The Mideast Burns
by Eric Margolis
When I wrote my latest book on the way America dominates the Mideast, I chose the title, American Raj, because this modern US imperium so closely resembled the famed Indian Raj – way the British Empire ruled India.
As I predicted in this book, and in a column last April, Egypt was headed for a major explosion. America’s Mideast Raj is now on fire. Whether it survives or not remains to be seen.
One cannot escape a sense that we may be looking at a Mideast version of the 1989 uprisings across Eastern Europe that brought down its Communist regimes and then the Soviet Union. Americans should be uneasy seeing crowds of Egyptians pleading for freedom and justice watched over by US-supplied tanks.
There are indeed certainly strong similarities between the old Soviet East Bloc and the spreading intifada across the police states of America’s Mideast Raj. Corrupt, repressive governments; rapacious oligarchies; high youth unemployment and economic stagnation; widespread feelings of fear, frustration, hopelessness and fury.
But there is also a big difference. The principled Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the Communist rulers of Eastern Europe, refused to turn their army’s guns against the rebelling people.
In Tunisia, where the current Arab uprising began, the army has so far stayed admirably neutral.
But in other Arab states now seething with rebellion – Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, Jordan – there may be no such reservations. Their ruthless security forces and military could quickly crush the uprisings unless the soldiers refuse to shoot down their own people – as happened in Moscow in 1991.