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As Long as We Remember...

January 31, 2011

Heisenberg’s Principle and Egyptian Chaos

Steven R. Berryman

To the casual observer, events unfolding in Egypt can appear chaotic, random and spontaneous. Is the fall of Egypt related to an empowerment born of strength drawn from Tunisia’s demise as an authoritarian regime?


And – if Tunisia was somehow manipulated by the United States’ influence, was Egypt a “domino effect” that was an unintended consequence?


As a CNN commentator just pointed out on my Sony television, revolutions don’t always end up in the hands of those who started them. Take Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik’s, for instance.


To influence the outcome of a revolution, steps involved can be deceitful and hidden far below the depths of general media coverage; superficial to the extreme.


However, as in Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, it is impossible to conduct an experiment, or even to observe one, without interfering with the outcome.


The randomness of these unfolding events will certainly not be so with oil bubbling up to the $100 per barrel mark, and militant Islam on the rise.


Watch for the mere presence of a television camera to inevitably add bravado to a random leader, stepping up in a crowd of demonstrators. If the impromptu leader had coordinated with the camera crew earlier, it is so much more convenient for both sides concerned!


In this case, Al Jazeera gets the story, and the revolution gets the empowerment. Foment a confrontation, and the revolution wins. Become a martyr on camera, it’s a grand slam for the revolution.


That we have not seen more “suicide by cop” in the Egyptian people’s confrontation with Hosni Mubarak’s regime tells me that perhaps it’s not the Muslim Brotherhood immediately behind the revolution. But they could easily seize the moment at a crucial juncture and have Egypt partner with Iran.


No doubt that Israel is partnering with Washington on this eventuality.


To control circumstances, Facebook and Twitter, plus related Internet domain access, were contained by Egyptian government internal security forces. There was relentlessly heavy coverage of this, and also of cutting off all cell phone and land line traffic for a time.


When it was restored, it was done so selectively.


This subterfuge no doubt backfired, as it reminded the revolutionary forces seeking to coordinate crowd location and the nature plus level of résistance activity to get immediately back on the horn once service was restored.


This manifested itself conveniently as an utter disregard to a forced curfew, and total ignorance of the gesture by President Mubarak to fire his entire cabinet.


The latter was an obvious throwaway gesture by the strongman.


As I write this column Saturday morning, events may easily have become clearer and settled on this Monday.


In the meantime, I plan to continue to shift my observation platform from CNN to Drudge Report to The Washington Post, to Facebook and blogs. I will look for which cameras and reporters are situated exactly where and when.


Spontaneity can be a manipulated thing; who can forget the convenient filming of the people toppling that giant stature of Saddam Hussein in Iraq? The cameras just happened to be there. The statue proved to be too strong for the “random crowd” of Iraqi freedom fighters to pull down, even with block and tackle.


Of course, an American Army tank was conveniently nearby to tow it down for them!


I do wonder just what our “fall of the Berlin wall” moment will be in this Middle Eastern crisis in Egypt, and just how well it will be covered.


Or did you think we were merely observing?



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