Eruption on the Nile/Confusion on the Potomac
by Eric Margolis
by Eric Margolis: The
now!" President Barack Obama ordered Egypt’s embattled dictator,
Husni Mubarak, reminding us of Henry Kissinger’s famous quip that
it’s often more dangerous being America’s ally than its enemy.
But after some
confusion and foot-stamping by Israel, a clearly confused Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed it would be good to keep Mubarak
in power, at least for a while. LaClinton wants Egypt’s chief torturer,
and America’s current favorite Torquemada, Gen. Omar Suleiman, to
rule Egypt and defend the status quo.
So who, one
asks, was in charge of US Mideast policy? Even the Israelis, who
are never slow to tell Washington what to think, were deeply confused.
The US media
was no less confounded. The New York Times piously published
exposés about corruption and torture under Mubarak, raising the
very good question, why didn’t it see these crimes for the past
40 years? It used to hail America’s two favorite Egyptian dictators,
Sadat and Mubarak, "statesmen" and "reformers."
But one has yet to see the slightest sign of shame that our media
has so long and so falsely reported on the Mideast.
a small army of instant media "experts" on Egypt have
been muddying the waters with their ill-informed opinions, crackpot
notions, and not so subtle warnings about "Muslims."
Obama reportedly scourged CIA for not predicting the revolt on the
Nile. Maybe CIA did, but no one in the White House was listening.
explosion in Egypt was obvious to old Mideast hands like myself.
Last 26 April, I wrote a column, "Eruption
on the Nile," predicting Mubarak’s rule would soon end
and that the US had already selected intelligence chief Gen. Omar
Suleiman as his successor. CIA could save a lot of time, money and
error by simply reading LewRockwell.com each week.
It has been
particularly amusing to watch America’s rightwing commentators trying
to talk their way around Egypt’s intifada. All the neocon samurai
who demanded President Barack Obama send in the Marines to support
Iran’s antigovernment protests have fallen silent as they watch
Egyptians demand an end to 40-years of US-backed dictatorship, torture
The Order of
the Nile, First Class with Oak Clusters, for rightwing loopiness
goes to the deeply confused Glenn Beck who raved about a Communist-Muslim
Brotherhood plot backed by the evil Chinese and American liberals
to impose an Islamic Caliphate on Egypt. He must have been drinking
green Koolaid from barmy televangelist Rev. John Hagee who warns
us that a Muslim lurks under every mattress.
We now await
the illumination of Sarah Palin explaining to us the subtler nuances
of Egypt’s revolution.
red hysteria has been transmuted in 2011 into galloping Islamophobia.
Israel’s partisans poured oil on the fires by thundering about the
supposed dangers of the stodgy, sclerotic Muslim Brotherhood and
demanded the US shore up President Husni Mubarak, Israel’s most
important Mideast ally. Israel never misses a chance to proclaim
itself the Mideast’s only democracy, yet won’t abide the birth of
real democracy next door in Egypt.
in Tunisia and Egypt has led President Barack Obama to suffer his
second humiliation in a row from the Mideast. First, he demanded
Israel cease building illegal settlements on Arab land. Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, backed by the US Congress, sneered in Obama’s
face and kept on building.
which way to move for the time being, Washington is hoping that
General and now Vice President Suleiman will assume full leadership
of Egypt with the backing of yes-man defense minister Mohammed Tantawi,
chief of staff Sami Enan, and prime minister Ahmed Shafik, a general.
While the US and Israel clearly want this outcome, most Egyptians
just as clearly do not.
ran Egypt’s notoriously brutal secret police for a decade. He organized
the torture of alleged terrorism suspects sent by the US to Egypt
and suspected opponents of Mubarak’s dictatorship. How ironic it
is to see Sudan’s leader, Gen. Omar Bashir, charged with crimes
against humanity while Egypt’s chief torturer is lauded in North
Now that the
initial shock over Egypt’s uprising has subsided, powerful special
interests here in the United States are preparing to throw their
support behind VP Suleiman, or even the continuation of President
lobby and neoconservatives are trumpeting exaggerated fears that
Egypt is about to turn into a second Iran. Behind these wild claims
is the real concern that the phony "peace" engineered
by the US between Egypt and Israel will be rejected by Egyptians,
who regard it as treason and betrayal of the Palestinian cause.
The cynical Egypt-Israel peace deal allowed Israel to first invade
Lebanon, then refuse to allow creation of a viable Palestinian state.
In the Arab
world, honor still plays a very important role. Most Egyptians favor
peace with Israel, but they feel deeply dishonored and humiliated
by the one-sided peace deal imposed by the US, and Egypt’s betrayal
and persecution of the Palestinian people, and the abject servility
of their leaders to US demands.
The US military-industrial
complex, which sells Egypt $1.5 billion worth of arms each year
– money that comes from US aid – worries that a popular, democratic
Egyptian government will divert military spending into urgent social
needs. America’s powerful farm lobby frets that tens of millions
of US wheat sales to Egypt, again paid for by US aid, may be jeopardized.
of the national security complex in Washington and New York are
very worried that its most important Mideast ally may be on the
way out. If Egypt’s current US-backed and financed regime goes,
America’s entire security architecture for the Mideast will be in
peril. Also throw Pakistan into the equation as most Pakistanis
are watching events in Egypt and other Arab autocratic states with
avid interest and envy.
so far in the reporting over the crisis in Egypt is the fact that
no matter how much Egyptians would like to loosen pervasive American
influence over their nation, Egypt remains dependent on the US for
food, as do many other Arab nations.
For the past
forty years, US foreign aid programs have provided at least half
or more of Egypt’s grain imports. Egypt’s limited fertile land cannot
feed its growing population of 84 million. So Egypt must import
grain to provide its people subsidized bread. The US supplied Egypt,
the world’s leading grain importer, with some 3 million tons last
cannot pay for these imports, it must rely on aid authorized each
year by the US Congress. But Congress is under the influence of
the Israel lobby. If Cairo angers the US or Israel, it always faces
the threat of a cutoff of essential food aid as well as spare parts
and munitions for its 500,000-man military.
considerations will weigh heavily on any new government in Cairo.
Everyone remembers Egypt’s violent food riots during the 1970’s.
In a sense, Egypt is linked to America by golden handcuffs – unless
it can find a new food benefactor in Russia, the European Union
Back in the
late 1960’s, Egypt’s then leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, wanted to
break his nation’s growing dependence on the Soviet Union. He was
stopped from doing so by anguished pleas from his defense minister,
Marshall Amer: "spare parts, Gamal, spare parts! We can’t live
without Soviet spare parts."
later, even though Egyptians are revolting against dictatorship,
their basic problems remain the same.
later the United States, to its deep shame, is still supporting
ugly dictators and keeping foreign nations in thrall. It took the
suicide by fire of a Tunisian fruit seller to make us see that our
empire has no clothes.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
Best of Eric Margolis