Friday, February 11, 2011


As I write this, the media is having a full-on, screaming orgasm over Hosni Murabak stepping down and even our President is pronouncing that "the people have spoken" or some such bullshit.  Let's step back and recognize that transitions of power, driven by popular uprising,  in the Mideast have, in recent history, been bad for western civilization, in general, and the United States, specifically.

When the Shah of Iran stepped down, Iran descended into chaos and was stabilized only when the present collection of nutjobs, who are building nuclear weapons as fast as they can, took over.  Advantage?  Not western civilization as we know it or the United States.

After the mujaheddin kicked the Russians out of Afghanistan, the country descended into chaos where it still remains, much to the detriment of the United States and our sons and daughters deployed there for reasons which are hard to ascertain at this point.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Balkans also descended into chaos - we can call the Balkans part of the Mideast here, because the incursions of the jihadists in the Middle Ages were a direct cause of the recent problems there - and, after more expenditure of the United States treasury, this was stabilized for the moment, at least.

When Saddam Hussein was deposed, rightly or wrongly by the intervention of the United States, Iraq descended into chaos, much to the detriment of our sons and daughters who were and are deployed there with a mission which has proven to be misguided.

...and yet our media, which seemingly has the attention span of a teenager with an iPod, is declaring that Egypt is a triumph of "the people" and "democracy."  We all should seriously hope this is true.  However, democracy has a damned shitty track record in the Mideast.

For some perspective, let's look at another example of a people's uprising in recent history.  Tienanmen Square, at the time, was reported as an uprising of students against the oppressive Communist regime...and when the government called in the military to put down the revolt "by any means necessary," it was an atrocity and is still held out today as and example of an out-of-control and self-serving government.

For reasons that are unimportant here, my first trip to China was in 1999 and I met with Chinese nationals, entrepreneurs in the "New China," who pointed out that Tienanmen Square was not just a bunch of unhappy students who couldn't buy Levis.  Tienanmen Square was a manifestation of a country-wide dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in China after years and years of Chairman Mao's corrupt mismanagement.  The Chinese leadership at the time realized that they had two choices: Send in the military to put down what was a really a widespread revolt or pack their bags and get out of the country.  They sent in the military...and who among us believes our own President would not make the same decision in a similar situation?

The take-away for the Chinese leadership after Tienanmen Square was that if they wanted to stay in power, they had to change the way they got business done...and, here's the thing, they did change and the people of China and the world are way better for it.  China is now, arguably, the most business-friendly country on the planet.  If you do a start-up in the United States these days, you raise some U.S. venture capital money and build a factory in China ASAP, because, thanks to the EPA, OSHA, and various other local, state, and federal "authorities," you'll be retired and being paid the big bucks consulting with Chinese companies before you'll build a factory in the U.S.  The Chinese government sees Business as a partner that provides jobs and income for the otherwise unruly masses, as opposed to western governments who view Business as an adversary and potential source of revenue.

As the Athenians learned during the Peloponnesian War and our Founding Fathers recognized, a democracy is not any way to run a country...Thomas Hobbes was right, under a democracy, "life is nasty, brutish, and short." Recognizing the inherent drawbacks of mob rule, the United States was founded as a representative republic which has edged ever closer to a democracy as the number of government employees and recipients of government largess have increasingly dominated the population of voters.

We can only hope that there are rational, clear decision makers driving the bus in Egypt right now, because a rational person should put no hope in the mob in the streets...just as no rational person should put hope in the professional politicians, government employees, or government largess recipients in the United States.

God help us all.