Posted on June 5, 2014
by Jerry Alatalo
“Our hopes for the future condition of the human race can be subsumed under three important heads: the abolition of inequality between nations, the progress of equality within each nation, and the true perfection of mankind.”
– MARQUIS DE CONDORCET (1743-1794) French philosopher
While starting to type on the keyboard here, National Public Radio is doing a piece about “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller. Catch 22 is a book portraying a chaotic, bureaucratic world that is war and, considering how real war occurs, Syria could be seen as a Catch 22 situation in some aspects. How does Egyptian legendary and iconic leader Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) fit into the current Syrian warring and humanitarian catastrophe?
Western/United States Middle East policy focuses on the prevention of the rise of another Arab leader like Nasser.
While in the past there was always a hunch that Egypt’s Nasser – his profound legacy – was a very big deal when looking at Middle East issues, until today I had never looked into Nasser’s life history. It turns out that one’s hunches/intuitions are many times in line with whatever led to those suspicions. A glance at Wikipedia’s Gamal Abdel Nasser page points to the importance of Nasser to the Middle Eastern people, and helps explain United States’ and other western nations’ foreign policy for the region.
The first relevant fact about Nasser is that he helped plan the 1952 overthrow of Egypt’s monarchy. In 2014, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and other small nations of the Middle East are in fact monarchies, which may explain Saudi and Qatari financing of mercenaries in the Syrian tragedy that has now passed the three-year mark. Nasser overthrew Egypt’s monarchical system in 1952, his leadership in the Arab world threatened other monarchies including Saudi Arabia’s, and, since his death from a heart attack in 1970, Nasser’s memory has fuelled anti-monarchy movements in the region.
Does Bashar Al-Assad represent the same type of leader that Nasser was, and does this explain Saudi Arabia’s, Qatar’s, and the USA’s efforts to remove him? To be honest, my hunch/intuition is that Assad is seen as another Nasser and threatens the business interests of western powers and continued reign of monarchs, but more research will be required to allow a more accurate opinion.
It is worthy to note that Libya’s Gaddafi, like Nasser’s actions in Egypt, overthrew the monarchy of Libya in 1969, fainted twice from emotional distress during Nasser’s 1970 Cairo funeral, and wanted to become the region’s next Nasser-like leader.
Nasser became Egypt’s second president in 1956 and remained leader until his death in 1970. He made far-reaching reforms during his presidency, including the nationalization of the Suez Canal, significant land reforms, and carried out other major actions which took power and wealth away from outside imperialist nations. Nasser’s neutrality policy during the Cold War led to uneasy relations with western powers and his action to take the Suez Canal was cheered by the Arab world.
After that, Nasser’s popularity would only grow as he became a beloved leader in the Middle East and Northern Africa while calling for pan-Arab unity. He became a historic figure because of his battle against imperialism, promotion of world peace, calls for the end of colonialism, and efforts to increase cooperation with all developing countries around the world. He joined with Indonesian President Sukarno, Yugoslavian President Tito, and Indian President Nehru in 1961 and the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement.
In 1954, while delivering a speech, Nasser survived an assassination attempt by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who shot eight times and missed from 25 feet away. The crowd who came to hear Nasser’s speech went into a panic, then Nasser told them, “My countrymen, my blood spills for you and for Egypt. I will live for your sake and die for the sake of your freedom and honor. Let them kill me; it does not concern me so long as I have instilled pride, honor, and freedom in you. If Gamal Abdel Nasser should die, each of you shall be Gamal Abdel Nasser. Gamal Abdel Nasser is of you and from you and he is willing to sacrifice his life for the nation.”
The Arab world was electrified.
Nasser fought against “perpetuation of Arab subservience to Zionism and western imperialism.” He alienated the United States, condemned British imperialism and, after nationalizing the Suez Canal, found near-100% approval ratings in the Arab world. Nasser was the spokesman for the masses not only in Egypt, but all across the third world. His popularity threatened the survival of the Saudi Arabian royal family. In 1961 he initiated a major nationalization program, believing public ownership of businesses were the answer for Egypt’s problems.
In 1961-62 he brought universal free healthcare, affordable housing, a minimum wage, profit sharing, free education, reduced work hours, and previously mentioned land reforms that promoted agriculture and reduced rural poverty. In 1962, government ownership of Egypt’s businesses was 51%.
In his fourteen year presidency of Egypt, Nasser became a monumental, historic figure in the Middle East and the world. Nasser’s image was very visible during Egypt’s Arab Spring which resulted in the removal of Hosni Mubarek.
So, there are reasons for believing that western motives for the Middle East and North Africa have everything to do with preventing the growth of pan-Arabic movements – preventing the rise of one or more Gamal Abdel Nassers. This would mean that the people who live in Middle Eastern and North African nations would control their natural resources, their financial/monetary systems, and their forms of government. That means more wealth from those regions would go toward the people who live there, and not to people who live outside the regions.
Then the question surfaces on how to resolve the differences between people outside the region who want to acquire wealth and the people who actually live in the Middle East and Northern Africa – without war. Those who have decided that war is an acceptable option for resolving differences includes actual monarchies – the British Royal family, Saudi Arabian royal family, Qatar monarchy, among others. Although not “official”, actual “royalty”, very wealthy banking families and corporation owners can be described as “business royalty”, and those desiring acquisition of wealth in the Middle East and Northern Africa are inclined to choose, and advocate for, military actions to satisfy their desires.
Many have observed the different views held by the United States government regarding presidential elections in Ukraine and Syria. In Ukraine, after a democratically elected president was overthrown in a violent coup d’état, a presidential election was held while Ukrainians were killing Ukrainians: acceptable. In Syria, while the nation’s people enter the fourth year of what many describe as the world’s most urgent humanitarian disaster – fueled by a war where the majority of forces killing Syrians and fighting against the government are hired mercenaries from outside of Syria – a presidential election was held: unacceptable.
The US government recently has pledged another billion dollars of military spending on the situation in Ukraine, and two billion dollars effectively to ramp up violence in already war-torn Syria. Could the American people perhaps find better uses for those billions of dollars than for more killing, violence, and human misery? How about, instead of choosing the military option, engaging in debate – wars of ideas, words, back-and-forth, increased understanding, and genuine efforts at reaching agreement and consensus?
It is now widely known that the people who “pull the trigger” on military actions are the wealthiest people on Earth. Perhaps the time has arrived for those making the decisions about war and peace to come forward and speak to the world’s people about their spiritual basis, philosophical logic, and rationale for taking actions which result in human beings’ getting killed, injured and otherwise horrifically harmed – physically, mentally, and economically.
To those who are accountable for war’s devastating and harming consequences, come forward and tell us how you are “OK” with those results of your actions. Because there are lots of people from every nation and region on this Earth who have grown weary of those war consequences, and are demanding explanations. So, you warmongers and war-makers, what are your explanations? How are you “OK” with war and killing?
One humanity has run out of patience while waiting for good explanations.
To the “Masters of War”:
The entire human race – every man, woman, and child on Earth – is staring at you.
Waiting and listening intently…
(The following video is in the Syrian language. A record of the Syrian people’s reaction after the election.)