April 18, 2011
NYT: Utter bollocks on US role in Arab uprisings
On the road at present, I ran into this article last week, in which the NYT makes the claim that U.S.-Financed Groups Had Supporting Role in Arab Uprisings something that I think is complete and utter bollocks. First, American democracy activist groups, financed by US Gov, have not been allowed in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab '48 for literally decades. It is thus bizarre to go looking for American parentages to a phenomena that was and is entirely domestic. The article itself focuses on Egypt and Bahrain and an individual in Yemen... And to my read given what I have seen on the ground is a bunch of special pleading / spin by the "development community" to claim credit where little is due. I suppose in Egypt some tangential credit might be granted, but there seems little evidence of this:
But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.Again, as the Tunisians took the lead, but did not "benefit" as such from this kind of American "assistance" I am quite dubious that training by Americans in campaigning, organizing or the like has any substantive impact. Of course Key Leaders is a fine weasel phrase that could be given almost any meaning.
I'd rather say the real article is more about how people like this:
“We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington-based advocacy and research group. “That training did play a role in what ultimately happened, but it was their revolution. We didn’t start it.”Are trying to obtain post-facto credit for things that they in fact had fuck all to do with.
As for the article's emphasis on the various governments being sensitive to and in fact hostile to American funding of political groups, well.... what bloody government on the planet including the US of A looks kindly on outside governments giving funding to political groups? Certainly not the US government, nor any W. European governments I can think of. I mean really it is pretty bloody simple.
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Reading the article, there is very little "there" there. Just general old regime anger over internal interference, recitals of what programs exist, and just one named activist reporting basically picking up some good tips at a meeting. Seems to be very very loosely tied. Just a way to claim credit where it isn't due, to justify further funding.
Posted by: matthew h at April 19, 2011 09:33 AM
"The fly sat upon the axle of the chariot-wheel and said, 'What a dust do I raise!'" -- Aesop
Posted by: svend at April 19, 2011 01:04 PM