Thursday, February 3, 2011

That's not history, Rove

I'm kind of fascinated by Rove's latest comments on Egypt. (YouTube embeds aren't working for me at the moment, but you can find it here. It's less than 45 seconds.) He argues that Egyptians are more "Western" than other Arabs and Moslems because they are "descended" from Ramses and Cleopatra. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and stipulate that this is a metaphoric, not genetic, descent.  I won't even bother arguing his notion that the presence of Coptic Christians implies a Westward leaning (because the Copts have a long history of ... erm ... actually pretty horrible relations with the Western kinds).

Ramses - an imperialist who justified his invasion of modern day Israel and Lebanon by stating that he was "forced to fight" a dangerous Palestinian prince, and then claimed his defeat in Syria as a victory on the grounds that he didn't lose as badly as he might have. He didn't bother justifying the wars that added the populated bits of Libya and much of Nubia to his empire, with the latter campaign most famous for his claim that he fought to victory single-handed, without his army. Being a pharaoh, it goes without saying he believed himself to be a god, making all his actions divinely ordered.

Cleopatra - from the Ptolemaic dynasty of Greek-loving Macedonians that oppressed native Egyptians in favor of a number of immigrant groups, she liked to seal diplomatic deals with sex, had her own sister killed to solidify her position (violating a sacred temple in the process), and embarked on a disastrous military campaign that destroyed her regime. And ditto on the living god thing.

So, he's defining "Western" values as including:
- aggressive, imperialist military campaigns (in the Middle East, yet)
- support for the notion of the "pre-emptive strike" as justification for war
- ignoring the "reality based world" in favor of myth-building
- glorification of the leader by ascribing to him feats accomplished by others
- theocratic political decision making
- privileging of well-established immigrant groups over natives
- sexual favors as political currency
- valuing power over ... everything
- and wasting national resources and destroying the credibility of the state in pointless, poorly-considered military ventures.

Yep. Sounds about right, for Rove, that is.  Not so much for the rest of us.

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