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Egypt Observations

February 6, 2011

I, by no means, am an expert on Egypt or the situation in northern Africa – that needs to be said. Still, I can’t pass up the opportunity for some recollections on Western reaction to the uprisings of late. In bullet form:

  • The now well-known Joe Biden quote serves a wonderful departure point for all we need understand about the US relationship to the situation in northern Africa: “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things and he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region, Middle East peace efforts, the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel … I would not refer to him as a dictator.” Right, so if you obey your US master you’re not a dictator (the last sixty years of US foreign policy). It’s not a democracy, of course, but not a dictatorship. So what is it? Apparently some netherworld that only obedient US-backed states are allowed to occupy.
  • You don’t need to be an expert on the region, but even a glossary analysis will tell you that Mubarak has tortured and murdered Egyptians and others for the last thirty years. Read for yourself. But keep in mind if you’re tortured by Saddam Husein it bequeaths us – the good citizens of America to call for the head of the dictator. But if you’re tortured by an US client for the interests of the US empire you should turn the other way and hide your eyes.
  • Or instead of hiding your eyes like most Americans, you should actually cheerlead for the dictator-murderer like the US Chamber of Commerce. In some ways it’s almost pointless to criticize the Chamber of Commerce for supporting a dictatorship (sorry, liberals), because underlying  and animating the criticism is the idea that the same body whose raison d’etre is to defend the interests of capital should also adhere to some type of ethical beacon in this endeavor. It’s simply not in their purview to concern themselves with the rights of other beings. And besides, where there’s Negroponte there’s usually some dead innocent people (like nuns).
  • Mubarak is worth 40 to 70 billion dollars. The youth unemployment rate is over 20%. I wonder why they’re angry.
  • The US is now apparently talking to Omar Suleiman – the former chief of intell and now VP – about how to move forward from the crisis. Who is Suleiman? Egypt’s go-to torture chief.
  • A friend told me RT (the Kremlin’s news network) was criticizing the US for their role in the recent developments, asking the question of why the US is allowed to put its grimy fingerprints all over every international crisis. Well, when you dump 1.3 billion dollars a year into a regime every year, you usually feel free to meddle. Perhaps Putin and the Russian people can make some investments and get their own dictators to play with in the future. Dumb criticism.
  • Every time I hear an American government official or American military leader talk about our talk about their “special relationship” with the Egyptian military I want to gag (no pun intended). I’m half-expecting them to start crying or read some poems they wrote each other. I guess torture is an activity that really builds strong bonds in a relationship (“Remember that time we ripped that guy’s fingernails off and we actually ripped his finger off! Hahaha! Oh, the times we had.”).
  • One wonderful example of this came on the Daily Show last night. Stewart interviewed Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff, Mike Mullen. Mullen did his best to apologize for Mubarak and violence he has enacted on the protestors. After clearly arming and allowing men with weapons to attack the protestors, Mubarak’s PM came on TV the next day to “apologize” for the violence (“oh, you’re sorry? Well, that will bring my son back from the dead”). The fact that Mullen seems to think the attacks happened “by accident,” indicates he’s a fucking idiot or possibly in love with Mubarak. I think I spent about 30 seconds looking at a map of the protests, coupled with live media about the attacks, to figure out the military let these pro-Mubarak attackers through the checkpoint and on to Tahir square. I wonder who told the military to let them in? Nice of Jon Stewart to not ask any real questions or follow-ups. I love Jon Stewart, but sometimes he needs to take his tongue out of US officials asses and ask real questions. What an awful interview.
  • I’m so glad Mullen feels so warm and cozy inside about our wonderful relationship with their military. What about our relationship with the Egyptian people? Do they count? How’s our relationship with them?
  • Mullen also made headlines by saying he was “surprised” by the events in Egypt. In David Gregory’s paint-by-number show Meet the Press, he got his panties in a bunch over how Mullen could be surprised. Well, maybe if you’re BFF with the military, i.e. people who have jobs and stability you might have  missed all the other problems in society. Gregory couldn’t figure that out on his own.
  • Nothing is better than the Right-wing flipping out because Obama “supports” Mubarak, as if Republican presidents for the last thirty years haven’t supported him too (even the fake cowboy himself, Ronnie).
  • While the situation is still fluid and various talks are happening at the moment, I must say a serious reform or successful revolution is largely dependent upon the decision of the military. Let’s hope they do the right thing.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2011 9:26 am

    I saw this post blog-surfing and found it interesting. I agree that the U.S. relationship with the middle east has been screwed up from the beginning. Because of our interest in oil, we have had some pretty messed up alliances. Geopolitical interest makes for strange bedfellows, I guess. For example, the Bush II administration whipped everyone into a frenzy to attack Hussein after 9/11 because he was such an “evil dictator,” but during the 80s the U.S. was perfectly willing to let him Saddam free with human rights violations because Iraq helped check Iran’s power and maintain stability in the Middle East. Now the U.S. is toeing a semi-neutral line so that they can avoid pissing off whomever ends up in power in Egypt. I don’t agree with strategy, but it is the political reality. What really needs to happen is the U.S. needs to get into alternative energy sources so we don’t have an economic interest in the Middle East and distance ourselves from Israel so we don’t have a substantial political interest in the region. Then we can actually support human rights. Until then, we’ll just keep getting in bed with whatever government lets us keep getting what we want out of the Middle East, no matter what atrocities they may be committing.

  2. February 6, 2011 9:32 am

    Thanks for reading and your comment. I don’t disagree with any of your observations/remarks. The only thing I’d like to add is: if this is a “political reality,” as you rightly point out, why can’t our leaders come out and say that to the American people? Why do we have to be treated like children? They should come on TV and say we support plenty of reigmes around the world that torture and murder innocent people, but we do it so we can enjoy our nice, placid lives here in America. I never argue against the reality of geo-politics (to ulilize a moronic saying that is popular nowadays “It is what is is”) – what I have a problem with is the veneer of ideology that sustains it and those who are responsible for it.

  3. February 6, 2011 9:43 am

    I agree 100% with that. I hate the hypocrisy implicit in the doctrine that America is the world’s missionary for democracy and human rights. Leaders should portray a more realistic view of what America is. We promote human rights and democracy–as long as that coincides with our interests. But once those deviate, American interest trumps everything else. It’s a little cynical, but I think that would be better than acting like we are a gift from God to humanity. That kind of chest-beating assertion of American moral supremacy makes me sick.

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