by Mark Scheinbaum
Angel Fire, N.M.
February 4, 2011
GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME VODAFONE
ANGEL FIRE, N.M., Feb. 4, 2011 -- Anti-government protestors in Cairo have learned that freedom is not free.
We have been here before.
We have seen the Tiananman Square which few Chinese have ever seen or known about or understand. Their government has made sure of that. My parents saw it in news from Budapest in 1956. We support your efforts but don't expect us to help you. As a young man I saw the dispatches from Prague in 1968. Demonstrate and die.
All revolutions are not velvet.
With foreign reporters muzzled or snuffed, Hosni Mubarak's thugs will likely ask the military to put up or shut up. Or rather to raise their weapons from the rooftops of museums and hotels, or face court martial and execution.
How many demonstrators buoyed a week ago by iPhones, pop music, Tunisia, and the government's disruption of Vodafone cellular service, will be in Liberation Square when the soldiers open fire?
Will the massacre be a dozen young people in predawn hours?
Will the massacre be a stealth mortar from afar, like four dozen students killed after class in Tuzla?
Or, perhaps, will the sweep of machine guns destroy hundreds or thousands of lives after prayers as citizens leave their mosques on a Friday like today?
In other societies in other times there were NCOs and junior officers ready to take a rogue division or company to the palace. With bravado and tanks, from left or right, a Batista wins or an Allende dies. With coalitions of intrigue and Machiavellian marauders, a Marcos or Duvalier sneaks away or a Shah flees for his life.
Some political scientists, including those who write about oligarchies talk about some dictators being "benevolent despots." They love the people and at least for a while it seems like a majority or plurality of the people love them. This works until a Trujillo or Noriega or Amin is under the gun, literally and figuratively, and then the Emperor's New Clothes turn out to be a flimsy Speedo.
The concerts and exchange programs, the roads and schools, the trade missions and new movie theatres are placed on hold.
As the Castros or Nassers ride to power, departing regimes have only one job: keep yourself in power at all costs.
Mubarak has only one focus: concentrate all remaining power and favors and past bribes and blackmails to keep myself in power.
It is not just the Levant, the news media, the Egyptian people, and equity markets which await the outcome of the struggle in Cairo.
Also waiting like a John with a roll of C-notes in his pocket on the Las Vegas Strip are the Realtors.
Things have been slow from Hugo Chavez and Saddam Husseinland. They are waiting in Boca Raton and Beverly Hills, in Barclay Square and Barcelona, and in Zermatt and Zolfo Springs. There are condos to be bought, a Lexi to be leased, and blondes to be bought. Cairo's exeunt omnes (everybody leave) is someone else's windfall.
So, unless there is a cadre of young idealists to run to the forest and fight the Nazis, or a squadron of earth-bound kamikazes to throw Molotov cocktails down a tank hatch, the Egyptian Revolt of 2011 will not even make the first 10 minutes on the evening news two months from now.
Katie and Brian and Anderson, et alii, will head back to Tucson or Washington or Fort Hood or London.
Then, it will be the neckline and jewels of a prince and princess, not the blood on a student's shirt that will captivate the world.