2/12/11 – carlos
You Can Put Lipstick on the Pig,
I Still Won’t Kiss It
Well, the thrill still lingers as Egypt basks in the glow of having removed a dictator. I don’t see it that way. Mubarak had been in charge for too long. There was pressure from below to rid the country of an 89-yo despot. There is a younger generation of apparatchiks waiting in the wings for their share of the good life.
Does the new regime (nominally the army) have any credibility or is it just the passing of the graft to a new generation? Cynicism isn’t the same as realism – except that sometimes it is. Look at the faces above: try to identify the altruists who owe no political debts to anyone.
Wait a year and look again. This is how a revolution can be stolen. A revolution demands that the old infrastructure must be dismantled and a new on be rebuilt.
First on the list is the intelligence/secret police apparatus. Who has been informing on whom? As long as this group continues to exist, it is sure to be reconstituted.
Egypt needs new faces. I read there are thousands of college educated but undereducated Egyptians available but, lacking political connections, remain unemployed. Egypt has a wealth of talent that must be utilized and free reign must be given to political parties to compete. Is this not what democracy demands?
I am not particularly impressed with democracy because of the short-sighted control of the process by ill-informed and easily led people. However, one hopes that extremes, like a bell once rung, dampens over time and an equilibrium reached.
Friday, 2/11/11 – Carlos
Mubarak Is Out!
The dam has broken! Let the chaos begin. While the intoxicating transcendent glow of the people’s victory as an unanticipated standing wave of the Egyptian people sway and kneel and rise as one unbroken spirit in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and other cities in Egypt, the refractory period begins.
The existing constitution is moot and chaos reigns. The armed forces are in control but who is in control of the army? There may arise another Pericles, who through actual force of personality, preternatural genius, and genuine concern for the commonweal will rise to form a government of national conciliation, but these men are, rare perhaps once in a millennium.
In the post-orgasmic reflection of Mubarak’s leaving, much continues to happen in Egypt. Instead of the smell of charcoal cook fires, the smell of fear is on the wind. The ruling class that had been so secure for so many years has been shaken to the core. “If this can happen to Mubarak, where stand we?” Ask the wealthiest of Egypt and many will have a suitcase packed beside the door.
If the flag grade military officers are purged of those who conspired with Mubarak to oppress the people, the revolution may succeed. If so, those civilians who blatantly formed the bulwark of the Mubarak regime will become some of the most vocal supporters of the revolution. This is one dimension of the future.
A managing class will survive. Without managers it is impossible to succeed. Their hands will be gloved to hide the stains of bygone years. A core of capable people and civil servants must be retained. The country must have its infrastructure reconstituted.
One of the worst mistakes of the American invasion of Iraq was the disbanding of the army and the gutting of the civil service. It left an army of disaffected armed men and civil servants nominally of the Ba’ath persuasion unemployed and armed.
Some form of government of national reconciliation will arise, the constitution will be scrapped, the police will be purged, and evidence of secret police torture, spying, and killings will surface. I predict that every shade of political and philosophical thought will arise within a week and a heated political dialog will ensue.
But how will it end? Will the Owners of Egypt, the recipients of Mubarak’s largesse, be able to suborn the pure agents of the people? Time will tell as the sun rises in the morning and the bleary-eyed victors face a new dawn.
I hope your enjoying watching political theory in action in Egypt. I believe we are seeing a realignment of the military structure. Mubarak’s shelf life has expired and the military is realigning in response to the unrest. The generals will not leave but they need to sacrifice Mubarak. The political infrastructure is too widely entrenched and a real revolution would require that many high level heads roll.
In Portugal in 1974 the ‘captains’ made the revolution and the majority of the upper ranks including Spinlola left for Brazil. This isn’t happening in Egypt. Of course the dust will not have settled for about a year as factions jockey for position and external powers influence the outcome of the government that will control Suez. This is great political theater, one can almost cut the sense of communitas with a knife. – Carlos
My revolution was 36 years ago in Portugal when the Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA) overthrew the “Novo Estado” of António Salazar eventually Marcelo Caetano in 1974. In my revolution public dissatisfaction was high. Colonial wars were eating men and treasure and the dissatisfaction of the people were mirrored in the young “captains” who eventually implemented the revolution. The senior officers were those who had been rewarded and had a lot to lose.
Mubarak’s generals appear to be in charge. They are the “made men” of Egypt. I don’t see many dissatisfied captains. This revolution has It has lasted too long and time is not on the side of the demonstrators. Sometime, and sometime soon, the armed forces have to give up Mubarak and themselves.
The government must be made to surrender and the generals jailed. Perhaps there is a group of officers who share dissatisfaction with the government and will overthrow the generals. Each day of delay bodes ill for the country.
The politics of the Middle East is complex and I suspect that other forces are at play. There is Suez and the potential disruption of oil transit. I think the revolution will fail and it will be a shame. – carlos