The Obama administration has decided to stand by its dictator in complete defiance of the will of the Egyptian people. Because, according to the cold calculus of American realpolitik, the Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak cannot leave office too soon as his resignation would constitutionally trigger elections in 60 days, which would be terribly inconvenient for Western powers wholly unprepared for what, god forbid, such free and fair democratic processes might yield.
Even in the face of a popular uprising of historic proportions the Obama administration has acted in accordance with standard U.S. operating procedure by supporting a dictatorial government, regardless how oppressive and undemocratic, in the name of serving U.S. national interest. Noam Chomsky shed some light on America's predilection towards despotism in times of need:
"The United States, so far, is essentially following the usual playbook. I mean, there have been many times when some favored dictator has lost control or is in danger of losing control. There's a kind of a standard routine--Marcos, Duvalier, Ceausescu, strongly supported by the United States and Britain, Suharto: keep supporting them as long as possible; then, when it becomes unsustainable -- typically, say, if the army shifts sides -- switch 180 degrees, claim to have been on the side of the people all along, erase the past, and then make whatever moves are possible to restore the old system under new names. That succeeds or fails depending on the circumstances".
The tyrant Mubarak is a critical U.S. ally in the region because of his ability to diffuse Israeli-Arab tensions, to provide critical support in the war against terror and to soothe U.S. oil anxiety. Mubarak's iron fist, in fact, has been an American asset that has successfully undermined Egypt's main Islamic political faction known as the Muslim Brotherhood. For the Western elite cannot digest that the Brotherhood has represented the democratic reform movement in Egypt for quite some time now - impossible because the group's stated goals include the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and the imposition of Sharia law, running chills up all freedom-loving spines.
However, although the Brotherhood is a well-organized political and social machine it is unlikely they would dominate an election because most Egyptians will not support religious fundamentalists. At most, the Brotherhood would get a third of the vote.
A more likely parliamentary coalition that could arise from legitimate elections would be a blend of labor activists, blue collar workers, professionals, liberal nationalists from the New Wafd Party along with representatives from the Islamic bloc. Apparently, even that scenario would not sit well with U.S. officials who must believe that protecting Israeli interests and Western corporate oil concerns supersede freedom and democracy.
And although the voice of Egypt's people couldn't ring more clearly - they want the current regime entirely extirpated at once - the U.S. has chosen to support Omar Suleiman as ruler of the post-Mubarak era. Suleiman is the Egyptian intelligence chief best known for facilitating the C.I.A.'s rendition program.
Western officials, blinded by hubristic imperialism, have failed to understand what caused the loud snap within the collective psyche of the Egyptian people in the first place. It was not only the government's brutal police state tactics but the contempt with which the Mubarak regime held for its own people.
U.S. policymakers fail to realize that support for Suleiman elucidates America's contempt for Egyptians who see the spy chief as a carbon copy of Mubarak, thus perceive that the U.S. simply wants to retain the repressive status quo. Meet the new puppet, same as the old one.
Supporting this notion, on Monday, a group of Middle East experts wrote a letter to Obama expressing fears that the White House was capitulating to a fraudulent transition process:
"The process that is unfolding now has many of the attributes of a smoke screen," said the letter from the Working Group on Egypt, an influential voice on Middle East policy. "Without significant changes, it will lead to preservation of the current regime in all but name and ensure radicalization and instability in the future. Throwing the weight of the U.S. behind the proposals of President Mubarak and Vice President Suleiman, rather than the legitimate demands of the opposition, would be a serious error."
What is the U.S. to do? How about staying out of it. U.S. interference in the region has more times than not served to create turmoil or exacerbate already existing chaos. It's not as if these people hate or do not want democracy. They are all for self-determination. What they are not for is the imposition of an ideology or government that America thinks is best for them. The Egyptians want to decide their own fate -- at last.
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