Written on: 2. 11. 2011 in the category: news

A sinister spring takes hold after a despicable fall

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If you reduce the morality of international affairs to the politically convenient intervention against the bad guys just as they’re losing power, then I suppose there is good reason to cheer events in Libya and the Middle East generally. To be sure, Gaddafi was a thoroughly evil man, and he should have been dealt with, by international fiat, once Lockerbie was shown to be his work. NATO should simply have overthrown him.

But of course it didn’t, according to the bizarre rites and rules of the UN, which for decades allowed the world to be held to murderous ransom by men such as Gaddafi, Assad and Saddam Hussein. Yet such indulgence was part and parcel of the perverse bipolar global order, post 1945: evil men were allowed to run their states into ruination on grounds of “national sovereignty”, even while they were subverting the national sovereignty of others. Only the invasion of a neighbour was outlawed.

However, we no longer have that priggishly hypocritical but at least vaguely comprehensible set of rules. In the utterly bizarre moral ethos of the 21st century, the UN has apparently authorised democracies to intervene in failing despotisms, provided the context is an Islamic insurgency, as in Libya. So watch affairs closely over the coming months — and not just in Libya, but in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Jordan. An entire region is being given access to democracy, of a sort, for the first time: and guess what? They’re probably not going to behave as if it’s Kansas. Sooner or later, it’ll probably be one man, one vote, one time, and after that, at the very best, it will be democracy, Iranian-style, with a mullah-selected list of candidates.

And not just for a decade or two. For it is, as we now know, possible to get rid of a secular tyrant in a Muslim country — creatures like Assad, Hussein, Mubarak and Ben Ali of Tunisia. But as for deposing a religiously Islamic tyrant in a Muslim country, one who has the backing of the imams and the mullahs, well, it just doesn’t happen, does it? Iran has been an Islamic despotism for as long as Stalin ruled the USSR, and its theocracy shows no signs of failing. And the only threat to the squalid house of Saud is from even more militant Muslims, not from Ryadh’s handful of secularists.

What I find perhaps most depressing about the events in the Middle East is the universal usage within the media of this absurd term “the Arab Spring”, complete with capital letter. If you see fire and call it water, or sand and you call it grass, you should not be surprised if you burn your mouth or your milk yields dry up. It was certainly not a sign of any springtime that Muammar Gaddafi and his son Muttasim were so shockingly murdered in cold blood. Nor was it especially spring-like for Libyan Islamists to have assassinated an anti-Gaddafi military commander whom they disliked, Abdel Fattah Younis. Nor, indeed, are the sectarian massacres and army suppression of the Coptic minority in “post-despotic” Egypt next door in any sense spring-like, with or without that tendentiously capitalised sibilant.

We should by now have learnt to dread revolutions of any kind, after the misery that they have brought to Cambodia, Iran and Afghanistan, roughly in the present generation, not to speak of the past glories of the people’s governments or Korea, China, Cuba and the USSR. What new Napoleon, Trotsky or Lenin is not now practising his bloodthirsty speeches before a cracked mirror in Cairo or Tripoli or Tunis, as he dreams of imposing his vision upon the hapless peoples of the region? Before the Great War destroyed the old world order, Stalin was a homeless tramp, Hitler a hungry and impoverished artist wheedling kopeks from travellers in Vienna railway station, and Mao an unwashed and smelly school-teacher with holes in his socks and a habit of ambling into class half-naked. These creatures were all dismal losers, nursing their secret dementias through the candlelit watches of the early hours: revolution enabled them to unleash their insanities upon entire societies. So see what happens next . . .

And yet how fascinating it is that the worthless Arab despotisms that have been overthrown by popular will have attracted not one iota of the contumely and loathing that Israel daily earns from the Western intelligentsia. Ah yes, all those splendid liberal academics who attended anti-Zionist congresses in Tripoli, where the lavishly supplied hospitality was probably within listening distance of the screams from Gaddafi’s torture chambers. But that’s all right, you see, because they’re Arabs, and Arabs live by different rules. As for the Jews of Israel, why, they’re a different kettle of fish. Look, we’re not anti-Semites — not a bit of it! Some of my best friends, et cetera — but we all know that by far the worst state in the region is Israel. Look at its Arab population, with equal franchise, and full democratic rights, with elected members in the Knesset and judges on the Supreme Court, and enjoying the highest standard of living of any Middle Eastern Arabs. What miseries must those unfortunates stoically endure!

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