An unholy alliance

Sonia Le Gouriellec at Alliance Géostrategique quotes Bernard Badie on the Ivory Coast and the fact that democracy is a lot more than just elections.

Prenons-la [la démocratie] comme un idéal, c’est-à-dire faisons-en une valeur partagée par tous, c’est-à-dire reconstruite par ceux-là même auxquels elle est censée s’adresser. Sa faiblesse se trouve dans sa dérive procédurale, dans son universalisme naïf, dans son formalisme, dans la volonté de plaquer et d’imposer de l’extérieur des modèles tout faits auxquels on ne cherche même pas à faire adhérer ceux auxquels on veut l’adresser. Peut-être que le fond du problème est là ; nous avons oublié chez nous que la démocratie était un idéal, nous n’en retenons plus que l’aspect facile de technique de gouvernement : on l’exporte telle quelle et on veut en faire en plus une technique d’action diplomatique ; on a alors tout faux.

This is, arguably, something the EU got right but the UN usually doesn’t. It’s never enough to put on an election, as you put on a play. In fact, it’s often the worst thing that could happen.

But at least it’s not the newly invigorated and enlarged Gulf Cooperation Council. Marc Lynch (he’s a serious these days so we can’t call him Abu Aardvark any more) covers this in some detail. Basically, what is emerging is a new reactionary international institution – a sort of NATO for dictators. In fact, it’s something like all the most radical criticisms of NATO, if they were all true, rolled into one. It doesn’t have nukes but it does want a nuclear industry.

Instead, it seems to be evolving into a club for Sunni Arab monarchs — the institutional home of the counter-revolution, directed against not only Iran but also against the forces for change in the region. Where the United States fits in that new conception remains distinctly unclear.

You bet, as they say. As it seems to be evolving into a police-military alliance, perhaps the closest parallel would be one of the reactionary alliances Europe tried out in the 19th century.

One thought on “An unholy alliance

  1. Interestingly, Yemen is not now and never has been a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudis, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar adnd the UAE.

    But, sure, we include it in the Club of Reaction. Who else would be a member?

    Jordan, sorta. King Abdullah walks a narrow line! Note that he, like his father, will go far out of his way to avoid being perceived as too deferential to the Saudis.

    Syria? Secular Baathist state, but probably. Call these two associate members or fellow travellers.

    Lebanon? I shouldn’t think so.

    Iraq? I have no idea. But at first glance, it’s hard to see why they’d buy into this.

    And then there’s Egypt. Egypt is still in motion, and it’s not clear just where the ball will come down. But I suspect the days of Egypt being cozy chums with the Saudis have passed. “Coolly correct” would be my guess for the shape of relations there. Note that popular feeling in Egypt is pretty anti-Saudi. So, the more concerned about public opinion an Egyptian government is, the less it can be seen as publicly chummy with Riyadh. Note further that, despite the high degree of continuity between Mubarak’s government and the current regime, there’s a need to be seen as legitimate — and the Revolution is the major source of legitimacy. So, a certain amount of coolness to avowedly counterrevolutionary regimes is going to be de rigeur for a while, even if the folks at the top aren’t really feeling it.

    As for Libya, various GCC members have already recognized the NTC (the Benghazi rebels), and Qatar is reliably reported to be supplying them.

    In the Maghreb, Tunisia has left the building. Algeria and Morocco are likely to be friendly to the Club, but they’re pretty far away.

    So while the Club of Reaction is probably going to work a treat at stomping on liberalism within the Arabian penninsula, it’s a very open question how much effect it will have on the wider Arab world.

    Doug M.

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