Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin

The Saudi monarchy is backing Mubarak. They can read the writing on the wall.

I see the Saudi monarchy has the same view of the Egyptian uprising as the Chairman of the House Republican conference. Only natural, of course. The Banu Saud aren’t fools; they can read the handwriting on the wall.

At some point, we’re going to have to shed the House of Saud, just as we shed the Shah and ben Ali, and are now in the process of shedding Mubarak. No matter how useful these petty tyrannies seem in the short run, in the long run being on their side against the people they govern is a losing proposition. And they’re eventually going down, whether we support them or not. Here’s hoping that the enormous river of Saudi cash that flows into U.S. law firms, universities, and other power centers doesn’t delay for too long the day the U.S. government recognizes that simple truth.

Oh, yeah: backing tyrants is also profoundly immoral, and contrary to the principles on which this country was founded. Through the 19th Century, freedom fighters in Europe looked to the U.S. for support. The bumper sticker has it right: America is a great republic, but a lousy empire.

Update The Chinese tyranny also seems uneasy at the news of popular revolt. The post-Mao Chinese Communist Party has brought off one of the greatest accomplishments in human history, the liberation of hundreds of millions of people from poverty. But it’s in the interests of both China and the rest of the world for the world’s largest GDP to be in democratic hands, and in the long run it’s doubtful that a modern economy can be run successfully without the rule of law. As Marx said about the bourgeoisie, once they’ve done their historical job, it’s time to kick them into the street.

Second update John Bolton and other neo-con luminaries also express support for the continuation of Mubarak’s tyranny. But William Kristol and Elliot Abrams are on the other side.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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