Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Uprisings--stage two

As the uprisings in Libya increase in intensity, offering a real possibility that the vicious Qaddafi regime may finally be toppled, the process of change in the Middle East and North Africa enters a new stage. Prior to Libya, the changes have been concentrated in countries aligned with the United States and the Western powers (Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain). However, Libya is certainly not like that, as the disgraceful release of the Libyan terrrorist who engineered the Lockerbie disaster emphasizes. Despite some gestures here and there, Qaddafi has generally adhered to the "antiimperialist" playbook, which involves sticking it to the West as much as possible.

Observers on the Left, a dwindling band, hold a curious binarism in this regard. They hold that what is holding up progress in the Third World (as it used to be called) is simply US imperialism, which encourages repression. If that could be ended, all would be copacetic. This view is clearly ridiculous, as such anti-US states as Iran, Syria, and Libya (not to mention North Korea and Burma) are clearly more ruthless than the lot we have favored in their suppression of opposition. In the view of their leaders, they need to be, because they are unable to play off the USSR against the West. The USSR no longer exists.

Rumor has it that Qaddafi will flee to Venezuela. This brings into question whether the trend can extend to the Americas. (I don't mean Wisconsin, which is a facile comparison.). Strictly speaking, Venezuela is not a dictatorship. It better fits the pattern set by Napoleon III in 19th-century France: that is, plebiscitarian authoritarianism.

To my mind, the most suitable country for such an uprising is Castro's Cuba, which has all the earmarks of "antiimperialist" autocracy. Like Egypt and Libya, it observes the principle of nepotism, where the ruler is scheduled to be replaced by a close relative. In the case of Cuba it is Fidel's brother Raul. That has already occurred--or has it? At all events, there are a number of significant similarities here. If the shoe fits . . .



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