Thursday, February 3, 2011

What the Predators will do to retain their power

The news from Egypt just gets more painful to watch by the day.  What we are seeing is an incredible demonstration of human bravery / desperation in the face of bullies, thugs, and the rest of the assorted reptilians who can always be counted on to back an evil creature like Hosni Mubarak.

Bullies and thugs tend to win these conflicts--which is why actual human progress is so rare.  Even worse, the reptilians tend to destroy the economic potential of the peaceable types necessary for true development.  A thief can steal something of value, but because he has no idea how that thing of value came to be, stealing and corruption is a certain path to economic backwardness.

But while most of us are appropriately horrified watching the worst examples of humanity wound and kill the best, the War Nerd has penned a must-read instant classic on how quickly the "powerless" can relearn the tactics that have historically allowed to best to defend themselves and fight back.  Brecher is usually right about these things which is enough to give the rest of us some hope.  (I hope)

By Gary Brecher
While we wait for Egypt to finish cooking, there’s some great footage to watch. It may not be warfare as practiced by Lee and Grant, but it’s weirdly close to what urban combat must have been like before firearms. If you watch this clip from Al Jazeera—and let me say now, thank God, Allah or Odin, whoever, for Al Jazeera. Best network around, actual reporters on the ground in places other networks are too cheap or chicken to go.
What you’ll see in this clip is the quick transition from “peaceful demonstration” to urban warfare in Tahrir Square, the big zocalo in Cairo. Of course these transitions from “peaceful” to violence aren’t all that clear down at street level. Even before rocks start flying, you’ve got a huge crowd of young males screaming as loud as they can, pushing each other to do something. And in a place like Egypt, just standing out in the street facing the cops is doing something in a big way. You can die that way, like one demonstrator did in another video from Egypt. It’s a classic video. What it shows you is the answer to the question, “Who’d be the first to die of all the guys you know?” And the answer, unfortunately, is, “The bravest one, the one who really believes in what he’s doing.” That’s what you see here: this guy doesn’t notice that all his friends have slunk off, and he keeps flinging rocks at the cops. Then there’s one shot. He falls down with a bullet in his head. It’s funny, you know: you could make an argument against war from that, you could say that the first thing war does is weed all the bravest guys out of the gene pool. It would explain a lot, actually, like what happened to the Italians. Maybe the Romans just used up the brave ones.
You can’t help thinking of Ancient Rome when you watch this riot video from Cairo. What you see is humans re-learning the lessons of ancient warfare. And they do it in a matter of minutes! I swear, this video had me more upbeat about the species than I’ve been for a long time. It’s not that we’ve lost our edge, we’re just rusty.
We still know how to do it. First rule: mass wins. You get your side together and stay together. Second: deploy skirmishers. Those are the hotheads throwing rocks about 30 feet ahead of the main mob. They’re to provoke the enemy, absorb the enemy’s first counterstrike. It’s a suicide job, so it’s a favorite in the male age 12-20 demographic. more
Kassem weighs in here to describe just how many of Egypt's problems are rooted in weaknesses in their real economy and how similar the situation of the angry young man in Cairo resembles the desperate young man in, say, Akron Ohio.  And while we probably won't see a thug on the back of a camel charging peaceful protesters anytime soon in USA, it would be a huge mistake to assume our reptilians are any more enlightened than Egypt's.
When the Street Stands Up
Why Egyptians are Calling Obama the "Black Bush"
By SUZY KASSEM   February 2, 2011
Most of the world celebrated the advent of Obama as a beacon of hope for a new peaceful world. The Egyptians on the streets heralded him as a light messenger, and his visit to Cairo was the most talked about event since the coming of the last messiah. Even long after his post-election speeches to the nation, his ads ran on Egyptian television like a Mister Roger's episode for years -- reminding the world that real change was on its way.
As 2010 came to a close, that flicker of hope in the eye of the average Egyptian quickly faded, and any remaining optimism on the near horizon was replaced with simmering rage. The unemployed college graduate will sit at a café all day smoking a hookah – while watching the price of tomatoes from the cart dealer in front of his eyes inflate 400% in one day. This kid watching the world glide by in despair was once hopeful about his future. Now he sits on the sidelines of life watching suffering and desperation collide all around him.
His father earns six hundred pounds ($120) a month as an eye doctor. His sister is a professor of Linguistics at Alexandria University making $2000 a month, and his mother just returned from London for a heart surgery that wiped out the family's savings. He can't get married and meet the demands of marriage without a job, and he can't have a relationship with a woman without getting married. By the end of 2006, boredom and sexual frustration were the source of weekly rapes throughout the country and drug usage was at an all time high.
As an American of Egyptian heritage who left the U.S in 2006 to live in Egypt, I quickly discovered that the grievances I heard from my colleagues and the youth of America were no different than those of Egyptians. The common complaint amongst all voices was that of suffocation. Both regimes have the same review cards amongst the general population in both countries. However, the social , economic, and political landscapes of Egypt are more accelerated. What is happening in Egypt now, is an excellent forecaster of what is about to hit America. more

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