Worry about world without transparency

One of the scariest concerns about this country’s backing of revolution abroad is the essential question of what comes next.

As far as Libya goes, we Americans are hopelessly naive about all the players in the game and what promises have been made by what forces to which players. We just don’t have any real information. If we have just helped to substitute one group of despots for another, we may be worse off once the dust settles.

We don’t know who is moving the pieces. We do know that the Central Intelligence Agency has been very busy. At least one congressman that I know believes that the U.S. may have become an empire, and that when you consider past empires that have had to support far-flung holdings, the prognosis is not very good. The big issue, of course, is transparency.

As I have said so many times, you can’t have a democracy unless you have information. If, for example, this is all about oil and steering money to giant corporations, celebration over the death of the despotic leaders is, as Marie Antoinette may have said, a ” giant frenzy of eating cake.”

No question that Moammar Gadhafi was not a great dude and that he had plundered his country and was certainly responsible for some very horrible atrocities. Judging by the way some of the revolutionaries have been behaving in the post-Gadhafi fall, we and our governmental-corporate agents may have substituted one bad actor for as yet unknown others. Would anyone out there be surprised if some of this turns out very badly?

Meanwhile, the gathering of the disaffected and often jobless continues at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. On its face this is a positive development, a testimonial to the way many of the 99 percent are reacting to the greed of some of the 1 percent who own so much of the country. When this kind of thing happened on a much larger scale in China, the tanks rolled in and brutally put a stop to rising democratic discontent. When the veterans of World War I gathered in Washington over promised bonuses, the effort was put down by people with names like MacArthur and Eisenhower. Put another way, things will be permitted to continue until someone or something is threatened to the point that force will be used. Anything that happens to any of the demonstrators will be recorded and instantly show up on Twitter and YouTube. Who needs monitors when every person with a smart phone becomes a journalist?

There have certainly been hints that if things get out of hand, force will be used. Of course, winter is coming on. Washington’s troops starved at Valley Forge and one can only wonder whether the nerve of the protestors will hold when the snow comes and the temperatures dip to way below freezing levels. In some ways, those in charge may see this as a sort of “controlled forest fire.” It offers an opportunity for discontent to be carefully managed. After all, if you read the first paragraph of this column, you will see that the U.S. is firmly committed to the development of democracy in other parts of the world. How would it look if a fairly benign group of people were subjected to forceful suppression in this country?

Finally, the seasons are changing, the birds will fly south and we will all be raking leaves. While macro-politics are at work across the globe, it sometimes comes down to each of us helping our neighbors. Acts of kindness and charity pay dividends not only for the receiver but for those who are doing good. There are many fine institutions in our region that can use your help as well as your money. As things get tighter, there will be more and more need for us to watch out for one another.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 10/22/11

 

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