The American Dilemma in Egypt

Should the people of a given country be allowed to vote in free and fair elections, even if the people they elect are fundamentally hostile to the United States?

That is the great question which is facing America today, as protests have toppled the leader of Tunisia and now threaten the presidency of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Almost everybody agrees that Mr. Mubarak is a dictator who does not respect human rights or promote democracy. He is a typical example of the authoritarian leader, whose values are fundamentally at odds with those of the United States. It is quite conceivable that the current protests will end in bloodshed, with the military firing upon civilians in a Bloody Sunday-style massacre.

In a perfect world, a peaceful revolution would topple Mr. Mubarak and install a new democratic government.  Said government would be moderate, friendly to the West, and firmly against Islamic extremism.

Unfortunately, the truth is that Mr. Mubarak’s strongest political opponents are the Muslim Brotherhood, a proudly Islamist movement with broad popular support. If the protests in Egypt succeed in toppling the dictator, the most likely situation is the formation (through free and fair elections) of an Islamist government hostile to the United States.

Therein lies America’s dilemma – betray its ideals and support an “ally,” or keep its ideals and allow an anti-American government to take power.

Historically, the United States has chosen the former option. During the Cold War, dictators were always perceived as better than popularly elected Communist governments. Today replace Communism with Islamism, and one gets the same idea.

Yet think about this: why do the people of Egypt so dislike the United States? Why would they most likely elect, if given a choice, an anti-American government?

The answer, of course, is because the United States keeps on supporting dictators like Mr. Mubarak! In fact, that is why Osama bin Laden attacked the United States – because it continues allying with dictators in the Middle East, in direct contradiction of its democratic values.

Why does the United States support these dictators? Because it knows free democratic elections will result in anti-American governments. Why would elections result in anti-American governments? Because the United States keeps on supporting dictators who oppress the people. And on and on the cycle goes.

The problem is that dictators may not stay in power forever. A U.S.-supported dictator, if unpopular enough, may fall. Iran and Vietnam are just two examples in which this happened. Today Iran is a determined foe of the United States. On the other hand, the communist government in Vietnam is quite friendly to America.

In the short term supporting friendly dictators might benefit American interests. In the long run, however, supporting those who oppress their people probably does more harm than good to America – and more importantly, to the cause of freedom and democracy.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

Are you voting tomorrow?

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Tomorrow is voting day, so make sure you get out there and vote. Here are some things that might motivate you to make your vote count and have your voice heard in the 2010 elections-

Our friends at Colorlines have been running a blog section on their website called ’2010 Elections’ that keeps you up to date with all news, events, and information pertaining to the mid-term elections. Their latest entry features Senator Harry Reid’s interview with Univision in which he promised Univision reporter Jorge Ramos that he would bring the DREAM Act up for a vote again, regardless of whether he won or lost tomorrow’s election. Reid’s opponent is a Tea Party supporter Sharron Angle, who’s election campaign centered around a series of racist, anti-immigrant ads. Another article on ’2010 Elections’ illustrates the hypocrisy of Republican strategist Robert de Posada, the man who created the ad that advised the Latino community not to vote in this election. Colorlines tells us that after creating this ad that told Latinos not to vote, it turns out that he himself voted by absentee ballot in Virginia earlier this month. The ad says-

Democratic leaders must pay for their broken promises and betrayals…If we go on supporting them this November, they will keep playing games with our future and keep taking our vote for granted…If they didn’t keep their promise on immigration reform then, they can’t count on our vote…Don’t vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message. You can no longer take us for granted. Don’t vote.

It is exactly this sort of voter suppression that we need to fight by voting tomorrow. Our friends at Presente.org told us about this and other voter suppression tactics that have been seen impacting the Latino community and their allies around the country. In Texas, a voter registration group called Houston Votes has been the victim of a systematic suppression campaign, including baseless allegations of fraud by the local registrar, and a string of threatening emails strewn with racist insults. The result: registrations have dropped from 1,000 per day to under 200. In Arizona, Senator Russel Pearce — the same man who authored SB 1070 — is accusing organizations like Mi Familia Vota of “voter fraud” in a thinly veiled effort to hamper their registration activities and scare Latino voters from the polls.

A number of radicals are resorting to fear-mongering and scare tactics to ensure that certain communities are denied a voice in this election. In addition to voting tomorrow, get involved with an important project called Video the Vote, a national network of everyday people on who watch out for problems on Election Day. The project helps people report things they see when voting and also document incidents that occur in their area. Started in 2006, Video the Vote volunteers have helped raise national awareness of voting problems by recording over 1,000 videos that have been broadcast on networks like CBS, CNN, and ABC and viewed over 1 million times online.

It’s essential that voter suppression problems get reported right away and that their full story is told by the media on Election Day. Video the Vote urgently needs more volunteers, so if you want to help protect the right to vote, join today and tell your friends about the program as well.

And one last thing. Did you know that thousands of people didn’t cast in 2008 because they didn’t know where to vote? Luckily, for the first time in American history, every voter can now look up their polling place. All you have to do is enter your address to find out which polling station is yours. And make sure to share this handy tool with your friends through Facebook and Twitter.

Happy voting!

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

Independence Day Open Thread

In spite of our historical cruelties, imperial tendencies, and wealth gap, I do believe that this is the greatest country in the history of the world. It's not because of any sort of manifest destiny, Providence, or exceptionalism. It's because natural resources and ocean borders gave us a unique history, because we are young and thus in a better position to learn from history's mistakes; and because oppressed people tend to do amazing things. It is those oppressed people we remember today, on the Fourth of July.

When King George went a bit too far, a group of impressive men rebelled with one of the greatest visions the world has ever known. "All men are created equal" may be a cliche today, but it was radical at the time. Yes, they were all men, but while the history of America may well be one of sexism and militance, it is also one of righting wrongs and of spreading freedom. We ended slavery before Britain ended its colonialism. We forgave our enemies after WWII and rebuilt Europe out of our own pockets. We elected a minority individual as President only forty years after Jim Crow, and at a time when most other places could certainly not do so. We've got a long, long way to go, but we've already come farther than any other country, and that gives me hope.

We can say anything we want in print and at public meetings, legally worship however we choose, and visit millions of acres of public land. We are the freest people on earth. Happy Fourth.

America’s Inadequate Response to the Revolution in Kyrgyzstan

On April 7, 2010 the people of Kyrgyzstan, a far-away country straining under an increasingly oppressive president, liberated themselves. In a revolution recalling those of 1989, protests unexpectedly toppled the authoritarian government. The opposition quickly took control, promising free and fair elections.

The United States government promptly asked if the new administration would allow America to keep its air base in the country. It did not endorse the new government, instead releasing a statement that read:

We remain a committed partner to the development of Kyrgyzstan for the benefit of the Kyrgyz people and intend to continue to support the economic and democratic development of the country.

To be fair, there is some concern over the credibility of the new government. Kyrgyzstan’s president himself came to power after a similar revolution overthrew an authoritarian regime. Power might corrupt the new government as it did with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Moreover, this military base is very important to the interests of the United States. It constitutes a vital logistical component of the war in Afghanistan. Outside of Afghanistan itself, the United States does not have another regional military base.

But sometimes standing for a principle is more important than even the most vital military base. These principles include things such as freedom, liberty, and democracy. America, however imperfectly, has always championed these values. When an oppressed people free themselves, it is a fundamental part of America’s creed to stand with them.

President Barack Obama himself – not Hillary Clinton – should take thirty minutes out of his week to call the new government, congratulating them for their efforts standing against tyranny. He should apologize for supporting Mr. Bakiyev (who in any case was no friend of the United States, having previously threatened to close the base).

Actions like these will be remembered by the new Kyrgyz government long after the United States forgets. They might – in fact, they probably will – even convince it to keep America’s precious air base.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

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Celebrate 1/20/09

Change is in the air! Today, one of the worst eras in American history will come to a close (lasting legacy of economic depression aside), and a new, almost certainly MUCH better era will begin. It is time to celebrate. How will you celebrate the end of the Bush regime and the beginning of the Obama Presidency? With the passing of one very depressing era, and the start of a new, very hopeful one, I am considering several ways to commemorate the event.

Perhaps it is time to show my pride as a liberal American. Be PROUD to be a liberal American. Our nation was founded on liberal principles and we should remind everyone around us that it is PATRIOTIC to be liberal.

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