Is this what they fought for?

Many of you went to bed last night dreaming of dresses you saw on The Grammy’s or of the bizarre sight of NFL players chasing down members of their own team.

Either way, while a good portion of the world slept, the Egyptian army fired live rounds at young democracy protestors.  Note that this wasn’t a group of Muslim Brotherhood members; but university students of the same category as those who disposed of Hosni Mubarak three years ago.  Today we also learned that General Sisi (I stopped using the term Field Marshall to describe active ranks in 1946) has the approval of the army to run for president.  So what does that mean in today’s Arab world?  General Sisi is the next president of Egypt.

So if you were a student dodging small arms fire yesterday how would you feel as you went to sleep?  Well, I gather about the same as a pro-democracy campaigner in Damascus, a trade union affiliate in South Africa, or a human rights crusader in Burma.

As I look at history I am drawn to two inescapable conclusions regarding these matters:

1)  Most revolutions, rebellions, & uprisings are ultimately hijacked by assholes who care only for their own self-interest and/or enrichment.

2)  If democracy is the pinnacle of human government, it is also the hardest to achieve.

Want to do away with a dictator?  Want freedom, justice, and the good way of life?  Well, don’t we all.  If you live in a country that does not possess these things you can either escape or prepare for the long haul.

Magna Carta is eight centuries old and the British republic is still under development.  At the other end, there are probably turtles older than the American constitution.  Some countries with absolutely no precedent of it, like Japan, figured it out relatively quickly.  Look at any of these countries’ history and I offer that the road was hard, awful, and it took a really long time.  Everybody wants to be free; but be prepared to earn it, it takes forever.

And so I offer just a few points for those in Ukraine who are just getting things kicked off.  Call them little reminders you should bear in mind as you dodge tear gas, rubber bullets, Satan, mad cow disease, live rounds, and generally hope what you’re doing matters:

1)  Look to your left, and then to your right.  Odds are one of them is a criminal who does not care about your cause and is just there for kicks.  The other one is a coward who is wrapped up in the moment and will be gone by next week.

2)  Your opposition leaders are just as bad as the people you’re kicking out.  If you think once they’re in power that you can change the rules of the game, you’ll quickly find out the game is the same, just with different players.

3)  The international community does not care about you or your cause and will not lift a finger to aid you.  You’re going to have to do it on your own.

4)  Your country does not possess the institutions necessary to support liberty.  You’re going to have to build them over decades while at every turn people will battle you to maintain the status quo.

5)  If you mean it, then this is your life’s work.  Not a few months on the streets.  You’re going to have to fight, every day, for the rest of your life.  Always watchful, vigilant, and brawling for a better tomorrow.  Even if you succeed, it’ll be a grinding, tough life.  All you can do is hope by your sacrifice that later generations will live the freedom you have bought them.  And maybe if you’re lucky and good at it, you’ll get a little taste of it before you check out.

Do you find these conditions unappealing?  Then stay home.


Hardest job on the planet after Bear Baiter.

2 thoughts on “Is this what they fought for?

  1. Look at what it took to make Japan adopt a constitution. 160,000 tons of HE, Napalm, and Steel. 141lbs of highly enriched uranium, 13.6lbs of Plutonium. Plus the deaths of most its military aged males on the mainland of Asia and on pacific islands. Plus lining the floor of the pacific ocean with its shipping.


  2. Reflecting on your points when applied to the American Revolution…
    (1) was definitely the case. We lucked out that the guys on the left and right didn’t take charge.
    The lack of (2) was purely a matter of luck or providence, depending on your theological perspective. Character counts.
    The exception to (3) is if you can find some foreign countries (France, Spain, Netherlands) who hate your enemy more than they hate you, and are willing to help you for purely Macchiavellian reasons.
    The only reason (4) was not the case for the young United States was because the institutions had been built on the other side of the Atlantic — with plenty of blood, sweat, and tears (see also: English Civil War, Glorious Revolution, etc) — during the previous 600 years.
    (5) is largely a function of (2), (4), and geography. Being wedged between an ocean and a mountain range is pretty nice; being stuck between major land powers is not.


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