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“Politics of Fear”

Optimism flourished within the sphere of international relations in the early 1990’s – seeds of democratic governance and freedom had been implanted in numerous parts of the world, peace in Northern Europe was perceived to be a feasible option and engagement within the premises of Camp David alluded to heightened levels of reconciliation and progress in the Middle East.

It saddens me to say that the times have drastically changed as inhabitants of this planet lack the mere ability to be optimal, let alone be ignited by any sort of exemplary substantive change.  Engulfed within a world of corruption, conflicts and crises, proxy wars, acts of terror, infringements when considering the abiding doctrines within the human rights framework [and the sacrifice of such in the name of security and nationalism] as well as the eroding levels of mass participation as per exhibited via the downsizing of social movements and protests, it is disheartening to consider the world that consumes us. Agendas driven by fear dominate.

 Hosni’s Mubarak’s anticlimactic address to the people of Egypt on Feb 10, 2011 outlined his decision to continue as state leader of Egypt, contradictory to the desires of the Egyptian protestors which have taken the streets of Egypt for more than two weeks now. Mubarak’s announcement provoked rage on the country street’s as the people of Egypt expected an immediate resignation; selected powers have been however transferred to vice president Omar Suleiman.  

 As Mubarak spoke, the international community looked on with bated breath for the future of Egypt and its people.  Although the main point of contention remains to be Mubarak’s failure to give up power and step down as a leader, I would like to divert our attention to perhaps a bigger operative demon that has overtaken the masses and us as individual political participants in our respective domains.  I am referring to a concept that is merely known as the ‘politics of fear’ or the ‘installment of fear” and how such can be entrenched and further embossed within the grassroots level to erode unification rather perpetuate a sense of divisiveness.

When considering Mubarak’s utilization of language and rhetoric in his address earlier today one cannot help but think about the Obama’s campaign and the idea of political figures to be extensions of public marketing campaigns.  They are certainly backed up with endless funding by major financial institutions as though such campaigns are the beacon of hope and fruitful examples of what spheres of public relations and marketing can entail.

 Mubarak initiated his address by directing his remarks to the ‘youth’ of the country. He referred to them as his ‘sons and daughters.’ Although one may immediately dismiss such language to be simply an oversimplification and rather an emotional rant one needs to play close attention to the reason for such tactful language. Could it be that perhaps stirring emotion When Suleiman took the podium he asked for the youth of the country ‘to go home and to return to work” and further insisted that “if protests continue Egypt will submit itself into further levels of disengagement and chaos.”  Could this be an indirect threat? To me it seems almost as though such words are bound to create mixed emotions and uncertainty within a collective portion of population. And isn’t that what the aim is anyway? Logistically speaking both addresses exhibited the aim of further perpetuation a fallen notion of unification amongst the Egyptian masses. It is thus through such utilization of language that a) these leaders are able to install fear [as well as resort to mechanisms of emotion to further create platforms of association with its people], b) which in turn will inevitably create doubt within the masses deconstructing thought process that further could deteriorate from maximum social movements within Egypt and lastly could further contribute to the everlasting reign of the Mubarak regime.

We have seen similar examples of the installment of fear and the utilization of language to ‘sway’ in international governance prior to today. Heck the entirety of the Bush administration governed itself on the premise of such an installment of fear and now we shall continue to witness such to unfold causing undeniable mammoth levels of uncertainty. The ripple effect has initiated as we see it and shall continue to foster across the Middle East…question remains do we look onto Jordan or Yemen?

 State governments around the world are engaging in the politics of fear, eroding all application of the rule of law and furthermore initiating a vacuum where rights are sacrosanct and individual security is overlooked. Fear is being used to justify a “dangerous roll back” of the utmost rejection of torture and ill-treatment. For example, the British government has continued to deport individuals to areas where they could [and do] face torture. Evidence often obtained via means of excruciating torture and or ill-treatment has often been permitted to be utilized and presented in the court of law [i.e. Germany] The US resorted to third-party affiliations and outsourced torture via the transferring of suspects for interrogation to countries including Morocco, Egypt and Syria [such persons and their mobilization has often been suggested to be ‘off the grids’ further escalating the belief illegality surrounding missing persons] and has turned their backs on the torture, ill-treatment and the installment of fear at the hands of CIA agents. The US-led initiative of “extraordinary renditions”, the globalization of human rights atrocities, “disappearing” suspects from places as far and wide as Germany, Pakistan, Italy and Kenya, and holding them for years in secret detention beyond the reach of law have become the pinnacle of the installment of fear.

 The irony remains however that although a period of anti Islamist movements have congruent contributions to the alignment of human perception, creating a binary opposition between that of the West and the East, the very premise of the politics of fear has now internalized itself creating opposition within the Middle East [state leaders vs. the people]

The road to a revolutionized Egypt shall remain to be long haul. I desire to see the passion and energy of the Egyptian people to similarly be applicable in other facets of the uprising of Egypt.

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  1. Taimur
    February 12, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    first comment!

  2. Aamir
    February 12, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Excellent Article. Very insightful

  3. Mya
    February 13, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    I appreciate the link between politics and marketing in this post. Politicians are the world’s best and worst marketers.

    Great post – as always!

  4. Farhat
    February 15, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    I’ve read your work many times before but this by far is one of your best pieces. To your point, many governments do in fact position themselves as being the ‘protectors’ against threats to the people of their country, when they themselves are vendors of those threats. Governments are brands that are continuously looking for ways to hook their target markets and increase consumption of the value they provide. In this case, we as citizens are unknowingly participating in a transaction with our respective administrations – we receive this so called value in the form of ‘protection’ in exchange for our fear. Viola, the politicians have succeeded, and unfortunately, we’re paying the price.

    I hope people really take the time to understand that the points you’ve mentioned represent the reality of this world and politics today. Keep writing – can’t wait to read more!

  1. March 20, 2011 at 8:18 PM

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