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Critical Connections: Egypt, the US, and the Israel Lobby

By ALISON WEIR | If Americans Knew | February 4, 2011

Minimally explored in all the coverage of the momentous Egyptian uprising taking place over the last 10 days are the Israeli connections.

A central and critical reality is that it is US tax money that has propped up Hosni Mubarak’s despotic regime over the past 30 years, and that this money has flowed, from the beginning, largely on behalf of Israel.

Israel is generally a significant factor in events in the Middle East, and to understand ongoing happenings it is important to understand the historic and current Israeli connections.

The violent creation, perpetuation, and expansion of a state based on ethnic expulsion of the majority inhabitants has been central to Middle East dynamics ever since Israel was created by European and American Zionists in 1948 as a self-identified “Jewish State.”

Israeli leaders and outside observers realized from the very beginning that the only way to maintain such a violently imposed, ethnically based nation-state was through military dominance of the region. For Israel to achieve this military dominance required two things:

(1) The creation of a military more powerful than all the others in the region combined. Israel has achieved this through a uniquely massive influx of US tax dollars and technology, occasionally purloined but largely procured through the machinations of its lobby. (Among other things, Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons, a fact almost never mentioned by American media or the American government.)

(2) The prevention of any other nation in the region from becoming a threat. Israel has attained this goal through several strategies: divide and conquer techniques, direct invasions and attacks (or pushing the U.S. to carry out attacks), and the propping up of despots who would openly or tacitly agree (sometimes in return for similarly large influxes of American tax money) not to support the rights of those oppressed and ethnically cleansed by Israel.

For the past 30-plus years, Egypt has been among those despotic regimes supported by the U.S. and Israel in return for turning its back on Palestinians.

The Egypt-Israeli peace treaty of 1979 has occasionally been mentioned in news reports on the current uprising. That treaty was an arrangement in which the Egyptian leader of the time, Anwar Sadat, stopped opposing Israel’s previous ethnic cleansing of close to a million indigenous Palestinian Muslims and Christians (at least 750,000 in 1947-49 and an additional 200,000 in 1967). This removed the most populous and politically significant country from the Arab front opposing Israel’s illegal actions and led the way for other nations to “normalize” relations with the abnormal situation in Palestine.

In return, Israel gave back to Egypt the Sinai, Egyptian land it had illegally annexed in its 1967 war of aggression. (Egypt had almost managed to re-conquer this land and more in 1973, but the most massive airlift in American history, engineered by Henry Kissinger under pressure from the Israeli lobby, was sent to Israel, preventing this outcome.)

Also in return, the United States agreed to give Egypt more US tax money than any other nation, with the exception of Israel. Since 1979, Egypt has received an annual average of close to $2 billion in economic and political aid /a/ from American taxpayers (most of whom have known nothing about this use of our money). /3/ The arrangement has allowed Mubarak to stay in power for decades despite periodic attempts by Egyptians to free themselves from his ruthless rule.

At the same time, it’s important to note that the U.S., as broker of the peace treaty, gave Israel even greater rewards: guaranteeing Israel’s oil supplies for the next fifteen years; assuring Israel of American support in the event of violations; committing to be ‘responsive’ to Israel’s military and economic requirements; and promising a variety of major transfers of technology and aid, including $3 billion to relocate two Israeli air bases out of the Sinai, where, as journalist Donald Neff noted, they had no right to be in the first place.

In fact, the American financial arrangement with Israel, which had begun years before Egypt’s, has been far cozier than Egypt’s: Israel gets considerably more money from the US, even though its population is one-tenth of Egypt’s; there is little U.S. oversight of how it uses that money; and, unlike Egypt, which receives its allotment monthly, Israel receives its handout in a lump sum at the very beginning of the fiscal year (which means that Americans then pay interest for the rest of the year on money that the government has already given away, while Israel makes interest on it).

In the cases of both Israel and Egypt, the Israel lobby’s role in procuring this U.S. tax money has been central. While this fact is largely missing from US media reports and many liberal/left analyses, it is frequently referred to in Israeli and Jewish media. For example, a current Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) report states: “The question of whether to stake a claim in the protests against 30 years of President Hosni Mubarak’s autocracy is a key one for the pro-Israel lobby and pro-Israel lawmakers because of the role they have played in making Egypt one of the greatest beneficiaries of U.S. aid.”

As conditions change in Egypt, U.S. lawmakers known for their allegiance to Israel are evaluating what to do about U.S aid. Many such Israel partisans have particularly powerful and relevant positions, such as Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the foreign operations subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the House Middle East subcommittee; Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), ranking member on the Foreign Affairs committee and the author of last year’s sweeping Iran sanctions law; and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev), member of the subcommittee on the Middle East of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. A person close to the Israel lobby notes: “No matter what happens, clearly one of the top criteria Congress is likely to use is Egypt’s approach to its peace treaty obligations with Israel.”

Through the years a variety of Egyptian groups have opposed the Egyptian regime, some using violence (while the regime has used greater violence against them). This is virtually always reported without context and in extremely negative terms, without noting that it is routine for resistance movements to use violence; the American Revolutionary War was not known for its nonviolence. Yet, Israeli-centric U.S. media rarely discuss this.

In recent years, Mubarak has collaborated with Israel in closing off the Gaza Strip, largely imprisoning 1.5 million men, women, and children, resulting in a humanitarian disaster in which children suffer malnutrition, stunting, and trauma, and 300 Gazan patients have died through lack of essential medical supplies or being denied exit passes for medical care. Egyptian citizens, furious at their nation’s complicity in this cruelty, have been powerless to stop it.

Israel has long worked to create enmity between Egypt and the U.S. In the early 1950s the Israeli secret service, the Mossad, hatched a plan to firebomb areas in Egypt where Americans gathered — and to make these attacks appear to be the work of Muslim extremists. The plot was discovered and caused a scandal in Israel known as the “Lavon Affair,” but few Americans have ever heard of it. Some analysts suspect that other such plots succeeded and that the little-known Israeli attack on the U.S. Navy ship USS Liberty may have been a similar false-flag operation. (Certainly, there is little doubt that the U.S. would have attacked Egypt if Liberty crewmembers had not succeeded, against all odds, in getting a distress signal out before Israel succeeded in sinking the ship with all men aboard.)

Another little-discussed result of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty was the creation of an international peacekeeping force in the Sinai, known as the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), charged with mediating between Egypt and Israel.  It is telling that this force was not placed on Israeli land but instead occupies Egyptian territory.

Its current head is Ambassador David M. Satterfield, an American diplomat who served extensively in the Middle East, was Senior Advisor on Iraq for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and held a number of other high positions in the state department, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

In 2005 Satterfield was named as having provided classified information to an official of the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC. According to documents, Satterfield had discussed secret national security matters in at least two meetings with AIPAC official Steven J. Rosen, who was subsequently indicted by the U.S. Justice Department (later quashed over the objections of the FBI.)

In 2004 Satterfield presided at a State Department conference on the 1967 war. A Washington Report on Middle East Affairs report on this conference stated that Satterfield repeatedly referred to Palestinian terrorism while failing to mention Israel’s brutal attacks on Palestinian civilians. The article reports “Satterfield’s remarks dampened audience expectations for an even-handed U.S. approach to peacemaking.”

Among those in the audience at the conference’s panel on the USS Liberty, though not on the panel itself were USS Liberty survivors, trying to tell their story. State Department moderator Marc Susser quickly cut them off, and his treatment of the survivors reportedly “bordered on abusive.”

Now, David Satterfield is heading up international forces occupying Egyptian land charged with being a “neutral” mediator between Egypt and Israel.

It is unknown whether his conversations with AIPAC continue.

Alison Weir is President of the Council for the National Interest and Executive Director of If Americans Knew. She can be reached at contact@ifamericansknew.org

Partial sources:

1. A good short history available online is “The Origin of the Palestine Israel Conflict”

http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html

2. 3. FALLEN PILLARS by Donald Neff, cited online in

http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html

Richard Curtiss book review of “Deliberate Deceptions: Facing the Facts About The U.S.-Israeli Relationship,” by Paul Findley: http://wrmea.com/component/content/article/148-1993-june/7184-deliberate-deceptions-facing-the-facts-about-the-us-israeli-relationship.html

3. Congressional Research Service:

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:9S9P-1-foMsJ:www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL32260.pdf+us+aid+to+egypt&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiYZf6s-uON3OR_ZGYkiPlJ4TIlyDdDsnYQXKYX1lGFMEAhzMGmVjJ_QerJrhSNE_EQVq5pYvmK70KlZgomEJ1lslnh3GvatY5uT_F1IeHxtPTwO4kGv2lLjbE16HAKGwTCUMNO&sig=AHIEtbSGseSWSsnE90jzlA3VbMCs9vjl9w

http://www.fas.org/search/index.html?cx=011272476961064978591%3Alx1cammk60s&cof=FORID%3A11&q=us+aid+to+egypt&siteurl=www.fas.org%2Fasmp%2Fprofiles%2Fegypt.htm#1506

4. “Sadat’s Jerusalem Trip Begins Difficult Path of Egyptian-Israeli Peace

Print E-mail,” Donald Neff, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October/November 1998, pages 83-85:

http://wrmea.com/component/content/article/197-1998-october-november/8246-sadats-jerusalem-trip-begins-difficult-path-of-egyptian-israeli-peace.html

http://israelipalestinian.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000466

http://www.ibiblio.org/sullivan/docs/Israel-EgyptPeaceTreaty.html

5. http://ifamericansknew.org/stats/usaid.html

6. “Dilemma of pro-Israel groups: To talk Egypt or not,” Ron Kampeas, JTA, February 1, 2011:

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/02/01/2742799/pro-israel-groups-dilemma-to-talk-egypt-or-not

7. “Health Ministry in Gaza Warns of Medicine Shortage,” IMEMC, Feb 3, 2011

http://www.imemc.org/article/60561

8. “Israel Honors Egyptian Spies 50 Years After Fiasco,” Reuters. Haaretz, March 30, 2005:

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/honor.html

“The Lavon Affair: When Israel Firebombed U.S. Installations,” Richard H. Curtiss,

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 1992, pages 41-42, 86:

http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/0792/92070041.html

9. http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/ussliberty.html

10. “U.S. Diplomat Is Named in Secrets Case,” David Johnston and James Risen, New York Times, August 18, 2005 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/18/politics/18inquire.html

“Lawyers credit Obama team for dismissing AIPAC case,” Ron Kampeas, JTA, May 1, 2009:

http://jta.org/news/article/2009/05/01/1004853/lawyers-credit-obama-team-for-dismissing-aipac-case

http://irmep.org/

11. Those Not Invited to Speak Steal the Show at State Department Liberty Discussion,” Delinda C. Hanley, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2004:

http://www.ussliberty.org/washrj04.htm

February 4, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

From Tahrir to Tel Aviv there are only two sides of the barricades – the side of freedom and the side of control

By David Sheen | Mondoweiss | February 4, 2011

The week that followed January 25, 2011, Day One of the Egyptian Intifada, saw two organized demonstrations in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv. Both protests included people of various ethnic identities, but were primarily made up of Palestinian-Israelis, and Arabic was the language of the angry chanting. I videotaped both of these demonstrations and subtitled the anti-Mubarak slogans into English and Hebrew, for the benefit of non-Arabic speakers. At the second demo I also interviewed a number of people on the street to contextualize how these protestors are being interpreted by average Israelis.

I believe that we owe a great debt to the brave souls in Tahrir Square and all across Egypt who are fighting for their freedom, for inspiring us to do the same. But I’m also thankful to them for shining a light so bright that it renders us all almost transparent, allowing us to see ourselves and easily understand all the other actors on stage. There are only two sides of the barricades: the side of freedom, and the side of control. Misr, thank you for the reminder; we need to make every day January 25.

Solidarity with Egypt in Tel Aviv

February 4, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | 2 Comments

Palestine Papers: The Palestinians’ ‘Generous Offer’


Palestinian officials are largely focused on ensuring American aid
By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | February 4, 2011

As Palestinians are becoming increasingly confident about the authenticity of the Palestine Papers – 1,600 leaked documents that Al Jazeera began publishing on January 23 – they can also find little to be proud of in their contents.

According to Palestinian political commentator Mazin Qumsiyeh, the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat “comes out basically pleading and begging sometimes and other times using the presence of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to try and convince (American and Israeli) officials.” If the conduct of PA officials is not outright betrayal of the rights of their people, then it is, at best, degrading political groveling in exchange for factional gains.

Others have convincingly argued that such demeaning behavior is also indicative of the true nature of the negotiations. Palestinians are, in fact, the party desperate for a peace agreement, while the Israelis insist on arrogantly refusing all Palestinian initiatives – which often even surpass Israel’s and the US’s declared expectations. “The documents put to death the idea that Israel has no Palestinian ‘partner for peace,” argues US author and professor, Stephen M. Walt. They also “expose the bipartisan and binational strategy that Israel and the United States have followed under both Bush and Obama: to keep putting pressure on the Palestinians to cut a one-sided deal.”

The leaked documents – comprising mostly of Palestinian accounts of numerous meetings between Israel, US and Palestinian Authority officials – truly represent a convincing, and, in my view, a final argument against the sham dubbed the ‘peace process’. The so-called process, which commenced with the original declaration of principles in Oslo in 1993, has turned into a secretive barter between a rejectionist, but unified Israeli-American front and Palestinian officials who are largely focused on ensuring American aid and defeating their political rivals.

What is particularly odd is the fact that while Palestinian negotiators were conceding most of the Palestinian rights in occupied East Jerusalem, brazenly giving away the right of return for refugees, and offering territorial concessions to accommodate most of the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, many in the American media were still talking of Palestinian failure to respond to Israel’s historic concessions. The Israeli generosity ruse had begun many years ago – back in the Henry Kissinger years when Arabs were constantly paraded for failing to live up to Israeli and American overtures. But the ruse was greatly cemented following the July 2000 collapse of peace talks between then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Barak’s “generous offer” – since proven untrue – continued to haunt Palestinians, who were derided for their supposed political inflexibility and “Arafat’s recalcitrance” (L.A. Times editorial, April 08, 2002).

Now Al Jazeera has revealed and verified hundreds of documents, spanning from 1999 to 2010, which show that the Palestinians’ generosity was truly extraordinary and far-reaching, if not a cause of utter shame for many of those involved.

The Palestine Papers revealed much about the skewed nature of the relationship between two parties who are purportedly in a state of conflict. As it turned out, the Palestinian leadership seemed to negotiate and offer the very opposite of what the Palestinian public truly desire.

According to one leaked document, Saeb Erekat gave away most of Occupied East Jerusalem, even as Israelis insisted on not yet discussing Jerusalem. On June 30, 2008, in a meeting that included Tzipi Livni, then Israel’s Foreign Minister and Ahmed Qurei, top Fatah official and former PA Prime Minister, Erekat declared: “It is no secret that on our map we proposed we are offering you the biggest Yerushalayim (the Hebrew word for Jerusalem) in history.”

Erekat’s personal offer was an extension of one proposed by Qurei himself, in a meeting two weeks earlier. Qurei “proposed that Israel annexes all settlements in Jerusalem except Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa). This is the first time in history that we make such a proposition; we refused to do so in Camp David.” To further convince Israeli officials, Erekat “went on to enumerate some of the settlements that the PA was willing to concede,” according to Gregg Carlstrom in Al Jazeera. They include “French Hill, Ramat Alon, Ramat Shlomo, Gilo, Talpiot, and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s old city. Those areas contain some 120,000 Jewish settlers.”

As for Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary – the third holiest of Muslim sites – Erekat offered ‘creative’ solutions, such as placing the Palestinian Muslim shrine under international supervision – thus ceding almost complete control over the occupied city.

This is barely the tip of the iceberg. The compromises are plentiful and they blatantly contradict international law, Palestinian national aspirations, Arab consensus, and even the declared official position of the Palestinian Authority itself.

The Palestine Papers also confirm that both sides are on more or less on the same page regarding the Palestinian people’s right to return, agreeing that such a right will not be carried out in any meaningful way. In an October 21, 2009 meeting with US diplomat and Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, Erekat stated: “Palestinians will need to know that five million refugees will not go back. The number will be agreed as one of the options. Also the number returning to their own state will depend on annual absorption capacity.”

The documents reveal much more, including, for example, that the PA’s strategy in crushing political opposition was the handy work of Britain’s intelligence service, MI6. This, of course, hardly compares to the American role, which has held Israeli interests and priorities as the backbone of American involvement in the talks.

The leaked documents have permanently damaged whatever little credibility the Ramallah-based authority still enjoyed among Palestinians. How much longer the PA can continue to serve any purpose is now unclear. What is certain, however, is that its purpose does not include exacting Palestinian rights or preserving the national integrity of the Palestinian people and the territorial integrity of a Palestinian state.

The Palestine Papers have made this very clear, and lashing out at Al Jazeera – as the PA is now doing – will change nothing.

February 4, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Palestine Papers: The Palestinians’ ‘Generous Offer’

Food, Egypt and Wall Street

Soaring Prices, Growing Destabilization

By ROBERT ALVAREZ | CounterPunch | February 4, 2011

The dramatic rise in food prices is fueling a great deal of discontent in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. It’s a deep undercurrent propelling many of the poor, who face prospects of starvation to resort to the streets and to violence. According to the United Nation’s Food Agency (Food and Agriculture Organization — FAO) world food prices are up for the 7th month in a row and are likely to surpass the record high reached in December 2010.

No end is in sight for this destabilizing battle with food price inflation in places like Egypt, where more than half of an average income goes for food. According to the State Department, more than 60 food riots occurred worldwide over the past two years.

In March 2008, a dramatic spike in food prices led thousands of people on the brink of starvation in Egypt to violently riot — sending a seismic shock wave through the Mubarak regime. After the Egyptian military was able to distribute enough wheat to dispel the rioting, efforts to stockpile wheat by the Mubarak government have failed, as food prices continue to hover at record highs.

The media is reporting many reasons for this problem ranging from soaring demand, cuts in food subsidies, droughts, and government mandates to use more grain-based biofuel. But, another significant factor is at play: unfettered speculation by investment banks. As noted in USA Today, in 2008, “the bulls may not be running on Wall Street, but they’re charging in the commodities pits.

At issue are the still deregulated commodity markets ushered in by the Clinton administration and the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Before this law, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) served as a cop on the beat, enforcing rules that prevent the distortion or manipulation of prices beyond normal supply and demand. But Wall Street banks and companies such as ENRON and British Petroleum were determined to make a lot more money from speculation by exempting energy-derivative contracts and related swaps from government oversight.

For this reason, the 2000 law allows entities that have no stake in whether adequate amounts of food and fuel are available for ordinary people and commodity-dependent businesses to make huge sums of money by gambling with other people’s money.

Soon after passage of the 2000 law, “dark” unregulated futures trading markets emerged, most notably the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in London — created by Wall Street and European investment banks and several oil companies. A key practice involves “over the counter index trading” in which hundreds of billions of dollars of pension, sovereign wealth, and other institutional funds are used to flood “dark” commodity markets to buy and hold futures contracts without an expiration date or oversight. When it’s time to make money on a losing bet, these funds are withdrawn, causing commodity price crashes and economic instability.

These transactions don’t involve customary “bona fide” commodity traders, such as an airline company hedging on the price of jet fuel by purchasing futures contracts. As prominent hedge fund manager Michael McMasters noted before a U.S. Senate panel in 2008, this amounts to “a form of electronic hoarding and greatly increases the inflationary effect of the market. It literally means starvation for millions of the world’s poor.”

Some world leaders are willing to speak out against the pernicious role of “dark” commodity markets. Recently, French President Sarkozy warned of further unrest and even war at the Davos forum, unless commodity speculation is reined in — something that Wall Street and Republican lawmakers are bitterly fighting. The Dodd/Frank Financial Reform Law places some restrictions on this practice by the CFTC. In particular, the CFTC is beginning the process of weeding out “non bona fide” investment bank speculators.

True to form, House Republicans are demanding that the CFTC slam on the brakes. They’re planning hearings and legislation to hamstring these efforts.

The spontaneous mass uprising of ordinary people in Egypt and the Middle East against their authoritarian regimes has many root causes. One that deserves much greater attention is unfettered speculation by powerful private financial institutions that don’t care about world-wide starvation and its impacts. It’s distorting global food supplies.

Robert Alvarez, an Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar, served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary from 1993 to 1999.

February 4, 2011 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

Obama Fails in Egypt

By Jim Miles | Palestine Chronicle | February 4, 2011

The situation in Egypt remains highly unsettled and the eventual outcome is still an unknown, but two things are clear: first that Obama is a failure, in spite of all his record of fine sounding rhetoric; and secondly, the empire struggles on, with as good a chance of winning this round with the Tahrir Square democracy protestors.

Obama’s speech in Cairo was essentially about terrorists, extremists, and the U.S. will to combat them, surrounded with a bunch of other nice language about friendship with Islam, democracy, and growing economies. Obama’s recent slow and ineffectual reaction to events in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt demonstrate the lie behind the fine sounding rhetoric of “hope” and “change” that he used in his election campaign and the fine sounding rhetoric of “democracy” used in his Cairo speech. At this point in time they are meaningless words in relation to events in Egypt.

Obama fits in very well with the military-industrial-political elite of the U.S., so well that he is incapable of acting in support of the very democracy ideal he purportedly wishes for the people of the Middle East. With a demonstration that was largely peaceful, that covered people from all facets of life in Egypt – save the military-political elite – Obama hesitated in support of real democracy in Egypt.

Unfortunately this is not surprising. The U.S. is meddling in politics throughout the region even though one of its favourite public mantras is about allowing no “foreign “ interference in the affairs of other countries, that they have to settle it themselves through dialogue and discussion. The U.S. is the most common foreign meddler in the region, using a variety of means to influence their control of the regimes, people, and resources of the region. The influence comes in various strands.

The most obvious is the military, with the unilateral military attacks and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan being predominate. Further military support is provided to the autocratic regimes of the area – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan – who deny the very democracy the U.S. disingenuously calls for, and use it to support the elites who survive on the beneficence of U.S. foreign aid. That aid is frequently tied to military purchases from U.S. firms, thus recycling the U.S. dollar to maintain the electoral base in the homeland and the employees of weapons manufacturers across the states. The military complex also incorporates covert actions within the region, and supports the renditions and torture of “unprivileged enemy belligerents”, the new phrase incorporated into U.S. military law that removes all rights of being a person established over centuries of customary international law.

The current situation in Egypt reinforces how the military are tied in with their allegiance to the existing order. Their very passivity in controlling the reactionary pro-Mubarak thugs and police and allowing them into Tahrir Square in order to attack the democracy protestors signals their passive receptive allegiance to the existing regime. While they have not fired on the demonstrators, their passivity reflects Obama’s passivity in allowing the government time to try and implement some action that will allow it to stay in power, thus continuing U.S. hegemony in the region.

Economics is another area where there is a large influence. That cannot be isolated from the military as explained above with the circling loans for military hardware. The more powerful economic machine is that of neo-liberal free market capitalism. The “Washington consensus” that pushes those financial tactics is an economic order consisting of those countries – the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and the E.U. – along with the many associated non-government organizations and think tanks. The majority of the latter are actually funded by the governments of the countries they represent – at least within Canada and the U.S.  This is coupled with the global institutions that collude for our overall governance, among the largest of which are the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The many global financial agreements for “free trade” speak only to the free flow of finance capitalism, and not the free flow of labour and democracy.

Two facets of economic power are visible in Egypt:  pre demonstration and post demonstration. Before the demonstration Egypt suffered from high inflation, high interest rates, rapidly increasing food prices, an employment situation wherein 51 per cent of employment is in the low wage service sector, an official unemployment rate of 9.4 per cent, and as with most economies, a rising and large gap between the few of the elites that have, and the many who struggle with little. That in short is the neo-liberal new economic order, the harvesting of the wealth to the few, abolishing as much as possible the labour unions, shifting manufacturing to low wage, poor working condition environments. This is coupled with massive financial aid from the government (taxpayers dollars) to the financial sector corporations of the world and the imposition of “structural adjustment programs” in other countries whose economies are suffering under the globalization of capital.

That is where the Egypt is now, on a dividing line. On one side is the old financial order that has created the demand of the demonstrators for both economic equality and for getting rid of the elitist autocratic political control.  On the other is either a continuance of the same if Mubarak or his cronies stay in power, and even if not, the IMF has already hinted at the economic chaos that will follow the change of power, ready and waiting to step into the country with massive financial aid that will impose the same non-democratic financial regime on the country once again.

The empire is faltering, but it is still powerful. Obama is a failure in the context of his own words, but is operating well within the parameters of the Washington power structures. The combined forces of military and economic power are still very large and will continue to pose a great danger to the people of the Middle East. The fight for democracy and economic equality will continue on well after the success of the demonstrators.

February 4, 2011 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | 1 Comment