Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hegemony and omnipotence

Media commentary on Egypt is echoing past arguments about Somoza's Nicaragua, Batista's Cuba, and the Shah's Iran (among others).  All of them confuse U.S. hegemony with omnipotence, and fail to comprehend the consequences of their policy prescriptions.  I thought of this as I happened to see Cal Thomas' opinion piece as I read today's Charlotte Observer.


The argument, made most prominently in the past by Jeane Kirkpatrick (which is why I have students in my U.S.-Latin American Relations class read her), goes along the following lines:

First, procedural democracy (or Dahl's basic idea of polyarchy) is not possible in these countries.

Second, the United States has the power to keep these authoritarian governments in power.

Third, it is necessary to keep those pro-U.S. authoritarian governments in power, because if they fall, an anti-U.S. totalitarian dictatorship will take its place.

Fourth, as a result the United States should support the authoritarian government's efforts to repress dissent as much as possible.

Fifth, if the U.S. does so, then the status quo will be maintained and the protests will disappear.

This is a vision where the U.S. controls all events, and mass protests are simple manipulations that do not reflect true popular opinion.  As such, they can be crushed without consequence, and neither U.S. national security nor the positive image of the U.S. will suffer.

It is, in short, a mirage.

3 comments:

Vicente Duque 12:15 PM  

New York Times : Senator John Kerry ( Democrat, Massachusetts ), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, writes today Tuesday in the NYT asking Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down.


The New York Times
Allying Ourselves With the Next Egypt
By JOHN KERRY
January 31, 2011

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/opinion/01kerry.html


Some excerpts :

EVEN if the protests shaking Egypt subside in the coming days, the chaos of the last week has forever changed the relationship between the Egyptian people and their government. The anger and aspirations propelling a diverse range of citizens into the streets will not disappear without sweeping changes in the social compact between the people and the government — and these events also call for changes in the relationship between the United States and a stalwart Arab ally.

President Hosni Mubarak must accept that the stability of his country hinges on his willingness to step aside gracefully to make way for a new political structure. One of the toughest jobs that a leader under siege can perform is to engineer a peaceful transition. But Egyptians have made clear they will settle for nothing less than greater democracy and more economic opportunities.

Ushering in such a transformation offers President Mubarak — a great nationalist ever since his generation of young officers helped their country escape the last vestiges of British colonialism — the chance to end the violence and lawlessness, to begin improving the dire economic and social conditions in his country and to change his place in history.

It is not enough for President Mubarak to pledge “fair” elections, as he did on Saturday. The most important step that he can take is to address his nation and declare that neither he nor the son he has been positioning as his successor will run in the presidential election this year. Egyptians have moved beyond his regime, and the best way to avoid unrest turning into upheaval is for President Mubarak to take himself and his family out of the equation.

Further, he must guarantee that the election will be honest and open to all legitimate candidates and conducted without interference from the military or security apparatus and under the oversight of international monitors. The Egyptian people are demanding wholesale transformation, not window dressing.
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leftside 5:18 PM  

What I think is lacking in the entire discussion is the notion of blowback. That is, the anti-US direction that the Iranian and Cuban Revolutions took was precisely due to the US policy of supporting dictators and turning a blind eye to suffering for so long. The same damage has likely already occured in Egypt, despite the draatic events of the last few hours (Mubarak saying goodbye). People of Egypt and the ME will not soon forget that, despite all the words about human rights and democracy, the US was outright hostile to the ouster of Mubarak - until the situation became untenable - and still only in private. In other words, the US pretended to be on the side of the the demonstrators but was clearly against their main goal all along.

Slave Revolt,  3:17 AM  

Ha,ha, left side, aint supposed to be so be so honest, to say that the empires has no clothes.

Next, you will suggest that when the US drops bombs on the baddies, the terrorists, in dense urban areas, that the US and it's brave fighting men,and women, really know that they will be blowing little children, mothers, grandfathers, and daddies to death.

Why that would be terrorism! And you would have to be FOR the damned terrorists winning to suggest such a thing!

You know that the empire has the means to track down dissident thinking and develop a file on you--for just such a time like their boy Mubarack is having in Egypt.

They should drag Mubarack through the streets and string him to a light post for his quiescence to US sho k and awe, and Israeli terror on the people of Gaza.

Oh, but we enlightened ones, so privileged to render an opinion within the bowels of the empire are supposed to strike a Peaceful and reflective pose. We need to pat the little brown heads of our subjects and instruct them on our Christian ability to forgive...

Fuck it, fat white bastards--you sow terror and it will be reaped on that what you pretend to love the most a hundredfold.

Word.

The rightwing, oligarchic and brazenly cynical tenor of US policy, left unchallenged and unrefined will destroy humankind's ability to enjoy life on this Earth.

Let the victims of yet another so rid chapter in the annals of this empire see the blood of Mubarack in short order.

That's all you have left them with, for now, the bitter, acid aftertaste of the blood of empire. All for the love of the black gold that greases your industry and your terror machines.

Long live the free people of the world! Down with oligarcy! Viva democracia! La lucha sige--hast a la Victoria siempre!

Fuck the tyrants and the sycophants, their intellectual stooges and minstriles.

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