Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hanging on to Qaddafi

The world, it seems, is going to hell in a handbasket. But oh, what a glorious way to go, stewing in populist revolutions against oppressive regimes! Even in the US, which is not officially oppressive (individual experiences may vary), unions are marching on the government in several states as their right to collective bargaining hangs in the balance.

It's awe-inspiring, really, to watch it all happen. At the same time, it's not a little frightening. The status quo being ripped to shreds as we stare at our screens, wondering which dictator is going to go next (Jordan? Syria? United Arab Emirates?) as the Facebook Revolutions take hold of the entire Middle East--well, I'm hoping they do, anyway. Stable dictatorships may have been preferable over communist governments twenty years ago, but the increasing willingness of the US to recognize other forms of government (not to mention the disintegration of the Soviet Union) means that when Tunisia and Egypt and (Force willing) Libya get new governments, socializing certain aspects of their society won't be an issue. Or at least, it shouldn't be an issue...

Yet the skeptic in me suspects that, when push comes to shove, all of the best intentions in the world cannot compete with the wads of money that multi-billion dollar global oil companies will spend to ensure that their interests are protected. Most of the reason why these despicable creatures are in power, after all, is because they happen to be sitting on a whole lotta oil. There's probably going to be a lot of people wishing, in some way or another, that Qaddafi will stay in power.


  1. We are living in interesting times

  2. I see it as a simple passing of power from regimes which, throughout the region, have locked themselves into static positions for decades while the world around them changed. The resentments and longings for a different ordering of society have been simmering for a long time, and it's exciting to see how thin the governments actually are (and, especially, that there are elements within the armed forces that refuse to shoot at the own people).

    My concerns would be threefold. The existing order may be too deeply entrenched to be displaced, and only the figurehead at the top changes. The conservative oppostiion, whether religious or nationalist, appeals to the population's basest instincts and a worse government results. Or the vested interests in the West, business or diplomatic, fall short of their own professed ideals and fail to give nascent popular moments the support and legitimacy that they need. Any of these scenarios could leave the people worse off than before.

    Nonetheless, I am hopeful that the protesters have some idea of what they want of who they want to follow, and that a genuinely democratic election mill produce something more akin to Turkey than to Pakistan.