Your Time is Over!
The Arab Revolution and the End of American-Zionist Empire
By Magid Shihade
Birzeit University – Occupied Palestine
Many centuries ago, Ibn Khaldoun predicted the stages of the end of empires. In his assessment; when the rule of empire becomes too unjust, when it becomes too brutal and arrogant, when it extends itself militarily and economically too thin, it starts its last stages of decay. At that time, groups and states rise to challenge it and help speed up its destruction.
This prescription fits well in the context of the American Empire, whose origin lies in the racist capitalist global system. It has been an imperialist history that has been wreaking havoc and destruction for centuries since the invasion of the Americas, and whose latest stage has focused heavily on the Arab and Muslim world due to economic but also to Zionist influence to destroy and divide a region in order to dominate it. But this stage is coming to an end, opening the possibilities for a better future not only for Arabs and Muslim, but to the wretched people all around the world, who have been suffering the consequences of its economic and military domination and destruction.
It was the Arab world that gave the US its tool for dominance of global resources of energy, and it is the Arab and Muslim world that will bring it to its knees. Starting with the entanglement in Iraq (in the first and second invasions), that showed the world that power and arrogance do not lead to total submission, and to the Afghani resistance to the US western led genocide against Arabs and Muslims, to the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance to the American Zionist plan to pacify and dominate the region further, where the signs of cracks in the empire took roots.
In the recent weeks, not military and resistance fighters, but peoples' will and resolve, both in Tunisia and Egypt, brought an end to American-Israeli backed regimes, and through a popular revolt in both places, an opening to a global revolution against the American Zionist hegemony is taking place. It was peoples' anger boiling for decades against corrupt undemocratic regimes collaborating with Israel and the US and backed by them, that pushed hundreds of thousands of people to overthrow these regimes despite and against all odds. Now, people all around the world who face similar conditions can learn something that will allow them to take their destinies in their hands, and live in dignity under governments that are accountable only to them, under governments that serve the people, the poor before the rich, under governments that do not collaborate with imperialism that kills their own people, under governments that have some sense of dignity and insistence on self determination and sovereignty, the sovereignty of the people, and a just and fair system to the weak before the strong in our societies.
It is the beginning of a new history, where individuals and groups are getting energized in Palestine, Pakistan, and elsewhere in the world after witnessing the victory of the Tunisian and Egyptian people, a victory already decided, that dignity, and justice are worth to rise up for and even to die for. Long live the Arab Intifada, and down with the American Zionist Empire, and long live the people around the world.
The slogans that peoples on the streets in Tunisia and Egypt are carrying stating "Bin Ali: Your time is over," and "Mubarak: Your time is over," mean also that the time of ease and stability managed by local cronies working with the American-Zionist Empire is over, and that is the last stage of this imperialism is being eroded by the people of the Arab and Muslim world. Whatever tricks American imperialism and its local cronies will use won't reverse history. From now on people know how to change corrupt and unjust system, and those who do not catch up with this new spirit will be left outside of history, a history of a better future, a history of the people, made by them and for them.
The Media as a Medium for Change in the Arab World
By Said Arikat
In the pursuit of sober assessment of the media as a medium in the Arab World, and thus as a catalyst for change (internet and social media excluded), one should always look to see where such a medium is perched. Not only its venue and its funding, but also its support system and editorial inclination.
Aljazeera satellite channel should be viewed with no less scrutiny.
From the outset I want to state the obvious; Aljazeera has pioneered a new frontier in Arab journalism, the dissimilation of information and in making available of often critical developments in politics and war in the Arab World to the average Arab, who otherwise has historically been painted into a corner of fabricated and selective caricature of the news around him. It conveyed in real-time and graphic details the compelling realism that stoked their empathy and at times exposed the duplicity of the regimes around them. For that, no sane person can dismiss or lessen the multitude of ways in which Aljazeera has impacted the average Arab.
All however should be viewed in perspective. For starters, it is just that; A satellite broadcast channel that should neither be assigned the Arab political mantle, nor substitute for the urgent need to have Arabs organize functional political alternatives to the aging autocracies and dictatorial monarchies that still control the Arab world.
It should not be lost on anyone that Aljazeera's cradle is Qatar , a small wealthy city-state governed by a very conservative royal family that espouses the Wahabi sect and maintains total monopoly over man and land and everything between in the fiefdom. It is owned, directed and funded by it.
We should also note that oil- and gas-rich Gulf fiefdoms can use their wealth to address some of the grievances in some of the Arab lands sensationally (like a kid in a candy store) and reflect the pulse the common man and woman in the streets of Cairo, Gaza, Tunis and others, but we are never likely to see Al-Jazeera speak a whisper about what goes on in the home country: Qatar, or any other in their wealthy Gulf neighborhood.
Let us remember that power in Qatar was transferred by a coup d'état 1995 when the current emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, seized power from his father Sheikh Khalifa (and gave him $14 billion in exchange), and where it is (possibly) as the world's richest country with a GDP per capita in excess of $145,000. So it is highly unlikely that Qatar can experience revolutionary upheavals about anything besides shopping.
According to all statistics (including Brooking Doha Center), the most pressing socioeconomic problem the leadership currently faces in Qatar is how to motivate a population of soon-to-be millionaires to keep showing up for work in the morning.
Helping to instigate and incite in Egypt and Tunisia , which is a wonderful thing and worthy of praise, is one thing, but fomenting uprisings in the Gulf States is quite another. With Saudi Arabia , where the regime is wobbling on the cusp of change, it is even more delicate.
Admittedly, relations between tiny Qatar and its hegemonies overbearing neighbor Saudi Arabia have been sensitive since 1996, when AlJazeera first challenged Saudi hegemony in the region, where the channel has been a cause for tension between the two.
The Saudis, who dominate the Gulf region, frequently intervened in Qatari politics. Saudi Arabia even tried invading Qatar in, "to remind it who is boss" and, following Sheikh Khalifa's overthrow, the Saudis tried to manipulate his return by organizing a counter coup.
But despite all the problems the Qataris have had with the Saudis, they are fully aware that if they upset the kingdom it is at their peril. As a result, coverage of Saudi affairs on Al-Jazeera is not only tame, but scant. Issues of extreme sensitivity to the Saudi regime, such as royal family corruption and the succession question, are passed over lightly. Saudi dissidents have rarely (if ever) appeared on the network in recent years; there was, for example, next to no coverage on Aljazeera channel.
Viewing its coverage, Al-Jazeera reminds everyone every day that in the Gulf region, free press is extremely limited.
All that of course does not take away from AlJazeera's crucial, and possibly galvanizing role in the extraordinary events that are now unfolding in Egypt and Tunisia , and maybe other places soon.
Finally, I along with other progressives worldwide, would like to see AlJazeera address the issue of the horrifying slave-labor that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Indians and other Indian sub-continentals to provide luxurious living to Saudis, Qataris, and other Gulf State "Muwatineen."
At the end of the day, AlJazeera can go on, or be shut down in a heartbeat in accordance with the Royal mood.
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Roots of the Arab Revolts and Premature Celebrations
By James Petras
Most accounts of the Arab
revolts from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq and elsewhere have focused on the most immediate causes: political dictatorships, unemployment, repression and the
wounding and killing of protestors. They have given most attention to the “middle class”, young, educated activists, their communication via the internet, (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 16, 2011) and,
in the case of Israel and its Zionists conspiracy theorists, “the hidden hand” of Islamic extremists (Daily Alert Feb. 25, 2011).
What is lacking is any attempt to provide a framework for the revolt which takes account of the large scale, long and medium term socio-economic structures as well as the immediate ‘detonators’ of political action. The scope and depth of the popular uprisings, as well as the diverse political and social forces which have entered into the conflicts, preclude any explanations which look at one dimension of the struggles.
The best approach involves a ‘funnel framework’ in which, at the wide end (the long-term, large-scale structures), stands the nature of the economic, class and political system; the middle-term is defined by the dynamic cumulative effects of these structures on changes in political, social and economic relations; the short-term causes, which precipitate the socio-political-psychological responses, or social consciousness leading to political action.
The Nature of the Arab Economies
With the exception of Jordan, most of the Arab economies where the revolts are taking place are based on ‘rents’ from oil, gas, minerals and tourism, which provide most of the export earnings and state revenues (Financial Times, Feb. 22, 2011, p. 14). These economic sectors are, in effect, export enclaves employing a tiny fraction of the labor force and define a highly specialized economy (World Bank Annual Report 2009). These export sectors do not have links to a diversified productive domestic economy: oil is exported and finished manufactured goods as well as financial and high tech services are all imported and controlled by foreign multi-nationals and ex-pats linked to the ruling class (Economic and Political Weekly, Feb. 12, 2011, p. 11). Tourism reinforces ‘rental’ income, as the sector, which provides ‘foreign exchange’ and tax revenues to the class – clan state. The latter relies on state-subsidized foreign capital and local politically connected ‘real estate’ developers for investment and imported foreign construction laborers.
Rent-based income may generate great wealth, especially as energy prices soar, but the funds accrue to a class of “rentiers” who have no vocation or inclination for deepening and extending the process of economic development and innovation. The rentiers “specialize” in financial speculation, overseas investments via private equity firms, extravagant consumption of high-end luxury goods and billion-dollar and billion-euro secret private accounts in overseas banks.
The rentier economy provides few jobs in modern productive activity; the high end is controlled by extended family-clan members and foreign financial corporations via ex-pat experts; technical and low-end employment is taken up by contract foreign labor, at income levels and working conditions below what the skilled local labor force is willing to accept.
The enclave rentier economy results in a clan-based ruling class which ‘confounds’ public and private ownership: what’s ‘state’ is actually absolutist monarchs and their extended families at the top and their client tribal leader, political entourage and technocrats in the middle.
These are “closed ruling classes”. Entry is confined to select members of the clan or family dynasties and a small number of “entrepreneurial” individuals who might accumulate wealth servicing the ruling clan-class. The ‘inner circle’ lives off of rental income, secures payoffs from partnerships in real estate where they provide no skills, but only official permits, land grants, import licenses and tax holidays.
Beyond pillaging the public treasury, the ruling clan-class promotes ‘free trade’, i.e. importing cheap finished products, thus undermining any indigenous domestic start-ups in the ‘productive’ manufacturing, agricultural or technical sector.
As a result there is no entrepreneurial national capitalist or ‘middle class’. What passes for a middle class are largely public sector employees (teachers, health professionals, functionaries, firemen, police officials, military officers) who depend on their salaries, which, in turn, depend on their subservience to absolutist power. They have no chance of advancing to the higher echelons or of opening economic opportunities for their educated offspring.
The concentration of economic, social and political power in a closed clan-class controlled system leads to an enormous concentration of wealth. Given the social distance between rulers and ruled, the wealth generated by high commodity prices produces a highly distorted image of per-capital “wealth”; adding billionaires and millionaires on top of a mass of low-income and underemployed youth provides a deceptively high average income (Washington Blog, 2/24/11).
Rentier Rule: By Arms and Handouts
To compensate for these great disparities in society and to protect the position of the parasitical rentier ruling class, the latter pursues alliances with, multi-billion dollar arms corporations, and military protection from the dominant (USA) imperial power. The rulers engage in “neo-colonization by invitation”, offering land for military bases and airfields, ports for naval operations, collusion in financing proxy mercenaries against anti-imperial adversaries and submission to Zionist hegemony in the region (despite occasional inconsequential criticisms).
In the middle term, rule by force is complemented by paternalistic handouts to the rural poor and tribal clans; food subsidies for the urban poor; and dead-end make-work employment for the educated unemployed (Financial Times, 2/25/11, p. 1). Both costly arms purchases and paternalistic subsidies reflect the lack of any capacity for productive investments. Billions are spent on arms rather than diversifying the economy. Hundreds of millions are spent on one-shot paternalistic handouts, rather than long-term investments generating productive employment.
The ‘glue’ holding this system together is the combination of modern pillage of public wealth and natural energy resources and the use of traditional clan and neo-colonial recruits and mercenary contractors to control and repress the population. US modern armaments are at the service of anachronistic absolutist monarchies and dictatorships, based on the principles of 18th century dynastic rule.
The introduction and extension of the most up-to-date communication systems and ultra-modern architecture shopping centers cater to an elite strata of luxury consumers and provides a stark contrast to the vast majority of unemployed educated youth, excluded from the top and pressured from below by low-paid overseas contract workers.
The rentier class-clans are pressured by the international financial institutions and local bankers to ‘reform’ their economies: ‘open’ the domestic market and public enterprises to foreign investors and reduce deficits resulting from the global crises by introducing neo-liberal reforms (Economic and Political Weekly, 2/12/11, p. 11).
As a result of “economic reforms” food subsidies for the poor have been lowered or eliminated and state employment has been reduced, closing off one of the few opportunities for educated youth. Taxes on consumers and salaried/wage workers are increased while the real estate developers, financial speculators and importers receive tax exonerations. De-regulation has exacerbated massive corruption, not only among the rentier ruling class-clan, but also by their immediate business entourage.
The paternalistic ‘bonds’ tying the lower and middle class to the ruling class have been eroded by foreign-induced neo-liberal “reforms”, which combine ‘modern’ foreign exploitation with the existing “traditional” forms of domestic private pillage. The class-clan regimes no longer can rely on the clan, tribal, clerical and clientelistic loyalties to isolate urban trade unions, student, small business and low paid public sector movements.
The Street against the Palace
The ‘immediate causes’ of the Arab revolts are centered in the huge demographic-class contradictions of the clan-class ruled rentier economy. The ruling oligarchy rules over a mass of unemployed and underemployed young workers; the latter involves between 50% to 65% of the population under 25 years of age (Washington Blog, 2/24/11). The dynamic “modern” rentier economy does not incorporate the newly educated young into modern employment; it relegates them into the low-paid unprotected “informal economy” of the street as venders, transport and contract workers and in personal services. The ultra- modern oil, gas, real estate, tourism and shopping-mall sectors are dependent on the political and military support of backward traditional clerical, tribal and clan leaders, who are subsidized but never ‘incorporated’ into the sphere of modern production. The modern urban industrial working class with small, independent trade unions is banned. Middle class civic associations are either under state control or confined to petitioning the absolutist state.
The ‘underdevelopment’ of social organizations, linked to social classes engaged in modern productive activity, means that the pivot of social and political action is the street. Unemployed and underemployed part-time youth engaged in the informal sector are found in the plazas, at kiosks, cafes, street corner society, and markets, moving around and about and outside the centers of absolutist administrative power. The urban mass does not occupy strategic positions in the economic system; but it is available for mass mobilizations capable of paralyzing the streets and plazas through which goods and services are transported out and profits are realized. Equally important, mass movements launched by the unemployed youth provide an opportunity for oppressed professionals, public sector employees, small business people and the self-employed to engage in protests without being subject to reprisals at their place of employment – dispelling the “fear factor” of losing one’s job.
The political and social confrontation revolves around the opposite poles: clientelistic oligarchies and de clasé masses (the Arab Street). The former depends directly on the state (military/police apparatus) and the latter on amorphous local, informal, face-to-face improvised organizations. The exception is the minority of university students who move via the internet. Organized industrial trade unions come into the struggle late and largely focus on sectoral economic demands, with some exceptions - especially in public enterprises, controlled by cronies of the oligarchs, where workers demand changes in management.
As a result of the social particularities of the rentier states, the uprisings do not take the form of class struggles between wage labor and industrial capitalists. They emerge as mass political revolts against the oligarchical state. Street-based social movements demonstrate their capacity to delegitimize state authority, paralyze the economy, and can lead up to the ousting of the ruling autocrats. But it is the nature of mass street movements to fill the squares with relative ease, but also to be dispersed when the symbols of oppression are ousted. Street-based movements lack the organization and leadership to project, let alone impose a new political or social order. Their power is found in their ability to pressure existing elites and institutions, not to replace the state and economy. Hence the surprising ease with which the US, Israeli and EU backed Egyptian military were able to seize power and protect the entire rentier state and economic structure while sustaining their ties with their imperial mentors.
Converging Conditions and the “Demonstration Effect”
The spread of the Arab revolts across North Africa, the Middle East and Gulf States is, in the first instance, a product of similar historical and social conditions: rentier states ruled by family-clan oligarchs dependent on “rents” from capital intensive oil and energy exports, which confine the vast majority of youth to marginal informal ‘street-based’ economic activities.
The “power of example” or the “demonstration effect” can only be understood by recognizing the same socio-political conditions in each country. Street power – mass urban movements – presumes the street as the economic locus of the principal actors and the takeover of the plazas as the place to exert political power and project social demands. No doubt the partial successes in Egypt and Tunisia did detonate the movements elsewhere. But they did so only in countries with the same historical legacy, the same social polarities between rentier – clan rulers and marginal street labor and especially where the rulers were deeply integrated and subordinated to imperial economic and military networks.
Rentier rulers govern via their ties to the US and EU military and financial institutions. They modernize their affluent enclaves and marginalize recently educated youth, who are confined to low paid jobs, especially in the insecure informal sector, centered in the streets of the capital cities. Neo-liberal privatizations, reductions in public subsidies (for food, unemployment subsidies, cooking oil, gas, transport, health, and education) shattered the paternalistic ties through which the rulers contained the discontent of the young and poor, as well as clerical elites and tribal chiefs. The confluence of classes and masses, modern and traditional, was a direct result of a process of neo-liberalization from above and exclusion from below. The neo-liberal “reformers” promise that the ‘market’ would substitute well-paying jobs for the loss of state paternalistic subsidies was false. The neo-liberal polices reinforced the concentration of wealth while weakening state controls over the masses.
The world capitalist economic crises led Europe and the US to tighten their immigration controls, eliminating one of the escape valves of the regimes – the massive flight of unemployed educated youth seeking jobs abroad. Out-migration was no longer an option; the choices narrowed to struggle or suffer. Studies show that those who emigrate tend to be the most ambitious, better educated (within their class) and greatest risk takers. Now, confined to their home country, with few illusions of overseas opportunities, they are forced to struggle for individual mobility at home through collective social and political action.
Equally important among the political youth, is the fact that the US, as guarantor of the rentier regimes, is seen as a declining imperial power: challenged economically in the world market by China; facing defeat as an occupying colonial ruler in Iraq and Afghanistan; and humiliated as a subservient and mendacious servant of an increasingly discredited Israel via its Zionist agents in the Obama regime and Congress. All of these elements of US imperial decay and discredit, encourage the pro-democracy movements to move forward against the US clients and lessen their fears that the US military would intervene and face a third military front. The mass movements view their oligarchies as “third tier” regimes: rentier states under US hegemony, which, in turn, is under Israeli – Zionist tutelage. With 130 countries in the UN General Assembly and the entire Security Council, minus the US, condemning Israeli colonial expansion; with Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and the forthcoming new regimes in Yemen and Bahrain promising democratic foreign policies, the mass movements realize that all of Israel’s modern arms and 680,000 soldiers are of no avail in the face of its total diplomatic isolation, its loss of regional rentier clients, and the utter discredit of its bombastic militarist rulers and their Zionist agents in the US diplomatic corps (Financial Times 2/24/11, p. 7).
The very socio-economic structures and political conditions which detonated the pro-democracy mass movements, the unemployed and underemployed youth organized from “the street”, now present the greatest challenge: can the amorphous and diverse mass becomes an organized social and political force which can take state power, democratize the regime and, at the same time, create a new productive economy to provide stable well- paying employment, so far lacking in the rentier economy? The political outcome to date is indeterminate: democrats and socialists compete with clerical, monarchist, and neoliberal forces bankrolled by the U.S.
It is premature to celebrate a popular democratic revolution….
James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, SUNY, New York, U.S., and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Author’s website : http://www.lahaine.org/petras/
This articles is located at: http://www.lahaine.org/petras/b2-img/petras_root.pdf
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The Arab world is witnessing a revolution. After decades of apathy and repression, Arab citizens are finally rising up against ossified, undemocratic regimes that have been backed by the West. Whereas the Tunisian revolution caught the United States--and much of the Arab world--by surprise, it is clear that the events unfolding in Egypt have been of much greater concern to the Obama administration.
The awkward, hesitant response on the part of U.S. officials to the events on the
ground has been startling. President Obama may have belatedly accepted Hosni Mubarak's departure, but he did so only after it was clear that millions of Egyptians would settle for nothing less.
The difference in the open, enthusiastic American embrace and support for Iranian protesters in 2009--or the anti-communist revolutions that swept Eastern Europe two decades ago--and the American
scramble to salvage the status quo in the Arab world is nothing short of stark.
Why is the United States afraid of Arab democracy?
The answer is that in large part the outrage of the people being expressed on the streets is more than a revolution in Arab affairs. Although they are unquestionably first and foremost a revolt against unpopular and illegitimate governments and the economic and political despair these governments have engendered, the mass protests are also a revolt against American foreign policy itself. For decades, successive U.S. Republican and Democratic administrations have supported repressive Arab regimes in the name of the "stability" of a strategic, oil-rich region. This discourse of stability rationalized repression of Arab citizens. It isn't that American diplomats, intelligence agencies and officials have not known about the torture and disenfranchisement rampant across the Middle East. They have known, and, as the secret rendition program illustrates, many among them have been prepared to exploit this sordid reality in the name of protecting U.S. interests. The United States has assumed that Arab voices, desires, aspirations, and fears are inconsequential to its hegemony over the region.
The peace process is an obvious case in point. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Egypt is not an important economic ally of the U.S. But it has been a crucial client state that is at the heart of normalizing Arab relations with Israel. One of the most notable refrains of American commentators and officials concerned with events in Egypt is not the lack of democracy in Egypt, but the fear that Egypt's peace treaty with Israel would be jeopardized by a popular revolution. Yet most Americans don't realize that the American peace process has been dependent on oppressive Arab regimes. The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979, like the Jordanian-Israeli treaty that followed in 1994, was negotiated by Arab autocrats--Anwar Sadat and King Hussein respectively. They may have delivered cold peace with Israel, but the quid pro quo of these treaties was the acquiescence to Israeli colonialism in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The presidential term of U.S-backed Mahmoud Abbas expired in 2009. Yet his Palestinian Authority continues to be heavily subsidized by the United States. Hamas, by contrast, actually won the Palestinian elections in 2006. The U.S. refused to recognize the outcome, and instead has worked actively with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to undermine the results of that democratic election.
Certainly, Egyptians today are not focused on Palestine but on their own country. They want freedom, not war. But Egyptians are also part of the Arab world. They may no longer accept, for example, to have their government participate in the terrible siege of Gaza.
The emergence of new democratic movements in the Arab world will demand accountability from Arab rulers; but they are just as likely to demand a new approach to the peace process. For decades, U.S.-led "peace" making has been based exclusively on Israel's security concerns and its internal politics, on whittling away Palestinian rights, and on denying the real political significance of an overwhelming Arab sense of injustice at Zionist colonialism in Palestine.
In the meantime, the struggle for freedom in the Arab world will likely only get more desperate. As events in Egypt have demonstrated, Arab autocrats will not abdicate willingly. But ordinary people insist on real change. Mubarak's sudden downfall is a testament to the strength of a human desire for dignity. Because its hegemony in the Middle East has been so unpopular, the United States may soon have to confront a day of reckoning when Arabs finally achieve their democratic rights.
The irony is that the idea of self-determination began with an American president, Woodrow Wilson. Yet this idea has been systematically betrayed by the US in the Middle East since 1947. 2011 may well mark the beginning of the end of corrupt Arab regimes. And with the fall of these regimes there will be an opportunity to build not only a free Arab world, but an American foreign policy that supports this powerful current, and not, as it has done for decades, stand in its way.
Author and history professor at Rice University
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Where’s the American Outrage Against U.S. Support of Dictatorships?
By Jacob G. Hornberger
Once it became clear that Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak was on the way out, U.S. officials quickly shifted gears and took the side of the demonstrators, the people who had suffered for 30 years under the brutal Mubarak dictatorship. U.S. officials even offered their guidance for moving Egypt toward a democratic political system.
Of course, all this pro-democracy hoopla was designed to disguise the fact that the U.S. government has been the prime partner and enabler of this brutal dictatorship for the entire 30 years under which the Egyptian people have suffered. It has been the U.S. government that has been providing the $60 billion in U.S. taxpayer money to Mubarak and his henchmen in the Egyptian military and secret police. It has been the U.S. government that has been paying the salaries of Egypt’s jailors and torturers for the past three decades. It is the U.S. military that has been training the Egyptian military.
In fact, it’s actually worse than that. Believe it or not, U.S. officials actually cut a deal with Egypt’s torturers to torture people on behalf of the U.S. government. The deal called for the U.S. government to bring people into Egypt, where they would be tortured for information or confession, with the understanding that Mubarak would publicly deny that the prisoners would be tortured.
In that way, U.S. officials could proclaim, “We’re shocked that our prisoner has been tortured because they promised that they wouldn’t torture him.” Of course, it was all a sham, one that would enable U.S. officials to deceitfully express shock over the torture, acquire the information or confession with torture, and then secretly thank their Egyptian partners for employing their torture expertise on their behalf. The torture deal was a testament to the U.S. government’s partnerships with dictatorships.
Supporters of the U.S. Empire might respond, “But Jacob, the U.S. government’s longtime support of the Mubarak dictatorship is an exception because the U.S. government is an exceptional government.”
Well, then explain this paragraph from an article about Yemen in yesterday’s New York Times: “Yemen, one of the poorest nations in the Middle East, has become a cause of concern for the United States as the protests have spread because Mr. Saleh has supported the fight against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda.”
In other words, here’s another U.S.-supported dictator in the Middle East, one who has been in power as long as Mubarak—30 years! And the U.S. government, which pro-empire advocates say is exceptional, has been partnering with him, just as it did with Mubarak.
What’s the rationale for the U.S. government’s support of this brutal dictatorship in Yemen? The Yemen dictator has served as a loyal partner in the U.S. Empire’s war on terrorism against al Qaeda. And, as everyone knows, the war on terrorism trumps everything else. As in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, it doesn’t matter how much U.S.-supported dictators oppress, torture, rape, and brutalize their own people. All that matters is that they are loyal members of the Empire, especially when it comes to the war on terrorism.
The irony, of course, is that it is the U.S. Empire’s support of dictatorships in the Middle East that is one of the principal motivations of al Qaeda and other anti-American groups in the Middle East (along with the U.S. Empire’s presence and meddling in the Middle East, including its unconditional financial and military support of the Israeli government).
So, the U.S. government supports the brutal dictatorships that oppress their own people, which inspires anger and rage not only against the dictatorship but also against the United States, which the U.S. government then uses as a justification for its support of the dictatorship. How’s that for empire logic? And when that anger and hatred materializes in terrorist retaliation against the United States, U.S. officials then use that to justify the same type of anti-terrorist measures against the American people that are employed in the brutal dictatorships that they’re supporting.
The solution to this morass of evil is obvious: The American people should require their government to cease all support for dictatorships (and every other foreign regime). They should require their government to dismantle its overseas military empire and bring all the troops home and discharge them. They should prohibit their government from meddling in the affairs of other nations.
With this solution, not only would the anger and hatred against the United States dissipate, the termination of foreign aid would also help alleviate the impending bankruptcy of the United States arising from out-of-control federal spending. Moreover, a principal justification for the U.S. government’s adoption of the type of anti-terrorist measures that are inherent in foreign dictatorships would be removed.
Hasn’t the time arrived for the American people to confront the wrongdoing of their government, much as people in the Middle East are confronting the wrongdoing of their governments? It’s great that Americans are celebrating the toppling of dictators in the Middle East. But my question is: When are Americans going to be become as angry and outraged over their own government’s support of dictatorships as the people who have had to suffer under such dictatorships?
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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