Sunday, December 04, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

For months the American and European media reported on the so-called Arab Spring as if it was a breakthrough for democracy in the Arab world. Dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen have now been overthrown, with varying degrees of force and loss of life. The Western media acted as cheerleaders and Western leaders, including President Obama, first encouraged the overthrow of these regimes and then hailed these events as victories for freedom. Sadly, they were nothing of the sort.

Across the Arab world where elections, many of them the first free elections these countries have seen, are being won by Islamists who believe that democracy is a form of Western decadence. Assuming the Islamists come to power in some of these countries we could see the sort of one and done elections we saw in Gaza, where the winners, Hamas, promptly eliminated the democratic process that brought them to power as well as their opponents. It is very likely that the end result could be even more repressive than the dictators which have been deposed.

Somehow this hasn't quite dawned on the press who are trying to find distinctions and differences between the various Islamist and jihadist groups who seem poised to come to power across the Middle East. The Associated Press, in reporting the results of the Egyptian elections, engaged in some truly amazing and contradictory double speak. The first few paragraphs of their article are factual. For example:
The High Election Commission said the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party garnered 36.6 percent of the 9.7 million valid ballots cast for party lists. The Nour Party, a more hardline Islamist group, captured 24.4 percent.

Having accurately described the parties involved the author(s) of the piece then find it necessary to tell us that, really, the Muslim Brotherhood might be moderates after all:
The party has positioned itself as a moderate Islamist party that wants to implement Islamic law without sacrificing personal freedoms, and has said it will not seek an alliance with the more radical Nour party.

Really? How could anyone come to that conclusion in the wake of what was said at the Brotherhood rally just before the election? The following is from The Jerusalem Post article on the rally since the American media somehow didn't find this newsworthy:

Muhammad Ahmed el- Tayeb, the imam of al-Azhar Mosque, told the crowd: “Al- Aksa Mosque is currently under an offensive by the Jews... We shall not allow the Zionists to Judaize al-Quds [Jerusalem]. We are telling Israel and Europe that we shall not allow even one stone to be moved there.”

Protesters chanted, “Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv: Judgment Day has come,” and passages from the Koran vowing that “one day we shall kill all the Jews.”
How is promising genocide for the Jewish people moderate? Can someone please explain that to me? Why are mainstream media outlets making excuses for these people?

John Henry, of the liberal Low Genius blog, hit the nail squarely on the head in a discussion on Facebook:
I think that western minds have a very serious problem parsing the idea that there really are some people - ordinary people who live under these regimes - who *don't want democracy*. We could go round for hours about why that is, but all the talk won't address that simple issue: what do you do when a people, given the option, *choose despotism*?

His comments referred both to the Russian elections and the recent elections in the Arab world. Here was my response to him:
Mostly it falls into cultural differences and what these people are taught in their schools (assuming they have them), by their media, and in their houses of worship. One of the reasons American foreign policy fails in so much of the world is that we tend to look at everyone as if they are displaced Vermonters. All we have to do is show them freedom and democracy and "the American way" (whatever that is) and they will suddenly be just like us. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have operated under this illusion. The result is what we are seeing in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Americans are absolutely despised and where we will likely end up with totally hostile regimes.

Sadly the media also operates under the "displaced Vermonter" notion and wishes for events that have horrendous consequences that they can't seem to fathom even though they should be obvious to anyone who knows the Middle East at all. I fear the end results will not only be more repressive regimes but also a destabilization of the Middle East and a bloody regional war started by an attack on Israel. An old saw seems to apply: Be careful what you wish for; it may come to pass.