Middle East

The Hillary Revolution

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Brendan O'Neill makes a good point about Tunisia:

Western governments…helped to keep Ben Ali in power for 23 years. Cheered as a loyal ally in Africa, a keen supporter of the 'war on terror', Tunisia under Ben Ali was backed by both Washington and Paris (the former colonial power). Ben Ali's regime received an estimated $350million in US military aid between 1987 and 2009. In 2009, following Ben Ali's re-election for the fifth time in a row with over 90 per cent of the vote, Abdul-Raouf Ayadi, vice-president of the banned outfit the Congress for Democracy, said: 'Western countries are backing the dictatorship in Tunisia and giving it financial and media support.' Tunisia shows that the last thing Africans need is Western interference; that only hampers their ability to take command of their affairs, by allowing the expedient desires of foreign governments to override the interests of African people.

Every Tunisian's favorite revolutionary guru.

The Weekly Standard nonetheless published a piece by Lee Smith over the weekend headlined "Did Hillary Clinton Help Bring Down Tunisia's Ben Ali?" The secretary of state, you see, had delivered a speech the day before the government fell, and her remarks included a few bland comments about the social problems of the Middle East. "It is worth wondering what Clinton's words might have indicated to both the regime and its opponents," Smith writes.

And you thought the "WikiLeaks revolution" narrative was a stretch. Well, at least he isn't attributing the uprising to Sarah Palin's target map.

Meanwhile, here's another comment from O'Neill's article that's worth highlighting:

many Western observers seem perturbed that the protests continued post-Ben Ali. It is striking that some reports shifted from describing the protests as a 'Jasmine revolution' to fretting over the potential 'slide into chaos'. One confused-sounding journalist reports that many of Tunisia's political classes had 'hoped that the toppling of Ben Ali would satisfy protesters'. The still-tense situation in the city of Tunis, where according to the BBC there are 'occasional skirmishes interspersed with scenes of celebration', is referred to as a 'post-uprising riddle'. But this is no riddle. These onlookers have simply failed to learn one of the key lessons of history, which is that when protesting groups of people get a sense of their own power, of their ability to shape events and mould history, they are likely to push further and harder, to seek to go beyond their initially fairly limited demands. In this sense, we should hope the protesting continues, and that the people of Tunisia wring as many democratic concessions as they can from their rulers.

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  1. The secretary of state, you see, had delivered a speech the day before the government fell, and her remarks included a few bland comments about the social problems of the Middle East.

    If you think that’s something, wait until you see how she can stop clocks ust by looking at them.

  2. She’s Ghandi in a pantsuit!

        1. Wow, I figured you’d just link to their biggest hit.

          1. Smooth Jams. The feckless pablum that you thought would get you laid in your youth.

    1. It’s Gandhi, dammit!

      1. I am Gumbi, dammit!

  3. Two things:

    1)

    “Tunisia shows that the last thing Africans need is Western interference; that only hampers their ability to take command of their affairs, by allowing the expedient desires of foreign governments to override the interests of African people.

    Contrary to what a lot of people since the Bush Administration seem to think, American foreign policy shouldn’t be run for the benefit Tunisia or the African people–it should only be run for the benefit of American interests and the American people.

    Sometimes those interests are the same. Sometimes they’re not. When supporting someone is in our interests, we do one thing; when supporting removing the same people from power isn’t in our interests, we don’t support them anymore.

    What’d you expect? That’s how we won the Cold War.

    2) Barack Obama doesn’t seem as worried about Clinton coming after him from the right as he should be.

    If I were Hillary Clinton, I’d watch the polls very carefully over the next six months. If things don’t improve dramatically for Obama over the next six months, Hillary could very easily present herself as the middle of the road choice–not as far left as Obama, but not the Tea Party either.

    The chattering classes are already starting to take her a lot more seriously, and Obama should keep a close eye on her. The biggest threat to his reelection may be hiding in plain sight.

    1. Why should she be taken more seriously? I find her most unimpressive as SoS, though, to be sure, she’s largely following the president’s lead (that’s her job).

      1. Nobody elected Obama because they were impressed with his resume. They voted him in because he wasn’t the Bush Administration.

        If Obama’s sinking with the center, Hillary can place herself left of the Tea Party–and right of center!!!

        Why wouldn’t she take advantage of that?

    2. How is supporting a murdering dictator with US taxpayer dollars in the interest of either Americans or Tunisians or the region?

      1. When it is in our best interests? It is in our best interest. …especially if the dictator we’re working with is working against our enemies.

        You’re not one of those people who thinks if Saudi Arabia were only a democracy, the Saudi Arabians would elect freedom loving, America embracing pacifists, are you?

        In my job? I sometimes have to cut deals with people I don’t particularly like–sometimes not very nice people–but if it’s in the best interest of my investors, I cut the deal anyway. That’s what smart people with their investors’ best interests at heart do.

        Life is a marginal analysis–we take it day by day. We do what we think is in our best interest, and when that changes? We do something different.

        I opposed the Iraq War–right on these pages here at Hit & Run–on pragmatic, realist grounds. I was sick of this bullcrap then, and I’m even sicker of it now…

        U.S. Foreign Policy is not to be run for the benefit of Tunisians or Iraqis or South Koreans or the Taiwanese or anybody else’s benefit either. And if any country in the world doesn’t like that we’re running our foreign policy in our own interests? Then maybe they should take that into consideration when they’re formulating their own foreign policy.

        Chances are people all over the world would appreciate it a lot more if we just minded our own business anyway.

        1. Since Americans come from everywhere else, I dont see a problem with poking the homeland.

          Uncle Sam’s here for a visit! You all got toilet paper yet?

    3. “Contrary to what a lot of people since the Bush Administration seem to think, American foreign policy shouldn’t be run for the benefit Tunisia or the African people–it should only be run for the benefit of American interests and the American people.”

      While realists certainly might suggest such a thing, it’s a little bit doublethink for a person who supports the idea of American exceptionalism (note: this doesn’t mean you, just hypothetical conservatives) to turn around and say that America should behave just like every other historical power rather than promoting human rights and liberal democracy (albeit not in such a way as to harm the American people).

      1. America used to be exceptional, back when it was a republic with a federal government of limited enumerated powers.

        When that was ashcanned, it lost any claim to exceptionalism.

        That said, I think American foreign policy should be driven by enlightened self-interest: what is in the long-term best interests of the US? That standard is biased, I believe, toward support of liberal (in the Olde Sense of the Worde) democracy rather than autocracy.

        1. Yes we have both ethical and utilitarian reasons for supporting the liberalization of the world.

          1. Not in every case.

            Not always.

            Again, Saudi Arabia anyone?

            I suspect if there were free and fair elections in Saudi Arabia, we’d see somebody in power who looked a lot more like Osama bin Laden and a lot less friendly than the current regime.

            So, a little OBL with a gun held to the head of the world oil market now is better than whatever feelings of resentment later?!

            I don’t think so.

            Again, we didn’t win the Cold War by only supporting the good guys. Terrorism isn’t gonna be any different. Anybody who’s willing to fight the terrorists…?

            I’m not saying there’s no nauseating factor, and I’m sure as hell not saying that we never made any mistakes during the Cold War. But we need to find people who will fight the communists terrorists wherever the terrorists are–and unless you want to go all Afghanistan on everywhere terrorists are, then you may have to pick from a list of choices without any optimal solutions.

            That’s life. Everything else is childish.

            In the meantime, please everyone stop saying that we should run our foreign policy in the interest of the Tunisians. It’s silly.

        2. Exactly, when these people are eventually free of these dictators we supported they are not going to look at us favorably.

          1. So what?!

            What is this? Facebook Diplomacy?! What are they gonna do–defriend us?

            Oh noes–they don’t like us! What will we do?!

            1. If you don’t care whether they like us, then why do you care if they elect somebody who doesn’t like us?

              Being bestest buds with dictators can be in our short-term self-interest, but in the long-term that dictator will eventually be gone, and when he is there will be a backlash. Taking the long view, being bestest buds with a dictator isn’t in our interest either, because eventually it will catch up with us.

              Enlightened self-interest would suggest that we do business with who is there when we need to do business, but we shouldn’t be propping him up either. I might buy from a local business because it’s in my interest to buy what he’s selling, but I don’t invest my reputation in keeping him around. If what I need to buy from him isn’t providing him enough revenue to hang on, well, that’s his problem, not mine.

              So, cautious relations when necessary, but don’t become a bad guy’s crutch. If you wouldn’t want Uncle Sam giving welfare to your good-for-nothing cousin, don’t give it to somebody’s good-for-nothing dictator either.

    4. Largely for those reasons, I never understood why she took the Sec. of State job to begin with. She could have set herself up to challenge Obama much better from the Capitol Hill than from Foggy Bottom. But nevertheless, she does have some opportunity as you outline to play the middle ground between a failing Obama and the crazy Tea Party. Also, she can play on the nostalgia for the 90’s and a return to “normal” or a return to the Clinton legacy, or whatever, which I think would play well with the largely frustrated middle.

      The problem is that while I think she could have a better shot in a general election where she would appeal to the large group of “moderates”, she’d have to first find a way to wrest the nomination away from a sitting president which would be hard to do without the hardcore left wing of the party.

      1. Nah. Every time someone broke ranks on the Dem side, the Obamanists would have blamed Hillary. Take the Palin smears, tweak them to fit Hillary and paint with broad brush. Instead she gets to be the loyal party member doing her thing to “help” Obama succeed — which he couldn’t do without the help of a heretofore absent benevolent God. By 2012 she’ll be the George HW Bush of the Democrats. Served well, lost a primary honorably, now its her turn. Assuming history doesn’t just take a giant dump on all of her plans, of course.

        1. Given the insanity on display by our Progressive friends in the last two years and their demands for complete Party loyalty, if Hillary breaks ranks, she could just as easily end up painted as a Blue Dog/Closet Tea Partier/racist/classist/Emanuel Goldstein with boobs/traitor to Barack.

      2. “Largely for those reasons, I never understood why she took the Sec. of State job to begin with.”

        If she hadn’t horsetraded for the job?

        Obama couldn’t have moved his campaign pitch to the middle from the Democrats grassroots, and he couldn’t have concentrated on the general election as quickly as he did. It’s hard to argue with success.

        If Hillary hadn’t horsetraded for the job? She’d be nobody now.

        Her only other notable achievements were as the First Lady.

        Can you imagine anybody voting Michelle Obama ten years from now?

        …now how ’bout if she were Secretary of State eight years from now?

    5. Contrary to what a lot of people since the Bush Administration seem to think, American foreign policy shouldn’t be run for the benefit Tunisia or the African people–it should only be run for the benefit of American interests and the American people.

      I would agree with this only insofar as it does not entail infringing on the rights of other people. I do not see why a nation-state should be any more entitled to violate the rights of others than Americans as individuals are.

      In addition to that, I do not see that supporting nasty governments in other countries really helps American interests. The evidence seems to be the opposite, with US support of the Shah being the prime example of how helping s tyrant severely damaged US foreign interests in the long run. (And if the Islamists ever overthrow Mubarak in Egypt, the relations with the new regime may make those with the Iranian theocracy seem tame.

      1. We lost what was left of our innocence during the Cold War. Then, at least, the threat we faced arguably justified some unpleasant associations and action. Maybe.

        Now, of course, we’re just wallowing in filth when we do such things. We shouldn’t jump into bed with any of these oppressive regimes, including China. It’s simply not necessary, and it was even less necessary in the decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

        1. I’d put a very heavy emphasis on the ‘maybe’, PL.

          While the US complained about it’s NATO allies “not carrying their weight” vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, they were at least willing and positive contributors to the pact.

          The Soviet Union’s ‘allies’ were always a net drag on its resources both in terms of the economic support they required and the fact that Russian forces stationed in those countries had to be garrison forces as well as outward facing threats. The Soviets always knew that, in the event of a hot war, their ‘allies’ would turn on them at the first sign of weakness.

          1. My maybe was based more on whether Soviet expansion was a real threat or not. I think it was in certain cases, but not necessarily in all of them.

            I agree completely that if a mostly nonnuclear war had broken out between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, it would’ve been all of NATO plus some against Russia and some parts of the Soviet Union. Most of Eastern Europe would’ve bailed out very quickly, I think. Ditto other client states like Cuba.

    6. American foreign policy shouldn’t be run for the benefit Tunisia or the African people–it should only be run for the benefit of American interests and the American people./i>

      +1

  4. Awesome ME journalist R. Fisk makes a similar point to Brendan’s weird Marxist Libertarian Weltanschauung about Tunisia:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/o…..86287.html

  5. Maybe the protesters/revolutionaries weren’t satisfied with
    “Meet the New Boss
    Same as the Old Boss”

    Five or more ministers from opposition parties resigned from Tunisia’s unity government on Tuesday, bowing to a wave of street protests against the cabinet’s domination by members of the ousted president’s ruling party and putting mounting pressure on his prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, to resign as well.

  6. Hillary can’t even board an airplane without making a fool out of herself, much less start a revolution.

  7. You liberoid assholes have more official enemies than Stalin did.

  8. i did stalin too

  9. When did Hillary ever look like that?

    1. When Hugo Chavez went long blond and put Crisco in his hair. That’s when.

    2. Don’t let the label fool ya. That’s Christopher Walken exploring his feminine side.

  10. If you like the Obamessiah, you are going to love Sun Queen Hillary.

  11. This is pretty hillarious.

    1. ahhhhahah
      Also, Didn’t know there was another derp.

      1. I shall be herp from now on then!

  12. I thought the Hillary Revolution was the scientific term for the female menstrual cycle…

    1. How dare you insult the Goddess!

      Blessed be.

      1. If only she was just Wiccan in a forest or Ft. Hood and not just plain Wicked…

  13. As in, “Rectal only posts on H&R when she is at the peak of her Hillary Revolution.”

    1. So every fucking day of the year?

      FUKC U BITCH I GOT !309 HITS TODAY GARARRRRRR LOOK AT MY BLOG

        1. It’s pretty classic manic-depressive cycling, really. Manic phase: “Look at me! LOOK AT ME!” Attention whore; Depressive phase” Power fantasies about having people banned. Throw in a little OCD over blog stats, the recurrent fantasy that she makes a living as a writer, and 99% probability she has a trumped up eating disorder… the man-repellent portrait is complete.

          She’ll never go away until she finds some skinny nerd, so lonely that his self-esteem is nil and his standards for female companionship so abyssal that he convinces himself he finds her attractive. She’ll fake a pregnancy to rope him into marriage (or, more terrifyingly, actually get herself pregnant), finally start taking her lithium on a regular basis, put on a hundred pounds and torture him for the rest of his sexless life as the colossal disaster he’s made of his life slowly, finally sinks in.

          1. So, what you’re saying is that we need to sacrifice Epi to make this stop?

            I’m down with that.

            1. Not skinny enough. We need a crippled soul of the sort only manga fandom can provide.

              1. We need a crippled soul of the sort only manga fandom can provide.

                Tony?

            2. Wait, rectal isn’t your wife?

              1. That’s beside the point. The important thing to take away here is that you need to take one for the team.

                Good luck. Were all counting on you.

                1. We’ll build you a statue, Epi. Right next to Warty’s.

  14. Let’s hope we don’t wake up to the “Islamic Republic of Tunisia” anytime soon.

    Then again I guess we’ll need something to do after Afghanistan plays out.

    1. Do they grow poppies in Tunisia?

      1. No, but they’ve got oil. Are we still doing that “Blood for Oil” business?

        1. Our interest in oil is secondary to our interest in stopping the proliferation of psychoactive drugs.

        2. We never were.

          1. I know we weren’t, but slogans are, like, totally cool and fun, amirite?

    2. Let’s hope we don’t wake up to the “Islamic Republic of Tunisia” anytime soon.

      Any reason I should care one way or the other?*

      *Barring, of course, a sort of abstract philosophic sadness if yet another country decides to release its inner barbarian and go full Muslim.

      1. Muslim? Nah, they should go back to worshiping Ba’al-Hamon.

  15. As a peaceful anarchist, I witness the harm done by my government at home. I’m inclined to think the harm it does abroad is harm squared.

  16. If I were running Tunisia now, I’d go back to its Phonetician roots, culturally and politically, and form a commercial and naval empire throughout the Mediterranean.

    1. ^ nice =) Let me know when the “Bull Jumping” festivals start!

      1. Carthage, my boy, Carthage.

        Its natural enemy should be, of course, Vatican City.

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