05 November 2013

What Osama bin Laden means

Ian Welsh's crackerjack post Bin Laden’s insights and the Egyptian Coup covers a lot of territory beyond what it says on the tin. Here's just a taste:

This critique is not just a critique from an Islamic perspective, it strikes to the heart of the West’s ostensible ethics, to the equality of all humans, to the right of self-determination, and even to the western theoretical preference for democracy. Democracy is a powerful idea, but bin Laden (and others) have observed that the West only believes in elections when the right people win. This was best on display when Hamas, in Palestine, won elections the US had insisted occur (over Israeli objections) and the US then backed a Fatah coup to make sure that Hamas did not take power. (Hamas later kicked Fatah out of Gaza, leading to the current divided rule of Palestine.) It doesn’t take a genius to see that this applies to the current Egyptian situation. Whatever one thinks of Morsi’s government, it was elected in what seem to have been fair elections.

So, if you play the West’s rules, if you win fair and square in elections, and the West doesn’t like who came to power, they will help undo the results of the elections. If you try and get rid of a regime you don’t like through violence, the West will support the regime, making it unlikely you will win, and if you do win despite all that, they will undermine or destroy your regime through economic sanctions. All that failing, as in Iraq, they may well invade.

The problem with this critique is that it is, substantially, accurate. Hate bin Laden or not, this is a model of the world which has predictive and analytical utility. It explains the past, it predicts the future, and it does both well ....

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