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Autumn of the Pharaoh

Hosni Mubarak just finished telling the people of Egypt and the world that he has no intention of stepping down from his seat of power until September.  In the meantime, his Vice-President and former head of Egypt’s internal security apparatus has assumed some of the president’s duties, including the military.  One anticipates this with a certain amount of fear for the Egyptian people.  Naturally, the reaction of the millions of people protesting around Egypt to Mubarak’s announcement was one of incredible and justified anger.  It is a definite certainty now that the next day of protests will be very large and angry.  The reaction of the army and security police is difficult to predict.

A report I read on Thursday quoted Alon Ben-Mair of New York University’s Global Affairs department regarding the demand that Mubarak step down.  He was quoted as saying: “Mubarak’s ultimate fate will send a very strong signal to the rest of the Arab states. No Arab leader wants to leave his office in disgrace; they will resist and resort to any coercive means at their disposal to stay in power. Egypt can provide an example of an orderly transfer of power, allowing its leader to depart in a manner befitting Egypt’s standing.”

Besides pointing out the professor’s preference for Washington’s stability-over-democracy approach to Arab governments, his statement also assumes a rather trite and Orientalist bit of nonsense.  Are we supposed to believe that Mubarak is having a more difficult time giving up his powers as head of state than Richard Nixon, the overthrown dictator Nicolae Ceau?escu of Romania or South Vietnam’s President Thieu?  Are we to assume that they were not disgraced by their fall?  Furthermore, are we supposed to believe that the reason Mubarak is having such difficulty admitting that it’s the end is because he is Arab?  This Orientalist tripe has been an underlying part of the narrative around Egypt’s revolution ever since the first protests against Mubarak’s regime on January 25, 2011.

Mr. Mubarak’s refusal to heed the masses demand that he leave before any transitional government takes over is not related to his Arab ancestry.  It is related, however, to his sociopathic megalomania.  This sociopathy afflicts almost every powerful man to some degree and reaches its zenith in the psyches of authoritarian rulers like Hosni Mubarak.  This is why virtually every other authoritarian ruler that has left their office has departed via resignation, popular uprising or coup.  In Mr. Mubarak’s case, he also benefits from the monetary support of Washington.  In fact, until we are told differently, he is still the beneficiary of that capitol’s political support as well.  I won’t be convinced otherwise until the monetary support is suspended.

There is a statement attributed to John Kennedy that reads: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  One wonders if these words will come true in Egypt in ways much bloodier than they already have.  If they do, the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of the man who claims to love his country more than his power—Hosni Mubarak.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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