Monday, January 31, 2011

Revolution as good as its people

It's too late, and tomorrow I need to get up early, drive my son to school, and then go to work and earn my living. Hence this post will be short and to the point....

Daily Mail Reporter: Cameron and Obama hold crisis talks, both calling for 'political reform'; Death toll reaches 102 and at least 2,000 have been injured. Thousands of prisoners escape from jails as riots go into sixth day. Around 30,000 British tourists were stranded in Egypt today as army planes buzzed low over Cairo on the sixth day of uprisings.At least 102 people have been killed, more than 2,000 are injured and there were calls for a multi-party democracy to emerge as President Hosni Mubarak's grip on power loosens. Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn today, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as police vanished from the streets of Cairo and other cities.

Governments scramble to fly citizens out of Egypt: FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Governments started arranging for planes on Sunday to bring home citizens stuck in Egypt, where violent protests of the rule of President Hosni Mubarak have given way in some parts of Cairo to looting.

Jerusalem Post: "Cairo: Anger starting to focus on Israel, US"

Famous museum in Cairo looted and partly destroyed during the riots. Point of reference - video of Taliban barbarians destroying the statue of Buddha in Afghanistan.

History of Islamic reform in the 20th century - the most important contributor is the "Moslem Brotherhood". One cannot understand Osama ben Laden, Hezballah, Hamas, Taliban and Iranian mullahs without acknowledging  the influence of the Brotherhood. Here is the excerpt on Moslem Brotherhood from wikipedia:

"The Society of the Muslim Brothers (often simply الإخوان Al-Ikhwān, The Brotherhood or MB) is an Islamist transnational movement and the largest political opposition organization in many Arab statesThe group is the world's oldest and largest Islamic political group, and the "world's most influential Islamist movement." It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and Sufi schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna."Today, Moslem Brotherhood is the strongest organized force in Egypt.

According to Stratfor: "The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party."

Let's look at some key  statistics, which give us some perspective on the people of Egypt...

Percentage of Egyptians that have a favorable view of Hezbollah: 30%
Percentage of Egyptians that have a favorable view of Hamas: 49%
Percentage of Egyptians that have a favorable view of al Qaeda: 20%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians that think it's good that Islam is playing a large role in politics: 95%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians who think it's bad that Islam is playing a small role in politics: 80%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians that think Islam's role in politics is positive: 85%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians that believe there is struggle between modernizers and fundamentalist in Islam and identify with moslem fundamentalists: 59%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians that believe there is struggle between modernizers and fundamentalist in Islam and identify with moslem modernizers: 27%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians that support gender segregation in the workplace: 54%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians that support stoning people who commit adultery: 82%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians that support whippings, cuttings of hands of people for theft and robbery: 77%
Percentage of moslem Egyptians that support death penalty for people who leave Islam: 84%

Egyptian demographics: 90% of the Egyptian population is moslem.

Last but not least - let's walk down the memory line. Let's look at the photos of the graduates from the University of Cairo (photos were taken from this site).

Class of 1959
Class of 1978
Class of 1995
Class of 2004

How do you feel about the events in Egypt? Please, don't be shy, share your opinion. If you want to know my opinion - people who installed Ayatollah Homeini as a supreme leader of Iran in 1979 were far more moderate than the Egyptians in 2011.

In summary, my view on the struggle between Mubarak and Moslem Brotherhood is best explained by Henry Kissinger (he said this about the Iran-Iraq war, but is equally applicable to the current situation): "It's a shame they can't both lose".

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What happens in the Middle East, does not stay in the Middle East

The latest news from the Middle East are rather bleak. Firstly, the Tunisian strongman was ousted, and the country is in chaos. Next, we got the Egypt on the verge of collapse. And now there are reports of violent demonstrations in Jordan and Algeria. On one side, I have no sympathy for these "towelhead monarchies", as they were aptly called in the movie "Body of Lies". But realistically, the people who are battling these dictators are even worse - just think about Iran or Cuba, and what happened to those countries when the American-supported dictators were ousted. Once the anti-American assholes come to power (democratically or not), they have a tendency to stay in power for a long time, and make everyone feel nostalgia for the old regimes. As Mark Steyn described Middle East democracy - "one man, one vote, one time".

It's fair for my reader to ask - Hyphenated American, what makes you think that those nice people protesting on the streets won't try to build a nice Western liberal democracy? Well, as I often confess on my blog - it's a hunch - and given the fact that my intuition on all things political was perfected in the USSR, I tend to trust my hunches. Here is why I think we have little good to expect from Tunisia: it was wildly reported that the crowds in Tunisia were extremely violent, they were shooting people left and right, and they ransacked the stores. This is not how the liberal democrats (I mean it in European sense, of course - American liberal democrats are famous for their riots) behave. Back in the 1980ies, anti-communist demonstrations in Eastern Europe were non-violent, peaceful and no one thought of attacking the stores. Fast forward to 2009 - Iranian people were non-violent, they even protected policemen who were were surrounded by crowds. But those bums in Tunisia (and I think the situation is same in Egypt, Algeria and Jordan) are not like that.

The positive side of this dynamic is that the more anti-American the government is, the more likely that the people love America. So, if we want Egyptian people to be on our side - Moslem Brotherhood should come to power. Of course, this would lead to another war in the Middle East (I think it won't take long until the new government formed by the moslem moderates will move to re-militarize Sinai and/or close Suez to Israeli ships), but then any objective observer saw it coming. The actions of the current American president will push the region to another bloody conflict in the very near future. It's "Sputnik time" for the Middle East - time for the moderate moslems to start bombarding Israeli cities with their rockets. Stay tuned, things will get very interesting very soon. Don't forget to buy the popcorn.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The saddest thing about the Ground Zero Mosque - nothing about it surprises me

I am sure the readers are painfully aware of the controversial plan to build a mosque on the Ground Zero. The promoter of this project, Imam Feisal Rauf is highly regarded by the liberals (from the US president all the way to the lowly community organizer), while conservatives are outraged. The Imam is highly critical of American foreign policy (really, it's US fault we were attacked on 9/11), and he steadfastly refuses to denounce Hamas. In short, he is the epitome of moderate Islam - or at least the Islam that is promoted by the media in this country.

But very recently it was decided Imam Feisal was too controversial (or maybe he had other things to do), and the moslem community elected another moderate Imam Abdallah Adhami to be the senior adviser to the Ground Zero Mosque. And it did not take long until it became clear just how moderate this Imam Abdallah is - he proclaimed that it is necessary jail people who leave Islam. Here is the exact quote: ""If someone leaves the din, leaves the path privately, they cannot be touched. If someone preaches about apostasy, or preaches their views, they're jailed." He added: "In Islam, in the Quran, theoretically, if you look over the Quran from cover to cover, you literally have the right to the choice to reject God's message. The only thing you do not have the right to do is to spread this conviction, lest you, quote unquote, pollute others."

He showed some mercy by proclaiming that today situation is slightly different, and that "If you left Islam, nothing happens. The Muslims are 1.5 billion people; they are not going to be hurt by a few thousand leaving." Should you be allowed to "pollute others"? I've listened to the audio quite carefully, and it does not seem like he is against punishing the polluters. Very moderate indeed.

And the saddest part - I am not surprised.

Your comment is awaiting moderation

Today I've got into a discussion with an Associate Professor in the History Department at Colorado State University, HistoryAnn. On her blog, she shared her outrage that a former republican congresswoman Heather Wilson expressed doubts about the quality of American higher education. The essence of HistoryAnn's disagreement was quite obvious - surely this republican is a blind ideologue, and her views should be ignored. What caught my attention was the following passage, which revealed quite a lot about HistoryAnn. Quite a lot, I must add.

I’ve always thought that there was a very straightforward reason for why university faculty and other highly educated people tend not to support Republican ideas: the more you know about the world, the dumber they seem. There’s no conspiracy at universities against conservative ideas–indeed, even Marxist Feminists like me teach about very conservative ideas all the time: patriarchy, hierarchy, Thomas Hobbes, the Divine Right of Kings, nineteenth century proslavery ideology, anti-women’s suffrage, anti-unionism, anti-communism, Father Coughlin, the John Birch Society, Impeach Earl Warren bumper stickers, “free market” ideology, and the like. And you know what happens? When students read the primary sources laying out these ideas, they usually see them for what they are: brutally, coarsely self-interested, unfair, and un-American.

I've wrote a letter to historyAnn, expressing my utter puzzlement with her rather arbitrary decision to describe a wide range of very contradictory ideas as "conservatism". We quickly got into a sparring match, and it seems like your own blogger, Hyphenated American, is now listed as a "person of interest". My latest entry was not published, and "is awaiting moderation". Here is what I wrote - luckily I was able to save my last message to the Marxist Feminist Ann (I am not sure if it will be published or not):

I guess our discussion is getting too long, and indeed it is your blog, and you can do whatever you want with it. Sorry for bothering you.

What upsets me most is that liberals very often flat out refuse to debate the pros and cons of conservative ideology, and instead prefer to fight with the straw men.

Instead of listening to honest critique of conservatism, we hear denouncements of wacky ideas of the past, which have no connection to conservatism. Just as you called pro-slavery movement “conservatism”, I can say that naziism and communism and benladeism are part of the history of liberalism. I know world history pretty damn well to make whole lot of factual connections, and we can play this game non-stop. But then – does it REALLY help you to understand the ideas that I believe in? Does it REALLY make you confident that you are correct, and I am wrong (let alone dumb and evil and un-American)? And honestly, between you and me, I need to tell you that if you truly were convinced that American conservatism is wrong, you would have debated it head on, instead of indulging in criticism of evil ideas of the past, ideas which have nothing, absolutely nothing in common with American conservatism. I don’t know if it is patriotic or not to abandon the straw men (I am a bit idiosyncratic of the word “patriotic” for the reasons we don’t have to discuss now), but it surely is intellectually honest to do so. But then – who cares, really, we all will be dead in 3 million years.

Anyway, here is the rub. On what basis did you decide that Father Coughlin, a revolutionary socialist, was a conservative? On what basis did you conclude that pro-slavery was part of conservatism? On what basis would you NOT qualify the 21st century movement to abolish social security, welfare, medicaid and medicare as non-conservative? And what about Hitler-Mussolini-Lenin-Stalin-Mao – these 5 were clearly revolutionaries – so are they conservatives or liberals? And if the popular point of view, a point of view which was dubbed “conservatism” some decades ago, is according to its very supporters, fundamentally, irreversibly, standing in defense of individual liberty, small limited government and justice – then why are you are discussing ideas which run contrary to the essence of American conservatism – and assume these two are identical?!

I understand why you believe that this discussion may seem to be only tangentially tied to the issue of Rhode scholarship. But in reality it is not – about 40% of what you wrote was devoted to the rather bizarre claim that conservatism is “brutally, coarsely self-interested, unfair, and un-American”. I assumed that you took some time to think it through, before accusing 30% of American population of being (let’s be honest here) dumb scumbags. Was I wrong?
Miss HistoryAnn clearly believes that "conservatism" is same as "status-quo-ism" - but does it make sense? And then - if someone is "fiscally conservative" - does it mean that he supports 1.5 trillion dollar annual deficits? And shouldn't defense of Roe vs Wade be called "conservatism"? Questions, questions...

P.S. Comrades, please, don't flood her blog with attacks. I still want to play there. Pretty please with sugar on top of it?
P.P.S. I am curious if I were to proclaim that "history of infection diseases" is the history of liberalism - would that be considered an intellectual argument by Ann?