Getting a Little Political

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Allan and I stopped by an enormous furniture fair yesterday.  We thought it might have been more local and ethnic furnishings, but it wasn’t.  This was an upscale fashion furnishings show, sponsored by 220 of the fanciest stores in Tunis.    We were wildly, inappropriately dressed for such an event for any culture in any season.  See, we had been to the gym after work and then this fair venue was right by our gym and we were not going to go home to change our clothes and then come back again and as I said, we were a little misinformed about the event to begin with.  At least my legs and arms were mostly covered.  Allan was wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts, which would draw stares here even if he were clearly jogging down a sidewalk.  He offered to toss on a sport coat, but then you have a guy in a sport coat with no pants on, which is the classic look of a pervert so we just tossed back our heads, paid our two dinars entrance fee, and walked in.  My best hope was that the locals would think we were misguided tourists who were all about catching the rays on their late-winter holiday.  I wish we had had the presence of mind to slap some hastily made Spring Break ’11 signs on our backs.  I’m still cringing at the memory.  We didn’t stay long. 
Why am I mentioning this at all? I mention it because the fair was full of well-dressed, middle-aged Tunisian couples shopping for chic furniture to fill all the salles in their beautiful homes.  They were walking, heads together, arms linked, making plans, and as we left, we were assured that this country will continue to develop, no doubt about it.  There are just so many educated, prosperous-enough Tunisians that they are not going back to the kind of foolishness they have endured here for decades.  They are so proud of their revolution.  Last week, when Hillary Clinton stopped by, Tunisian friends I talked to were more teary-eyed over statements of affirmation about the significance of their revolution to the future of the region and the world than they were over the promises of monetary aid. They are clearly going to work their own country out.  
But what about Egypt?  And what about Libya?  Can the dominoes tumble in a consecutive, predictable pattern with the same expected results?  The truth is, no one knows.  Each of those countries is a completely different microcosm with its own set of variables.  Knowing whom to support, who is representing the “right” side is possibly impossible to know.  John Kerry is in the region this week and I heard him interviewed by Melissa Block on NPR regarding the recent military support of the revolt in Libya.  When asked about who the US is communicating with as a representative of the rebels and if they’ve got the right person, he responded as follows:
Sen. KERRY: Well, no, but this is their designated representative. We also know through them who a lot of the other players are. But look, are there some bad interests there? Yes, just like there are in Egypt, for heaven sakes. We didn’t know exactly what would happen when the Soviet Union fell. And we helped 19 nations to be able to define their future.
Today, they’re members of NATO. But that wasn’t guaranteed. We didn’t know who the players were in almost any one of those countries. But at this particular moment, all we’re doing is an effort to prevent the massacre of people by a man who is a delusional tyrant, who has already menaced the world, and who really ought to go. 
So a few countries are trying to offer a little muscle to hopefully level the field.  If this carries on and gets complicated, I will once again be exposed as being naïve, but I am believing, at the moment, that a majority of Libyans mostly want what Tunisians mostly want: to be able to make some plans and enjoy their own opportunities.

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