Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egypt Totters as Lebanon Goes to the Dark Side

The New York Times must miss its erstwhile correspondent Chris Hedges, who called out every fortnight that Egypt was ready to collapse back in the eighties and early nineties. Like Paul Krugman with recessions, Hedges knew that sooner or later, he was going to actually predict an insurrection that occurred and that the liberal cacophony that masquerades as a marketplace of ideas would finally crown him a prescient seer. Unlike preening ninny Krugman, Hedges day in the sun, however belated, hasn't arrived yet.

However, not even the uprisings and disturbances in Tahrir Square have approached a real threat to the strange pharaonic regime that Mubarak has erected upon the ruins of the Sadat era---the state of emergency declared in 1981 at Sadat's assassination still remains in force and will likely stay in force until the ancient Pharoah dies. Mubarak, it must be remembered, had the constitution of a draft horse and used to play squash every day, a sport at which the Egyptians have traditionally excelled. He could remain alive another ten years, given his iron constitution.

Also, bear in mind that the Egyptian Army is the giant 800-pound gorilla in the room. Its tentacles reach everywhere in Egyptian society and its clannish officer septs are often very loyal to each other, much more so than to the Egyptian people whose daily bread they eat and whose blood they metaphorically suck. Also, the mukhabarat or secret police are everywhere, in unmarked cars and with weapons readily available to quell any unrest. The Muslim Brotherhood, long suppressed, remains a special object of the secret police's solicitude, and is watched incessantly for any signs of "illegal" activities.

However, the wheels of change in the Middle East, like a tectonic fault, often remain rigidly locked, then unbuckle in an earthquake of sudden unpredictable change. Nasser's Officer's Rebellion in the fifties is one example. The insane morphing of Hamas from an Israeli-fostered counterweight against the PLO into the main threat to Israeli daily peace is another.

Lebanon's descent one more time into the lower circles of political hell was more predictable, as one after another Christian politician and journalist was killed by Hezbollah-sponsored terrorism. Now, when the UN Inquiry into Hariri's assassination was about to reveal the complicity of Hezbollah [rather than Syria, the previous suspect] in the monstrous crime, Hezbollah blithely overturns the Lebanese government and now terrorism reigns in Lebanon. Hillarious Clinton and the sillyboy in the Oval Office are left to bleat once more as their feckless incompetence, first revealed by giving Iran an orange light to develop a nuke, is once again open for all the world to see.

Rather than the world's policeman, the US is reduced to a nanny-like hectoring of terrorists---oops, pardon the PC venial sin---liberation movements. Of an Islamic sort. That practice terrorist tactics and have a strategy of nuclear blackmail against Israel.

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