Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stupidity (or how do you make a bad situation ten times worse? Ask us here in the ‘developed’ West. We can give you chapter and verse, whether you like it or not)

There is a good case to be made that one can forgive most things except stupidity. Actually, there are one or two other things which one feels disinclined to forgive, a lack of charity being one, so that’s me set to be pilloried for another unforgivable trait, hypocrisy. But leave that for another time. Let me here ramble on about stupidity on a grand scale.

The overnight news is the action by the Egyptian army to clear one or two protest camps set up by protesters who support the ousted president Morsi and can’t, for the life of them, see the right in a democratically elected head of state being toppled. Between 150 and 2,000 folk are said to have died in the attacks by soldiers. That’s at least 150 too many.

Well, you might tell yourself from the comfort of your armchair, worse things have happened at sea, and, anyway, isn’t such violence quite commonplace in what is still regarded by many as the ‘underdeveloped world’? Good Lord, you might think, just the other day several hundred people were killed in Somalia, Syria, Brazil, Nigeria and other such insalubrious places. Surely it’s a way of life out there? Surely they rather expect to come home to find that dad, or their brother or their sister was in the wrong place at the wrong time and won’t be coming home tonight or, for that matter, for ever?

Perhaps you think I’m joking, but there are quite a few here in the ‘developed’ West, where a ‘tragedy’ is their flight being delayed by several hours and they didn’t get to summer holiday resort until a day after they were supposed to get there, who think just along such lines. I was once told, years ago, in all seriousness, that famine in East Africa wasn’t as bad for the East Africans as it was for us because ‘they were used to that kind of thing’. In a sense, what happened in Egypt yesterday was commonplace. Change channels and you can hear reports from Syria where equally horrible things are taking place.

What caught my attention was a report from Cairo on BBC radio news in which several Morsi supporters were interviewed. In broken English - it’s astonishing in this day and age how little English some chaps have - they vented their fury at Britain, the U.S. and the smug rest of them over their supine reaction to the toppling of Morsi a month ago and how there had not been a peep of protest at what was to any honest eyes an out-an-out coup.

One of them screamed - you rarely hear us here in the ‘developed’ West screaming, oh no, the most we might do is raise our voices a little, but then different strokes . . . - that we in the West had been lecturing the Arab states about how they must embrace democracy, but that when they did as they were bid and elected Morsi, there was rather a lot of muted tut-tutting. ‘When we said that your leader should be democratically elected, we didn’t actually mean that you should democratically elect a chap who would very much like his country to be run along more Islamic

Here’s a chap who will probably think twice the next time the West urges him to act democratically. ‘Is there,’ he’ll ask himself, ‘really that much point?’

principles, don’t you know.’ Then when the chap a majority of Egyptians did elect - and I’ll repeat, I have yet to hear anyone claim that the election last year was in any way rigged or otherwise unfair - was removed from power by an unholy alliance of the army and assorted metropolitans liberals, the silence of the West who are usually none too slow in condemning a military coup was deafening. You rather feel the guy’s frustration. And it doesn’t bode well for other Arab states taking the West seriously when we decided to lecture them, too.

It didn’t even seem to bother the us here in the West that Morsi was placed under house arrest and that a large number of Muslim Brotherhood members were locked up without charge. Not a peep of protest was heard from London, Washington, Paris or Berlin, let along Rome, Copenhagen, The Hague or Madrid. That was the first act of Western stupidity. It was, in fact, a lot more than just criminally stupid, but here I’ll just deal with the rancid, breathtaking stupidity.

Large numbers of Morsi supporters then set up their protest camps - a concept of a protest camp not unfamiliar here in the ‘developed’ West, and demanded that their man should be released and that the new government and the army should respect the results of last year’s election. Nothing much wrong with that, you might agree (that is if your armchair isn’t now far more comfortable and you’d far prefer to switch on

No, not Spain in 1936, but Egypt in 2013
the TV and watch Masterchef or Escape To The Country). But the Egyptian army did disagree, and yesterday they demonstrated how much they disagreed. Now, of course, the West is outraged as only the West can get outraged, and has been tut-tutting far into the night about it all. It’s wholly unacceptable, don’t you know. But, dear friends, the genie is out of the bottle.

Anyone who believes that the situation Egypt can somehow be resolved peacefully is living in cloud-cuckoo land. Among a great many of those who supported Morsi are those who have now had it with democracy, and when they are told that democracy is incompatible with the kind of state they would like to live in, one in which sharia law is observed rather more to the letter, they are inclined to tell us: OK, stuff democracy. But it needn’t have got to this stage. If only when the original coup took place the West had put its money where its mouth is and said ‘now hold on, chaps, this man Morsi was elected fair and square and you can’t just dump him like that, we would, at least, still have one leg to stand on. Now we have none.

. . .

The original charges against Morsi included that despite his promises to rule ‘for all the country’ he did nothing of the kind and merely promoted the ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he did absolutely fuck-all to improve the conditions of anyone. Well, that might well be true. And it might well be a load of cobblers. How can I tell? But in many countries of the ‘developed’ West similar charges are being made against an elected government.

Here in Britain the Left daily makes claims that the ‘Tory cuts’ are ‘costing lives’. So how come we don’t have a coup to get rid of Cameron? We don’t because it would be undemocratic. Which begs the question: if water is wet in Britain, is it not equally wet in Egypt? Apparently not. But now we have the mess. With exquisite timing the U.S. for what seems like the umpteenth time, has once again persuaded Israel and the various Palestinian factions to sit down and try to hammer out some kind of modus vivendi which will lead to a more peaceful, less unpleasant life all round.

Given that the Yanks didn’t come up with the idea last Friday and will have been painstakingly planning this for several months, didn’t it occur to any of the wise herberts in the State Department that giving the Egyptian army a wink and a nod to go ahead and launch a coup - for that is practically what the West’s supine attitude to the events boils down to - would go down like a pork sandwich at those Jewish/Muslim peace talks, especially from the Palestinian perspective? Apparently not.

As I say, one can forgive much except rank stupidity.

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