The “transitions” diachronology.

I decided to package my posts about events in the Middle East in chronological order as they appeared, add an introduction and summary by way of framing the discussion, and send it to the nice folk at Scoop to use as this month’s Word from Afar column. By and large, I think that it holds together pretty well in light of events. It is a pity that I could not add some of the interesting discussion in the threads that followed the posts (since the essay was already at the upper word limit for an op-ed), but I did keep them in mind as I did the edit and added the bracketing material. In any case, the test of whether my analysis is right or wrong will play out over the next few months, and I have no doubts that KP readers will hold me to account in either event.

13 thoughts on “The “transitions” diachronology.

  1. Events in Bahrain are interesting, but this revolutionary wave will eventually over-extend itself, and when it does so it will probably result in demonstrations that are crushed and result only in the strengthening of the authoritarian states they seek to overthrow. That’s not to say that Bahrain, which seems to currently be seeing the most oppositional activity (not to rule out Libya or Algeria) might not result in another governmental shift, but it might also be the point where – if I can get a bit poetic – the high tide mark of this current dynamic falls.

  2. Pablo – Interested to know whether you agree with Condi.

    “The most important step now is to express confidence in the future of a democratic Egypt. Egyptians are not Iranians, and it is not 1979. Egypt’s institutions are stronger and its secularism deeper. The Brotherhood is likely to compete for the writ of the people in free and fair elections. They should be forced to defend their vision for Egypt. Do they seek the imposition of sharia law? Do they intend a future of suicide bombings and violent resistance to the existence of Israel? Will they use Iran as a political model? Al-Qaeda? Where will Egypt find jobs for its people? Do they expect to improve the lives of Egyptians cut off from the international community through policies designed to destabilize the Middle East?..
    The next months, indeed years, are bound to be turbulent. Yet that turbulence is preferable to the false stability of autocracy, in which malignant forces find footing in the freedom gap that silences democratic voices.”

  3. Phil:

    I realise that you are winding me up.

    Condolizard Rice is a clear of example of affirmative action gone wrong. She is the nexus where tokenism and the Peter Principle combine. A mediocre Sovietologist who did not see the fall of the USSR coming and yet who weaseled her way into Brent Scowcroft’s team at the NSC under Reagan, she parlayed her skills at sucking up to the big boys into the job of W.’s minder as NSC chief and later SecState. She has about as much interest in, and knowledge of, how to achieve genuine democracy in the ME and elsewhere as I do in being an an evangelical Baptist preacher in South Texas. Plus, since she was involved in the decision-making that led to the rendition program and use of secret detention centres after 9/11, she could well be indictable for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court along with her boss, Cheney and Rumsfeld, among others (you may remember that Bush cancelled a trip last week to Switzerland because an arrest warrant was issued for him on exactly those charges (specifically, of ordering torture), so she has now been put on notice).

    As for her claim that “turbulence is preferable to the false stability of autocracy,” that demonstrates how venal and thick she is, since her entire policy career, when not smooching the rears of powerful conservative men, was predicated on shoring up pro-US autocrats in order to stave off “turbulence” at all costs.

  4. But then again the economic experts of Wall Street, placed into the 43rd and 44th administrations, did not predict the GFC.

    And to be fair a second time – does anyone in the NSA or Secretary of State position to say what they really think out loud in the public media while they are in office?

    And why not a third strike – is it possible for any official to implement their private policy advice in the public practice of the administration when other advisers will take contrary positions and so necessary compromise will occur.

  5. SPC:

    There have been many honourable people who have served in the NSC and other foreign policy/defense/security agencies who have left public service rather than pay lip service to unethical or misguided policy. Rice was a very willing cheerleader and integral member of a team that took the Project for a New American Century prescriptions and tried to make them the basis of US foreign policy (and these did not include democracy promotion as a priority). It is true that when in public service one has to sublimate private opinions to the official line (as I did in a previous life), but in her case they were one and the same.

  6. But then again the economic experts of Wall Street, placed into the 43rd and 44th administrations, did not predict the GFC.

    surely you jest. many highly respected economists and financial analysts predicted with great precision what was about to happen, from early 2005. it’s all on the record. the world’s central bankers and treasury officals, as well as finance ministers and the mainstream press are trained and paid for one thing and one thing only—to point out what fine clothes the emperor is wearing as he parades through the town in his birthday suit.

  7. tochogi. CPS statement is true. none on wall street predicted the gfc, they were all too busy raping customers. A large number of people OFF Wall street predicted it and some made a great deal of money out of it.

    Pablo – This is where we are going to have to agree to disagree. If you see Condi as affirmative action and Obama as nothing of the sort then we have polarity. I can completely rationalise and agree with all of Bush policy promoted by Condi. That she was out gunned by Cheney and Rumsfeld and their mastery of the corridors of DC is not in doubt. It is the reason Powell stood down, to retain what little integrity that remained.

    The Bush doctrine is willing to spend US treasure and blood in pursuit of global security and democracy. Obama spouts a few platitudes and wins a peace prize. Who are the naifs?

    I am surprised you take the platitudinous games of swiss lawyers seriously. Bush obviously had to. You are an arch realist in so many other things and I have thoroughly enjoyed your series of posts on this crisis but you have apparent blinkers when it comes to any belief in the integrity of republican and particularly neocon attitudes towards security.

  8. Phil:

    We will have to disagree but that is fine–it makes for interesting debate. You are right about my disdain for the neo-cons and Bush 43 administration. Part of that disdain is precisely because they abandoned basic realism for a messianic neo-imperialist crusade that was never intended to bring about democracy anywhere–that was just lip service and rhetorical glossing–but instead was designed to promote pro-US regimes and trade relationships in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet empire. They wanted to remake the world in their preferred image.

    That did not work, the wars have been counter-productive (unless you think that an Iraq dominated by Iranian interests is better than what it was before and a destabilised Pakistan is better than a stable one) and thousands of lives have been lost pursuing the PNAC pipe dream orchestrated by cowards who when their time came, refused to serve in wars they championed. Condi was just a hand servant in that effort. Even so, I believe the whole lot of them should be held to legal account for their actions, in the US preferably. The sorry state the US finds itself in, including the rise of a disloyal extremist Right, can be laid squarely at their feet.

    I do agree with you that Obama has been shamefully out of his depth and platitudinous in foreign affairs. Clinton and Biden were supposed to run that show but Obama’s White House staff (who are his long-time trusted advisors and who do not have experience in foreign affairs) have interfered by placing domestic political considerations foremost into the mix of foreing policy decision-making). As I said to SPC n another thread, Bush 43 was a puppet but at least he knew it and let the big boys run foreign policy for better or worse. Obama thinks that he can Smile, Wave and let loose with a few rhetorical flourishes and the rest of the world will swoon.

    To which I say: uh, think again Mr. President.

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