Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hypocrisy is Exposed by the Wind of Change

Robert Fisk: Hypocrisy is Exposed by the Wind of Change


    So when the Arabs cry out for the very future

    that Obama outlined, we show them disrespect.


Robert Fisk

Guardian (UK)

February 10, 2011


There is nothing like an Arab revolution to show up the

hypocrisy of your friends. Especially if that

revolution is one of civility and humanism and powered

by an overwhelming demand for the kind of democracy

that we enjoy in Europe and America. The pussyfooting

nonsense uttered by Obama and La Clinton these past two

weeks is only part of the problem. From "stability" to

"perfect storm" - Gone With the Wind might have

recommended itself to the State Department if they

really must pilfer Hollywood for their failure to adopt

moral values in the Middle East - we've ended up with

the presidential "now-means-yesterday", and "orderly

transition", which translates: no violence while ex-air

force General Mubarak is put out to graze so that ex-

intelligence General Suleiman can take over the regime

on behalf of America and Israel.


Fox News has already told its viewers in America that

the Muslim Brotherhood - about the "softest" of

Islamist groups in the Middle East - is behind the

brave men and women who have dared to resist the state

security police, while the mass of French

"intellectuals" (the quotation marks are essential for

poseurs like Bernard-Henri Lévy have turned, in Le

Monde's imperishable headline, into "the intelligentsia

of silence".


And we all know why. Alain Finkelstein talks about his

"admiration" for the democrats but also the need for

"vigilance" - and this is surely a low point for any

'philosophe' - "because today we know above all that we

don't know how everything is going to turn out." This

almost Rumsfeldian quotation is gilded by Lévy's own

preposterous line that "it is essential to take into

account the complexity of the situation". Oddly enough

that is exactly what the Israelis always say when some

misguided Westerner suggests that Israel should stop

stealing Arab land in the West Bank for its colonists.


Indeed Israel's own reaction to the momentous events in

Egypt - that this might not be the time for democracy

in Egypt (thus allowing it to keep the title of "the

only democracy in the Middle East") - has been as

implausible as it has been self-defeating. Israel will

be much safer surrounded by real democracies than by

vicious dictators and autocratic kings. To his enormous

credit, the French historian Daniel Lindenberg told the

truth this week. "We must, alas, admit the reality:

many intellectuals believe, deep down, that the Arab

people are congenitally backward."


There is nothing new in this. It applies to our

subterranean feelings about the whole Muslim world.

Chancellor Merkel of Germany announces that

multiculturalism doesn't work, and a pretender to the

Bavarian royal family told me not so long ago that

there were too many Turks in Germany because "they

didn't want to be part of German society". Yet when

Turkey itself - as near a perfect blend of Islam and

democracy as you can find in the Middle East right now

- asks to join the European Union and share our Western

civilisation, we search desperately for any remedy,

however racist, to prevent her membership.


In other words, we want them to be like us, providing

they stay away. And then, when they prove they want to

be like us but don't want to invade Europe, we do our

best to install another American-trained general to

rule them. Just as Paul Wolfowitz reacted to the

Turkish parliament's refusal to allow US troops to

invade Iraq from southern Turkey by asking if "the

generals don't have something to say about this", we

are now reduced to listening while US defence secretary

Robert Gates fawns over the Egyptian army for their

"restraint" - apparently failing to realise that it is

the people of Egypt, the proponents of democracy, who

should be praised for their restraint and non-violence,

not a bunch of brigadiers.


So when the Arabs want dignity and self-respect, when

they cry out for the very future which Obama outlined

in his famous - now, I suppose, infamous - Cairo speech

of June 2009, we show them disrespect and casuistry.

Instead of welcoming democratic demands, we treat them

as a disaster. It is an infinite relief to find serious

American journalists like Roger Cohen going "behind the

lines" on Tahrir Square to tell the unvarnished truth

about this hypocrisy of ours. It is an unmitigated

disgrace when their leaders speak. Macmillan threw

aside colonial pretensions of African unpreparedness

for democracy by talking of the "wind of change". Now

the wind of change is blowing across the Arab world.

And we turn our backs upon it.


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