Middle East Uprisings, Some Perspective

The U.S. position on these events matters very much to whether a popular uprising can succeed.  If that strikes you as counter-factual, just consider.  Egypt is the only arab country that supports the US and Israel.  Jordan is experiencing some unrest, and they’re heavily dependent on foreign aid from the U.S. and others. Tunisia’s repressive government fell recently, starting this whole domino of protests in the Mid-East.

No one I have heard doubts that these uprisings are entirely local.  Egypt’s youth and inteligensia are not in the streets over foreign policy, like the hated Mubarak’s support for the state of Israel.  They’re poor.  They want jobs.  The average wage is under two dollars per day.  Do America’s desperate poor fret about a few terrorists in a cave on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan? No.  These protests are about problems on the ground.

Here’s what comes to mind when these events have happened in the past with similar entanglements by the United States.

A young man attended the Versailles peace accords after World War I to plead for his country.  Similarly, the United States supported a colonial conquest by a Western power over that young man’s homeland. 

The Western power had extended its culture throughout the land, converting the people to Catholicism, shackling the peasantry in a plantation farming system, and generally depriving them of freedom.

That man approached the Versailles accords, mounted the steps of Versailles and delivered a speech to the American diplomats and the Western world.  He read aloud the Declaration of Independence.  A few of the words were changed to reference his home country, but it was undeniably a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

That man was a young Ho Chi Minh.  The United States ignored him.  The U.S. continued to support French colonialism in Indochina.  Ho Chi Minh returned home and started his own popular uprising against foreign intervention in his home country.  And the rest, as they say, is yet another history of American choosing to be on the wrong side of our very own history – a declaration of the rights of free people by an educated and liberty-seeking public.


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