Fear vs Hope In The Arab 1848
Niall Ferguson fears the Middle Eastern revolutions:
The people who made the American Revolution were, by 18th-century standards, exceptionally well-off and well-educated. People in Libya today are closer to the sans-culottes of the Paris back streets, the lumpenproletariat of the Petrograd slums, or the illiterate peasants who flocked to Mao’s standard. And that is why the likelihood of large-scale and protracted violence is so much greater in the Arab world today than it ever was in North America in the 1770s. Poor, ill-educated young men. Around 40 million of them.
I certainly think caution is warranted - but do not see how this could be stopped, and fail not to feel hope and exhilaration at the toppling of tyrants in this remarkable way. Kristof argued otherwise in his column yesterday. Mataconis adds:
One point that Kristoff misses which I find interesting is the different reactions that you’ve seen from many on the American right to the uprising in Eqypt as compared to the ongoing uprising in Libya and 2009?s Iranian uprising. The Libyan and Iranian protesters are characterized as freedom fighters and President Obama is criticized for not speaking out more forcefully or, you know, doing “something” to help the uprising (even though it’s never made clear what exactly we could do to influence events inside nations ruled by leaders who hate us). The Egyptian protesters, though, were tools of the Muslim Brotherhood and, if you listened to Glenn Beck, the advance army of a worldwide caliphate.
(Photo: A rebel militiaman stands in the ashes of an alleged torture chamber of the former Libyan Internal Security force on February 28, 2011 in Benghazi, Libya. The notorious building was mostly burned in the uprising that drove loyalists to President Muammar Gaddafi out of Bengazi the week before. By John Moore/Getty Images)