Friday, January 28, 2011

The Fix is Off

[Update: John Robb has been providing some of the most lucid analysis on Egypt. Well worth a look.]

Protest is sweeping through the Arab world. One corrupt and repressive regime, in Tunisia, has already been toppled, and now Hosni Mubarak Washington's man in Egypt, has been forced to deploy the army in an attempt to quell violent protests that have set the ruling party headquarters ablaze. Egypt, which is home to half of the world's Arabs, is the fulcrum on which the Arab world turns. What happens now in Egypt is bound to resonate throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Are we about to see something similar to the heady days of 1989, when Eastern Europe cast off Moscow's yoke? Is the Middle East going to turn out to be Washington's Eastern Europe? Will Wikileaks turn out to be Washington's equivalent of Gorbachev's Glasnost, cutting right through all the empty rhetoric about freedom and democracy, and showing the imperial regime to be repressive, craven, corrupt, foolish, weak and, ultimately, self-defeating?

American leaders appear to be following the Soviet playbook for the imperial end-game quite faithfully: cringing behind high walls and locked doors, looting the treasury like there's no tomorrow, and, of course, lying their heads off. There are a few moments each century when status quo suddenly becomes status quo ante. We may be living through just such a moment now.


Anonymous said...

I hate statistics but I'd say the probabilities are pretty high and your closing statement could comfortably stretch with more confidence beyond the word "may."

Jack Crow said...

Echoing Oxtrot - if I believed in money I'd wager on uprisings in Yemen, Oman, Algeria, Jordan - and Palestine, especially if the Gaza crossing becomes unblocked.

I think a reasonable candidate for canary in the coal mine is Morocco. It's stable, repressive and friendly to the US. If the Moroccan people turn on their monarchy - all bets, to sop the cliche, are off for the US mastery of Arab wheat, gas, cotton and oil.

Giving Hugo Chavez a singular moment. Placing a rather large target on his red beret.

Kevin said...

If matters develop as you're suggesting, which seems likely, then I imagine that it will put quite a crimp in the workings of the US global imperial tribute economy by which 5 percent of the world's population receives 25 percent of its wealth, thus presaging hard times in the USA: which isn't exactly comforting, especially since I haven't yet put in my veggie garden.

I wonder what they'll get politically in the House of Islam as a result this - militaristic democracy a la Ataturk, or Islamism? It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.

Going after Chavez would surely stretch the US military to the breaking point and no doubt hasten our ultimate downfall. It would also make the USA even more hated, if that is possible.

I wonder how Mr. Gadhafi is faring at a time like this?

michigan native said...

I had attended a local community college in the early 80s, Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, MI

As many of you may know, Dearborn MI has the largest population of Arab Americans than any other city in the US.

I was pretty much naive after enduring 12 years of Catholic school (against my will), but I do remember the graffiti on the walls at HFCC "Hosni Mubarak...Zionist insect". I got the idea that he was not all that popular with the Arab community back in 1982.

I had started a blog "the nightmare is just beginning", but it seems every week brings about a new turn of events that prompt me to revive it.

Although not as brutal as the Shah of Iran, these uprisings remind me of that watershed event and there seems to be increasing revolt against US sponsored oligarchs and dictators around the world. The empire is crumbling.

If our 'candidate for peace' Obama should attempt some sort of vain and foolish attempt at damage control in the form of bombings, sanctions, or some other sort of "liberation" intervention, that may be the tipping point at which oil exporting countries, already growing weary of what is soon to become worthless paper dollars, maay wish to grab Uncle Sam by his nuts and take delight in eeing him humbled, as his military ventures will run out of gas, literally

Meanwhile China is questioning the federal reserve and have a pretty good idea they are never going to be repaid for all that "growth" they financed. Ben Bernake has no ammunition left, so has speed up the debt treadmill and printed more paper currency out of thin air. This will dilute the dollar, result in hyperinflation, and when these oil exporting countries stop taking these paper dollars, it's lights out for the US. They see our actual level of debt and the fiat paper currency...toss in some more toppled regimes and/or US military interventions....

It looks like all the elements for a perfect storm of collapse are gathering in 2011 for the US, we will probably feel its full effect by 2012 at the latest

Tao Dao Man said...

If/When Mubarak falls it will be a true domino affect.
This could be as big if not bigger than when the Soviet Union fell.
The region will never be the same after this.
Many puppets are not sleeping well tonight.
I am sure some have started packing their carpet bags.
Mubarak can retire to the South of France.
The haven for most puppet dictators.

vera said...

Egypt managed to shut down much of mobiles and internet. I predict this will bury Mubarak... he will quickly be seen as an idiot who can't govern without shutting down services and networks needed for business and for connectivity with the rest of the world. And this, er, strongman, actually was stupid enough to say yesterday he believes in free speech and shutting down Twitter was not government doing!

The big question I have is whether Tunisians (or Egyptians) will allow themselves to be pacified by a government reshuffle.

Anonymous said...

I became interested in Middle Eastern culture(s) after learning to belly dance; I even went so far as to learn a little Arabic and have delved as deeply as I could into the culture(s), both historic and ancient as well as recent history. This has been building for a loooong time especially in Egypt.

I found it shocking that our president, Mr. Obama was cautioning Mr. Mubarak that he (M) needs to follow up on his promises of greater equality, more freedom, and economic changes...pot. kettle. black. One's just the leader of a supposedly still democracy; the other makes no such pretense.

Egypt is the #2 recipient of US funds in the whole of the Levant and Middle East, after Israel. People are right to worry about the destabilization of Egypt. All the same, I hope Mubarak falls. It's time for him to go...especially since he's been planning for his son Gamal (who left last week while the getting was good) to take over as an 'elected' president (for life).

jdl75 said...

Clearly the problem is that this revolution isn't going to help food price or unemployment (in fact could help for unemployment maybe, but will get worse for food price not even talking about gas)

By the way, when is the US going to put a $2 tax a gallon on gas, at least ?
(and make part of it directly redistributed James Hansen style)

sandykrolick, ph.d., editor FIBP said...

Well - all I can say is that the Specter haunting America is winging its way around the globe, with an approximate touchdown date in Amerika of January 29, 2013... my 60th birthday.

Unknown said...

It's about time that regimes like the one in Egypt are starting to fall world wide. First Tunisia, now Egypt. It goes to show that if the corruption does not stop that the United States is going to be next. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Guy McPherson said...

Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen are canaries in the coal mine, but inequality is greater in the U.S. than in these countries:

I know I'm an optimist, but it's unclear to me how the U.S. keeps the lights on for the next 18 months:

Joseph said...

How long until the "State Committee for the State of Emergency" appears in the USA?

Bukko Boomeranger said...

Before my wife and I scuppered off from the U.S., we paid a visit to the Dachau concentration camp outside Munich. (It was a side trip from Zurich -- exiles need to evacuate their money, too, eh? -- and we hated to miss a chance to see some dark history.)

In the admissions hall where political prisoners, homosexuals and other ├╝ntermenschen were processed back in the day, the Dachau docents had set up posterboards and other exhibits with newspaper clippings, photographs, copies of official decrees, etc. These detailed the day-to-day tick-tock of clampdown as Hitler's Nazis accreted power.

Through the foreshortened lens of distant time, it's easy to think of sweeping events like the rise of the Nazis as something that happened BOOM! But monumental changes often play out over weeks and months. Seeing the drip-drip-drip of Hitlerism's takeover made me wonder "What will it look like inside the middle of life when the modern world order starts collapsing? Will we be conscious of it while it's happening? Events will be unpredictable. Will it feel like a roller coaster ride where our lives are the cart, and we don't know if the tracks just come to an end in mid-air or a brick wall?"

If the Tunisian regime was the first domino and Egypt's is the BIG second, we're on that coaster. There are too many people in the streets of multiple cities for the Egyptian military to shoot them all. And since the army is filled with draftees, many of whom must remember where they came from, I doubt there will be a will to shed their brothers' blood. "Game Over" for Mubarak, as many of the English-language placards in the demonstrators' hands say.

However, I expect that there will be an Obama-style "change" in the facade of governance. Despite the Mubaraks' dominance of political levers, every country has an entrenched economic elite which runs the nuts and bolts of society. After a period of heady upheaval, people are going to get tired of no food in burned-out shops, or absence of whatever level of electricity, water and sewerage they had. They will be crying out for a return to some sort of structure. My money's on a pretend change in the faces or organization of government, while the real powers behind the scene keep the game going after seeing off the faux pharaoh and his family.

And are the U.S. powers-that-be watching Egypt as a lab test version of how to play an uprising of the beaten-down? Are they saying "Shutting off Internet communications at THIS point in a crisis would have worked better" or "If you have X number of leadership-loyal mercenary units shooting Y number of citizens in THESE strategic gathering points, that'll scare the rabble before it reaches a critical mass." Are they making plans for how to keep a backbone of communications going for banksters, propagand-TV and other sectors deemed important to the functioning of the state, even when the mobs' Twitter-feed stops tweeting?

If they're smart, that's what they're doing. I'm still debating whether TPTB are smart like sociopaths, or just greedy and evil like cancer cells. But the coaster-car has gone over that first hump. You don't need to be THIS tall to ride. We're all on this one. Who feels like screaming?

russell1200 said...

I hope things work out well for the Tunisians and Egyptians.

The culture of the militaries putting down the rioters with violence is seeming to be more and more precarious.

There are going to be a number of worried people beyond just the United States.

The Europeans get more of their oil from the area, and have a much larger (by percentage) Muslim population.

The Chinese have their share of have-nots as well. If their (what I think is a) property bubble bursts they could have their hands full as well. China has come a long way since Tiananmen. It is not entirely clear that they military is going to be willing to run over protestors with tanks again.

Anonymous said...

Suggest anybody wishing to follow the events in the Arab world turn off your tv's and follow Al Jazeera where, as usual, events are being tweeted by their reporters in spite of a country wide shut down of communication there: internet & cell phone service shut down, Al Jazeera bureau shut down & their equipment confiscated, train service eliminated, etc.

Army and ordinary people cleaning up the square, keeping order, directing traffic and feeding each other. People & soldiers sleeping in square last night described as "a giant sleep-over" ("people of all walks of life getting to know each other"). It was the "security police" who attacked and killed over 100 protesters, not the army which has announced today that it will not fire on the protesters.

Shockingly, the New York Times is actually doing a semi-decent job of covering the events in a live blog. Jeeze, all that and a double documented UFO filmed right over Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Cynthia Q said...

Mr. Orlov, have you seen these comments on the situation in Russia?

"First, the quality of life is deteriorating in the Moscow metropolitan agglomeration due to growing infrastructure and environmental problems, while the population increases.

Second, economic development of large cities which are regional centers is sharply slowing because of lack of investments and deterioration of the institutional environment, which also leads to an even greater concentration of manpower in the federal city.

Third, marginalization of vast peripheral areas is increasing, and a depopulation takes place.

Unemployment, social benefits, etc. And there is less and less money in the budget.

Fourth, growing of tensions, ethnic conflicts and cronyism in the North Caucasus republics stimulate migration outflow of educated and more "modernized" urban residents of the republics to other regions", complained Natalya Zubarevich.

(link found at Naked Capitalism)

wagelaborer said...

I agree with bukko. People will have a great time communing with their fellow citizens, then get tired of it, then go home and accept the replacement that probably was already in the works for the elderly, cancer-ridden, Mubarek.
We had millions in Chicago in Nov. 2008, and Washington, DC Jan. 2009, filled with good feelings, glad to see the hated dictator leaving, sure that the bad times were over, and the new boss would be SO much better than the old boss.
How's that working out for us?

michigan native said...

And now the King of Jordan has sacked his entire government in what is appearing to be a domino effect. The house of cards is crumbling for the US, both at bome and abroad.

Riots in Greece, the parasites known as the 'royal family' attacked by angry students in Britain, the ascension of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, as the too big to fails are losing the power of the IMF and impose austerity conditions on the people.

Indeed, class warfare has finally begun. What took us so long?

Lisa said...

The link is to a chechen islamic site. What do you expect them to publish?

ghpacific said...

The Russia/USA connection is pretty prescient, methinks.

Razer said...

John Robb is a little to the right of where I normally want to be but he's honest and open, and his strategic analyses have always been enlightening.

He was the one who brought to light what MEND did in Nigeria when Shell was chased away for a couple of years:

Those MEND guys! Such a sense of humor!

Anonymous said...

All the commenters here still believe in the system.
Thats the real problem. The system has institutionalised delusion and fantasy to such an extent that it is virtually impossible for 99% of people to let go of it.
There is NO democracy - it has never existed and never will. There is only the rule of power, sometimes masked in kindness, sometimes naked and dangerous.

Of course the USA is declining - what else can it do?
However, calls for complete collapse are a little premature - theres a lot of life left in the ugly beast yet.
War has replaced commerce and will continue to do so.
Try to remember that the USA has enough nuclear weapons to own ALL the money and all the goods in the world - and there wont be any arguments...

sandykrolick, ph.d., editor FIBP said...

Wow Dithers!!! I like this man!!