24 Feb 2011

Clarifying My Pacifist Views on the Collective Events in the Middle East

I am inclined to add "Pacifist" to my tag line. Yet, if you had asked me before this week, I would have been inclined to say I had no opinion.

Watching Civil War

The "domino effect" we have seen this year, a running commentary making 24hr news more like a dystopic thriller, has become both hyper real and surreal.

However, my refining of my own opinion has been shaped by this occurrence. It is an abomination to a utilitarian, to consider mass pain and suffering in countries, it appears to negate the greatest good, but that is simply me being risk averse when looking at society.

I disagree with the arms trade in principle, it is too great a risk. But arms is a global economy, and speculation has been made about how many arms the UK supplied to Gadaffi, and to Mubarack and to any other "regimes" that may fall in the next year.

But even though there is severe human rights abuse being reported, I am uncomfortable with the idea of invasion, conquering, putting right or which ever spin the army who does so chooses to use.

The danger to me is firstly, the political elements of war. We saw in Iraq, which the majority of people opposed, the political motivation superseding a social welfare need. The politicians may have claimed people's rights were a motivation, they may have sort justification in Sadam's oppression of the people, but the reality is our politicians were motivated by Oil. Or capitalism, as an overarching premise.

We now see horrendous abuses of human rights, far worse than Iraq, but not quite on a Polpot level, and information reveals that Libya is the largest exporter of crude oil in the world.

And, all of a sudden, the people who waxed lyrical philosophies of democracy about Egypt, but did very little, are travelling around the middle east, meeting with the UN and flying troops to Malta.

It's not a conspiracy theory, it's pure cynicism.

I abhor human rights violations, but ultimately, the idea of breaching morals with invasion and conquering, almost appals me more.

Ministry of Truth

There has been a subtle shifting in the nuance of the term "protest".

The word is defined as

1. To express strong objection.
2. To make an earnest avowal or affirmation.

However, the colloquial interpretation has shifted.

When students protested, older (and wiser) people compared them to those who protested over human rights in the 1960's. Pejoratively.

Now we see the true levels of protest in the Middle East, in this so called domino effect, as a ripple of democracy spreads and people challenge their autocratic leaders.

The changing of a word's meaning is frightening, and can create a pattern of emulation. Words take on new meanings in dialect, but those words then inspire actions, motivate and inspire people to embrace and utilise the new meanings of the words. If protest no longer means civil, if protest now means challenging oppression, what does that mean for protest in countries without oppression on such a grand scale?

Setting Up Custom and Practice

The person who set themselves on fire in Tunisia established the same act to commence the Egyptian revolution, and then in Libya, and Yemen and a handful more. While it is not a rule, it is logical to preclude all demonstrations with self harm to establish a point. Harm to myself is less important, is less severe, than a democracy for the nation.

By such a grandiose stance, there is an established baseline for any protest to be considered "seriously" in the future.

Now the TUC protests in March, what is the likely outcome?

We have already seen an escalation of activity by students and by #ukuncut; and an escalation of police tactics in response. A spate of arrests and civil cases.

What precedent does this set for UK protests in 2011? Especially with the Middle East providing a structure to follow.

Selling Arms

There are several things that strike me about Cameron selling arms in the Middle East at the moment. First, the inappropriateness of the act, second, his strategic intention and third, his sheer temerity.

When someone told me Cameron was touring the Middle East with arms dealers, I thought it was a joke. Of all the insensitive actions..!

It translates to protesters as "UK is supplying dictators with arms" and to alleged dictators "UK is supplying protesters with arms".

To countries not experiencing protests on this scale, the UK becomes a potential avenue of support. To countries outside of the middle east, they see the UK as a major player in a potential globalised war.

This is Cameron's motivation. And, quite simply, identifies exactly where he stands politically in the uprisings. Cameron appears to consider that if he shows part of his hand, he can buddy up with who ever invades and gets the oil returns once the country has been regimentalised to a format of democracy he preaches.

That makes him no better than Blair. An Amoral Opportunist.

Worse, is his attitude. He is not apologising. He is not defending his actions. He is sauntering out to the Middle East and saying, hey, look at the UK. This is, admittedly, a common Tory Trait.

In the coalition, we see the Lib Dems apologising, justifying and working to make up ground, while the Conservatives march ahead without so much as an apology for their actions.

This attitude implies a lack of responsibility. The Lib Dems identify with democracy, utilitarianism and the consequences of their actions. The Tories do not, and, especially in relation to the Middle East, is a concerning trait.

Moss on a Rolling Stone

People have asked for my opinion. When I read Libya was the largest exporter of crude oil, I predicted other countries would be sniffing around this like dogs around a bitch in heat. I was right.

However, I'm not Edgar Cacaye, but I would anticipate historians will not be able to see the start of what happens clearly. Rather like the cold war, we are in the midst of events of grave proportions, where things are escalating at such a rate and this is just a the beginning stage. Where it will end, I can't say, but I fear war and unfair treatment, and I would anticipate, reluctantly, we will see both in the next few years as a result of the protests in Tunisia.

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