One risks being the skunk at the party for taking this line, as everyone wants to believe in “people power” and the excitement of spontaneous revolution, but a more likely read for events in Egypt would be Georgia and the Rose Revolution. Of course this is not to say that there are not plenty of Egyptians in the streets who genuinely desire a better life, but rather merely to contemplate past precedent and current indications.
Eduard Shevardnadze was Georgia’s Mubarak — he did whatever the US wanted as long he was kept in cash and not bothered about human rights abuses or corruption, of which both there was plenty. But after a time, Shevardnadze grew flaccid and the US grew tired of him. He was a bit long in the tooth and becoming a liability. So the US trained and elevated Shevardnadze’s right hand man, Mikheil Saakashvili, a fresh face who had studied in the United States and who would guarantee even more fealty to the US regime. As Ryan McMaken points out in this post, this is what is happening to a degree in Egypt. We should call to mind that a WikiLeaks cable reported on late last year showed that the US embassy was increasingly frustrated with the leadership and military in Egypt for its lack of enthusiasm for fighting the United States’ “war on terror.”
See here the operative quote:
“The disagreements, the memos show, are over a wide range of topics, with the U.S. pressing Egypt to focus its military toward terrorism, halting cross-border smuggling and helping out in regional crises. They also suggest that, to the dismay of the Americans, the Egyptian military continues to see Israel, its enemy in four wars spanning 25 years in the last century, as its primary adversary 31 years after the two neighbors signed a peace treaty.”
It is not difficult to see how such deep US dissatisfaction has led to what we are seeing on the streets of Egypt these past few days. A pattern of “regime-change” has been developed by the US and has been used over and over to varying degrees of success, in places like Ukraine, Georgia, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, and now in Egypt.
One may be tempted to see a Ceauşescu scenario in Egypt, as Ryan also mentioned in a previous post, but let us not forget that Nicolae and Elena were tried and executed not by “the people” as we like to believe, but rather by their closest collaborators in the communist regime, who saw the opportunity to initiate a palace coup and seize power for themselves. That it how Romania got Ion Iliescu — a communist thug from Ceauşescu’s inner circle — rather than any of the anti-communists or “the people.”
It is easy for us thousands of miles away to root for one side or the other. There is plenty of evidence of the distastefulness of the Egyptian regime. However, it is wise to avoid looking at world events as a cheerleader and to adopt a more cynical and critical eye in this day and age. One thing we should have known but that was certainly made evident in black and white through the WikiLeaks releases is that the US empire claims dominion and takes an active interest in the most seemingly minor event in the most out-of-the-way place. It is the hubris of believing they are actually guiding history as the “indispensable nation.” Sadly, what is left in the wake of such actions is most often death and misery and an even lower standard of living than before the “spontaneous uprising.” And an even more brutal regime. Just ask the Georgians.9:03 am on January 29, 2011 Email Daniel McAdams