Over the past week, every official statement from the U.S. government concerning the situation in Egypt has referred to the state of Egypt as an ally. It’s time the American people recognize that the freedom-seeking people of Egypt are our allies. So far, we’ve abandoned them in their moment of need.
While discretion and official decorum were appropriate as the crisis unfolded, Mubarak’s latest gambit is the last straw. The attacks on journalists was a crude attempt to manipulate the story line, and it will backfire. The insertion of small numbers of mounted, armed thugs into a peaceful march by millions of everyday people is both despicable and desperate. Moreover, these actions provide clear cause for our government [read: president, if we had one] to publicly call for Mubarak’s immediate resignation. The best we get is perhaps some back-channel massaging of Soliman by the State Department.
Is There No Hope for Change?
The military holds the key in Egypt, and so far they’ve performed admirably, considering the very fine line they had to tread. They will sooner or later back the right horse — be it Suleiman or el Baradei — once it’s certain who the right horse is. The Egyptian military is largely funded by the US, so this should be a slam dunk for us, but the White House appears confused, uninterested, or working off another agenda.
America seems paralyzed by fears of a radical islamic coup in Egypt. Yet, only were the situation to devolve into a protracted civil war — unlikely, since the vast majority of Egyptians are of one mind in this — would a narrow window open for the Muslim Brotherhood (“MB”). Among the entire world, only the Israelis — and it seems, our White House — wish to see Mubarak linger. For the Israelis, it boils down to protecting a single policy: the continued blockade of the Gaza Strip. That’s petty, it’s narrow-minded, and it actually poses Israel far greater long-term harm by creating an unstable or radical neighbor.
Fear the Bogieman!
A large dose of skepticism is in order when listening to the chicken little alarms in the American media about the MB. To the psychos on the far right, Tunisia, Egypt — these are but the first tiles to fall in a “domino effect” (a term last heard when referring to Indochina in the 1960’s) of muslim regimes.
Reichspropagandaminister Beck goes beyond that, calling this is a “Sarajevo moment”, the first spark in the “Coming Insurrection” of international jihadism. One must surmise that Beck & Co.’s answer to this crisis is to prop up Mubarak. That would please the American far right, AIPAC, and Benjamin Netanyahu. It would, however, majorly piss of 83 million Egyptians. In truth, continuing to support Mubarak is the best possible way to create the very jihadist regime Beck swears he dreads.
Actually, a MB takeover of Egypt is Beck’s wet dream. Know why Papa Bush was so dejected when the Berlin Wall came down? The right-wing had just lost its best bogieman ever, the Soviets. With 9/11, Baby Bush found a new bogieman to scare the public — Radical Islam. Like viewers of SAW IV, the American public seems eager to indulge in irrational fears and swallow the right-wing distortion of the news from Egypt.
Egypt’s Berlin Wall Moment
For a more level-headed perspective, look abroad. For english readers, The Guardian UK and (surprise!) Aljazeera offer the most comprehensive, up-to-the-minute, and balanced coverage.
It’s the German media, however, that seem to have recognized the true meaning, the spirit, if you will, of the coming change in Egypt. The Germans can relate — it was a peaceful revolution, with people literally using their bare hands to tear down the Berlin Wall, that brought freedom to East Germany after decades. We Americans, fixated on the bogieman, fail to grasp the importance of this moment for Egyptians, to embrace their passion and determination. We still talk vaguely of our “Spirit of ’76”; the freedom-seeking Egyptian people today are filled with their own “Spirit of ’11.” We should be standing by their side, not standing on the sidelines.
In an interview, an Egyptian architect participating in the protests dismissed Western fears of a MB takeover as “inconceivable. We want our freedom, not religious oppression,” he stressed. “People in the West need to finally understand that also in Egypt, the will of the people is inviolable.”
America gives lip service to spreading democracy around the world. Today, spontaneously, democracy is struggling to arise in Egypt. One, hard shove is all it that’s required to remove Mubarak and usher in freedom. America has the ability, but not the inclination, to provide that much-needed shove.
Shame on us hypocrites.
(c) 2011 by ‘tamerlane.’ All rights reserved.
I noticed via FB how many of my Irish and British friends posted links to Al-Jazeera. I bet it gets a lot more coverage and tie-ins to networks over there? It feels almost traitorous to watch them and not a Murdoch channel over here! While even lefty English pals of mine gently mock the PC-Guardian, they agree with you that it tries for balance. (As an aside, having NPR on the way home the other day, even as I rarely listen, I had to avoid an awful tune on the classical station, I was surprised by how many younger Egyptians interviewed had perfect American accents. Or maybe NPR sought them out for broadcast?)
I prefer the Guardian (despite its obama whore US bloggers) to the stuffy, Thatcherian Telegraph. Though, alas, neither offer Page Three Girls.
In Europe, I used to watch Sky Channel, but only for the Australian Rules Football.
I caught a bit of Aljazeera’s coverage of the 2008 Democratic kabuki show Convention. They seem “fair and balanced.”
I gave up on NPR in 2008. I only listen when a SC justice either dies or is nominated, to listen to what Nina Totenberg has to say.
This is one of the best posts I’ve read describing the current situation in Egypt. There is every reason to believe that the majority of the Egyptian people support democracy because that is what the majority of the protesters have called for. I have read and watched many interviews of people on the street in Cairo and Democracy is clearly the driving force of the majority of protesters.
And I agree that the only way this could move toward a good outcome for radical islamists is if this becomes a protracted civil war.
I read this morning that the U.S. is backing Sueleiman to replace Mubarak. I think El Baradei would be the better choice because his interests haven’t been tied up with our regional military interests. I also think El Baradei would, in the long run, be viewed by his people as a man of the people, not an emissary of U.S.military interests.
As for Gleen Beck, he’s a granstanding, hyperbolic, pot stirring tool of the far right relgious neo-conservatives. They won’t allow themselves to see any ending in the Middle East except for their Armageddon/Rapture scenario. It’s been a huge business proposition for them, so they have to see the devil at every turn.
For many obvious reasons, Mubarak must go ASAP, but Suleiman (Sp? I’ve seen it spelled 3 different ways) is the only viable option right now. The Egyptian constitution is sound, and the countries institutions are in theory free, only one party (Mubarak’s NDP) has rigged it all these years.
So the smoothest, safest path is not to toss out the current regime entirely, leaving a vacuum, rather for it to end oppression and hold free elections very soon. This is the model set in ’91 in Russia. (The government of East Germany, btw, wasn’t overthrown: it simply voted itself out of existence.) Suleiman or his immediate successor would also need to dissolve the NDP-dominated parliament, which was just elected to 5-year terms.
Unlike Suleiman, el Baradei is not currently part of the government. For foreign powers to arbitrarily install him as president would undermine the purpose of this revolution — to enforce the will of the people. Baradei would have to be regarded as the early favorite in a presidential election, however. The MB, btw, announced today that they will not field candidates in the upcoming election(s).
I read this morning that El Baradei has proposed an interim govt with a presidential panel of 3 people. He’s also suggested that the constitution needs to be re-written prior to the presidential election. I think the election is scheduled for Sept 2011, El Baradei says that the election should be put off for a year to give the interim govt time to put everything in place. ElBaradei doesn’t all of the Mubarak govt needs to go. I’m not sure exactly how those people and offices will be indentified, but it makes sense.
And the Right wingnuts of our country are drooling their usual bullshit
Things seem to be moving forward again in Egypt (knock on wood.) As for the panel / triumvirate, it’s unprecedented, but I suppose Baradei has in mind himself, Suleiman, and ??? Two members from outside the current regime would assuage the public’s concerns of a renege.
To be democratically proper, the constitution would have to be altered via referendums, which are easily done.
One year’s hiatus would also allow real political parties to form in Egypt, which would avoid the cults of personality that arose in places like the United States.
Reporting this morning says that all of Mubarak’s cabinet is resigning, including Mubarak, but he is retaining presidency. Is this guy a control freak or what? How do you resign without resigning? Am I misunderstanding what I’m reading or is this guy really this disconnected from what is happening that he believes he can hold onto a title and resign at the same time?
All that grecian formula must’ve seeped through his scalp over the years & affected his brain….
At its start, the Russian revolution was a popular uprising and there was hope for a better life for The Russian People.
It didn’t take long before a DIFFERENT group — the forces of repression — grabbed the power. I wish the Egyptians better luck.