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Egypileaks: What the Egyptian Uprising Tells Us About the West

February 6, 2011

Wiklileaks seemed ultimately to show the world what we already knew: stories of collusion, cynicism and hypocrisy at the heart of the mechanisms of power.  Real politics is Realpolitik and the rest is just the window-dressing that propagates the myths we need, not because we necessarily believe them, but because somehow in this our age of comfortable cynicism we have succeeded in making our peace with the utter falsity of the public face of the world. Cue depression-party.

There are of course other ways that these myths get exposed, such as recent events in Egypt. When western interests conflict with liberal ideology and its rhetoric, the results are spectacular dance of twisted logic. The story as it is playing out with regards to Egypt goes something like this…

The West is (of course) a BIG fan of democracy. We did afterall invent that shit in Greece – or was it Britain with the Magna Carta, or France with the revolution, or the Americans with the declaration of independence? – well the point is it was white people. And whats more white people have had a lot of practice and we’ve got pretty good at it. So good at it in fact that we know that sometimes ‘democratic values’ and ‘democracy’ don’t always go together. This is why, despite the massive demonstration of ‘people power’ in Egypt, the West has to ensure a ‘managed transition’ so that the values of democracy win out, not just plain old democracy in the sense of will of the people or some shit. Still with me?

Democracy

You see what the Egyptian people don’t get is, as Tony Blair put it, Hosni Mubarak is “immensely courageous and a force for good”. Tony Blair understands democracy, because he made one in Iraq. Silvio Berlusconi, who clearly understands democracy better than anyone as he still manages to get Italians to vote for him despite treating government as an extended swingers party, noted the US and Europe consider Mubarak the “wisest of men”. The US administration of Barak Obama, predominantly through the mouth of Hillary Clinton, hero of Tuzla, has stressed that protesters just need to give their unelected, repressive rulers time to reform in the general direction of democracy, so they should probably just chill and go find Osama Bin Laden or something. You see if you don’t understand this kind of nuance, then you totally won’t get that when Obama said he wanted to ‘reset’ relations with the Muslim and Arab world, by ‘reset’ he actually meant ‘don’t change anything at all’.

Chicken

Mubarak has of course been a friend to the West. He understood that selling his country’s foreign policy in exchange for several billion dollars would lead to a better world. This is called being ‘allies’. He also opened Egypt up to western capital (which is why the two biggest mobile phone companies in Egypt, Britain’s Vodafone and France’s France Telecom had the privilege of being the vehicles for pro-regime propaganda they broadcast by text messages). This is a good thing because it is free markets, and free markets are a good thing because they are globalisation, and globalisation is a good thing because it made the internet, and the internet made twitter, and without twitter there would be no uprising in Egypt (except there would). Geddit? Mubarak has also been such a good friend to the West that he lets Tony Blair stay in his Red Sea villa for free, and that the Clinton’s refer to the Mubarak’s as ‘family’. But this in no way affects their opinions in case you were wondering.

The big fear of course is somehow that ‘Islamists’ (gasp!) stand ready to seize power given the slightest hint of a vacuum into which they can step. Specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization who long ago renounced violence and has instead has fought its battles with the regime by providing social services (ISLAMIC RADICAL SOCIAL SERVICES), is the bogey-man. A very smart lady called Pamella Geller is aware that the Muslim Brotherhood have plans in the west for “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within”. This is really a parenthesis because she is just crazy. On the other hand in an article in the Washington Post, a very open-minded man named Richard Cohen basically set out what the Tony Blair’s and the rest really want to say:

The dream of a democratic Egypt is sure to produce a nightmare … The next Egyptian government – or the one after – might well be composed of Islamists. In that case, the peace with Israel will be abrogated and the mob currently in the streets will roar its approval … I care about democratic values, but they are worse than useless in societies that have no tradition or respect for minority rights. What we want for Egypt is what we have ourselves. This, though, is an identity crisis. We are not them.

Richard Cohen: These people don't deserve happiness

Egyptians go to your room – you don’t deserve nice things like freedom, democracy, or dessert. What is important here is to ignore key facts, like the way in which Egyptian Christians stood side by side with Egyptian Muslims in these protests, indeed circled them in a protective ring during prayers. ‘The mob’ of course, is the Egyptian people who gathered in their millions for peaceful, secular protest, and who spontaeously organized into neighbourhood watch groups to protect their neighborhoods from looting (much of it possibly coming from people connected to the regime, or at the very least a consequence of the regime decision to completely remove all police and release prisoners in an attempt to sow disorder and fear). Being an intellectual is hard.

So therefore the regime has to remain in power through a western-backed silent coup which has already been more or less completed installing Vice President Omar Suleiman as replacement for Mubarak. Since the West likes Mubarak, this must mean he is even better! He until recently controlled the intelligence service who served Israel and the West, while torturing both Egyptians (for their own good I guess) and, kindly, whoever else the US ‘rendered’ into Egyptian hands. So this is without doubt the man to lead an honest, open and transparent transition to democracy which will exclude undesirable elements that would compromise democratic values (which to reiterate is the Islamists, not members of a dictatorial regime). If in this time we witness the torture of more Egptians, such as the leaders of the secular, youth, driven protest movement, then this is because democracy isn’t easy, and anyway the Arabs respect hard leaders. Or the world demands hard choices. Or really we’re just totally full of shit? I lose track so easily.

The difference between the religious fundamentalists that exist en masse in America, where 50% of the population do not believe in evolution, and someone like Sarah Palin, a poster-child for all sorts of fundamentalisms (religious, political, something involving female grizzly bears) is considered a semi-serious candidate for the presidency of the country, is that they are Christians support Israel well, I don’t know. But Egypt is also closer on a map to Iran, where religious fundamentalists feed babies to other larger babies (or is that Saudi Arabia? in which case shhhh) and also may want to make nuclear weapons (this doesn’t involve any babies per se).

Ultimately it isn’t always the rabid conservatives who ordinarily give us so much reason to hate them that end up looking like idiots, for they at least have the space here to be honest like Mr. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. It is the western liberals, the Tony Blairs and the Obamas and Clintons, who shame themselves. Like with Wikileaks, it isn’t even that events in Egypt have exposed a lie at the heart of foreign policy in the traditional sense of a concealed truth. We have known this truth for some time. The question is when will we take responsibility to act on it, and what action would that be?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2011 5:22 pm

    Visited your site through Delicious. You already know I will be subscribing to your rss feed.

    • April 16, 2011 3:59 am

      T9uiVy Glad I’ve finally found smoetnihg I agree with!

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  1. The Great Liberal Betrayal of the Arab Revolutionary Spirit « Reflections on a Revolution

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