The Islamic world is in chaos in the wake of a successful democratic revolution in Tunisia on January 14. The revolution was unexpected; it was unheard of. It threw decades of American foreign policy into the crapper, and Republican ideology along with it. Perhaps Islamofascism was not such a threat after all. After ruling for 23 years, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled for his life – to Saudi Arabia and it wasn’t a terrorist Islamic regime that replaced him – but democracy.
That was supposed to be impossible. It violated the Republican model of the universe.
Egypt was next. Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, ruler for decades, fled on February 11 after 29 years of rule. Libya is in revolt. There are rumors Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, strongman there for decades, may be out. He has ruled Libya for 42 years. Rumors are of flight and suicide. Benghazi fell to the rebels; pilots refusing to drop bombs on them have sought refuge in Malta. Hundreds are reported dead.
More democratic revolutions may be in the offing.
There have been protests in Algeria since January over some of the same issues that toppled Tunisia’s government, including rising prices and unemployment and housing. In Djibouti people are unhappy about the state of the economy and there have been calls for strongman Ismail Omar Guelleh, whose family has ruled since 1977, to step down. People in Kuwait and Jordan are unhappy and in Sudan protesters have demanded an end to National Congress Party rule. Bahrain is in unrest. Yemen is in unrest. Syria is experiencing protests and has decided to cancel a planned withdrawal of subsidies which keep down the cost of living. Not a good time to arouse the populace, it was decided. Will we see a democratic domino effect in the Middle East and across North Africa?
All this raises questions about al Qaeda. Does al Qaeda matter anymore? What happens when you have a pro-Caliphate civil war and everybody decides they want a friendly democracy instead? Al Qaeda has been a force to be reckoned with thanks to those strongmen and to the United States that supported them.
The strongmen are toppling. The United States no longer has the warmongering crusader George W. Bush as president, who spelled diplomacy “b-o-m-b.” There is in his place a conciliatory Barack Obama, the man who “apologizes” for the United States.
President Obama’s supposed weakness may prove his greatest strength as the strongmen topple and democracy, not Islamofascism, replaces them.
One thing is clear: revolutionary fever is spreading. The question is, what can we do to get one here?
And if al Qaeda can be rendered irrelevant by democracy, can the Tea Party?
We have seen something similar recently in Wisconsin, and now in other states as well, like Ohio, as the Koch Brothers seek to break the back of the democratic system in the United States and impose a rich-white-man’s oligarchy.
Perhaps democratic protests – not the Astroturf, rich-white-man-funded Tea Party protests, but actual popular democratic protests, can change things here too, and put a stop to the free-fall toward totalitarianism.
It’s a nice thought.
And we have a model to follow. Ironically from the place Republicans insist we have the most to fear. But it’s no Islamofascism that is spreading to the United States. It is democracy.
It is the desire of people to free themselves from chains. In the United States, those chains are just being imposed; we have not lived under them for decades. We have not yet experienced one-party rule. But if the Koch Brothers have their way, we will. Republican Party rule – and as we are seeing today, there is only one way to break one-party rule.
Makes more sense to nip it in the bud with some democratic demonstrations now, doesn’t it? Maybe we can force some of our own totalitarian-minded oligarchs to seek refuge elsewhere, even if it’s only a exile from their own states.
We can show them what we want, and that what we want is not one-party rule. The people of Wisconsin can show their governor they don’t want to be ruled by a henchman of the Koch Brothers. We’ve heard of unfriendly work environments. Companies leave various states for greener pastures all the time. Why not the same result for oligarchs?
Al Qaeda and the Koch Brothers have something in common: the revolutions caught al Qaeda off guard, and the popular protests here have caught the Koch Brothers off guard. Nobody was expecting that the people would protest the theft of their freedom.
According to the Tea Party model of the universe, after all, the Tea Party represents those people!
It’s dangerous to believe your own propaganda.
And one beautiful thing about democracy and freedom: oligarchs can’t thrive when freedom is in the wind. It’s time to turn those Don’t Tread on Me flags around and put them to their proper, originally intended use against tyranny, not against liberty. Or maybe a little “Power to the People.”
What started in Tunisia has spread elsewhere and it has toppled two strongmen and nearly a third. Can what started in Wisconsin spread to topple our own strongmen and show them the door? The pressure is on al Qaeda and it is on the Koch Brothers. It would be nice to wave goodbye to both of them at the same time, wouldn’t it?
Care2 reports that “Kamal Abbas, the General Coordinator of the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services, tells the Wisconsin protesters, ‘We stand with you as you stood with us.‘”
The Egyptians support us in our quest for democracy. That should give you pause. And cause for hope.
The Koch henchman, Scott Walker, says unions are “wasteful”. I say oligarchs are wasteful. It’s a problem they created, not the workers who are being blamed for the excesses of the wealthy.
Gaddafi is following Henchman Walker’s advice: “Don’t blink.” He says, “I’m still here.” So are the Koch Brothers. Our question should be, “Why?”