This is no spin. This is what the American-sponsored rebels are doing in Syria. Nice folks, eh? Want ‘em to move next door to YOU?
Events in the Middle East are gradually forming a pattern that less and less suits the vision of the “Arab spring” propagated by American and EU media. Attacks against police, and the headquarters of trade unions and political parties in Tunisia; a parliamentary crisis in Egypt, where the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the Islamist-dominated People’s Assembly; continuing ugly violence in Libya and, now, Syria… these events don’t fit the “democratisation” pattern suggested by the mainstream Western media since the start of the Arab spring in early 2011.
However, the problem is that Western leaders refuse to recognise their own mistakes, continuing to present the developments in the region as “momentous change” for the better and urging Russia “to find its place on the right side of history”, i.e. on the side of Arab “revolutionaries”. It was supremely ironic that the pro-Western organisers of The Spring of Arts named their art exhibition in a clear evocation of the “Arab spring”. One saw that it provoked the recent Islamist riots in Tunisia. There was also supreme irony in the fact that, having destroyed the exhibition, Tunisian Islamists now plan to further constrain artistic freedom by a special law on protection of sanctity; thus, putting the ABSENCE of freedom in a legal framework, trampling on a freedom so much cherished in the West. Again, ironically, in their attempt to quell the anti-art riots, the police used a law adopted by the former “dictator” Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who’s now denounced in the West in the same way as Egypt’s Mubarak and Libya’s Gaddafi. Meanwhile, the primary enemies of a tolerant attitude to the arts were “the people on the right side of history”, i.e. the “revolutionary” Minister of Culture and the Ennahda Movement, the Islamist party that dominated the Tunisian Chamber of Deputies since the first post-Ben Ali elections, applauded by the West. Both the minister and parliament denounced the artists, putting the main responsibility for violence on them.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov said in an interview with RIA-Novosti, “We often hear from our Western partners that we should put ourselves on the right side of history, but when we hear that, one often gets an impression that this kind of advice comes from the people who have fallen out of history, who simply forgot what they said a few months ago. Today, these Western partners of ours are on one side of history, tomorrow… on another. They change affiliations on a daily basis. I think that our Arab friends and partners are getting more and more conscious of the fact that we simply don’t betray our old partners with whom we’ve built relations for years”. It’s enough to remember the U-turn in American policy in re supporting Egypt’s Mubarak to illustrate Bogdanov’s point. After decades of open support for the Egyptian strongman, the US State Department suddenly became his staunchest critic; it shows absolutely no compassion for the ailing Mubarak at present, he’s serving a life sentence in prison and slowly dying in custody. All of this plays out against a background of troubling political developments in Egypt, which proves that real democratisation is a much more complicated process than the simplified American vision of it, usually reduced to a Hollywood-style conflict of “everything bad” (a dictator) against “everything good” (freethinking people).
Again, ironically, the latest spat between the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over presumed Russian military supplies to the Syrian régime fits the same pattern. As it transpired, Ms Clinton preferred simplification (some would say a blatant lie) when talking about supplies of Russian helicopter gunships to the Syrian regime. In fact, the USA had to correct its diplomat number one, acknowledging that these weren’t new supplies, but repairs to older units, and added interesting details to Ms Clinton’s imprudent statement. The New York Times quoted “a senior US Defence Department official” as saying, “She put a little spin on it to put the Russians in a difficult position”. “Spin” in plain language is a half-truth; in modern media usage it has a tendency to become a lie, since, once put in context, it distorts the bigger picture. In the case of the current US policy on the Middle East, the “little spin” about helicopters was just a little detail of a bigger lie… that of “the democratic USA supporting the democratic Arab spring”.
15 June 2012
Voice of Russia World Service