Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bleeding Syria

Foreign Policy ran an article by Mitchell Prothero today that really bothered me. The article, which discusses the assasination of Syrian Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha and several other high-ranking Syrian government officials, is, in my view, too dismissive of the critiques of the Syrian rebels. While I have no love at all for the Assad regime, I wonder why it is so difficult to believe that a conflit that Prothero admits has "all the makings of a nasty sectarian conflict" would not signficantly serve the interests of al-Qaeda, which has thrived on sectrarian confict in Iraq elsehwhere.

While Prothero admits that the Syrian rebels are not "cuddly Ewoks," this almost comes as an afterthought. Recent events in Mali reveal that violent Islamism is a more serious problem for people living in the Muslim world itself than for people living in North America. But when it is not Westerners who are getting killed, it seems that it is much easier for us to be careless about who we support abroad. Shades of Afghanistan in the 1980s? Let us hope that we do not make the same mistake twice.

Pray for the people of Syria.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bankster's Paradise

Robert Scheer has a very interesting piece on the Libor banking scandal. This story is definitely one to watch.

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's The Matter With Egypt?

Samir Amin has a very good article explaining the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its relationship to the lumpenproletarianization of the country's population under neoliberalism. Amin makes some excellent observations linking neoliberal opposition to Third World industrial development with reactionary Islam and the foreign policy preferences of the United States, Israel, and the pro-Islamist Gulf states. Unfortunately, Amin does not go into greater detail as to why Hamdeen Sabahi of the Nasserist Dignity Party did not do better in the election, although Mr. Amin  indicates that many Egyptians are dependent on Islamist handouts and therfore tend to vote for Islamists in an Egyptian version of the so-called "macaroni politics" that typified elections in Southern Italy.

In a more general sense, Amin's piece provides additional evidence that social democracy/socialism is not likely to make headway in a country with a large population of marginal people who are either unemployed or underemployed, especially in the informal sector of the economy. Contrary to the claims of U.S. conservatives, socialism is not about handouts. Socialists do not favor mass unemployment or dependency upon welfare or private charity. Instead, full employment and industrial development have typically been cornerstones of socialist development strategy. The lesson we must learn from the Egyptian situation is that socialists must work to end the kind of economic marginalization that often leads to immorality, criminality, and reactionary politics.