FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We Must All Help Egypt

Excerpts from a speech to the Vancouver, Canada rally to stop the massacres in Egypt, Saturday, August 24, 2013

I am moved to see Egyptian-Canadians, supported by longtime peace activists, mobilizing today against the military dictatorship which has seized power in Cairo.

Calling what has happened by its right name – a coup – is very important because, under American law, designating the generals’ seizure of power by those four letters, c-o-u-p, requires an immediate suspension of $1.3 billion in US military aid. That’s a fact, and has been articulated by a very important US senator, Patrick Leahy, and even acknowledged by Republicans John McCain and Lindsay Graham.

Suspending that aid is the only way for President Obama to gain leverage against the generals in Cairo and to possibly make them back down before even worse disasters are inflicted on the people of Egypt. Once before, President Obama stood up and spoke out against the lobby for Mubarak’s military dictatorship. Obama endorsed the legitimacy of Muhammad Morsi’s election [in June 2012].

But for now, the new dictators and their defenders, from Saudi Arabia to Israel to the US Congress, have tied the president’s tongue. Only resistance in Egypt and public opinion in the Western world can free the president to state the truth and act on it. These rallies can hasten the day.

The United States and Canadian governments cannot maintain any global credibility if they support this dictatorship.

Too many of the apologists for Egypt’s military rulers are liberals who should know better. How on earth could the liberal Secretary of State, John Kerry, have said the military coup would “restore democracy”? How could so many Egyptian liberals and secularists share the same upside-down view? Some of them, like Mohammad el-Baradei, have since regretted their support of the generals and been forced to leave the country. Others, like Tamarod, who started the petition for Morsi’s ouster, have apparently doubled down and, according to this morning’s papers, are hoping to overthrow Hamas in Gaza next.

Why the confusion? What is going on? To clarify the massive confusion, it might be time to revive “teach-in” on our campuses and in our communities as soon as the school year opens.

It seems to me that the defenders are saying that Egypt’s democratic elections that chose Morsi and the Brotherhood would lead to a future dictatorship and so a dictatorship became necessary to restore democracy. That’s a logic of fear that is inconsistent with the idea of democracy itself.

I do not identify myself with the Muslim Brotherhood but with the democratic process. If people have problems with Morsi’s actions in office, it’s hard to argue that Morsi’s regime was growing into a tyranny. The police, the army and the judiciary, all the institutions of the Mubarak era, were against Morsi despite his being elected. So were at least 48 percent of Egypt’s voters. That’s not exactly totalitarianism, but paranoia run amok.

Anyone who says Morsi should be locked up and the Brotherhood wiped out is saying that there is no acceptable democratic or political path forward for Islam. But If Political Islam is rendered illegitimate, then isn’t the only alternative clandestine struggle, violence and sabotage, and isn’t where all this began in the prisons of Egypt decades ago? Do the defenders of the generals prefer to fight al Qaeda on the battlefield than political Islam in democratic elections? The rise of Political Islam is the target of this dictatorship, just as it was in Algeria in the 1990s before the generals of that country inflicted mass slaughter to prevent an Islamic election victory.

It may only be coincidental, but the Egyptian coup comes at a key moment when support for the Global War on Terrorism has been waning. Egypt under Mubarak was a major ally of the United States in the secret rendition and torture of unknown suspects. And Egypt provided special access through the Suez Canal and free airspace for US ships and planes carrying troops and supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan. After Mubarak, and under Morsi or any other elected leader, there would be an inevitable shift in Egypt away from being a lackey of the CIA and Pentagon. Egypt would have played a more constructive role in Gaza, in favor of the Palestinians, instead of automatically supporting the Israelis in exchange for American dollars. And if Egypt shifted towards a more balanced and independent role, other countries might have chosen more independent paths instead of subordinating their foreign policies to that of the Pentagon.

The initial acceptance of Morsi’s election by the United States was part of a thaw in the fundamentalist war-on-terrorism model. Public doubt and dissent have been on the rise. The anti-war movements were able to push back against the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. There has been global blowback against the drone wars and revulsion against Guantanamo. The surveillance state is coming under greater criticism in part because of courageous whistleblowers. The trillion dollar costs of the secretive wars has become a burden for countries experiencing high unemployment and declining social services.

Now with the Egyptian coup, the war-on-terrorism model is being re-energized. Drone strikes are up in Yemen. After unexplained alerts, twenty US embassies were suddenly closed. Sarin gas is now discovered in Syria. The gates of Hell are opening across the Middle East. The Fortress Empire is being fortified. Democracy will have to wait, we are told – not only in Egypt but here in the shadow of the new Surveillance State with its secret wars and secret courts.

We must all help Egypt regain the democratic ground it has lost to the tanks and troops. Our own democratic rights, including the fundamental right to know what our governments are doing–where we are fighting and who we are funding–are at stake too.

Tom Hayden is a longtime activist and former California state senator.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael Duggin
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail