And Tunisians, and Yemenis, and Algerians, and Jordanians, and Lebanese, and, of course, Palestinians, suffering for over six decades after Israel stole their historic homeland, over 43 years under brutal, suffocating occupation. Their struggle is ours, and it's high time we reacted, showing spirit as courageous as theirs.
In her latest January 31 article, Phyllis Bennis headlined, "Tunisia's Spark and Egypt's Flame: the Middle East is Rising," asking:
"Is this how empires end, with people flooding the streets, demanding resignation of their leaders and forcing local dictators out? Maybe not entirely, (but the) legacy of US-dominated governments across the region will never be the same. The US empire's reach in the resource-rich and strategically vital Middle East has been shaken to its core....The years of Washington calling the shots (based on its) version of 'stability' are definitively over."
On February 3, Haaretz writer Ari Shavit agreed, headlining "The Arab revolution and Western decline," saying:
"After half a century during which tyrants have ruled the Arab world, their control is weakening. After 40 years of decaying stability....rot is eating (it). The Arab masses will no longer accept" old ways. It's "been roiling beneath the surface" for years....suddenly (erupting) in an intifada of freedom." The Tunisian "bastille fell, the Cairo (one) is falling and" others in the Arab world will follow. "The old order is crumbling." So is Western "international hegemony....The West has lost it. (It's no longer a global) leading and stabilizing force....In Cairo's Tahrir Square....Western hegemony is fading away."
On February 3 Immanuel Wallerstein headlined, "The Second Arab Revolt: Winners and Losers," saying:
Britain and France betrayed the 1916 revolt "led by Sharif Hussein bin Ali for Arab independence from the Ottoman Empire." After WW II, America succeeded them as regional hegemon. For years, "(t)he second Arab Revolt has been brewing," ignited by events in Tunisia. At issue is why this succeeded when others failed, and what's next?
Regime "fissures" created opportunities. At this point, events are fluid, outcomes uncertain. Months will pass before winners and losers are known. "(N)o Arab state today (has) a strong organized, secular, radical party like the Bolsheviks (in Russia), ready to take power." Most "organized movements are the Islamist ones," but they vary from moderate to extreme, as well as "in-between varieties (like) the Muslim Brotherhood." As a result, outcomes are uncertain.
Also important is outside influence, mainly Washington's, so far the "great loser," evident by its waffling when decisiveness is needed. The revolt's backdrop includes outrageous wealth distributions, growing global poverty and depravation, and America's weakened dominance, exacerbated by Middle East events.
In contrast, Iran is the biggest winner, though non-Arab, then Turkey by supporting the Arab revolt and confronting Israel. Hopefully, over time, Arabs will benefit most. So far, it's too soon to tell, especially since obstacles facing them are formidable.
A Spark Turned Into Revolt
First in Tunisia, popular dissent spread quickly, Egypt its epicenter as Washington's regional imperial lynchpin, rocked by mass outrage, so far sustained. Rarely ever have Americans matched it. Today, they're practically quiescent, despite an unaddressed worsening economic crisis devastating millions.
On February 1, a New York Times editorial headlined, "Beyond Mubarak," urging him to step aside and let an interim government run "truly free elections." Where's The Times' outrage about America's fantasy democracy, imperial lawlessness, dysfunctional governance, rigged elections more kabuki theater than real, and its corporate-run dictatorship, causing appalling levels of unaddressed human need.
Why isn't it urging public outrage demanding change, instead of worrying about "Egypt's next government (being less) friendly to Washington (than) this one," and saying if "Egypt devolves into chaos, it will feed extremism throughout the region."
In fact, populist liberating extremism is glorious, whether or not Barry Goldwater meant it, saying "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, (and) moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"
Uprisings are testing America's Middle East iron grip. Matching homeland ones are now crucial, demanding real, not fake democracy, freedom, jobs, education, health care, and overall economic justice, the kind Franklin Roosevelt suggested in his last State of the Union address, proposing a second bill of rights, saying the first one "proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness."
His solution: an "economic bill of rights," guaranteeing:
-- employment with a living wage;
-- freedom from unfair competition and monopolies;
-- medical care;
-- social security and more, overall what he inadequately provided in his first 11 years, except for measures like the 1935 Wagner Act letting workers, for the first time, bargain collectively on even terms with management, and the landmark Social Security Act, keeping millions of retirees, disabled, and qualified survivors from impoverishment's ravages.
He also stressed other measures, including:
-- "A realistic tax law - which will tax all unreasonable profit," corporate and individual;
-- "A cost of food law" with floor and ceiling limits on prices; and
-- reenactment of the October 1942 stabilization statute, pertaining to prices, wages and salaries affecting the cost of living, saying:
"We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence."
Today, these ideas are abandoned at a time of an unprecedented wealth gap, and officials ignoring essential needs of growing millions, on their own and out of luck because both major parties spurn them.
Instead they rampage globally, bail out bankers and other corporate favorites, and enact repressive laws, heading America toward banana republic harshness, tyranny and ruin. No matter. So far, public outrage is absent. For how long is at issue.
Spreading Revolutionary Fervor
On February 1, trends watcher Gerald Celente headlined, "Revolutionary Fervor to Spread Beyond Arab States; Europe Next," saying:
"The unintended consequences of the regime changes in North Africa and the Middle East" will be as dramatic in Europe, resulting in governments ousted. World leaders and media aren't "recognizing the Egyptian uprising for what it is: a prelude to a series of civil wars that will lead to regional wars, that will lead to the first 'Great War' of the 21st century."
In spring 2010, Celente published a report titled, "The History of The Future: Trends 2012 - The Great War," saying:
Gripped by the "Greatest Depression," he suggested possible "Armageddon Day" in December 2012. "Who would have thought," he asked? "On the way....there was no hint of it in the media, mainstream or alternative," despite plenty of "obvious dots" to connect, revealing "a range of possible outcomes."
What's ahead? "Renaissance or Ruin," he asked. Prepare yourself! "The path to war is already clearly defined. The fires of hatred and revenge have been fueled by decades of persecution and injustice....In the absence of a 'Great Awakening,' there will be a 'Great War.' " Or is a "Renaissance 2012" possible, similar to when:
-- America's role model was Main Street, not Wall Street;
-- Bedrock middle class values mattered;
-- Industrial America offered high-pay, good benefit jobs;
-- new generations bettered previous ones;
-- Family, not factory, farms fed people;
-- Real, not Frankenfood, was commonplace;
-- "Quality counted, not just the bottom line;"
-- corporate power was less dominant;
-- community businesses flourished;
-- public schools taught, offering inner-city kids chances for higher education achievement and real futures; and
-- hope persisted for better times ahead.
That America is gone, yet rebirth is possible "based on the recognition that much of what worked in the past, in principle, could be effectively and profitably applied to the 21st century." However, getting there requires "rethinking and revaluat(ing)....(d)destructive habits masquerading as 'progress,' (reversing) America's quality-of-life decline" that, so far, shows no signs of materializing.
Will future uprisings roil Europe and America? Who can know or when, but without them, real change won't come, just more double talk and false promises, heading America, and perhaps Western civilization, for tyranny and ruin before whatever emerges on the other side, if there is one.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.