Friday, 16 August 2013

Good massacres v/s bad massacres

No one is looking particularly heroic in Egypt these days, but the blood lust of the country’s armed forces is horrifying. To coldly murder hundreds of demonstrating civilians, even when provoked, is criminal and bodes ill for the entire region’s future.

A close second is the smugly self-interested commentary from our punditocracy which, as usual, places U.S. imperial interests first and human life second. This changes radically, of course, when the party doing the killing is the Enemy du jour, like Ahmadinejad or Kim. But the Egyptian military is officially part of Our Team, so the response to them mowing down 600 mostly unarmed civilians and wounding untold thousands more is heavily nuanced and couched in cautious phrasing. Listening to Shields and Brooks tonight on The News Hour, it became clear that the DemoRepublicrat duopoly is in cozy agreement despite the ongoing plots to cut each others’ throats. It was as though both sides concur that we should do whatever is necessary to maintain our power and the accompanying cash flow from the entire known universe, then we can knife each other over who gets their mitts on it.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s tactics of continued resistance seem bizarre given the imbalance of forces—a ruthless army backed by half the population—but they are clearly driven by a belief system that has its own internal logic. Knowing that the continuation of street demonstrations only will mean a higher death toll among its members, they seem undeterred and in some cases almost eager for ‘martyrdom’, a.k.a. death. One can imagine the generals observing this display and quoting to themselves the powerful Athenians of antiquity as they faced down the rebellious Melians: ‘We bless your innocence but do not envy your folly’.

And yet it would be perhaps folly on our part to count out these highly motivated fanatics. They remind me of the scenes of the Iranian revolution of 1979 during which vast masses of people poured into the streets of Teheran to face the Shah’s bullets, confident that the result would be heaven either in this life or the next. A movement with that kind of motivated cadre is going to be around for a while.

Meanwhile, it’s better after having a meal not to listen to much of the predictable reasoning about why the U.S. should not cut off military aid to these thugs. People here can go to jail for years for sending a donation to some obscure Somali outfit that has the wrong religious ideology. But the entire political class endorses funding these uniformed terrorists, and that’s just business as usual. Nauseating.

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