Tuesday, December 18, 2012

After Arab Spring: National Unity Teams


Just a Little About Division in the US

MeanMeasa's casual memory concludes that the really active moves to permanently divide the United States population began around the time that Ronald Reagan was President -- roughly thirty years ago.  His political strategists saw an "opening" to very coarsely divide the "conservatives" from the "liberals" for a rather shabby political advantage.

Of course there are details galore, but this posting is not about historical details of American politics.  Nonetheless, even without the details, a few generalizations may be helpful in understanding the point.  The "political sides" which Reagan's image creation -- and population division --  team went to work producing all those decades back still "resonate" in the background imaging of present day voters.

A few points will explain what is meant here.  These are a few samples of the broadly held, unexamined "background mistaken certainties" created by these fabrications.

Republicans are good at creating economic development policies for the country.

Democrats habitually over spend tax money without accomplishing anything.

Republicans are experts at foreign policy direction for US national interests.

Democrats bungle foreign policy, especially in war fighting.

Republicans are better church members, more righteous and more religious.

Democrats  tend to be moral relativists with weak, sinful or criminal social habits.

Republicans have better "family values" with respect to moral living.

Democrats are generally profligate and more inclined to rely on government assistance.

Any American voter determined to look at the facts in these matters for even a few minutes realizes that these synthetic manufactured "images"  are essentially groundless, in fact, not just groundless, but in many cases these divisive images are almost something that is exactly the opposite of what is real.

Reality has been "bent" to divide the Americans into two groups.

During the onset of this during the Reagan period, the program had to be rather cautious.  At that time vast numbers of Americans of all sorts of varied opinions about matters looked at the beginning of this division program very skeptically.

Of note here: the FOX network was not yet in existence, and the other commercial networks were independently owned and competed with each other for media consumers by being as accurate and credible as possible.  This was the era of news anchors such as the highly respected Walter Kronkite and Jim Lehrer.

The political advantage of constantly extending the division between these two basic groups of voters was recognized instantly.  Since this quiet beginning decades ago, the scheme has become more and more aggressive.  The illicit autocracy of the unelected President George W. Bush saw the division policy reach a terrifying, almost unbelievable frenzy.

The 2012 election in the United States saw the division inflamed even more.  The Republican Presidential candidate Romney frankly embarrassed his party with the incredibly divisive and fabricated campaign he conducted largely with both FOX and now the remainder of the US commercial media in almost total complicity.

We don't want this "historical" part of this post to continue too long, but a few high points -- or low points -- of the campaign illustrate MeanMesa's point here.

The commercial media including both FOX and PBS continually predicted that the race was "neck and neck."  Romney himself was completely convinced on the day of the election that he would win in a landslide.  He had not even prepared a concession speech for when he did, in fact, lose in a landslide.

49% of Republican voters believed that the election had been stolen by ACORN, even though Republican Congressmen had destroyed that voter registration organization two years ago.  

There are many more examples of voter suppression, voter registration "purges," horribly, obviously untrue campaign statements, literally billions of dollars worth of "mystery source" campaign money -- some from Saudi Arabia, some from the Peoples Republic of China, abhorrent interference in our US democracy -- and practically every other kind of election manipulation one could imagine.

The point of all this is simple.  If roughly half the voting population of the United States had not been groomed to believe what was openly said in the Romney campaign statements, this electoral disaster could never have happened.

Five decades ago that "half" of the voters would have looked at Romney's campaign and immediately concluded that they didn't want anything to do with him, not because they disagreed with Republican Party policy, but because they would have been horrified at the obvious untruths which comprised the campaign statements.

This monstrosity of an election became a possibility because Americans were divided.  It was not just that the opinion of these voters which was divided, it was that the basic facts these voters were to employ in making their ballot decisions which had become so divided.

Although the election is over now, the division remains just as strong as ever.  Today, we Americans see our nation, the most prosperous and powerful among nations, essentially paralyzed by the division.  Our Congress cannot act.  Our citizens will not trust each other and, worse, have a dwindling interest in even being trustworthy.

Division in the States of the Arab Spring

Many parts of the Middle East have already transformed themselves in the Arab Spring.  Many more are at work on that transformation at the time of this post.  The comments here are a suggestion -- and a warning -- which both arise from the experience we Americans have had here at home.  Rebuilding a new nation from one which has languished under autocracy for decades presents the absolute  necessity of avoiding this division.

In every occasion when a previous power is replaced by a new power, the first day that follows inevitably reveals a nation with two sides.  At least two side.  In many cases, even more sides have been patiently -- or impatiently -- "waiting in the wings" for the opportunity the new freedom might provide.

In many cases various "out of power" minority groups have been   manipulated to compete with each other while the larger power enjoys the resulting advantage of fewer competitors.  The day after the change in government finds the animosity from these old, synthetic competitions still at full passion.

Just about every faction with the ambition of gaining or securing its own position of influence or domination the day after a nation transforms itself into a democracy will be tempted to incite division where ever possible among its new competitors.  At first, this will seem to be the most effective approach possible, and it's not entirely surprising when this occurs given that this was the strategy of the old autocracy to keep or gain power itself.

The initiators of this nation crippling division can be 

the previous autocracy itself, 
the remnants of political interests still loyal to the old autocracy,
the various political ambitions suddenly set free by that old autocracy's fall,
mere groups of citizens who have been so saturated with unthinking division in the past that they simply continue it from something like psychological inertia 
"outside interests" who have their own "extra-national" commercial or power ambitions in your new nation. [By "extra-national" we mean "for advantages for themselves, not advantages for your new nation."]

All of these forces will act to divide you along any lines possible for their own ends.  We in America know this, not only because it has been done here, but because we, ourselves, too often simply stood by while we did it others, and perhaps, because we have also stood by while we did it to ourselves.  With respect to your world, we know that our country has a penchant for becoming an "outside interest," and those among us who usually do that sort of thing are usually very worst among our own fellow citizens.

To the new nations of the Arab Spring, MeanMesa suggests strongly that amid the confusion of your changed governments you make it one of the highest priorities to not naively allow such a division to embed itself into your futures. There is nothing about such a development which is innocent, positive or unavoidable.

Watching the television thousands of miles away in New Mexico, it's clear that the forces of division already have their ambitions for your countries, too.

A MeanMesa Suggestion:  National Unity Teams

When the very first "troubles" begin to appear, all those in power respond.  Leaders from opposing sides of issues appear together publicly, embracing one another warmly and lamenting about the violence or intolerance.  These leaders will give speeches encouraging the "separate parts" of the newly freed population to "work together."

"Working together" brought victory.  Don't stop now! (image source)

However, that "work together" admonition may seem a little gaseous.  How exactly will the citizens of your countries "work together?"

Where ever you may be, the environment around you may very well be an exciting one, but it may also be one of fear, jealousy and skepticism.  All the promising impulses to forge a new nation, perhaps a Constitution, perhaps a new government, new laws, new futures and the rest seem to exist in dreams populated by old enemies

The appetite to "get even" may be quite well justified.  The tacit intolerance of those who have opposed you and others during the transformation of your country may have mellowed only as far as "They're okay as long as I don't have to live next to them."

One common "complicator" on the path forward is wealth.  Those "old enemies" may have monopolized opportunities for decades.  Maybe in the first firey days of your new nation the impulse is to simply take back what might have been yours if things had been more fair and free.

All these things must be settled, but they must be settled in ways you can sleep with, in ways you can explain to your children, in ways which can serve as the foundation of your tomorrows.

Returning to the "working together" idea, MeanMesa suggests the following.

National Unity Teams

The men and women in your new country will be working together on all sorts of things which are necessary or which have become possible after the Arab Spring.  In every case there is much which must be built, renovated or simply made the first time for your countries to flourish.

There will be police departments, military units, judges and prosecutors for city courts, sanitation workers, building repair crews -- the list goes on and on forever.  The formation of every one of these "cooperative opportunities" will be unfolding day by day.  It may be rather chaotic, but, after all, you've just now emerged from a successful revolution.

The point here is that these jobs and the teams you will hire to do them must not merely be a continuation of the old dreams of dominance.  These teams must be composed of both the winners and the losers of what has just transpired.

And, importantly, this "mixing" of groups cannot be passively set aside as some sort of inevitable coincidence.  It must be undertaken with eyes wide open in a manner which reflects its great importance for your future.

The "working together" idea becomes not only quite tangible, but also quite doable.  "Working together" is an absolute necessity for a future with a peaceful, at least moderately cooperative, population, a successful nation,an effective government and a flourishing economy -- all common aspirations of everyone on both sides of any current animosity.

Set the goal, and set the goal in no uncertain terms. The unity of the nation comes first.

Every local police force must include all the diverse elements of the local population. Every city maintenance crew must be represented with team members from all the factions, religions and political realms.  The formation of military units needs to include members from the old regime and the new regimes, the religion of the next province and the religion of this one.  Teachers, doctors, politicians, judges, plumbers, truck drivers, painters, and so on, must find themselves "mixed" into a great melting pot of a society with the unifying goal of creating a national state.

At first, it might seem attractive to build teams of members with a single common position either with respect to some things or even with respect to all things, but these will not serve your new democracy well in the long run.  The "mixing" suggested here will result in all sorts of conflicts within these various teams, but that same "mixing" will result in face to face familiarity and possibly even a growing respect for each other.

The "mixing" will frustrate the ambitions of those who dream only of dividing you for their own ends.  The destructive appeal of one citizen considering another fellow citizen as "the other" will gradually fade away when the two come to work every morning, day after day.

The violent calamities which accompanied your revolution will always be memories, but relegate these things to just that -- memories.  There will be exceptions among you.  Fellow citizens who seem unable to forget and move ahead.  There are always such folks who seem unable to "make the leap" no matter the immediate consequences.  They will live static lives filled with suspicion, distrust, and they may even die in the agony of an empty life, still soaked in hate, but this vision of theirs must not dictate the future of your new nation.

Finally, this becomes a personal matter.  As a visitor to MeanMesa from far away, can you, yourself, embrace this difficult but promising proposal?

We Americans offer ourselves and and own present predicament as the compelling example of what must be avoided, however, your revolutions have also inspired us and the rest of the world with a new, unexpected energy.

The Arab Spring revealed new hope.  Now, more "spring" is coming!(image source)

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