The Cycle | September 14, 2012
>>> as politicians argue over the ramifications in the middle east , protests have spread from egypt to yemen to lebanon to the sudan and tunisia with our embassies and those of our allies under siege. here's the question that many of us are asking, why? could all of this be about an amateur film ? our next guest offers a different theory. this is what it looks like when reality is setting in. the arab spring may have been about hope and freedom, it was ultimately fuelled for the need for basics, jobs, money, fukushima daiichi. we have dean of johns hopkins university school of advanced studies . thanks so much for being with us.
>> i think a lot of us are trying to wrap our heads around what is going on and how people in the ground in egypt and libya could think that this film was somehow the u.s. government 's work. our own richard engel had a take that the dictators we supported may have fermented the anti-american sentiment.
>> reporter: there is a mentality that has engulfed this region for the last 40 years. the region's dikt tayors are in part responsible for impoedsing this mentality that is a closed circu circuit. it is a way of looking at the world that sees it through a con spear toerl pair dime. that was convenient because they were hating the west and not hating their own leaders who presented themselves as the only thing that could prevent the people of this region from the onslaught from the outside.
>> are these protests in some way a hangover from the pro-american strong men that we propped up in the region?
>> to some extent yes. the mentality of the region is not going to change overnight just because the dictators are gone. that takes some time. one was hoping democracy would take roots quickly if you had the job prosperity, then the population would begin to have a change of mind set. that has not happened. the dictators are gone, poverty is still there. job security is gone. businesses are not employing. there's a sense of frustration setting in. so you're back to blaming the problems on the outside. there's a sense of hopelessness and frustration building in which is going to be dangerous going forward.
>> there was a lot of i would say understandable outrage in this country this week over basically the muted response of president morsi to the violence and sort of the sense that he was encouraging the protests and his government was more focused on what they saw as the outrage of the video. i guess the counter to that is there are more extreme forces in egypt that the south that morsi has to contend with. if he's being responsive in a boy to domestic imperatives that limit him to how publicly outraged he can be, i wonder from an american perspective if the alternative to a guy like morsi is worse, are we as americans giving him enough latitude to tend his domestic political imperatives?
>> it's a very good point. the other side of president morsi's eager military coup which is going back to where egypt was before or even more radical forces. but consider this. president morsi was not the leader of the revolution. he doesn't have the status of a nelson mandela . he's not somebody who can stand up there and take the nation in any direction he wants. he was elected afterwards in a close election. he has not been a rainmaker. he has not been able to bring a lot of money to egypt to address its problems. he's a politician. he's taking the mood of the street. he sees the frustration building up. it's much easier to ride with it. right now he's caution between a stone and a hard place. there's enormous pressure on the united states to show backbone and stand up to public opinion . on the other side he has very little to offer the egyptians right now. the greatest latitude we can give morsi is money. egypt needs money. egypt needs enormous amount of money to build its economy torque change its economy. instead of that we're threatening to cut off foreign aid . that's not going to give morsi any latitude with this public.
>> there's lots of reasons america is hated in the region. i want to talk about is there an imaginable future where america is not the hated villain on the region or an unavoidable cost?
>> there is some people who hate america . there is some people who get caught in the theater of the day, which these days is attacking american embassies. if you have a lot of unemployed youth with nothing better to do, it's very easy to suck them into a mob that's druggive and is targeting the u.s. ultimately this region will stop disliking america when it's integrated into the global economy . when it's doing trade with us, when it's sell things to us. when the livelihoods of the average person depends on trade and prosperity on the american and european consumers. that's not going to happen overnight. unfortunately, this is a step backwards what happened the past two days. but it was coming. if you looked at everything that happens since january 2001 , there was a lot of hope. but nothing has happened to the daily lives of people. unemployment is up. poverty is up. there is no sign of hope going forward. and radical groups can take advantage of that sense of frustration.
>> i think that's right. i think the tendency when you look across the map of the 20 plus countries where you've seen protests this week, the tendency would be to say this is islam uniting globally against the west. i would say this is radical islam uniting and exploiting vulnerable groups of people. and their weak moment against a ghost. and that ghost is either america the west, a film, a cartoon. would you say that's fair? that's accurate?
>> right. if you go all the way back to the sal man rushdie affair which started this idea of taking an affront and turning it into political protest , there is a great deal of political entrepreneurship on the side of the radicals. they understand there's a moment where they can play a big role. they can mobilize people and build political institutions and movements around it. one of the biggest things that's happened in egypt and libya is that these groups have changed the balance of power against their own governments. that's why people like libyan prime minister or the egyptian president now feel so as a rule shl. as presidential interrupt nears they look for a particularly critical trigger event. the people are ripe for mobilization because they have other frustrations. we should not get sucked into this culture war here. we should see this for what it is. it is a very dangerous political dynamic on the ground fuelled by the fact that the arab spring has not quickly found a very clear direction.
>> great insight. thanks so much.
>> thank you.
>> and straight ahead, the new iphone or qe 3? which is more likely to jump start the economy. that stimulating conversation is next. i don't spend money on gasoline. i