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The Information “Genie” is Released in the Middle East

18 September 2011 2 Comments
Way to go Egpyt! 02/11/11

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The results of the so-called “Arab Spring” have permanently changed the landscape of Middle-Eastern politics, and it’s not over yet.  There is little doubt that  popular uprisings  will continue in Syria and Yemen, and will undoubtedly spread to other places, such as Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.   Each of the uprisings have resulted from different sets of circumstances, although all of them have been fueled  primarily by unemployed (or underemployed) youth, who have effectively used technology to communicate with one another and to coordinate their efforts.  Without modern computer and communications technologies it is doubtful that revolutionary forces would have been successful against well-armed and entrenched regimes.  Fortunately, desperate efforts by these regimes to cut off access to technology to the people in their countries have largely failed.  History teaches us that freedom of information (i.e. the truth) is the greatest enemy of despots.

In a very real sense, the world has changed in a  significant way by opening up the channels of communication via the internet and via satellite communications to all peoples of the world.  In the future,  despots such as Hitler, Stalin, and Chairman Mao will have a much more difficult time garnering  popular support by disseminating false claims and blatant propaganda.   It will become increasingly difficult for dictatorships in places like North Korea and Myanmar to keep populations, especially young populations,  in the dark about the world they live in.  This will, of course, not stop them from trying; but their efforts will eventually fail.

Freedom of information does not, however, mean freedom to hear the truth, because all of us interpret the meaning the “truth” differently.  What freedom of information guarantees is that people will be able to have access to different opinions and different ideas, and then make their own judgments as to where the truth resides.   Because of this, the new “information-friendly” Middle East will not necessarily become any “friendlier” to the West, and in particular to the U.S.   It may, in fact, become a lot less friendly when radical Islamic groups find they have new and unfettered access to large populations in places like Libya.  It is almost certain that America‘s arch-enemy in the Middle East, Iran, will now have much greater influence on the other nations within the region.  In fact, it is only a matter of time before Iran uses its renewed access to information to  foment revolutions in the region in order to achieve its own political agenda.

The information “genie” is now out of the bottle in the Middle East, and it’s unlikely anyone will be able to put the cork back in.  Only time will tell if  access to  “information” has truly freed the people in the region, or if it has opened the door to an even more cruel  master; the master that schemes against them in Tehran.


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