American Elephants

The Egyptian Protestors. by The Elephant's Child

Egypt. David Pryce-Jones, author of The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs, writes of the moment in history when things could turn out in more ways than one, and the decisions of a few people settle the fate of millions for years to come.

Crowds all over the Arab world are protesting against the authority under which they live. Like the French before 1789 or Russians before 1917, they want to be rid of their rulers, knowing them to be brutal and corrupt, as indeed they are. Pretty well every Middle East expert and pundit, and certainly the man with the microphone in Tahrir Square in Cairo, supports the protesters without the least reservation. These Westerners all take it for granted that the protesters share their understanding of freedom and democracy, and once they are rid of the brutal and corrupt rulers all will be fine, and Arab societies will be just like ours.

This is evidently President Obama’s assumption. Famous as an anti-colonialist and openly contemptuous of the British for the way they used to order people about, he nonetheless sends an envoy to instruct President Mubarak peremptorily to leave office and start a process of “orderly transition.” He is taking it upon himself to arrange the government of another country. Never mind the hypocrisy, this is as imperious as anything the British ever did.

Pundits assume that the protesters want the same democracy and freedom that we espouse.  But not so fast.  There is much that we do not understand. and the reporters on the scene are learning that Egyptians do not necessarily assume that we are on their side.  Here is some worthwhile reading to help in grasping the problems:

Spengler writes of “Food and failed Arab states” for the Asia Times:  “Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, beholden to foreign providers for nearly half its total food consumption.  Half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day.  Food comprises almost half the country’s consumer price index, and much more than half of spending for the poorer half of the country.  This will get worse, not better.”  The uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia were not food riots, only in Jordan have demonstrators made food the main issue.  But the jump in food prices “is the wheat-stalk that broke the camel’s back.”

Bernard Lewis is the dean of Middle East historians. Many regard a familiarity with his books, articles and ideas indispensable to understanding the Middle East.  Jay Nordlinger of National Review relays a telephone conversation from the Middle East.  “The fact that this regime,” the Mubarak regime, “has good relations with the United States and Israel only seems to discredit the idea of good relations with the United States and Israel.”

“At the moment, the general perception, in much of the Middle East, is that the United States is an unreliable friend and a harmless enemy. I think we want to give the exact opposite impression:” one of being a reliable friend and a dangerous enemy. “That is the way to be perceived.”

Hernando de Soto, Peruvian economist and the celebrated author of The Mystery of Capital and The Other Path and is president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy based in Lima. He has been a tireless advocate for private property.  More than 90% of Egyptians hold their property without legal title.  They thus cannot borrow, build wealth or establish a business. Egypt’s underground economy is the nation’s biggest employer.

92% of Egyptians hold their real estate without normal legal title.  De Soto estimates the value of all the extralegal businesses and property, rural as well as urban, to be $248 billion — “30 times greater than the market value of the companies registered on the Cairo Stock Exchange and 55 times greater than the value of foreign direct investment in Egypt  since Napoleon invaded — including the financing of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam.”  In today’s dollars these same extralegal assets would be more than $400 billion.

Christina Aguilera = Frank Dreben? by American Elephant
February 6, 2011, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Humor, Music, News, Pop Culture, Sports, Television | Tags: , , ,

The saddest part? Only one of them did it on purpose:

Exit question: why was Aguilera surrounded by a bunch of French flags?

Happy Birthday President Reagan! by American Elephant
February 6, 2011, 6:41 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Freedom, History, News, Politics, The Constitution | Tags: , ,

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