Revolution Ackbar, indeed.
The Middle East, or Arabia, is in an uproar. Libya the worst so far. The madman Ghadafi and his sons begging us to stop the bombing. Actually, we should step it up. Obama should say clearly “Be Gone By Noon, Or Else.” And the French should have a villa waiting for him. At least until he goes on trial for crimes against humanity. Bombing one’s own cities is not rational. And the sort of government that exists that leads to armed insurrection is not rational. This we too discovered, over slavery. It was not a rational institution. And in a way most of the people of Libya are slaves, for Ghadafi and his henchmen. And the solution is taking them out. Either by private jet or casket. Makes no difference. Alas, we seem not to have a plan. So we shoot a few missiles and do something, I guess. Is every bit of Libya’s military destroyed yet? I don’t think so. And if we’re so worried about it falling into the hands of some Arab crazies, say, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al Fatah, The Palestinian Authority, Al Qaeda, you know, the usual suspects, then destroy it. Leave Libya with no military. They don’t need one. Algeria, Tunisia, Chad or Egypt are not going to invade them. Ghadafi spends billions on weaponry – for what purpose? The people are kept poor. Well, there will be a new dictator. So what? It’s got to be better. And maybe this new dictator will get the hint: be nice to your people.
Egypt is in the roiling state before the new dictator emerges. There’s several in play. Most of them world figures, who think it’s time to run their own country. I’m sure all the players jockeying for the palace are quite confident that they will get to stay on and on and on until the next popular uprising. For the people will return to their drudgery, and the pyramids will stand, and that nation will continue on as it has for centuries. It’s not going to become Iowa and have nice sweet lawns and voters holding caucuses. Already some of the players for power have decided that enmity with Israel is a way to power, at least voicing it. You know, rabble up the voters with some saber rattling against a convenient scapegoat. If the power hungry have brains they’ll cool that rhetoric. Or their going to lose their military. I’m pretty sure that Israel would be able to destroy the Egyptian air force short with. But I doubt they want to do it. And the new Egyptian dictator ought to be more careful. It’s a war he can’t win. And we can take back our few billion a year in foreign aid, and prevent the redecoration of the palace.
Meanwhile, in Syria, the last dictator’s son, the dentist, is having fun playing dictator as more and more people take to the streets to express their displeasure. And well, he’s probably going to be gone within the year, or sooner. He comes from a minority sect, and he’s not popular, and the people aren’t stupid. They see the wealth of Israel, and they probably wonder “why not us?” And they conclude, “Oh yah, we got a stupid dictator.” Syria could actually be a rather nice country. Plenty of tourism opportunities. I mean, the big mosque in downtown Damascus is from 700 AD or something. But no, Assad has to keep the newspapers in his hand, and the radio, the TV, the billboards, and put up big pictures of himself on the buildings. And that’s always a clue to how bad a country is. When the government has to put up billboards saying how nice they are, well, they aren’t. When a president needs to see his picture the size of a Times Square undie ad, well, that’s a sign the man is whacko. And he needs to go. So watch for fireworks there.
In Yemen there’s unrest at the dictator’s door, too. No biggie, that backward place has had unrest since the dawn of time. It can’t even really spill over into Saudi Arabia because there’s all that forbidding desert between the populations. The place is so otherworldly that even the Saud Family didn’t try to take it. It only makes the news because every other Arab country is in the news. There’s nothing new about the uproar in Yemen. It’s a periodic undertaking of the next dictator to go for the big chair.
Oman is in uproar too. But it’s a more stable place, with a long running emir or sultan, or some royalty, and his family. And they got the bucks to buy off the people. Sort of like Morocco in that there’s a seething discontent lingering among some, but the ruling family is popular enough and the people secure enough in their lives that they probably won’t riot too much.
When Algeria goes up in flames is hard to predict. But they are a bit more democratic. And the dictator keeps a low profile, and the place functions with elected dictators of a sort. Not like it could. But still, just like it has for centuries.
Sudan, which northern half is Arab and southern half African, has done the smart thing and divorced the two halves. It was an intractable stalemate between opposites. War raged continuously ever since the French and British drew the lines around the people and made them try to be nice to each other. But centuries of animus was never going to be solved. So divorce, good; peace will come now, in a fashion, such as they are able. The south will be a basket case for awhile as they try to create a nation; the politics there are inscrutable and simply unimportant to us. Other than the new dictator doesn’t go plumbing the depths of his inhumanity and start killing his own people. The north will be happier, and will continue on as they have since the Meroites and Nubians ran the place in 3000 BC. Why, it might even become safe to travel there to see the marvels of antiquity.
Eretria has calmed down to a mild dictatorship. Djibouti could go bonkers, but probably not. The French and American military presence there keeps the people happy. Too much money to be made, and Ethiopia wouldn’t invade with the US soldiers standing there. Ethiopia itself seems to have calmed down, too. But not enough to be a real country yet. Something’s not right with the place. Still, no more man made famines like years ago.
Somalia of course is a whacko place. Utter destruction being rained down by different clans on each other in some centuries old vendetta over parking spaces or something. The problem is the modern weaponry. And us taking out a few warehouses of the stuff wouldn’t be a bad idea. Just a cruise missile into the armed training centers ever so often, with a nice note; “be nice.” But it’s a country that never was a country, but which Italy cobbled together for a sense of purpose, of which there was none. And then the lines drawn around peoples who simply will not abide each other has caused the grief. It’s Italy’s fault, and they ought to go fix it by telling all those clans, “Hey, let’s just draw new lines.” If ever a country needed to be divided into mini states, Somalia is. Then they can go back to their clannish ways and occasionally lob a rock at the other clans. Meanwhile, why any boat of theirs is allowed to go beyond 10 miles off shore or so, or over 20 miles an hour, I don’t know. Should be easy enough to park a satellite over the place, watch for the bad pirate boats, and send in a jet to take it out. That’s a good task for Greeks and Danes, French and Germans, and the Japanese, Indians, etc, for their ships are being targeted by pirates. And it’s time to put a stop to it. Is it easy? No. But that’s what our military was designed to do. So do it already. This “oh no, another pirate raid” is getting ridiculous. Surely we could sink anything beyond a certain distance and speed. And stop selling them new speed boats. I doubt they can make them there in Mogadishu.
Lebanon is still a bit nutty, because all those rather urbane people haven’t quite figured out that they really do all live together in a tiny country and if they were nice to each other they could go back to the wonders of the “Paris of the Levant” as Beirut was sometimes called. They should cozy up to the Israelis, if they had brains. But no, religion has seized the place. So it’s a roiling madhouse of an armed camp where the government really doesn’t quite control the whole country, and the government is under the control of Syria and Iran – and they don’t get along – so there’s really two governments, or three if you count the Druse who just want to be left out of it all. If Assad goes from Syria, Lebanon could get better. If the Taliban of Iran, or whatever they’re called, go, then Lebanon might quickly become rational.
Jordan is stable so far, but there’s really two populations there – the Palestinians who are not Jordanians and the Jordanians themselves, whom are, oddly enough, Palestinians in reality. Still, they’re not cooperating and the place is mildly repressive but well fed and the gas is cheap, and tourists come, and King Abdullah is not crazy, but rather a well reasoned guy, apparently. He’s supposedly slowly letting his military atrophy into a police force, for he sees no point in going to war with Israel. He’d probably like to see Assad leave Syria, for Assad riles up the Palestinians who are not Jordanians in the refugee camps – and why there are still refugee camps I don’t know. Since 1947 and the Partition, there have been refugee camps. Ah, that’s because the Jordanians who are Palestinians will not allow the Palestinians who are not Jordanians to meld together legally, even though they have socially to a great degree because well, they’re all Jordanian Palestinians. But that’s what happens when you keep some of your people sort of illegal and out of the legal loop.
Saudi Arabia is paying everyone to shush and hoping the Libyan fracas keeps the price of oil high so they can afford it. But it’s sure to crack soon too. And it really should be two countries, for the Shiites in the oil region don’t like the repression of the Sunnis in Mecca. The United Arab Emirates have tried to modernize and join the world, but well, they overextended themselves and are broke. They too like the price of oil to be high, though. So they are probably joining the Saudis in helping the Libyan rebels just enough to not be able to win. Qatar and Bahrain are slowly spinning out of control. Mostly because they too are riven with this Sunni Shiite divide. Which is very similar in many ways to the Catholic Protestant divide – which centuries ago was rather violent. Religious wars raged for centuries in Europe. The Muslims are actually a bit more peaceful at it.
Afghanistan is done. Put a fork into it. And get out. The Taliban are out. Let those people fight it out among themselves. They know what they’re doing. They’ve been doing it for centuries. If the Taliban get in, blow up their cabinet meeting. What can I say. We know where everything is now. Map it good, and then send in the cruise missiles if required. But really, we’re too involved now in the ethnic – linguistic – clan divisions which have kept that rock pile a rock pile. Forget the minerals and stuff, it’ll be there later. But it’s not going to be calm for awhile. And we’re just targets for crazies with no way to change the place to what we might like. It’s a mere matter of containment. If they buy a jet, blow it up. If they buy a tank, destroy it. Don’t let weapons in. Return them to the 1800s where they want to live.
And of course, everyone’s favorite – Iran. Now there’s a place were everyone should be fomenting revolution. Time to get rid of those whackos running the place into the ground. A fine country now more broke than ever. Spending billions on weapons and nuclear bombs and who knows what else for no purpose but to be the big man on the block. Except, well, they’re not Arabs, and they don’t speak Arabic, and they’re Shiites and Arabs are mostly Sunnis, and well, they’ll never get to rule the roost around there.
And other than this, everything is about the same as it ever was over there. And if we drilled more for oil here, well, that would help. And if Europe was more responsible for what they caused by drawing all those silly lines on the map that are now modern countries, and from whom they get their oil and their immigrants, well, that would help too. And if we had a president who could make a decision and stick to it, well, that would help to. And if we got a bit more realistic about it, and stopped hoping for “democracy” in our time over there, we’d be better off. And just be ready to help Israel at a moment’s notice. We do have a plan for that, don’t we? I sure hope so.
So too would having an off the shelf “when dictators go bad” book for every dictator, so we can take out the whacko and let the next dictator in. I have a feeling that if we get a little more proactive in the dictator removal business then in a few rounds, the future dictators might be nicer.
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