Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anya And Her Friend Debate The Egyptian Revolution

My friend (who's Pakistani, for the record, and a great guy) had this on his facebook Sunday morning:

"Got up this morning thinking what if the revolution in Egypt is another American supported act to remove a powerful President and install another puppet government to control its interests in the region? This I say considering the fact that the US has decided to throw its weight behind the Egyptian Vice President (the puppeteer in this case) in its bid to oust Mubarak. Second, ElBareidi the IAEA guy has suddenly found prominence in this case, and virtually all opposition has decided to band around him. Really Egypt? ElBareidi for President? A guy whom most of the Muslim world think of as another western installed puppet?

Third, the prominence given to the notorious 'Muslim Brotherhood' in this whole crisis by the Western media is absolutely ridiculous. A search led me to discover that the "Muslim Brotherhood' has virtually remained on the sidelines ever since the crisis started, whereas Western media particularly, has created an either or situation with regards to the Muslim Brotherhood. This was done, to propel the power (or in this case the real democracy) from going towards the common people of Egypt. By creating fear about the supposed fallout that would result, a puppet government would be installed bringing further chaos to the region.

Fourth, the fact that Obama's office has only issued seemingly calculated statements on the crisis further disturbs my conscience. So Mr. Obama you were not concerned when Tunisia went down, and you failed to notice the first few days of the Egyptian crisis? I guess then I must say that a fall of a (supposed) Ally fails to stir any emotions in you? If you were such a great proponent of Democracy why didn't your criticism of the Mubarak Government come early? (Yes Mubarak was in power for the last 30 years). I guess all allies face similr fate. Take the example of the popular Pakistani leader Bhutto, hanged to death when he went against American interests. President Zia ul Haq, used against the Russians in the Afghan war, later blown up in a plane crash(along with an American ambassador, perhaps to garner sympathy?). I guess CIA really knew its work back then. My point is the fact that Governments are 'used' all over the world, they are only thrown out when these 'dictators' become all too powerful to defy authority.

Now, I'm never one to let a foreign policy discussion stand without my input (it's a curse?) and my thoughts on Egypt are long, complex, and still trying to get sorted into one coherent post, but this is what I put together:

Hm okay. Well obviously my perspective is a bit colored because I’ve lived in the US all my life, but I think their foreign policy is generally a total fail, and Egypt is just one example of that.

About the Muslim Brotherhood, all the frenzy about it is Western fearmongering at best, lies at worst. While they may be the biggest (organized) opposition party, they’ve promised not to put forward a candidate for president and the protestors in the street have been doing a pretty goo job of shutting them down. I wouldn’t worry about them and I wouldn’t listen to any coverage Western mass media puts out about them.

The US's policy towards democracy in other countries, especially ones in the Middle East is that it’s good only as long as the people vote for those who benefit the West. Example: Palestinians need self-determination, but as long as they vote for Hamas, we’re not going to help them. It’s stupid, counterproductive, and hypocritical.

That being said, I’ve been surprised at how much the us has tried to stay out of Egypt’s revolution (unlike, say, what we’ve done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, etc) and that’s been an encouraging sign to me. Revolutions, if they’re going to bring any true change, have to be legitimately by the people. And this one is, driven by too many human rights abuses and not enough food.

I’m actually encouraged that the opposition is beginning to coalesce around ElBaradei. For any transition to be effective, there has to be a leader for the protestors, otherwise this will dissolve into chaos. Perhaps ElBaradei is not the right person to lead Egypt (I think he is, at least during transition; then again, I don’t know how the Arab world views him) but he is the right person to be a leadership figure at this moment.

The thing is, Mubarak was *already* the US’s puppet government. He was a dictator unsupported by his people. we give billions and billions of dollars and military equipment to them a year, and in return they keep up their peace treaty with Israel (which leads me to: everything the US does in the Middle East is aimed at protecting Israel, which is an unsustainable and harmful policy. But that’s another story). For the first ... four days or so of the revolution, the US government was actually firmly supporting Mubarak. It was naive and made them look like the didn’t know what was going on, but they did. I mean, Joe Biden even said Mubarak wasn’t a dictator, which is perhaps the stupidest thing he’s ever said.

Point being, the US didn’t want this revolution to happen. I’m not ruling out the possibility that they’ll try to manipulate these protests into something good for them (we have a history of putting our own ideas of “good” for other countries ahead of what’s actually good for those countries. reasons I have issues with palin complaining that Obama thinks America isn’t a “force for good” in the world, because no, we’re not and we’re not supposed to be).

I suppose my final conclusion would have to be: this is a revolution modeled on Eastern Europe in 1989, not Iran in 1979, the Obama administration has a failed foreign policy, and I have to disagree with your idea of this being a us set up.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot point-blank in the head today at a constituent meet-and-greet in Tucson. Six people were killed at the scene including one of her aides, a District Court judge, and a nine year old girl; at least 12 other people were injured. The gunman was 22 years old and had an automatic weapon, a pistol with an expanded magazine.

Giffords is a moderate Democrat who is one of the few people in Congress who truly believes in bipartisanship. Everyone she has worked with has said she was a truly kind and joyful woman.

I've seen a lot of people trying to spin Giffords' politics. Fox News in particular seemed to have a bit of a field day with her pro-gun policies. But really? That type of victim blaming is disgusting (although I can't really say I'm surprised). Let me tell you what Gabrielle believes in (from On The Issues) She strongly pro-choice. She favors requiring the hiring of women & minorities. She strongly favors same-sex domestic partnership benefits. She opposes teacher-led prayer in public schools. She’s neutral on the death penalty. She strongly opposes mandatory Three Strikes sentencing laws. She supports the absolute right to gun ownership. She strongly favors more federal funding for health coverage. She’s neutral on privatizing social security. She opposes school vouchers. She strongly favors replacing coal & oil with alternatives. She strongly supports the drug war. She opposes allowing churches to provide welfare services. She favors making taxes more progressive. She strongly opposes allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. She opposes expanding free trade. She strongly opposes the expansion of the armed forces. She strongly favors strict limits on campaign funds. She strongly opposes the Patriot Act.

We live in America, people. We live in a first-world country whose democracy is supposed to be a shining beacon on light. And yet a Congresswoman cannot hold a public event without being the victim of an assassination attempt. What does that say about our country?

This isn't the first attack on Giffords. Her office was vandalized after she voted for healthcare reform, and she has received numerous death threats. In fact, Giffords isn't even the first Democrat to fall victim to an assassination attempt: Tea Partiers cut a gas line to a house they believed belonged to Rep. Tom Pereillo. This is the face of modern American political rhetoric. Congresspeople being shot on street corners. "Second Amendment solutions" (= solutions involving guns) being treated as viable alternatives. A former vice-presidential candidate who says things like "don't retreat - RELOAD" and puts crosshairs over the names and districts of Democrats she wants out of office, and then scrubbed any and all incriminating comments and pictures after this shooting. Tea Partiers who hold events described by the paragraph: "Get on target for victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly." Words have consequences. And maybe Giffords' shooter wasn't directly inspired by something specific that Palin, or Beck, or Limbaugh said, but its only a matter of time before someone else acts on them.

A 9 year old girl is dead. A federal judge is dead. A congresswoman is in critical condition in the hospital. The shooter was 22 years old. Twenty-freaking-two years old. This is mine and Ashley's generation. Do you know how horrifying this is to us? Our generation is being told that it's okay to hate, to shoot, to virtually order another politician's assassination and it's all okay because that's just how people talk politics in this country. Guess what, though? IT'S NOT OKAY. And it never will be.

Please, keep everyone involved in this tragedy in your thoughts (and prayers, if you say them).

After the healthcare vote and the vandalization of her office, MSNBC interviewed Giffords and asked her if she felt scared by the threats. Watch her response. I dare you not to cry.

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