North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Of the people, by the people, for the people ...

The Gettysburg Address was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln during America's Civil War, in November 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the decisive Battle of Gettysburg. In just over two minutes, Lincoln invoked the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence, and exhorted the listeners to ensure the survival of America's representative democracy, that the "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Lincoln's two minute reflection still reverberates today.

Around the world - especially in the autocratic regimes of the Arab nations - this nearly 150 year old expression of responsive government continues to confront and inspire. In Muslim countries, the challenge is whether a theocracy would better serve the people than a pluralistic democracy. In the former Soviet Union, the concept that the "state" should have its rights prevail over those of individuals was shown as bankrupt. Even the surprisingly large number of monarchies ranging from constitutional (Lichtenstein, Sweden, Belgium, etc) to absolute (Sultanate of Brunei, Lesotho, Swaziland and .. the Holy See!) flourish only to the degree that a basic acceptance of people having a respectful say prevails.

Other regimes - let's not limit it to Islamic countries struggling with the concept of an Islamic theocracy - such as North Korea, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela for example, all have to be thinking of their rough holds and how they are to be maintained.

In the current world spotlight, Egypt's struggle continues. Over three hundred people have been killed, and fighting between factions continues in major cities. The actions of the armed forces are being watched closely, as are the intentions of Egypt's most militant Islamist group - the Muslim Brotherhood. We will return to this unfolding event, no doubt, in the future.

Running street battles in Cairo included riders on camels and horses. The expression of rage from the rider toward a man beating his fallen horse's legs captures the deadly level of emotions in this crisis. (click picture for larger image)

Other countries are pulling their citizens out of Egypt by the planeloads. Here a tiny Australian girl stands waiting in the airport.

In Sudan, the people have spoken. 99% of Southern Sudanese have voted for independence and a transition to that new state has begun, with a formal recognition to take place during the summer of 2011.

Sudanese lined up for their turn to vote.

In South Africa, another example of the people throwing off an unjust government after decades of struggle, its diplomats are expected to discuss the country's political response to the unrest in Egypt at the African Union Heads of State Summit, currently underway in Ethiopia.

In South Africa more than 40% of its ministers are women, and more than a third of the positions in Parliament are held by women. While the Egyptian crisis will be a major focus, the AU will also further the efforts being made in the AU's "Women's Decade 2010-2020."

In Zimbabwe, 86 year old Robert Mugabe continues to preside over his country's plunge into bankruptcy and desperateness. Elections originally scheduled to be held in 2011 may now be looked at with more alarm from those elites wielding power.
Mugabe making a point at a UN conference on food aid (ironic ...)

And finally, where the fruits of representative government seem to be regularly shown in the best light, Denmark is moving forward to link its country with Germany (and Sweden) in a new tunnel and bridge project over and under the Baltic Sea.
The Fehmarn project will use both an extensive underwater tunnel and new bridges to provide passage across an 18 kilometre wide strait.

It is certainly a contrast to the debris of Egypt, though the cobblestones and bloodshed there may be part of the path that must be taken before a more responsive governance is established.
Muslim cleric, overcome with emotion, cries in front of Egyptian tank.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Thanks for the continuing posts on Egypt (and Tunisia) and the reverberations. You're helping me sift through it all....

That picture of the little girl in the airport makes me teary - it captures the innocence and vulnerability of children. Of course, she's hopefully on her way to safety and there's so many children caught in the crossfire.