Rosen Plevneliev managed a narrow victory in Bulgaria's recent presidential elections on a reform platform pledging to clean up the country's corruption-plagued government, one of the most notorious in Europe. On November 3, Plevneliev was certified as the official winner in Bulgaria’s presidential race. The President-elect immediately declared that the first thing he plans to do after assuming office is fire all Bulgarian diplomats abroad who have been exposed as former agents of the communist Committee of State Security (CSS).
Egypt’s ruling military junta is positioning itself to keep the reins of power even after elections take place, prompting outrage and criticism among Egyptians of all political persuasions. Critics, meanwhile, are being silenced by the regime. And talk of a “second revolution” is becoming more widespread.
Among the most contentious issues is a proposal by the Egyptian cabinet — hand picked by the military — to ensure that civilian government cannot meddle in the affairs of the armed forces. Because the military regime would be recognized as the guarantor of “constitutional legitimacy,” analysts said the junta would in effect continue to rule without any limits to its power. Even its budget would be secret.
The scheme would also give the military the ability to virtually exclude elected representatives from the process of drafting a new constitution, with 80 percent of the delegates being selected by the generals. And all it takes for the proposal to become binding is approval from the two dozen generals on the “Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.”
When it comes to private property, wrote economist Ludwig von Mises, it is a simple “either-or” proposition: “either private ownership of the means of production, or hunger and misery for everyone.” In 1959, Fidel Castro essentially abolished private property in Cuba, and the result has been exactly as Mises predicted: a declining standard of living and shortages of basic necessities such as food, building materials, and housing.
Faced with this reality, Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and successor, has begun scaling back government and liberalizing property laws. He has pledged to trim nearly one-quarter of the government workforce, which accounts for over 80 percent of all jobs in Cuba. Last year he began allowing private enterprise in some limited circumstances, and now “the number of private business operators has hit more than 333,000, above the expectations of the authorities, from 148,000 in 2010,” according to Agence France-Presse. In October he lifted some restrictions on the buying and selling of automobiles. Now, in what the Associated Press terms “the most important reform yet,” Castro’s government has announced that individuals will, for the first time in half a century, be able to buy and sell real estate.
As GOP presidential contender Herman Cain is contending with allegations of sexual harassment, some critics assert there are more pressing items for which Cain should answer, most notably, his foreign policy and his views on the engagement of war. Appearing on Fox News’ most popular program, The O’Reilly Factor, Cain indicated that he sees no issue with entering into a military confrontation with Iran.
After Moammar Gadhafi's downfall as Libya's tyrannical ruler, politicians and "experts" in the U.S. and elsewhere, including French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, are saying that his death marked the end of 42 years of tyranny and the beginning of democracy in Libya. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said Gadhafi's death represented an opportunity for Libya to make a peaceful and responsible transition to democracy. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "Now it is time for Libya's Transitional National Council to show the world that it will respect the rights of all Libyans (and) guide the nation to democracy." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "Libya must now quickly make further determined steps in the direction of democracy." It's good to see the removal of a tyrant, but if we're going to be realistic, there's little hope for the emergence of what we in the West call a democracy. Let's look at it.
Throughout most of mankind's history, personal liberty, private property rights and rule of law have always won a hostile reception. There's little older in most of human history than: the notion that a few people are to give orders while others obey those orders; the political leadership classes are exempt from laws that the masses are obliged to heed; and the rights of individuals are only secondary to the rights of the state. The exception to this vision feebly emerged in the West, mainly in England, in 1215 with the Magna Carta, a charter that limited the power of the king and required him to proclaim and recognize the liberties of English subjects.
What will the Arab Spring mean to Christians in the Arab world? Persecution of Christians in Muslim countries has been well documented; however, ominous signals are emerging of escalating violence against them — even in schools. Egyptian media reported that as a result of a fight over a classroom seat in a school in Malawi, Egypt, on October 16, a Christian student was killed.
The news source Copts Without Borders, which covers stories affecting Coptic Christians around the world, described the killing very differently, reporting that the student was murdered because he was a Coptic Christian wearing a crucifix. Activist Mark Ebeid acknowledged that this conclusion was reached reluctantly: “We wanted to believe the official version because the Coptic version was a catastrophe as it would take the persecution of Christians also to the schools.”
Parents of Ayman Nabil Labid, the slain Christian student, have broken their silence and confirmed that their son was killed "in cold blood because he refused to take off his crucifix as ordered by his Muslim teacher." Ayman’s father, Nabil Labid, noted that the boy also had a cross tattooed on his wrist, in keeping with Coptic traditions, as well as another cross which he wore under his clothing.
Ayman’s classmates, who were at the hospital where Ayman was taken and at his funeral, told his parents what they had seen in the room when the attack occurred. They recounted that Ayman was told to cover his wrist tattoo. His mother continued: “The teacher nearly choked my son and some Muslim students joined in the beating.”
Having been officially recognized as a “drive for human rights” by the European Parliament, the movement known as the “Arab Spring” is now extending itself into other nations and being re-branded as the “Arab Winter.”
The boundaries of the Arab Spring are difficult to define precisely. Most reports set the birth of the movement on December 18, 2010. On that date, protests erupted in Tunisia following the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, an act taken to draw attention to and protest the corruption of police and the mistreatment of citizens by the same. Emboldened by this uprising, citizens of Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, and Algeria joined in similar protests of government corruption and authoritarianism.
Libya, as has been well-chronicled, is the latest country to witness the toppling of an autocratic regime. Moammar Gadhafi, the ruler of Libya since taking office in a coup in 1969, was deposed by anti-government rebels on August 23, 2011 and was killed by the transitional governing body of Libya after that group took control of Gadhafi's hometown, where the former dictator was hiding out.
While the spirit of freedom undoubtedly resides in all men, often there is as much to be feared from “democrats” as despots. Tyranny of the many is no less oppressive than tyranny of the few. In the case of the Arab world and the supposed “liberation” of its people that comes with the Arab Spring/Winter, there seems to be as much corruption in the liberators as in the former oppressors whose palaces they now occupy.
Although his commitment to “limited government” is unsurpassed, establishment Republicans in both politics and the so-called “conservative media” labor incessantly to discredit Texan Congressman and GOP presidential contender, Ron Paul. On its face, who couldn’t judge this phenomenon, the phenomenon of the most vocal champions of liberty ridiculing and trivializing the most vocal champion of liberty, as anything other than bizarre? Any remotely curious observer couldn’t resist the impulse to inquire into the roots of this enigma.
We needn’t dig too deeply to discover that the establishment Republican’s apparently irrational conduct toward Paul stems from his angst regarding Paul’s foreign policy vision. Paul, you see, rejects in no uncertain terms the notion that Big Government is not only permissible, but desirable, as long as it is non-American citizens abroad upon whom our government’s designs would be brought to bear. Loudly and unapologetically, he rejects the idea that “social engineering” is a good thing as long as it is other societies that our government seeks to “engineer.” Paul makes no secret of his utter contempt, a contempt born of his passion for liberty and individuality, for the belief that policies rooted in utopian fantasy are worthy of pursuit as long as it is not America, but the world, that our government seeks to perfect.
As brutal revenge attacks against loyalist towns and bickering between various armed factions pick up steam in Libya, the al Qaeda flag was photographed flying above the courthouse in the rebellion’s home town of Benghazi. The White House, which unconstitutionally committed American forces in the conflict, said it was not surprised by recent developments.
"There is no God but Allah," read the black flag with a full moon fluttering atop the key government building, which served as the rebel regime’s headquarters throughout much of the eight-month civil war. The first media outlet to publicize the banner also noted that Islamists could be seen throughout the city flying the al Qaeda flag and shouting Muslim slogans.
When a photographer with Vice.com approached the courthouse to take pictures of the flag, a guard came out and warned him to stop. “Whomever speaks ill of this flag, we will cut off his tongue,” the camouflaged security officer said. “I recommend that you don't publish these. You will bring trouble to yourself.”
The Libyan revolutionary also insisted the flag on the courthouse was dark black, while al Qaeda’s flag was charcoal black. Locals urged the photographer to leave too, saying Islamist fighters could be watching him.
The Obama administration is pushing to leave more troops in the Persian Gulf and to create a regional equivalent of NATO in the Arabic Middle East, according to the New York Times.
"After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative," the New York Times reported October 30. Part of that plan may be to leave additional troops in Kuwait, for years a staging area for the Iraq war, or simply to float a larger naval fleet in the Persian Gulf.
But the Obama administration has another alternative they are floating to create "security" in the Islamic world, the New York Times reported: "The administration and the military are trying to foster a new 'security architecture' for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense."
That "security architecture" may include boosting existing security alliances in the Arab world, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a 30-year-old group of six Persian Gulf dictatorships led by Saudi Arabia. The GCC is both a NATO and European Common Market-style organization with a customs union agreement that was inked in 2003. The GCC's six nations on the Arabian peninsula together have one trillion dollars in GDP, and the GCC is considering membership requests from Jordan and Morocco. "Another part of the administration’s post-Iraq planning involves the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia," the New York Times reported. "It has increasingly sought to exert its diplomatic and military influence in the region and beyond. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, sent combat aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates each have forces in Afghanistan."