“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world!” That has such people in it! Miranda in Tempest, Shakespeare
A group of the brightest young strategists at the State department in Washington spent the last 2 years devising a radical new strategy for the middle-east. In the end they concluded that more should be done “to present a more democratic face on autocratic leaders.”
The report was hailed by Hilary Clinton as the future of US middle-east policy. Doctorates were handed out, backs were slapped and the US was on course. Somewhere in Tunisia, events were going to change the world forever.
Farida Hamdi, a 45-year old market inspector in Sid Bouzid, Tunisia kissed her husband goodbye and headed for work unaware that she was just about to change history. She is one of those accidental heroes of history who act as unwitting agents of change. Mohammed Bouazizi was an unemployed despite having a degree, he scratched a living selling tomatoes and refused to pay a bribe. Farida proceeded to confiscate his scales and smash his tomatoes. Bouazizi then committed a shocking act of suicide, as he set himself on fire but he also set Arab world on fire.
So the report and strategy that the State department spent years writing, was instantly nullified by a market inspector, facebook and twitter. What has happened in Egypt is going to sweep every Arab nation before long. Mubarak is mortally wounded, the one benefit that these strong men provided USA was certainty and stability, they can no longer provide that. Democratic values cannot be sacrificed for stability now because there is no stability without democratic values. America has realized just how weak and fragile these strongmen are, like caste iron, the harder the more brittle.
Egypt is a nation that should be in the BRICS, it has the best strategic location, the Suez canal is a vital global trade route, it has fertile soil, it has natural gas, it has history and tourism, it is industrialized.
Yet since the Free Officers under Col. Nasser took over in 1952, Egypt has been held hostage to regional and global events, the cold war, the Arab-Israeli conflict, terrorism and Islamic extremism. Mubarak opted for stability, the country needed a new vision to match the Emirates in the region, 84 million people, mostly young, mostly poor = revolution.
When Mark Zuckerberg was named Time Magazine Person of the year for 2010, many saw the true significance of it. Now nations from USA to Kazakhstan are wondering what effects Facebook has on their national sovereignty. I don’t think facebook is doing anything new, it has just accelerated the process.
The invention of the printing press changed the world in 1440, soon ideas were being exchanged and travelling across the globe. Geographical limitations meant that the impact of the printing press was slow but it led to the renaissance and industrial revolution.
The internet is instant viral communication, the results are astounding in their speed but only reflect what is already there.