Posted by: Aratus on Feb 23, 2011
It seems that the most common practiced maneuver of Middle Eastern armies is the Retweet Retreat; except Libya of course, because the Libyan army is not very well practiced.
Populations have a new voice and it is loud! So what now? Now everything changes!
It seems fitting somehow that the unheard, the down trodden and the oppressed have been the first to stumble on this mass tool for global witnessing, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have each played a vital part. News agencies have clamored to be heard above the social chatter of real participants, the 'jogging journalists'. And there has been so little political spin, no government dares take on the Big Bird, isn't that refreshing?
Well what are the implications? Are we going to see a rise in democratization? Is the Oil Curtain going to go the way of the Iron Curtain?
Perhaps, but I doubt very much that Islam will fall with it, any more than Communism fell with the Iron Curtain. Islam is 1500 years old, Communism is just over 100.
Nonetheless something fundamental has to shift, in fact something already has. The devastation in Christchurch was not caused by buildings falling, or by a shift under the earth. The real problem was the fault that allowed for the shift. The Oil Curtain revolution has not been caused by a shifting in the economy, the shift was caused by a fault further down.
Oil Economies are in trouble. Supply trouble has forced us to use it a little less; a marginally larger mining spread has taken away from Middle Eastern production (little things make big differences); and there is also competition from within the little oil kingdoms; Iraq for example is in production overdrive. Ali Khajavi of the Iranian Petroleum Ministry said in MEES in January that Iran will be a net energy importer in ten years if trends continue! Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia are already net oil importers and Yemen is not far behind. As oil producers become oil importers then what are they paying with? Unemployment and food costs are rising and the governments have less money to buy loyalty.
Now the reason why this is important is because there is no diplomatic solution. What we are witnessing in the Middle East and North Africa is an ancient political problem, a bad form of government running out of pretense. The problem has nothing to do with oil, its poor management, wasteful use of a resource by all of us, or lack of its production. The problem is one of worldview.
The real question is this: Is it possible to build (out of the existing Middle Eastern tribal ethos) a service industry, equal opportunities, real entrepreneurial incentives and some kind of unity and accountability for its leaders?
But I guess that is the same question in the West... just in case you were imagining that I thought that we had the answers. It reminds me of something I read recently:
"People respond to incentives, although not necessarily in ways that are predictable or manifest. Therefore, one of the most powerful laws in the universe is the law of unintended consequences."
-Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner in SuperFreakonomics
Perhaps it's true to say that Western economies have seen some success. Wilberforce and the Quakers with Thornton's economics successfully turned the tides for England. Again this was a worldview change with surprising consequences.
At any rate, whatever the consequences everything is about to change.
I doubt that Mark Zuckerburg intended to give oppressed Egyptians a voice with Facebook... now they are naming their children after his creation... Hmmm, Zuckerburg that's Jewish isn't it? My, the wonders of technology Arab children named after Jewish inventions.