Today’s New York Times talks of the Obama administration “groping for a plan to deal with an always-vexing region (the Middle East) that is now suddenly spinning in dangerous directions.” I should be getting used to it, but I’m not: the vexingly routine way that an entire region is dehumanized by calling it “vexing.” It’s taken me a long time to catch on to what those who say they are vexed by entire regions are really doing.
I’m also not used to the startlingly frank US acknowledgment that it has backed Egypt’s authoritarian repressive government for 30 years. Startling because for years the US has referred to Egypt’s ruler Hosni Mubarak only as a staunch ally and a pro-west reformer, the same words it uses for the criminals running the states of former Yugoslavia.
“So it is proceeding gingerly,” continues the piece, “balancing the democratic aspirations of young Arabs with cold-eyed strategic and commercial interests. That sometimes involves supporting autocratic and unpopular governments — which has turned many of those young people against the United States.” Translation: the United States’ cold-eyed interests come first, last and always. Democratic aspirations will always be opposed and destroyed if those interests are perceived to be threatened. However, the destruction will always be accompanied by pro-democracy words.
I’d be very surprised if the political leadership here moves one bit off the dime: pro-democracy words and speeches but actual support for authoritarian governments serving US interests. If those governments are oppressive, corrupt, criminal, so be it.
The essential way the United States political corporate military leadership sees other countries is not as a group of human beings, but as things that can serve the interests of the United States. If you doubt that this is so, try turning the tables: Think of little eccentric Kosovo describing the United States as an “always-vexing region that it is groping for a plan to deal with.” Notice how those words jolt your assumptions (and your awareness of your own self. ).