Occasional snapshots of objects hazily passing through my brain.
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Whosoever contracts with violent means for whatever ends—and every politician does—is exposed to its specific consequences. This holds especially for the crusader, religious and revolutionary alike. Let us confidently take the present as an example. He who wants to establish absolute justice on earth by force requires a following, a human ‘machine.’ He must hold out the necessary internal and external premiums, heavenly or worldly reward, to this ‘machine’ or else the machine will not function. Under the conditions of the modern class struggle, the internal premiums consist of the satisfying of hatred and the craving for revenge; above all, resentment and the need for pseudo-ethical self-righteousness: the opponents must be slandered and accused of heresy. The external rewards are adventure, victory, booty, power, and spoils. The leader and his success are completely dependent upon the functioning of his machine and hence not on his own motives. Therefore he also depends upon whether or not the premiums can be permanently granted to the following, that is, to the Red Guard, the informers, the agitators, whom he needs. What he actually attains under the conditions of his work is therefore not in his hand, but is prescribed to him by the following’s motives, which, if viewed ethically, are predominantly base. The following can be harnessed only so long as an honest belief in his person and his cause inspires at least part of the following, probably never on earth even the majority. This belief, even when subjectively sincere, is in a very great number of cases really no more than an ethical ‘legitimation of cravings for revenge, power, booty, and spoils. We shall not be deceived about this by verbiage; the materialist interpretation of history is no cab to be taken at will; it does not stop short of the promoters of revolutions. Emotional revolutionism is followed by the traditionalist routine of everyday life; the crusading leader and the faith itself fade away, or, what is even more effective, the faith becomes part of the conventional phraseology of political Philistines and banausic technicians. This development is especially rapid with struggles of faith because they are usually led or inspired by genuine leaders, that is, prophets of revolution. For here, as with every leader’s machine, one of the conditions for success is the depersonalization and routinization, in short, the psychic proletarianization, in the interests of discipline. After coming to power the following of a crusader usually degenerates very easily into a quite common stratum of spoilsmen.
What it all means is that we may now be at a historic turning point in the Arab Spring—what is effectively the end of it, at least for now. Assad, says Syria expert Joshua Landis, is surely taking on board the lessons of the last few weeks: If the United States wasn’t going to intervene or even protest very loudly over the killing of mildly radical Muslim Brotherhood supporters, it’s certainly not going to take a firmer hand against Assad’s slaughter of even more radical anti-U.S. groups. “With a thousand people dead or close to it, and America still debating whether to cut off aid, and how and when, that’s got to give comfort to Assad,” says Landis, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. “The Egyptians brushed off the United States and said…. Well, we don’t want to end up like Syria. And America blinked. And Israel and the Gulf states were in there telling them to hit the protesters hard.”
What began, in the U.S. interpretation, as an inspiring drive for democracy and freedom from dictators and public corruption has now become, for Washington, a coldly realpolitik calculation. As the Obama administration sees it, the military in Egypt is doing the dirty work of confronting radical political Islam, if harshly. In Syria, the main antagonists are both declared enemies of the United States, with Bashar al-Assad and Iran-supported Hezbollah aligning against al-Qaida-linked Islamist militias. Why shouldn’t Washington’s policy be to allow them to engage each other, thinning the ranks of each?
Mr Hague said what is happening now in the Middle East was “the most important event so far of the 21st century, even compared to the financial crisis we have been through and its impact on world affairs”.
"I think it will take years, maybe decades, to play out, and through that we have to keep our nerve in clearly supporting democracy, democratic institutions, promoting dialogue and there will be many setbacks in doing that and we should be surprised when they take place."
Unarmed Protester getting shot in Egypt @ 0:40
The footage was uploaded to YouTube and appears to have been shot on August 16. The caption reads “The army shoots on peaceful protesters in Ismailyia”—a city in northeastern Egypt.
Beyond that, context for the footage was thin. An NBC News reporter tweeted that the news agency Storyful had confirmed the video’s veracity. A second YouTube video of the shooting, taken from a different angle, was also posted to YouTube.
Ethiopia, though ignored and even scorned for the past two centuries, is the source of 80% of the Nile’s waters and now intends to impose its own vision for the river and a different division of its waters. Egypt, having been the dominant power in the region for 200 years, is still reeling from recent political upheavals, economic weakness and the interruption of its development — all of which reduce it to the status of one Nile state among many, without the capacity for action.
China’s arrival in the region has freed Ethiopia from having to observe conditions imposed by the US and international financial institutions, including the need to seek agreement from all the countries with territorial water rights — especially Egypt — before receiving funding for major hydraulic projects on the river and its Ethiopian sources.
The conflict has become so entrenched that the country appears ungovernable, and an intense struggle for Egypt’s very identity has emerged. One side believes that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to force its beliefs onto the country. The Islamists accuse the liberals of seeking to do the same.
[…] The atmosphere has become so heated that people have begun demanding that perfect strangers show their colors. Clothes are interpreted to determine who belongs to which camp. Bearded men are presumed to be followers of Morsi, whereas women in T-shirts are immediately branded as being pro-military. Scuffles have become more common.
This is a typical dialogue between a patriarchal husband and a hysterical wife, you know. The wife complains, of course in a confused way, and the standard male chauvinist answer is, “say clearly what do you want?” This is of course oppression at its purest. It means “either shut up or formulate it in my terms.
This lecture assesses the extent to which the sharp spikes in global food prices, which occurred in 2007/08 and 2010/11, contributed to the political unrest which swept the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the end of 2010 and the first half of 2011. This political unrest has been referred to as the “Arab Spring” and the lecture argues that although the Arab Spring has been referred to in the Western media as a predominantly politically-motivated uprising against autocratic incumbent regimes, there were important socio-economic underpinnings to the uprising. One such important factor was increasing food prices in many countries of the MENA region. The result of rising food prices, along with other socio-economic factors, such as high levels of unemployment, especially amongst educated youth, was a steady increase in the cost of living and an erosion of living standards. Many incumbent regimes in MENA had for decades maintained their legitimacy via an implicit social contract, whereby the regimes offered cheap subsidised food, housing, utilities and fuel along with guaranteed employment in a bloated public sector in exchange for political loyalty. Sharp rises in domestic food prices from 2007 onwards contributed to an unravelling of this social contract such that citizens in the region were no longer willing to tolerate repressive and autocratic governments. The rise in domestic food prices was linked to global food price increases and is a reflection of the food security status of the MENA region, whereby most countries in the region are heavily dependent on imported food. As a result of the role played by food prices in creating political unrest, many countries in the region are now reappraising their food security strategies in an attempt to place less reliance on global food markets.
Over the past few months there have been negotiations with Ethiopia by Egypt’s interim government on the proposed Renaissance Dam project, tension on the Nile seems to be growing, with Egypt demanding it does not lose any of its colonial era water rights, while upstream nations like Ethiopia are telling Cairo they deserve more access to the world’s largest river.
Only a few years ago, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) was celebrating its 10 years in existence in Alexandria. All the major players were present, from World Bank officials to water ministers across the region. The result from that optimistic meeting has been near disastrous, with a smaller spin-off movement growing among upstream nations that Egypt says threatens their very ability to deliver water to their citizens.
They claim “national security” as the prime reason or their opposition to any real negotiations for water. Part of that is true. Egypt is growing at a rapid pace, with the population expected to reach 120 million by 2025, according to the United Nations Population Fund. But the reality is Egypt must negotiate and change its ways over Nile water, or East Africa could become embroiled in a water war of unprecedented character.
Egypt’s doomsday scenarios to justify its dominance of the Nile’s water may be real, but the sad fact is too many Egyptians suffer water shortages today, on a daily basis. Not in the five years that the Egyptian government claims.