Thursday, February 03, 2011

armchair revolutionaries be careful what you wish for...,

The Independent | During a long hard winter, nothing warms the cold blood of the Western armchair revolutionary more than the sight of a bunch of attractive dark-skinned people out on the streets having a right old revolution. In a country where public schoolboys swinging on the Cenotaph passes as righteous insurrection, the sight of so many ordinary people protesting is understandably exhilarating. The recent 95-page report by Human Rights Watch, "Work on Him Until He Confesses": Impunity for Torture in Egypt, shows how the Mubarak government has consistently failed to investigate and prosecute police accused of the most vicious attacks. Whereas the only wounds one can imagine Charlie Gilmour sustaining would be if he fell off his pony and landed face down on that silver spoon he keeps secreted in his gob.

Nick Clegg has just popped up on breakfast TV gushing on about how "exciting" events in Egypt are, with all the wide-eyed wonder of a tweenager experiencing Bieber Fever. Even me, as an evil Zionist cheerleader – I find it hard not to cheer at the thought of Mubarak being toppled from his perch. This alleged friend of democracy and Israel has overseen a rotten time in the country he dictates to, during which persecution of Christians and silly slanders against Israel – the Zionist sharks of Sharm el Sheikh – have flourished.

It would be wonderful to think that what replaces Mubarak will be better. But here's the thing about Middle Eastern regimes: they're all vile. The ones that are "friendly" are vile and the ones that hate us are vile. Revolutions in the region have a habit of going horribly wrong, and this may well have something to do with the fact that Islam and democracy appear to find it difficult to co-exist for long.

It's hard to believe now, but I recall being 19 and delighted when the Iranian Revolution happened. As a good Communist kiddy, I'd grown up with my dad's fairly accurate horror stories of how SAVAK, the Shah's secret police, burned the arms off of opponents, leaving them as "human snakes". I remember how disgusted I was when Andy Warhol said "It bothers me that people are being tortured in Persia – but the Empress is a personal friend" as an excuse for hanging out with the Pahlavi family.

And now look at Iran. It's not strictly Middle Eastern, but its Islamism brings it into the orbit of the region, so much so that – naughty! – WikiLeaks recently revealed that certain Muslim countries actually want Israel to attack it and wipe out its nuclear potential. And its revolution has led to it being run by an even more vile regime than that of the late, unlamented Peacock Throne. As reported in this newspaper earlier this week, Iran now executes an average of one person every eight hours.