February 15, 2011

Lesson From Egypt

The drama in Egypt from the 'intifada' of Feb., 2011, is far from over, but there are lessons that observers from the 'democratic' West can discern. Many astute pundits have already written or spoken about various aspects of the events, so I don't claim to have some completely novel insights. But I think it's worth highlighting one particular lesson that we in the West ought to take careful note of. That message is that our governments really don't give a damn about real democracy, they only pretend to support democracy.

One of the immediate hallmarks of the popular uprising in Egypt was the obvious discomfort it created in Western governments. You could detect it in the careful, calculated, half-hearted expressions of 'support' for the Egyptian people and their cause, coming from the mouths of people like Barack Obama, Stephen Harper, and their spokesmen. No doubt, they didn't know whether to laugh or cry. These leaders know very well that most thinking constituents are aware that the USA and its 'allies' have been installing and propping up dictatorial regimes all over the globe for the past half-century or more. At the same time, these leaders of the 'free World' have been touting the great benefits of democracy over the same period of time. So, when the people of a country make it clear they want an end to dictatorship, what's a president or a prime minister to do? Well, er, we are, of course, happy to see the people express their will... and 'er, we look forward to a once-more, stable 'ally' in the region. Ya, sure!

Their double-speak really decodes to something like this: we phony upholders of democracy are surprised to see a popular movement really succeed, after all the money and coaching we gave their beloved dictator, and all the money and weapons we gave their military. Damn it; now we have to pretend that we support this undesirable situation that we created in the first place by our meddling in another country's affairs! We're going to try hard to influence the outcome of this revolution and make sure that the next regime is subservient to our wishes, and friendly to our corporate pillage of their economy, like the last one.

In the case of Egypt, it's not just the USA and Europe that are flummoxed by this turn of events. It's their good friend, ally, and client state, Israel, that is particularly upset. And after all their crowing about being the 'only democracy in the Middle East,' they look truly foolish in denouncing this uprising in Egypt as somehow less than a victory for the people and the overthrow of a clear dictatorship. The Israeli government is scared spitless that a truly democratic Egypt must necessarily take a stand against the predatory, racist treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis. To hear Israeli spokesmen lash out at Hamas, at Hezbollah, and other Arab/Islamic institutions is nauseating since Israel had a hand in creating many of these organizations in their efforts to manipulate the politics of their neighbors. The sound of Israeli mouthpieces bemoaning the Egyptian uprising as likely to go the way of the Iranian revolution that installed radical Islamicists is equally sickening. The only democracy in the region really wants to enjoy an exclusive franchise. They refused to recognize the freely elected government in Gaza-- Hamas. They refused to acknowledge the legitimate complaints that led to the overthrow of the Shah in Iran. They would like to continue covertly meddling in the politics of Lebanon and Syria. Now they are faced with the possibility that their biggest Arab neighbor will, if allowed to pursue democracy, end up with a government that is opposed to their Zionist agenda.

The whole, gripping Egypt story is far from over. But it has demonstrated the hypocrisy of our so-called democratic governments in the so-called Free, Western World. The lesson should not be lost on anyone, regardless of country of residence on this planet.