Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Democracy, Egypt and Empire

As I pointed out in the most recent Antiwar.com piece, the West has been the principal nemesis of democracy in the XX century, even as the U.S. elevated it into a veritable religion. The EU doesn't mouth off about democracy as much, and prefers bureaucratic repression to military one, but at the end of the day. the distinction hardly matters to those "democratized" by either.

Then there is the matter of "color revolutions," starting with the October 2000 coup in Serbia that established the template for them. By now, every time there is a "democratic popular uprising" somewhere, the first question on many minds is whether the Empire is really behind it.

I've heard such a question raised about Tunisia and Egypt over the past couple weeks. While I've seen some flags inspired by the CIA-trained and NED-funded "Otpor"movement in Serbia, and heard that some of the protest organizers were similarly trained, I still doubt the Empire was behind this deliberately. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak have been Imperial stooges for years; what possible reason could there be for getting rid of them, and in such a fashion besides?

Therefore, I am inclined to believe that the Tunisian revolt at least was quite spontaneous, and if Egypt may have been given a little push, that doesn't make the revolution there any less authentic. One Serbian journalist described the protesters as "hungry for freedom but fed up with Empire." That might be a projection of his wishes for Serbia - but it sounds about right nonetheless.

H.L. Mencken once wrote that "democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." I think we're about to see this demonstrated firsthand.

The protesters in Tunisia and Egypt claim to want democracy and freedom. If the Empire truly wants to help them (ha!) it will stay away. But the Empire cannot go against its nature. For all that he proclaims that the "people of Egypt" will decide their future, the Emperor follows that with a list of what "must" happen. How very democratic of you, Mr. Hussein.

For all its verbal commitment to freedom and democracy (as long as they get to define what both those words mean in practice, anyway), the Imperial establishment is running scared. They know all too well that in turbulent times, those with determination and clarity of vision come out ahead. Right now, the revolutionaries know what they don't want - Ben Ali and Mubarak, and their cronies - but it is people like the Muslim Brotherhood and Rachid Ganouchi who know what they do want, and are waiting in the wings to seize it. And there isn't much the Empire can do to stop them.

What if Islamic regimes do take over? It will be a pity for those Egyptians and Tunisians who didn't want that to happen, for one, but will it really be a disaster for the Empire? I mean, it will free up all that foreign aid that went to Cairo and Tunis for decades. And hasn't the current Emperor, like his predecessor, gone on about how the Empire isn't at war with Islam or the Muslims? So what's the problem, exactly?

Well, there is the whole matter of the Muslim Brotherhood wanting to wipe Israel off the map. Honestly, though, the Israeli military has soundly beaten the Egyptians in conventional wars four times in the past 63 years. The fastest way for that expensive US hardware in Egyptian hands to turn into a heap of scrap metal is for a hypothetical Brotherhood regime to attempt an attack on Israel.

Camp David made Israelis believe that trading land for peace was a real possibility. It also shifted the Arab-Israeli conflict from the realm of interstate conventional warfare (in which Israel excelled) to that of a low-intensity insurrection conducted by sub-state actors (the intifada, Hamas, Hezbollah), where Israel has fared much worse. So the possibility of a hostile, Islamic Egypt shouldn't really induce histrionics among the partisans of Israel, the way it seems to be doing.

If anything, given the importance of the Suez route for its possibilities of trading with Europe (in light of the recent acquisitions of Greek ports), it is China that ought to be concerned about the future of Egypt and its relationship with Israel. Yet we don't hear much fretting from Beijing.

From a historical perspective, odds are the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt will propel to power a more radical and violent regime (see Cromwell in England, the Jacobins in France, the Bolsheviks in Russia...). The silver lining would be the demise of the pernicious illusion - promoted by the Empire - that democracy means freedom (it doesn't; they are just about mutually exclusive, actually), and that everyone around the world should aspire to it. That may well be too much to ask, though. And besides - we should be careful what we wish for. We might just get it, good and hard.


Eugene Costa said...

"Everything that power does not forecast, because it has not organized it, therefore becomes a 'plot' against it..."

Gianfranco Sanguinetti (tr.NB)

Suvorov said...

I wouldn't discount the possibility of Imperial involvement. They have gotten ridden of stooges no less faithful than Mubarak before. As Mr. Saakashvili's predecessor (and political parent, btw) Mr. Eduard Shevarnadze truthfully said, "I have consistently been one of the staunchest advocates of the American foreign policy". So staunch and consistent in fact that he awarded to the United States a part of Soviet territory rich in natural resources. He could not comprehend the rationale behind his removal from power: could anyone be even more faithful? It turned out someone could. As you yourself once remarked, the only thing more dangerous than being America's enemy is being America's friend. The list of former friends is an extensive one. Mubarak, after all represent(s/ed) the old style of a corrupt and brutal dictator, who was nevertheless allowed to do as he pleased at home, as long as he didn't anger anyone important abroad. That model is no longer deemed sufficient by globalists. The ideal democratic leader should not breathe without first consulting the State Department.

CubuCoko said...

Well put, Suvorov.

Eugene Costa said...

“See how the United States, after using such-and-such a president for years, as soon as he hits a crisis, they abandon him. That's how the devil pays....They didn't even give a visa or anything to the president of Tunisia.”

Hugo Chavez [LA Times January 30]

Saddam Hussein also comes to mind.

Suvorov said...


Eugene Costa,

Thanks for reminding me what I omitted in my post: Chavez's synopsis sums it up very well.

Suvorov said...

This is a diversion, but when I read articles like these:



I do believe that Wikipedia is a CIA tool.

Anonymous said...

In regards to events in Egypt just now it is worth pointing out that the Qatari regime home to Al Jazeera which is at the forefront of covering the protests which is strongly aligned with the US and Britain is one of the major financiers of Islamic terrorism through its government front charity Qatar Charitable Society financed a failed Mubarak assassination attempt in 95 in Ethiopia which also involved a British intelligence affiliated Libyan terrorist Anas al-Liby who Britain paid to kill Gadaffi in 96 was given political asylum despite warnings from Egypt.

CubuCoko said...

You give the CIA more credit than it deserves. I figure this is merely a determined showing by the Albanians to write history on a popular site that enables them to do so. Serbs generally don't bother, believing Wikipedia would censor them if they tried (thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy). The few times they do get involved, the ignorant American moderators end up calling for "civility" and splitting the difference - which obviously benefits the side with the more outrageous propaganda claims. Hint: it ain't the Serbs.

Suvorov said...

Well, I was more referring to those who moderate and edit than those who write. Of course, in the entries I cited there was no splitting the difference at all, because there was no difference from the State Department position. As to the CIA, I am afraid it does deserve some credit after all. For example:


Another day I read on Wikipedia that the Bilderberg Group was intended as a means to improve the Euro-American relations! You see, the founders of this secretive club were concerned about the growing anti-American feeling in Western Europe after the war and naturally these highly responsible individuals wanted to help. They have been so altruistic in doing so that to the present day they refuse to take any public credit for their great work and in most cases would not even admit to having attended these annual meetings.

Here is only one example of our good friend Madeleine Aalbright denying her attendance:


Eugene Costa said...

Edward Bernays' Propaganda (1928) is available on line here:


It had a honored place in Goebbels' library.

ajokic said...

There is a huge difference between tunisia and Egypt, however. ben Ali left immediately because CIA told him or he would be killed. mubark decided to stay because CIA told him to stay or he would be killed. Serious difference, indeed!

CubuCoko said...

Can you back this assertion with evidence?

ajokic said...

Malic, it is called "inference to the best explanation" considering the shockingly abrupt and seemingly unnecessary exist of Ben Ali (then the revelation that the French had no permission--from the US--to let him in the country) on the one hand, and the strange lingering in place by Mubarak. Then I see today that Chossudovsky write about Wiesner from the "old CIA family" visit to Egypt: " Wisner's mandate was to instruct Mubarak not to resign, thereby contributing to triggering an atmosphere of social chaos and uncertainty, not to mention the deliberate destabilization of Egypt's monetary system resulting from billions of dollars of capital flight." I donÀÀ't know about you, but my inference makes even more sense to me now.

CubuCoko said...

See, you could have just mentioned the bit about Wisner's visit and saved the hostility.

That's like me saying I know that Boris Tadic has been chipped or magicked, instead of speculating that only these phenomena could explain his behavior.

Eugene Costa said...

"Chipped or magicked" is quite nice.

Granting that it is what Peirce may have classified as abduction, one wonders what the process of elimination might be to arrive at something more than a guess.

ajokic said...

Eugene Costa: That CIA is behind actions by Ben Ali and Mubarak is better than just a guess while Tadic being "chipped or magicked" is worse than a guess. Peirce did have some idea of how to do better than guessing and even a bit ambitious self-correcting process of scientific discovery.

CubuCoko said...

ajokic, what seems to be the problem? I originally asked you to back up your claim with an explanation, because it reeked of "CIA is behind everything!" conspiracy theories. When you did so, I agreed that you had a point. If you want to be a jerk about it, that's your prerogative - just as rejecting comments that I consider crass is mine.

Eugene Costa said...

Actually, Peirce had great respect for "guessing", and understood the term much more closely than rhetoricians and propagandists whose only use for it is a demand, as a prelude to deniability, for "evidence", which in turn will be impeached on other grounds, especially if the guess, in a political context, is both correct and something that is considered usefully concealed.

But that is not the point.

Moreover, there is the reverse, which Debord and Sanguinetti both discuss in a political context, to wit, that power itself, based on secrecy, must also have the secrecy--and its supposed power--also known to a degree, even when its attributes are false.

Falcon can speak for himself, but that is one interpretation that may be put on "giving X too much credit."

How convenient, when things are really out of control, to have an "Invisible Hand" to account for this or that and reestablish a "feeling" of some "secret" control.

That applies not only to politics but economics.

Eugene Costa said...

"At the very moment when it is the police who claim to make history, any historical fact is explained by power in a police manner. The Hungarian researcher into psychiatry, Joseph Gabel says that, according to what he defines as the 'police conception of history,' history is no longer constituted 'by the ensemble of objective forces, but by good or bad individual action,' where each event 'is placed under the sign of miracle or of catastrophe': interpretation of the event then no longer consists of its historical explanation, but is ascribed to red or black magic..."

Gianfranco Sanguinetti [tr.NB]

Suvorov said...

Yes, by the same token, when it comes to war history, generals are typically divided into two categories: military geniuses and blundering fools. Perhaps that's because everything is made for History Channel audiences nowadays.

CubuCoko said...

Well put. Of course, people who interpret events in the "police" manner usually end up oblivious when reality knocks on their door. Usually armed and angry.