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Egypt Rising: Potomac Power Plays and Progressive Anxieties

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Headlined to H3 1/29/11

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1. American Imperative: Keep the Applecart Rolling
Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has bowed to pressure and appointed a vice-president; in reality, a successor to take his place after his departure, which may come within a matter of days, if not hours.

But the pressure that led to Mubarak's decision came not from the revolution erupting in Egypt -- at least, not directly. No, it almost certainly came from his imperial patrons and paymasters in Washington. Even the third-rate poltroons on the Potomac can see that Mubarak is a now a decidedly dead duck, destined to end his days in luxurious exile in Saudi Arabia or some other friendly tyranny. So they are now scrambling to put Egypt under the control of the proverbial "safe pair of hands" -- someone whose main concern will be "continuity" in advancing the interests of the American power structure.

Why, that sounds like someone else we know -- a guy who took over from one of the most despised presidents in American history ... and promptly began replicating his most heinous policies.

In like fashion, Mubarak has now appointed his spymaster, Omar Suleiman, who has been at the center of the regime's brutal power structure for 20 years, as vice-president of the country. He has also named a retired military man, Ahmed Shafik, as prime minister. Perhaps not coincidentally, the New York Times published a revealing story on Saturday detailing the remarkably close interconnections between the American and Egyptian military-security complexes, going back several decades -- a relationship that has been worth billions of dollars to war profiteers, bagmen and baksheesh-peddlers in both countries, for generations.

It seems painfully obvious that the Continuer-in-Chief and the imperial militarists along the Potomac are seeking desperately to keep this golden applecart on the road. Installing a longtime chief of intelligence like Suleiman fits the bill nicely. Mubarak had better start packing his bags. For as always, whenever the American Power Structuralists find that a foreign puppet no longer serves their purposes, they are quick to toss him aside. No doubt we will soon see a steady leakage of stories from "senior White House aides," "unnamed intelligence officials in a position to know" and "Pentagon insiders who asked to remain anonymous" telling us how terrible Mubarak has been all along. This will be done either to undermine the puppet if he tries to cling to office, or else as the usual erasure of the historical record, if Hosni has already hopped a Lear Jet to new digs beyond the Nile.

But I think the people of Egypt might refuse to follow this old, moth-eaten script. The regime of Hosni Mubarak is not the only power center that is seeing its ability to control events on behalf of a corrupt elite draining away on the Egyptian streets.

2. Profiles in Wiggliness
Oh, but you know what? We even shouldn't be talking about all this. This whole Egyptian uprising business seems to be making some of our leading progressives feel a bit wiggly. Atrios, for example, has salted several of his brief squibs about these momentous events with grumpy asides. For example:

I get a bit fed up with the ultra-serious tweeting and retweeting the revolution stuff which happens when Big Events are going on.

Yes, don't you just hate that? People being all ultra-serious and stuff about a brave popular uprising in a long-repressed land? I mean, really: couldn't they just do some cat-blogging or something? That would be, like, way more cool.

Or this:

I get a wee bit uncomfortable at the way people enthusiastically cheer on revolutionary movements in other countries they don't know much about. I'm not defending bad governments, just objecting to the notion that revolution=democracy. It's never clear what will emerge on the other side.

Yeah, that makes me squirm a wee bit in my Barcalounger as well: people being all ignorantly enthusiastic about these breakthrough moments in history, these rare upsurgings of the human spirit. Why, they probably haven't even read an article from the Center for American Progress telling them what to think about it yet! People like that should just shut up. It's like back in '89, when people were enthusiastically cheering the Velvet Revolution and all that other tiresome, ultra-serious sh*t. I mean, how many of them really knew anything about Czechoslovakia or Romania? And anyway, you never know what the end result of any of these so-called, whoop-de-doo "Big Events" might be. So why get all wrought up about it? Seriously uncool.

The eye-rolling goes on:

I get depressed by the fact that whenever there is a major event somewhere in the world few people can manage to go past the question of, "What should we (the US) do?" I know that things are a bit more complicated, and our being involved in everything already complicates them further, but the answer, mostly, is "nothing."

Yeah, I guess our being the main international backer of a 30-year dictatorship does, like, "complicate" things a bit. So obviously, the main thing for Washington to do now is "nothing." That is, it should take no action whatsoever to change the status quo. It should not repudiate the murderous dictator -- whose American-trained, American-armed security forces have already gunned down 100 innocent people taking to the streets to demand dignity and freedom. (Although of course if these irritatingly ultra-serious people had just stayed home cat-blogging, they'd still be alive!) Washington shouldn't apologize abjectly for this atrocious record. Washington shouldn't cut off the spigot of bribery and weaponry to the Egyptian elite. Washington shouldn't stop using Egypt as an off-shore outlet for torture. Washington shouldn't pledge to support and respect the emergence of genuine democracy in Egypt -- wherever it might lead. No, Washington should do none of this, or anything like it. It should simply do nothing, make no changes at all.

In fact, doing nothing is really the best thing all around, don't you think? Because actually doing something about these monstrous injustices would just be too "ultra-serious," wouldn't it? It would just keep making us feel strangely agitated and dissatisfied: "fed-up," "depressed," "a wee bit uncomfortable," with all this talk about people taking action against economic, social and political repression, people who are no longer content to sit back and accept a corrupt and degrading system, confining their "dissent" to a few savvy, ironic quips now and then, but are instead rising up and actually risking something -- lives, livelihoods, liberties -- in a courageous attempt to achieve genuine change. And lord knows, we can't have that, can we? After all, you never know what might emerge on the other side!

But really now, seriously (or even ultra-seriously): Can you imagine watching these astonishing events in Egypt unfold, and coming away feeling "depressed" and "fed up" because people were excited about it? Can you even fathom such a reaction? If not, then you, my friend, are no progressive.

 

Chris Floyd is an American journalist. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including The Nation, Counterpunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many (more...)
 
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