“The old slogan from the 1960s has come true: the revolution has been televised. The world is watching the Bastille fall on 24/7 rolling news. An elderly thug is trying to buy and beat and tear-gas himself enough time to smuggle his family’s estimated $25bn in loot out of the country, and to install a successor friendly to his interests. The Egyptian people – half of whom live on less than $2 a day – seem determined to prevent the pillage and not to wait until September to drive out a dictator dripping in blood and bad hair dye.” – Johann Hari – The Independent
The revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and now, Yemen, however violent have to encourage us at least in some small way that the Arab world is in a state of flux which is having a domino effect. The authoritarian and arbitrary dictatorships in the Middle East were encouraged and capitulated by the west as and when they supported our economic plans. When they didn’t our governments responded by embarking on illegal wars which have cost the lives of thousands. However, there is a danger that, as in Iran, Mubarak could be replaced by someone far worse.
“Events in Egypt look more like the Indonesian revolution, where in 1998 a popular uprising toppled a US-backed tyrant after 32 years of oppression – and went on to build the largest and most plural democracy in the Muslim world.” – Johann Hari – The Independent
Mr Hari asked if we should be concentrating on fixing the damage ‘The west’ has caused but I’m not sure at this stage it CAN be fixed. Owning up to our own unthinking capitulation would be a good start. UK taxes and resources were used to fund and supply Mubarak’s sick regime of fear. It is British made machine guns and grenade launchers that are aimed at pro-democracy demonstrators, while we sit quietly taking for granted the democracy we enjoy thanks to the courage and steely determination of our own ancestors. The US is not blameless either as their tear-gas was used to subdue people calling for basic human rights and the end to the reign of a vicious tyrant. We have been used to silently aid a murdering torturer while our governments tear Iraq and Afghanistan apart and pay false lip-service to bringing them democracy.
“You have unwittingly helped to keep these people down.” – Johann Hari – The Independent
Our foreign-policies SHOULD be a reflection of us as people. They SHOULD echo our moral principle and codes of decent humane behaviour. In the meantime our governments, who were elected to represent us, are failing to with dire consequences. They make hypocrites of us ALL and must be called to heel and made to account for their actions, both presently and retrospectively. It is for this reason that we need brave people like Julian Assange to provide us with the transparency that big government does not feel the need to do us the courtesy of supplying. They have repeatedly abused our trust but they are not shamefaced or remorseful for their actions in the least. They are angry with the person who has exposed their guilt and so try to discredit him. They pretend to be hurt that we will not now re-extend that lost trust; all actions of the skilled con-artist. It seems that even the US is ‘not above’ high handed tactics in order to enforce their will on the majority as the Military police have been holding another individual, Bradley Manning in solitary confinement without trial for several months. Transparency over our respective countries diplomatic conduct is essential if we even hope to regain our credibility with the rest of the world. We should know, and care very much, about what is done in our names as well as the consequences of those actions.
“Very few British people would praise a murderer and sell him weapons. Very few British people would beat up a poor person to get cheaper petrol. But our governments do it all the time. Why? British foreign policy does not follow the everyday moral principles of the British people, because it is not formulated by us.” – Johann Hari – The Independent
To be a true democracy our governments must be made to represent us or be ousted immediately. We cannot continue to sit complacently by and let these people either rule our lives to suit the whims of big businesses or ruin the lives of others for the same reason and it is about time we ALL stood up and did something about it. It means using more than the ballot box to have your say because by that time it is too late and the policy has already been set and by voting for it you are giving it your stamp of approval. What must be done is the right of all free citizens of the UK and the US; JOIN a party,start your own, or become an independent and give people the alternative you think they deserve. The democratic process is a tool we all have the right to make a use of. Refusing to get involved or vote achieves nothing but allowing the policies which supported the likes of Mubarak et. al. to continue unchecked and un-hindered. As it is, big business decides who we deal with and how and all that drives them is money; the rest is immaterial to them. They have taken it upon themselves to scrap our principles for us and by saying or doing nothing we have sent them our consent to do so.
“Addicts don’t stand up to their dealers: they fawn before them.” – Johann Hari – The Independent
There are ‘reasons’ that our governments use in lack-lustre attempts to defend their conduct in foreign policy. The first is as Hari says, Oil. We have become reliant on it for fuel and the oil companies, like drug dealers, do not wish to lose demand for their product. Our ‘need’ for oil has outlasted its efficiency now that we have the means to produce, clean and renewable energy which threatens the income of those same companies. Even though Egypt has no oil, it does have pipelines and supply routes that the west rely on the use of. It is part of a chain that serves Western purposes and without support for the regime, our access to those lines and lucrative routes is also threatened. So what needs to come first? Principals! Integrity! Simple human decency and consideration of how our actions, conscious or otherwise, affect others. Integrity means that our principles are not brushed under the rug under the guise of ‘pragmatism’ whenever it suits us or others. It is when our principles are really tested that we find out what they are really worth. As consumers, we need to create a real consumer demand – on both sides of the Atlantic – for those clean energy sources and renewable fuels (even if its more expensive in the short-term) because it will take money out of the pockets of those companies who fund those regimes. THAT is how to rid ourselves of the need for ‘cheap’ oil (cheap for whom?) which is paid for with blood-money and oppression. We need to demand full and open access to information and a chain-of-custody style of accountability when shopping in order to exercise real purchasing power because we have the correct information. We must tell those companies what we want and need and stop allowing them to regulate us. They don’t care about our needs they care about their money.
“Israel blockades Gaza to one side, and Mubarak blockades it to the other. I’ve stood in Gaza and watched Egyptian soldiers refusing to let sick and dying people out…” – Johann Hari – The Independent
The second excuse is Israel. The so-called promised land of a people who have undergone centuries of religious persecution. That, however, does not excuse or justify their current occupation of Palestine, usurpation of agricultural land, destruction of property, deprivation of food and basic resources, and imprisonment of 1.5 million people within annexes of their own land. Punitive action is being taken for the ‘wrong result’ in a democratic election and Mubarak, not content with the suppression of his own people, is a knowing party to the horrific treatment of the people of Gaza. Israel’s behaviour is disgusting and their ‘peace process’ is a farce; a smoke screen of oppression and outright territorial theft. Mubarak receives $1.5 billion a year from the US government in return for blocking the passage of even sick people fleeing from Gaza, because their hospitals were collapsing. It is no wonder they grow to hate us considering what is being done to the people of Gaza and Palestine in our name and with our support. They have every right to be angry and we should be ashamed for what our respectively easy lives have allowed us to ignore for so long.
Israel and the “peace process”. Over the past week, we have persistently been told that Mubarak was a key plank in supporting “peace in the Middle East”. The opposite is the truth. Mubarak has been at the forefront of waging war on the Palestinian population.” – Johann Hari – The Independent
The final, and even less credible excuse is that these dictators are suppressing a backlash against us. If they really think that those self-serving tyrants wouldn’t jump at the chance to shift blame from themselves to us, they are deluding themselves. Their foul penal systems of torture and indefinite incarceration has not stopped our ‘trusted’ officials sending prisoners to those very systems because their methods are illegal here or in the US as if it excuses the act. Torture by proxy is still torture and the person who allowed it is as guilty as the animal who carries it out. Tyrants only create more tyrants and when our money is used to harm and demoralise people we are also guilty of those crimes. The people of these countries have my full support and I applaud their courage to stand up for themselves in countries that do not grant the right to any form of protest and where the police are used as a fist to beat down dissent. In the mean time I shall be doing my bit here.
“Robert Baer, once a senior figure in black ops at the CIA, said: “If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear, you send them to Egypt.””