Tag Archives: protests

Kansas City Under Occupation

That’s right, the Occupy Wall Street movement is making noise in the heartland. According to the Kansas City Star, a group of around 300 protesters are camped out at Penn Valley Park across from the Kansas City Federal Reserve building. They had various signs and people speaking and all of that. The question still looms over this entire movement though. What do they want?

The answer doesn’t seem to be even remotely clear. I’ve heard various reports on these protests from different places in the country. To me it seems that people are just mad. The groups seem to have some diversity in political ideology, though it’s hard to tell how much. They seem to not like the idea of “corporate personhood” or the large amount of corporate influence in our elections.

I’ve yet to decide what I think of all of this. The footage I’ve seen looks like young people who want real change. Think of the beginnings of the Tea Party. It was a bunch of people who got upset over government bailouts of corporations and a ballooning deficit. They talked about fiscal responsibility and people from different sides of the political spectrum were involved. Then the ultra-right hijacked the movement using vast sums of money and turned it away from balancing the budget. Suddenly, The Tea Party was about cutting government spending and lowering regulations and taxes. Those who were not staunch conservatives left, and we had a national movement spouting talking points for billionaires and corporations. It is still to be seen if this movement will suffer the same fate from the right or the left.

After reading the piece on the Star’s website I took a look at some of the comments. One guy tried to somehow make an argument using Abraham Lincoln. I’m not sure why. Anyway, I came across this comment by playon266:

“as they all celebrate by making calls, taking pictures, and sending texts on their smart phones (made by big corporations, on carriers that are big corporations)… and then while driving home in their car or truck or hybrid (all made by big corporations), they’ll stop at Wal-Mart (a HUGE corporation) and buy cheap food (from corporate food producers) and cheap imported products (from big FOREIGN corporations)… and they’ll think they made an impact. Interesting…”

He makes a point. Corporations exist because we support them. If no one  went to Wal-mart, we would not complain about the evils of Wal-Mart. Playon662 misses the point however. These protesters don’t want corporations to be eliminated, they want them to get the same treatment we do. They want them to pay taxes. They want them to have less influence in our political system. They want the everyday citizen to pay less in taxes than the corporation with a multi-billion dollar profit margin.

Two pieces were written at the Kansas Free Press, about the Occupy Wall Street protests. One, by Christina Stein, celebrates the activism and drive of the protesters. The other, by Ken Poland, questions whether these protesters have the knowledge and ability to exact change. You should read them both.

It is too early to know what these protests will accomplish, if anything. One thing seems sure; the protests are spreading. The coming days will show if Americans are truly angry, and if they are, will politicians listen?

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Was The Bush Doctrine Right?

With the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, an interesting question could be raised about the future of the Arab world.  Protests have happened in Yemen, and Algeria. Governments in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan have all taken measures to control the price of food, and necessities. The government in Iran is refusing permits for groups wanting to rally in support of the Egyptian movement. All over the Arab world autocratic regimes are taking note. They are realizing that even in a dictatorship, power rests on the support of the people. Sometimes it is true support and sometimes it is merely a fear of voicing opposition. In any case, if the people are determined enough they will always win. So, when we look at the Arab world today we have to ask,”Was Pres. Bush right?”

The answer is yes. Well, he was partially right. A people taking control of their destiny, forcing out a dictator is inspirational to other nations. Egypt is providing people in other countries with the sense that they could do the same thing. Pres. Bush wasn’t completely right, though. While the possible rise of Egyptian democracy will inspire others, the rise of Iraqi democracy really didn’t.  The Bush Doctrine said if we put a stable democracy in Iraq other people in the Arab world we see the greatness of democracy and force their governments to embrace democratic reform. That didn’t exactly happen. We invaded Iraq in 2003 and 8 years later their democracy is still struggling. Why do I have more hope for Egypt? Why do I think Egypt could be the catalyst for change that Pres. Bush wanted Iraq to be? Simply put Iraq didn’t have a revolution. The Iraqi people did not stand up against Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi people didn’t fight for their freedom. We did it for them.  True freedom only comes to people who want it bad enough. Egypt had a homegrown revolution. People from all walks of life, all ages, all religions, stood up as one voice and said, “We’ve had enough. Give us our freedom.”  That’s the difference. The Egyptian people stood together. In both Iraq, and Afghanistan we have run into populations that have more division that consensus. Iraqis see themselves as Sunni, Shi’ite, or Kurdish. Afghanistan is a loose collection of tribes that are as likely to war with each other as they are with the U.S. or Al-Qaeda.  If they do not want to work together it will be very difficult for any central government to make them.

Pres. Bush was right that people living under a dictator could be driven to demand freedom. Seeing another country throw off the shackles of autocracy could cause a domino effect. He was wrong, like so many Presidents before him, that we could make it happen through military might. You can’t free a people. You can help, but they have to want it. Pres. Obama was criticized early in the Egyptian protests for not supporting pro-democracy groups.  He should have spoken more strongly. It is hard to sell the idea that we want to spread democracy, unless your dictator is helping us out. America’s pro-democracy activities around the world are hypocritical at best. Mubarak was an ally. He was very helpful. His government provided a moderate vision in an unstable region. They even had a relationship with Israel. He was also a brutal dictator, and when the people stood up to remove him the U.S. should have been very vocal in their support.  It was a tight rope for the Obama administration. While they may have wavered a bit, I think they made it from one side to the other. Now, we must provide all the support we can to helping Egypt on a course to democracy. Today the question of whether Pres. Bush was right is irrelevant. The question should be how can we insure that the vision of a free Arab world comes true.