Category Archives: Egypt

The convenience of obedient dictatorships

2011-03-09 Wednesday
On my Swedish page Dagsnoteringar today I refer to a talk by Noam Chomsky, where he in the Q&A session touched upon the dictatorship in Egypt. The talk was given in 2010, i.e. long before the now ongoing uprising started, and he commented a press conference held by Barack Obama before the president’s travel to Egypt in 2009. Obama was asked whether he would raise any questions about the authoritarian regime in Egypt with his host, Mubarak. (Chomsky commented that the word “authoritarian” was more of a compliment to one of the most brutal dictatorships in the Arab world.)

According to Chomsky the president answered: “I don’t like to use labels for folks, so I will not call him authoritarian. In fact he is a force for stability and for good”. You may remember a similar comment (2011-02-26) by our foreign minister Carl Bildt, this time about Gaddafi of Libya. The guys from the smaller countries learn from the bigger chiefs!

One question Chomsky thinks that we should ask ourselves is how we might expect the Arab world to take seriously our harsh demands on (for instance) Iranian leaders to respect human rights, at the same time we treat much more horrible dictatorships with kid gloves. Of course he doesn’t find the very fact especially strange. Useful and obedient dictatorships are frequently well treated by western countries. But the blatant hypocrisy is nonetheless a disgrace for civilized and thinking people.


Egypt – the sudden democracy

2011-03-04 Friday
A cartoonist, Johan Jarnestad, hit the nail on the head in yesterdays Dagens Nyheter. Two people with cocktail glasses on the table are talking. The one to the other:

- Damn strange this thing with Egypt. In just about a week it first became a dictatorship and then a democracy.

The fact that Egypt was one of the harshest dictatorships in the world was formerly touched upon very lightly by politicians and media here. The same was the case for a large number of other repressive states all over the world. All critical emotions was saved for China, Cuba, North Korea, Belarus, Iran and to some extent Russia, who all of them were condemned in innumerable op-eds and political speeches.

These condemnations have been built solely on the lack of democracy and the disrespect for human rights in those countries. If we apply the most elementary logic to the contradictions embraced by these decent and revered persons, it’s impossible to find even a trace of coherence. It cannot possibly be about an honest interest in democracy or human rights. What is it then?

By being so blatantly hypocritical politicians and media have themselves opened the door for embarrassing speculations. The most obvious one is that dictators who look after our interests are good ones, irrespective of the brutality they exert, whilst for instance those who use state power to uphold egalitarian principles or provide education and health care for all are among the bad ones. Is this a coincidence? Good question!