Arab Revolt Driven by Demographics and Internet
The democratic revolutions sweeping the Arab world are fueled by demographics. It took the world until 1804 to reach its first billion people. World population hit 2 billion 123 years later, in 1927. It hit 3 billion in 1960, when Kennedy was elected president. What is the world population today, fifty years later? 6.7 billion people. The world’s population has more than doubled in the past fifty years.
In 1954, the life expectancy in Britain was 70 with an infant mortality rate of 30 per 1,000 live births. (Infant mortality, meaning children dying before the age of 5). In Egypt, by contrast, the life expectancy in 1954 was 44 years old and the infant mortality rate was a horrifying 353 per thousand live births.
Today, the life expectancy in Britain is 80 with an infant mortality rate of 6; while the life expectancy in Egypt is 70 with an infant mortality rate of 20. In other words, Egypt today is Britain in 1954. The same is generally true, with a few notable exceptions, in Asia and the rest of the developing world. This is where the population boom of the past half century has come from, the decline of the infant mortality rate and the implementation of public health measures that permit people to live into old age. This great humanistic revolution was not accomplished by private enterprise. Quite the contrary.
Now, all these people want and need jobs. The internet has truly created a global village. Everyone and anyone can see how people live elsewhere. It is galling for the Arabs to see the way their precious treasure of oil is squandered in the west while the proceeds of the sale is plundered from the people by ruling dictators like Mubarak and Hassan, king of Morocco. Make no mistake, the Arabs are voting against rendition with their feet. The mainstream media, whether Fox or CNN, is neglecting to mention that both Egypt and Morocco tortured prisoners turned over to them by the United States in its war on terror. Now, those collaborators are history.
Furthermore, make no mistake that the United States leadership is less than ecstatic about the turn of events in the Arab world. America’s dependence on foreign oil has, to a large extent, been engineered as a means of compensating for the inability of the government to pass foreign aid appropriations in the 1950’s.
The money funneled to the autocratic Arab regimes in Saudi Arabia the Emirates and elsewhere has either been recycled into US Treasury bills, purchases of western real estate or securities on foreign stock markets, or in aid to entities like the Nicaraguan Contras as a means of circumventing American laws against certain behavior that would be illegal for the government (like torture.) History is full of repeated requests of the Saudi government to fund operations and that would be illegal or politically difficult for the United States government.
The government of Iran’s Shah, which was installed in a CIA engineered coup in 1953 and supported with torture, was a prime player in this plot. That is why the Islamic Republic of Iran has been demonized as undemocratic in the press. The Shah supplied Israel with its oil during all the early years of its existence, when the rest of the Arab world boycotted the Jewish state.
The tragedy of this is that the so-called advanced state of Israel under Moshe Sharett tried to make peace with Egypt under Nasser and could have used its technology and skills to help eradicate the 353 per 1,000 Egyptian infant mortality rate, thereby cementing a true peace in the Middle East.
But, David Ben-Gurion’s greed for Sinai and the Zionist movement’s zest for Jewrusalem, meant that Israel’s skills were used to fuel an arms race in the Middle East that continues even today.
This democratic movement in the Middle East is good and long overdue. However, as the recent $36 billion distribution to Saudis by the government shows, the amount of oil money available for investment in the west or for the purchase of treasury bills will be much less in the future.
The United States created 19 million new jobs when Reagan was president, and 22 million new jobs when Clinton was president. The United States has created zero new jobs since 2000 (when the federal budget was in surplus, remember?) That surplus was spent on tax breaks for the rich and on two wars. Now the United States really has to become self-sufficient in energy consumption, but Obama’s attempts to spend money on infrastructure to make this possible: high speed rail and the new rail tunnel to New York, for example, is violently opposed by the Republicans. The ossification of the two party system has created a situation in the United States that is not significantly more democratic than the dictatorships in the Middle East. Israel, too, needs a democratic revolution just like its neighbors. And the world economy will continue to tank until this happens.