Faster, Please!

Axis of Evil Again (or is it "still"?), And The Specter of Revolution

Obama’s getting kicked around from Lebanon to China, but nobody seems to notice the pattern. Why shouldn’t we think that the near-simultaneous attacks — China’s humiliation of Defense Secretary Bob Gates, and Hezbollah’s (that is to say, Iran’s) takedown of the Lebanese government — were coordinated? Or do you believe that the remarkable simultaneity of the events is sheer happenstance?

The two key bad actors — Iran and the People’s Republic of China — are known to be in cahoots. And Syria is one of Iran’s closest allies (some might say it’s a virtual Iranian colony). All three have strong reasons to demonstrate that the United States has opted out of the geopolitical game, or has been effectively stymied by the three. That message is a lot stronger when it’s sent in two separate theaters at the same time than if it has to be inferred from events spread out over weeks and months. It’s like the terrorist strategy of blowing up two targets in separate countries at the same hour, as they did to American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 or on occasion during the fighting in Iraq.

There is every reason to believe that we’re looking at the return of the axis of evil. These are not random events; they’re part of a global pattern aimed at our domination and ultimate destruction. If you read the articles linked above, you’ll find the same “message to the world” in both cases.

Lebanon:

Iran is signaling to the Obama administration, and to the West as a whole, that the main political developments in Lebanon are being decided today in Tehran and not in Washington. Failure to respond to this Iranian-sponsored provocation will only invite further adventurism on the part of the regime in Tehran elsewhere in the region, as it seeks to further establish its hegemony in the Middle East.

Iran, of course, with their unparalleled capacity for the big lie, blamed the United States and Israel for the Lebanese crisis.But they don’t fool anyone, with the possible exception of themselves….

And China:

As the Chinese like to say it was a “win-win” (or a win-win-win): embarrass the secretary of Defense, show the allies America’s impotence, and still have a summit that makes your president look good.

The authors are specialists, but if you asked them whether the two events look like peas in the global geopolitical pod, they would certainly say, “Hell, yes!”

That pod includes other menaces, from Russia to Venezuela, and the stern advice about Lebanon — “if you don’t do something to stop Iran in Lebanon, there’ll be hell to pay in the Middle East” — applies to the whole scene.  Evil is globalized, you know.

Meanwhile, life being full of surprises, we have an unexpected event in Tunisia, where one of the presumably most stable tyrannies in the region was overthrown by a popular insurrection.  As Josh Sharyar notes, this is a first in the Arab Middle East, and not at all what the “Arab street” was supposed to be about (that is, demanding the demolition of Israel). The overthrow of Ben Ali — who suggestively took refuge in Saudi Arabia — will likely have an immediate effect on the Iranian people, who will reason  that”if the Tunisians can do it, why can’t we?” And there are also very visible ripple effects in Jordan, Egypt, and Libya.  Authoritarian leaders don’t like it when others are deposed, because they fear these ripple effects. Just ask comrade Gorbachev.

So the axis of evil crowd, which was having so much fun just a few days back, suddenly has concerns about the specter of revolution. They are right to worry. They know their people don’t like them and would rather live in Beverly Hills than in their own towns and villages, and would rather be free than told what to do and what not to do. But we don’t have a good science of these things.  There aren’t any chairs of revolutionology in our universities. What are we to think? More importantly, what should we do?

The dynamics of revolution are a bit similar to a corporate startup. Most of them fail, and it’s hard to say what distinguishes the successful ones. As Professor Hegel used to say, we only understand events afterwards, hardly ever (Napoleon being his favorite example) at the time (and even Napoleon’s vision clouded on a battlefield against the Duke of Wellington).

So we don’t — and cannot — know what the future holds for Tunisia, Libya, and Jordan, nor for Iran, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Nor do we know (with the exception of Iran) what the world might look like if one or more of these regimes is overthrown. The family political philosopher, Grandma Mashe, reminded us “things are never so bad they can’t get worse.” We might end up with radical Islamist regimes in place of the tyrants currently in charge, as the Iranian Revolution of 1979 reminds us. Egypt, with its hyperactive Muslim Brotherhood, is famously vulnerable to that kind of unhappy development.

On the other hand, we are the only truly revolutionary country in the world, and — as Obama once unfortunately put it — whether we like it or not, our very existence inspires a lot of the desire for democratic revolution. Many, perhaps even most, of the people in the streets of those countries, are our greatest weapon against the jihadis.

So we should support the revolutionaries. Obama has praised the bravery of the Tunisians, and although he has cravenly refused to do the same for the Iranian people (who, after all, have been fighting tyranny longer, and have paid a far greater price in blood and torture than the Tunisians), logic demands that he now do so.  There is no convenient way for him to praise freedom fighters in one Middle East dictatorship and waffle in baffling generalizations elsewhere. Democratic revolution is ours, and we had best embrace it.

We should have done it a long time ago. Our enemies are organizing a global alliance against us. We might now be able to teach them a thing or two about revolution. Never mind hope.  Go for change.  Big change. As befits the traditions and passions of the American people.

Faster, Please.