If Egypt's revolution does nothing else—if it dies at the hands of the state's thugs with their American guns—it will at least have exposed with crushing clarity the monstrous unfairness of US foreign policy. Yesterday the world watched Hosni Mubarak, tone-deaf and deeply insulting, refer to the people he has long oppressed as his "children"; he darkly insinuated that his opponents were backed by foreign forces, as if his regime hasn't been on the American dole for decades. As if the only thing keeping Mubarak's Western benefactors from throwing him to the wolves were not his peace with Israel and his jowly, raccoon-eyed fear of political Islam.
Mubarak is not the "president" of Egypt. He is a dictator and he should be described no other way. He has been in power since 1981. At well over a billion dollars a year—the vast majority of which goes to the military—US aid to Egypt is surpassed only by spending on Afghanistan ($8.9 billion), Iraq ($7.5 billion) and Israel ($2.4 billion). Much of that money winds up back in the pockets of American weapons manufacturers.
Omar Suleiman, Egypt's new vice-president and Mubarak's heir apparent, helped the Clinton administration create and implement its rendition program, under which terror suspects are kidnapped and tortured. Suleiman has been accused of personal involvement in torture. When he spoke, after Mubarak, Suleiman actually told protesters to go home, to get back to work, to stop watching satellite television. He could have been telling a pandhandler to get a job or a kid to get off his lawn. He is a blubbering, foolish old man.
The Obama administration looks nearly as hapless as Mubarak's. They're going to wait and see, Robert Gibbs says. The president is watching television, just like you. Your armchair-foreign-policy-expert friends will tell you that Obama is stuck, that he can't call outright for Mubarak's head. He's got to be a realist. The implication here is that it's acceptable to lay waste to two countries in a dubious war for democracy, but it's impossible for the US president to ask his closest dudebrah in the Arab world to step down. Our politics and our priorities are so massively skewed that we are blind to the very real liberatory vision in Cairo's streets.
I don't give two shits about the role of "social media" in this or any other revolution, but one thing caught my eye. Immediately following Mubarak's speech, "Ceausescu" became a trending topic on Twitter, as users compared the Egyptian autocrat's stunningly out-of-touch statements to the former Romanian dictator's own infamous distance from reality. [Edit: Some news outlets are now reporting that Mubarak has fled Cairo by helicopter, another chilling parallel with Ceauşescu.]
Nicolae Ceauşescu was overthrown on December 22, 1989 and killed by firing squad on Christmas Day. His final words were "Death to the traitors!" and then he started singing the "Internationale" but didn't even make it to the fourth line. Ceauşescu and his wife were the last people executed in Romania before the country outlawed capital punishment just days later. The message: Hosni Mubarak is a dead man.
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