Thursday, April 12, 2012

Arabs and the Freedom Industry

Now we come to North Africa, or the Arab Spring. Here we will pause to note what T.E.Lawrence had to say in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom about the Arab: "Arabs could be swung on an idea as on a cord; for the unpledged allegiance of their minds made them obedient servants. None of them would escape the bond till success had come, and with it responsibility and duty and engagements. Then the idea was gone and the work ended--in ruins. Without a creed they could be taken to the four corners of the world (but not to heaven) by being shown the riches of earth and the pleasures of it; but if on the road, led in this fashion, they met the prophet of an idea, who had nowhere to lay his head and who depended for his food on charity or birds, then they would all leave their wealth for his inspiration. They were incorrigibly children of the idea, feckless and colour-blind, to whom body and spirit were for ever and inevitably opposed." The idea – or wave, as Lawrence called it – was nationalism, a revolt against the Ottomans, and it was backed up heavily by British cash. "One such wave (and not the least) I raised and rolled before the breath of an idea, till it reached its crest, and toppled over and fell at Damascus. The wash of that wave, thrown back by the resistance of vested things, will provide the matter of the following wave, when in fullness of time the sea shall be raised once more."
And the sea has been raised once more – this time again with western cash and training. According to the Washington Post:" It's estimated more than 10,000 Egyptians since 2005 have participated in USAID-financed democracy and governance programs, carried out by NDI, IRI and 28 other international and Egyptian organizations - not only political training, but also projects to prepare judges, build PTA-style school associations and otherwise deepen civic involvement." Again, the Washington Post says: "…the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has funneled up to $6 million to Syrian opposition groups such as Barada TV since 2006. MEPI is supervised by Tamara Wittes, a longtime pro-Israel advocate of democratic reform in the Middle East….:"
Again, we see that the Arabs, like those following T.E.Lawrence, had little to do with their revolution. Like Bangladeshis, Africans and other Asian countries, freedom as cash has appeared as liberty.

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