Disconnect as verb and noun.

The Egyptian regime has attempted to isolate its people both from each other and the rest of the world during the current crisis. Most recently Al-Jazeera has been banned from reporting and its broadcasts are being blocked. Mubarak et al seem to believe that pulling the plug might aid matters. As a China specialist, to say that I have a sense of foreboding with this news is understatement. Whether or not the military fires on the people or protests win the day is up in the air.

What I imagined would no longer be up in the air is the non-apologetic support for dictatorships around the world. If popular movements and uprisings in the Middle East seem to be toppling dictators, surely the scribes who lecture us about all of the great benefits of having a “government that can get things done” would take the week off at least and perhaps even reconsider their point of view. Thomas Friedman, who apparently decided years ago that being a self-caricature was the most lucrative path ahead of him (and perhaps feeling a monetary need following the collapse of his heiress wife’s fortune), pens a “Winning The Future in Singapore” column. He does mention, twice, that Singapore is not a democracy. These dozen words though come in a column explicitly about what Singapore can teach the United States. Heavy handed as always, he even begins in a classroom to make sure that the hammer of his point drives through our thick but democratic skulls. I had imagined that the flak cover provided to the dictatorships of the world by the Friedmans of the world might slow down at this revolutionary (if not yet decisively democratic) moment. No, it is clear that the global elite, after flying out of Davos, continue to believe that “serious” people still see a place for the autocrats out there.

How will the gap between the rich and the poor, the disconnect that dominated politics a hundred years ago, make its return?


Jan 30 NYTimes.com
Jan 30 NYTimes.com

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