West of the Jordan, East of the Rock of Gibraltar

It sure is a Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar kind of time, looking out on the Middle East, with regime’s crumbling, protesters being machine-gunned, buildings burning, blood flowing.

Prayed in the ghetto with my face in the cement
Heard the last moan of a boxer, seen the massacre of the innocent
Felt around for the light switch, felt around for her face
Been treated like a farm animal on a wild goose chase

West of the Jordan, east of the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the turnin’ of the page, curtain rising on a new age
I see the groom’s still waiting at the altar

I had no idea that there were versions of Groom’s Still Waiting At the Altar by Elkie Brooks and by Rod Stewart, but I found them on YouTube this morning. Arguably better than either of those, however, is the one embedded here by a combo calling themselves Ultimate Outlet.

It’s a time to watch and wonder from afar, with a certain amount of hope and not a little fear. Each challenge to the aged ruling despots spurs more challenges elsewhere, and the violence which the regimes employ against the protesters seems only to multiply the rage and the strength of the rebellions. (Iran being a very notable exception, to date. Notable also is that Iran is an explicitly theocratic and Islamic tyranny, unlike the ones which are falling.) I’m firmly on record in the past supporting the freedom agenda for the Middle East which the Bush administration initiated and pushed, albeit falteringly. But no one quite envisaged things falling apart so quickly as this. It’s pretty hard not to take satisfaction in seeing long-oppressed peoples overthrowing their cadaverous tyrants, but the great unanswered question is in how many of these countries — if any — will the next chapter actually be one of freedom and of peace? No one knows the answer to that. The list of reasons to be pessimistic is long. And the stakes are high, not only for the citizens of those countries, but for their neighbors and the world. Maybe the most appropos Dylan line is this one: Hang on to me, baby, and let’s hope that the roof stays on.

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