Watching the media cover the uprising in Egypt, one would think that the US government is on the side of the people protesting for change. The Obama Administration has urged a smooth transition of power, and have washed their hands of Mubarak publicly, and most likely privately too. But the history between the US government and the Egyptian dictatorship betrays a deep hostility to democracy and the wishes of the people, facts that CNN, Fox and MSNBC ignore or gloss over.
Mubarak has been supported with literally billions of dollars in US military aid, and he has used it to suppress dissent and crush opposition. The US has known about Mubarak’s distaste for democracy and human rights, but ignored it as long as he furthered US interests in the region. Now Mubarak’s time is up, the US government is pretending its sordid history with the man Hillary Clinton called a ‘friend of her family’ never happened. But far from wanting democracy, the Obama Administration is merely holding out hope for a friendly face. Writes Noam Chomsky in the Guardian:
The current hope appears to be Mubarak loyalist General Omar Suleiman, just named Egypt’s vice-president. Suleiman, the longtime head of the intelligence services, is despised by the rebelling public almost as much as the dictator himself.
Obviously, a radically Islamic government wouldn’t be good for anyone (radical anything is probably not great in my opinion), the US isn’t really concerned about the religious leanings of the new leadership. Writes Chomsky:
A common refrain among pundits isthat fear of radical Islam requires (reluctant) opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. While not without some merit, the formulation is misleading. The general threat has always been independence. The US and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent the threat of secular nationalism.
A familiar example is Saudi Arabia, the ideological centre of radical Islam (and of Islamic terror). Another in a longlist is Zia ul-Haq, the most brutal of Pakistan’s dictators and President Reagan’s favorite, who carried out a programme of radical Islamisation (with Saudi funding).
The danger to the US is that Egypt deviates from its ally role in the region. Should Egypt choose a leader independent of US influence, it could drastically change the dynamics of the region. Support for US policy in the Middle East amongst the Arab population is virtually non existent, and without a complicit government, there is no telling what could happen in the very near future.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.