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Friday, March 25, 2011

Great (Terrible) Things Afoot-Tunisia, Eygpt, Libya, and Japan

I've been remiss.  The world is changing irrevocably, and I've been snowed in with work.  My own world is changing irrevocably too, in two more months.

I am no foreign affairs expert.  I've never been a fan of "America, Fuck Yeah".  I was taught that democracy as an institution is the result of a million little movements, works of great literature that catch fire to the imagination, protests that span a dozen years, standing on the backs of a hundred years of humanism.  And I don't want to be part of the noise chamber either.  It is not my place, particularly as someone who knows so little about the history of these places.  I wish them the best of luck.
Of course, on a personal level, it was pretty exciting to witness history.  We're all cynics these days.  I am trying not to be cynical.  I have great hope, even if my parents and friends do not.  I cannot muster the enthusiasm that Rachel Maddow has, putting these moments on the Brokaw shelf.  But, why not, at these moments, I must rise above cynicism and embrace my inner Ravingleftatic.  It is not about the democracy that they might have, it is that they threw off the shackles of autocracy.  And it is not about who makes it to the finish line, but about how the race was won and whether or not we were proud of the participants.  And we are.  Peaceful regime change is possible.  And, I think some credit is due to Hosni Mubarak who should be commended for allowing it to happen.

After all, Libya was not so fortunate.  Here is an interesting case.  Long before America, NATO and the U.N. got involved, I had one question:  "how did these rebels get armed to the teeth in such a short time?"  How did they manage to take whole cities in a few short days?  I haven't seen any news on that--though I'm a bit behind in my news watching.  Either way, I am now getting another scaley, crusty taste in my mouth about Libya.  Why won't it be another Iraq, another Afghanistan?  What's to prevent that?  Eliot Spitzer, a man whose politics I greatly respect, was very much in favor of aid.  But if my optimism for Eygpt and Tunisia is shadowed by my cynicism, my hope for Libya is completely eclipsed by it.  Who are these rebels? 

Obama is a man playing a quadruple layer church organ, or juggling dozens of flaming balls of fire.  2011 makes Bush's wars seem like a walk in the park.  A gristly attenuated and incompetent walk in the park, but the world through Bush's eyes was much simpler.  For him, and for us as his constituents, Bush's wars were a little like a rodent running through a maze, the maze might be complicated, but still only two options exist, move forward or step back.  In 2011, Obama is free falling at 40,000 feet, flying through rings and conducting aerial acrobatics the likes of which no American statesman has ever seen.

At least we're all so busy with the drama that we're not focusing on the economy.  If there's a regime change every month for the next six, we could have this election licked.

And last, of course, Japan.  My gf recently came back from Japan.  There are no words, and no point trying.  I read an article yesterday about the 50 or so workers in the nuclear plants.  Who have sacrificed their lives for a slow and painful death that could take years, to save their country from nuclear meltdown.  Such sacrifice is epic, and speaks volumes about the Japanese people.  A sacrifice of this magnitude really creates something.  It engenders purpose and possibility, and hope.  Maybe it will be Japan that leads us to the next economic miracle.  Regardless, all the Ravingleftatics hope and pray for the families effected by the tragedy.

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