Behaving Like a Middle Eastern Dictator

Anonyme, Domingo, Diciembre 11, 2011 - 07:37

Sudhama Ranganathan

Left: four male politicians shake hands. Right: picture of US protestor on his back, bleeding from a wound to the head.During the Arab Spring, we saw dictators and governments react a certain way to protesters calling for more say in their government. They first sent in police to order the protesters that occupied parks and plazas to move. They ordered and threatened that if they did not obey the protesters would be taken out by force. They gave those protesters in North Africa and the Middle East a deadline to move and threatened that if they did not by a certain date the forced removal mentioned would commence. They were told that if they regrouped afterwards they'd face stiffer penalties.

They refused. The protesters in North Africa and the Middle East starting at the end of 2010 and some continuing through to today, have chosen to stay put. They gave not an inch and if and when cleared out they re-grouped. That's how the movement progressed. That's how the movement gained strength, that's how it gained momentum and support. By staying put internally and keeping that flame going they made sure they would not be broken.

They needed the changes. They wanted the changes. They refused to stand down when dictators said, “your protests are bad for our city, your protests do not represent what we are as a community, your protests are not what we need right now.”

For those protesters knew better. They knew there never was a better time. They were being taken advantage of. Even their news media were against what they were doing and would couch anti-protest messages into their broadcasts by running the government line with leading questions to government officials like mayors, police chiefs, various government representatives and members of the ruling administration of the respective countries.

In those interviews they would say things like “people apparently don't agree with what the protesters are doing in the parks and plazas” and “we know this can't last as the government will crackdown on these fringe protesters.” They would interview people the government sent in to act as ordinary people on the street to say things like, “I don't agree with the protesters” and “they are bad for our country” or “I'm not sure what they want or what their message is.”

They would put forth false statistics to try and sway a public mostly in support of the protesters to turn and side with the government. The government would send in undercover operatives to those protests in the Middle East to start trouble as the protesters occupying the parks and plazas were intent on staying non-violent. These government operatives would throw bottles, rocks, bricks, fire guns, agitate the police so that there would be violence and it could be blamed on the protesters in the media. (If it were in America it would be like say today a modern version of the guy with wild blond hair and a camouflage jacket standing behind Ron Kovic at the 1972 Republican Convention who turned out to be an undercover cop. Perhaps today he would have a modern updated look maybe with spiky hair and multiple facial piercings to throw the dogs off the scent and a camera to help shape and simultaneously ruin the message. Say during the Portland protests maybe.)

By using these undercover operatives in the respective nations in the Middle Eastern and North African there could be broadcasts not only in the media in the country where the protests occurred, but also outside country in question that excused the violence of the government in forcing out people who just wanted a say. There they could claim asking for more of a say over their own lives free from corrupt powers in a non-violent manner was not what the protesters wanted, or make the coverage more about the 2 or 3 violent protesters (government operatives) as opposed to the mass amounts of people that were there for a new day, a new dawn and a country freer from corruption than it had been at the times they were in the process of protesting.

During the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, our news stations were on a continuous cycle of talking about the unfairness of the ruling administrations that forced their people to live under governments infiltrated by corruption. Our own media pundits on both of the only two sides we are allowed to have were constantly reiterating that the calls of the protesters to refuse to move until the links between their heads of city, state and country were tilted back into their hands were just. Those pundits even railed against our government when they wouldn't help out at times.

They brought up links between dictators in those countries and our own government for instance. Links such as the tear gas and rubber bullets sold to Middle Eastern dictators by companies in our countries approved by our government. ( The previous and current administrations also approved the sales of non lethal weaponry to Libya and Bahrain among others. (

Initially the response from our government was muddled, tepid and confused to say the least. It was as though they weren't sure they wanted to stand up for democracy and denounce the dictators. In fact Vice President Joe Biden said of Egypt's dictator Mubarak, “I would not refer to him as a dictator” but yet said “I think the time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in the direction that -- to be more responsive to some of the needs of the people out there. [...] a lot of the people out there protesting are middle-class folks who are looking for a little more access and a little more opportunity.” (
Senators John Ensign and Kay Bailey Hutchison both introduced a resolution stating their opposition to helping Libyan protesters with a no-fly zone. ( Defense Secretary Robert Gates along with other members of Congress concurred. ( Yet there the current administration was against the use of force by a government to remove protesters occupying parks and plazas in Libya, and when those protesters were attacked by their government, our government sent in planes to help establish a no-fly zone to protect those protesters. The administration and members of their party especially denounced the actions of governments in North Africa and the Middle East during the Arab Spring to forcefully crackdown on protesters occupying parks and plazas those governments said were a nuisance, unsanitary, a health hazard and tried to paint as rabble basically.

The current administration wagged it's finger at governments all across the regions asking them to change and provide hope to their people. Those governments that were waiting until after elections or hoping they could go that long, then once in office remove the protesters by force, were roundly criticized by the current administration along with members of Congress, state governors, state senators and congressmen and congresswomen, mayors and other government representatives from our country. They said the dictators and governments in the countries where citizens were occupying parks and plazas so they could have freedom from a system more interested in power and money than the people during the Arab Spring, were in opposition to freedom and in abeyance of basic human rights to not allow those protesters to stay and have their say.

The administration went on and on about how “we stand with them in their pursuit to be cut free from the noose of corruption and greed.” When the current president and others in his party ran for office in 2008 they said they would be a government of hope. They said they would bring change from a previous administration that clamped down on freedoms of speech, freedoms of the press, the freedom to assemble in public and so much more. That previous administration had become one that was closely associated with corruption and greed. His party was in lock step with his rhetoric.

Yet now that protesters occupy parks and plazas in our own country today looking for a way to shake loose from the chains of big money's corrupting influence over our political system and the money stolen from taxpayers and given to them and wars and conflicts we have waged in support of those wealthy corporations and not our own people – the 99% - the majority of us, they backed away. Again their message became confusing and muddled. They said they understood the want for freedom from the oppressive corruption of big corporations. However, under their watch now in America police are using force to crack down on protesters occupying parks and plazas asking for more of a say and less favoritism for a broken system as people were asking for during the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East.

What does it say about a person that was willing to spend over two billion dollars to support a no-fly zone over a country overseas his own administration approved the sale of non-lethal weapons to (a category of weaponry that includes tear gas and rubber bullets) then turns around and does the same thing as those dictators to unarmed civilians peacefully protesting the ills and corruption in his own country?

Tear gas canisters and rubber bullets manufactured by some of the same firms used to crack down on citizen protesters occupying parks and plazas in North Africa and the Middle East are being used right now in our country under the current administration against protesters occupying parks and plazas in this country. Members of his own party, that were mum before the election that just passed, suddenly are coming out with smug looks eager to use police force, just like dictators in North Africa and Middle Eastern countries did and still are in some places, to stop people occupying parks and plazas peacefully from having their say.

The president is not from a Middle Eastern country nor is he a dictator, that issue's been settled if there was ever any doubt in the minds of sane and rational Americans. However, we do expect him to be the man he said he was. He is supposed to bring hope and change.

Instead he has ignored his own promises and admissions during his 2008 campaign and as a result people have been taking to the streets. Instead of going in and saying that he apologizes, that he will do it, that he will listen, that he will bring hope and change as he admonished dictators during the Arab Spring to do, he is doing everything he claimed to be against. He is doing what he chastised them for doing. Right now his actions are speaking much louder than his words.

And to think, at the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street protests he claimed during this campaign trail he would try and tap into their energy. Not only did he not realize they were in opposition to some of his own hypocrisy and that partly their energy was directed towards getting him to change, but that he himself would become closer to a dictator from the Arab Spring in his handling of the situation here than the man he once portrayed himself to be when he ran for president back in '08. What in the world happened to all that talk of hope and change from our president? Was it just that... just talk?

Please, let us hope that's not so.

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