I asked a friend in Pakistan what he thought of the revolution in Tunisia. His reply: "In Pakistan, people saw that revolution as an augury, as it is also needed here in Pakistan very badly, but the people of Pakistan (are) so enfeebled by our politicians that they actually have no strength to do it... People there have that luxury to protest and revolt...Here, a common man has to fight for his daily bread and butter."
My friend's use of the word "augury" expresses his faith that divinely inspired change is coming to the Middle East, and he is not referring to an Islamist revolt.
Another friend posted some musings about the data Rudolph Elmer handed over to Julian Assange for publication via Wikileaks. We await disclosures of money laundering and tax evasion by prominent leaders, some of whom are American elected officials.
Is it possible that Elmer's whistle blowing had some bearing on Switzerland's immediate decision to freeze the assets of Tunisia's ex-dictator, Ben Ali, and forty of his associates? It seems to me Swiss banks usually drag their feet in such matters.
The events in Tunisia and Switzerland were understandably overshadowed last week by the story in Tucson. But I wonder if their ramifications won't be far more reaching. Recent calls for greater civility in our public discourse will pass, and new gun laws will likely stall in committee. But revolution in an Arabic country is unprecedented; and for all the criticism heaped upon Wikileaks, it seems to be having an effect.
A Night in Tunisia by Grace Hartigan, 2000. To me, this painting is a very western view of the Middle East. Perhaps the same could be said of my sanguinity. Click on the picture for a closer look.