Monday, February 21, 2011

Big Questions For the Day

See the previous post about heating oil prices to see why warning lights are flashing and sirens are blaring.  Two dictatorships down and how many will go?  And what does it mean for oil prices and the American economy? Questions abound:

What are the odds that the Saudi royal family is deposed in 2011?  Whatever the odds were prior to the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts, the chances of a new government in Saudi Arabia by the end of this year are much higher now.

What do you think the odds are of a successful uprising in Saudi Arabia?  My own guess is 1 in 3 and increasing everyday.

What do you think the odds are of a successful uprising this year in Iran are?  My own guess is 1 in 10 but also rising everyday.

In both nations, the militaries will be pivotal.  Will they remain united?  Will they remain united and follow orders to shoot thousands? Or will they splinter and turn on their political masters?

Would a successful revolution in Iran lower or increase oil prices?  How about Saudi Arabia?

I would love to get your thoughts.


  1. What happened to the Soviet's Iron Curtail in the early 90's is beginning to unfold among the Arab dictatorships. I don’t know if Saudi Arabia’s royal family will survive the year, or if Libya will see civil war. But we do know that every human being on the planet wants to be free, and knows instinctively when they are not, just like they know when they’re breathing air devoid of oxygen.

    Freedom throughout the world and across history has been rare because at least one of its 3 fundamental ingredients, community, truth and selflessness, have been missing, the result being bondage and misery for all but the ruling thugs, who selfishly try to better themselves by making life worse for everyone else.

    Thuggery has not changed. What has changed is that the exploited millions, tired of having their money confiscated, sick of being told things like how to dress and who want the same opportunities for their kids as kids in the West, have figured out how to use technology to organize and are finding the courage to stand up even to the guns of their oppressors.

    In other words, the oppressed are forming communities, focusing on truth, acting selflessly, and finding the courage to call their dictators to account.

    New oppressors veiled as liberators may gain a few short-term victories. But the Middle East in ten years will likely look very different. I predict its people will be more free, and most of its nations will be more friendly to Israel, America and the world in general, and will have less tolerance for terrorist bully groups like Hamas.

    If we are a nation based on freedom, we need to support others whose interests in things like democracy and free markets, and just being able to decide what to wear out of the house, align with ours. That means being careful about who we keep as “allies”. It also means providing at least moral support to groups whose interests are generally aligned with ours. The last time the Iranians rose up, we gave them about as much encouragement as we did the Hungarians when they rose up against the Soviets in 1956 (for all our talk of freedom, our track record is not as strong). Hopefully the current administration has learned a few things since then. If so, the rest could soon be history.
    Gib Armstrong

  2. I agree with the values expressed here and its sentiment. I would guess an overwhelming majority of Americans would embrace the values in your comment. It is reperesents our ideals well and is completely opposite to the Kissingerian statecraft. You could also be right that in 10 years the Middle East will be more democratic and friendly to Israel and America. The end of the Iron Curtain in Europe had risks and all the nations liberated have not taken a straight, unimpeded line to democracy but the general direction has been toward liberty and the rule of law. But Russia itself, the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Georgia, and others show how perilous the journey is. In the Middle East the journey will be even more perilous, as a competing model to Democracy has significant if not majority popular support. That model is Islamic law or religious dictatorship. Presidents of the USA must be very careful in trying to influence events in these circumstances. While the first Gulf War was brilliantly managed, at least until its end, a major stain was the encouragement the Shia received in the South of Iraq to rise against Sadam. They did rise. We did not finish of the Republican Guards and the Republican Guards murdered tens of thousands of Shia in 1991, as we watched. We also cannot uderestimate how dictatorial regimes around the world can still use the threat, let alone the reality of American intervention, to bolster public support. I myself do not believe dogmas, whether it be Kissinger's or Neocon Democratic Revolution, work well. Instead I favor factual analysis leading to incremental, pragmatic steps to advance the interests of the United States. Democracy is the foundation of those interests. But most unfortunately our interests include importing 70% of our oil. That interest must end by ending foreign oil imports.