to violence and occupation.”So apparently in the alternate universe where Florida county registrars knew how to make a ballot without it looking like origami, this would have all happened in 2004 or 2005. Think of all the time we’ve lost …
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    @Nyadnar17

    @Sisyphus: I will take a despotic democracy over a decent dictatorship any day of the week. Democracies/Republics are much more open to change, freedom, and capitalism that any other form of government. No the first step won’t be pretty, but better an ugly first step than simply sitting there stagnant.

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    @Karen

    I think this percolating unrest goes back farther that GWB. And we might be giving the U.S. too much credit for influencing it, whether it be Bush’s freedom agenda or Obama’s Cairo speech. I guess everyone’s got an angle on this. What concerns me is that no matter the outcome, this will be spun as a good thing for Obama. And I hate that. I hate that the welfare of these people plays second fiddle to that man’s freaking legacy. I think the growing consensus is the new leadership will be a military dictatorship or a Muslim Brotherhood-style theocracy. I don’t have much hope for a democracy there. And so many people will be trampled underfoot in the process.

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    @AndreaRyan

    Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt (all *former* U.S. allies)…I’m worried about Jordan, now. What the hell is Obama doing to this world?

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    @ScottR

    Since we’re powerless to stop this current uprising, whatever it is, we’ll increase the odds of it becoming America-friendly if we throw Mubarak’s regime under the bus ASAP, and ostentatiously so. If we’re seen as supporting the very entity the protestors are resisting, it seems virtually impossible that what emerges will be pro-Western.

    Re Islamism and optimism: In my more hopeful moments I wonder if the Anbar uprising in Iraq could be a microcosm of the Islamic world’s eventual path: Once the people get a good hard look at extremist rule (like what may now emerge in Egypt), they’ll reject it. The question is, Can the world survive the duration of that good hard look, however long it lasts? No clue.

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    @Pseudodionysius

    I don’t have much hope for a democracy there. And so many people will be trampled underfoot in the process.

    Hope and change is what they have whether they want it or not. I guess we now know what Obama’s unexpected foreign policy crisis will be on his run up to almost being re-elected.

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    @Pseudodionysius

    I’d like to see someone named Vaclav get something written and put up, have it translated into Arabic and half a dozen other languages and see it read on Al Jazeera.

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    @StickerShock

    Is this the prelude to a Muslim reformation? Please, God, let it be so!

    Regardless, Obama will be presented in a favorable light. If it means fewer Muslim extremists trying to blow me up, then I can even live with that.

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    @Kervinlee
    Karen:What concerns me is that no matter the outcome, this will be spun as a good thing for Obama.

    I wouldn’t count on that just yet. Everything BHO touches turns to mud and no matter how fast it’s spun I just don’t think people are buying it anymore. Obama seems to be losing support from every corner and is taken less and less seriously every day.

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    @

    What no one is talking about here is the Iranian connection. All of a sudden, there is unrest on 3 of Israel’s borders – in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. Mohammed AlBaradei, an Iranian stooge, flies into Cairo at the first whiff of smoke.

    Iran is hoping for – and very probably orchestrating – a trifecta of Islamist regimes, better armed and more fanatic than anything Israel faced in 1967 or 1973.

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    @BillWalsh

    …Iran may show the approximate shelf-life of Islamism in power. By all accounts the regime is ideologically bankrupt, and most analysts seem to think it’s basically a matter of the Revolutionary Guard’s backing of the government or cutting them loose. Iran in 1979 was in better shape in a number of ways than Egypt is today, so an Egyptian regime under the Muslim Brotherhood would likely immiserate its people even more quickly. It’s possible that such a state could persist indefinitely (as the generations-long Arab nationalist movement has—Syria remains its lineal descendant), but its equally possible that it’d collapse or give over to a more conventional military dictatorship fairly quickly. It could be the transitional government in a Russian- or Iranian-style revolutionary paradigm.

    Ultimately, there’s not a lot to do but watch and hope (and pray, if you’re so inclined—Mark the Evangelist is the patron of Egypt) that things break fortuitously for the Egyptians—and thereafter for the Islamic world. After all, the promise of the messianic Islamists is that God is on their side. If they can’t show progress, their touted divine mandate looks much less convincing.

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    @BillWalsh

    Andrew,

    1. The invasion and reconstruction of Iraq may have cracked the ice, in a sense, in giving the generally governmentally ossified Arab world the idea that things must not always remain as they are and that they might even be able to get better. Post hoc ergo propter hoc is always a danger, but whether Bush’s rhetoric was effective or not, Saddam’s hanging and elections were object lessons. If it was powerful enough to get Qaddafi to hand over his nuke program, it likely echoed in the minds of millions. Where it’ll end up, who knows. Which brings us to:

    2. Islamism as rear-guard counter-revolution doomed to collapse under its own weight. It’s not a trivial argument, but just as Soviet Communism battled off the laws of economics for 74 years, it could be generations and generations before it expires. The opposite view: liberalism and liberty are the true historical exceptions, and ones that seem peculiarly subject to suicidal ideation. We may be gasping last, and tyrants of whatever flavor or creed will bury us or our progeny.

    But…

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