How Democracies Are Born And How They Are Not

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Current Events
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You know, what is happening in Egypt is pretty amazing when you think about it.  This guy Mubarak has ruled over Egypt for nearly 30 years under “emergency law” (you know, one of those 45 year emergencies that are so commonplace) and the people of Egypt force him out WITHOUT FIRING A SINGLE SHOT!  It would have been easy for that situation to become really ugly; it says a lot about the Egyptian people that this whole event stayed as peaceful as it did.  Now it is way too early to know what kind of government Egypt will end up with, but I will say whatever develops there has a lot better chance of success because this is strictly a grassroots effort by the Egyptian people.  You know, sort of like how another certain nation was born.  I can’t remember its name, but the folks there sure like to chant “U.S.A.” a lot at international sporting events.

I sure like the chances  of a better government there than, say, Afghanistan.  I recently watched the documentary Restrepo in which a couple of journalists document a year embedded with an army platoon in the Korengal valley.  Now I have a feeling that this is one of those films that is going to reinforce your opinions about that conflict regardless of what those opinions may be.  That said, watching that film, it was just very hard for me to understand how any good is going to come out of this.

We had military leaders speaking with the Afghan people in a way that military leaders talk to their subordinates.  Now I don’t think that is really surprising for people used to the military culture to speak that way, but they need to understand that the Afghans don’t have to ask “how high?” when they say “jump”.  We had our folks promising the Afghan elders big money if only we could get the chance to build this road for them.  The elders just appeared bewildered and confused.  We had the U.S. army arresting people because they gave one of our guys a “bad feeling”.  We had a bombing that killed and injured children.  Then we had our military heads attempt to apologize for that, but instead it comes out in the most backhanded way possible (we are SO sorry that because you hang out near bad guys, you made us kill your kids).

We killed one of their cows (during the credits it was revealed that this claim was legit).  The elders simply asked to be reimbursed for the fair market value for the cow.  Not an unreasonable request, right?  So the amount they ask for is about the equivalent of $500 U.S. dollars.  Once again, not unreasonable at all, right?  But somehow in a war that has cost the U.S. over $377 billion dollars, the upper leadership (the on-the-ground leader did call this one up for authorization) did not think we could afford to pay these men $500 for a cow.  So what was the counter offer?  Beans.  That’s right.  Not money.  Beans.  For some reason, the elders didn’t find this acceptable.  And this is how we are going to win “hearts and minds”?

We had grown men with pure fear on their face.  We had grown men bawling like babies.  And we had people die.  I watch this film and I can’t believe we have allowed ourselves to get into such a no-win position.  I can’t believe Obama is keeping us there.  If the Afghan people want a democracy (and I’m not sure they do), then they are going to have to do it.  It can’t be done for them by an invader.

At least that’s my uneducated opinion.

(Note:  PoliticalMonkey 2010 currently resides in Egypt.  Visit her blog for a first-hand account of what’s going on during this historic event.)


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