Monday, December 10, 2012

No US aid to Egypt!

This weekend, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt reversed most of the autocratic powers he allocated himself in a Nov. 22 decree--though he’s likely not making a move without consultation with Egypt’s military junta (SCAF) & the US Pentagon. He continues to defy democratic rule, however, by ramming through a Dec. 15 popular vote on a national constitution drafted by a rump constituent assembly after all liberal, feminist & human rights representatives walked out, leaving only conservative Islamists to vote. While the document contains no protections for human, democratic, women’s, or workers rights, it retains all the privileges of the military junta.

Mainstream media depicts the conflict over the draft constitution as one between Islamist & secularist forces. This is a false dichotomy & a political contrivance. The issue of separation of church & state is certainly involved but that dichotomy is by no means the heart of the problem. The proposed constitution exposes the relationship of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to the existing state institutions, particularly the military. This pernicious draft constitution keeps military prerogatives intact: a secretive budget, control over the Defense Ministry & national security decisions, & the right to try civilians in military courts. The generals can thank their lucky five-stars they’ve found a junior partner to manage political affairs & ensure military autonomy outside the purview of democratic oversight. This autonomy, of course, includes the malignant political & military relationship with the US Pentagon at the expense of the people of Egypt, Palestinians, & the other Arab uprisings.

What this document also solidifies, but without exposure, is the economic & political control of the neoliberal status quo established under Mubarak. The MB leadership includes multi-millionaire tycoons who favor neoliberal economic policies. With this proposed constitution, the domination of these tycoons & their oligarchic class is enforced at the expense of working people. So democracy will not be expanded, but diminished & economic prosperity will only adhere to the predatory class already rolling in greed & graft & dough.

It should be remembered the MB played a minor role in the ouster of Mubarak, refrained  from mobilization in the streets, collaborated with the junta, & only returned to the streets under pressure & for nefarious purpose. They hardly represent the majority of Egyptians since Morsi won by the skin of his teeth (with only a 51% majority). Morsi was the lesser of evils in an election where many feared SCAF would rig the vote in favor of General Ahmad Shafiq, the representative of counterrevolution. When SCAF later dissolved the MB-dominated parliament, Egyptians did not rise up to defend it because it didn’t represent them. It dealt in diddly-squat. Recently, MB offices around the country have been ransacked & firebombed--with no protests in their defense. Now the MB is denouncing democracy protests & inciting thugs to aid & abet riot cops in attacking & forcibly dispersing the thousands of protesters opposing Morsi’s anti-democratic maneuverings. The consequent violence has so far resulted in 8 deaths & over 700 injuries.

Morsi is calling for “dialogue” with opposition forces, by which he means sessions where  they sweet-talk or lay the law down to protest leaders. This weekend, by decree (& probably under SCAF orders) he gave the military powers to use force & arrest civilians, alongside police, until a constitution is passed (legally giving them powers akin to those of Obama’s NDAA which attempts to preempt & nullify the US Bill of Rights). SCAF issued an ominous warning on state radio & TV that can only be taken as a threat of violent repression, mass arrests, & terror: "Dialogue is the best & only way to reach consensus. The opposite of that will bring us to a dark tunnel that will result in catastrophe & that is something we will not allow." And again, “The nation as a whole will pay the price."

This is not the time for helter-skelter protests. SCAF means business & they’re backed by the full force of the US Pentagon. Since the overthrow of Mubarak nearly two years ago, there have been several attempts to form political coalitions to defend democracy. The most recent incarnation is the National Front for the Salvation of the Revolution led opportunistically by disreputable elements from the Mubarak regime like Amr Moussa & the hapless liberal, Mohamed El-Baradei. This has (quite understandably) led many activists, especially youth from anti-Morsi parties, to disassociate from the coalition. But the coalition includes over 35 organizations from the bewildering number of dozens of new parties formed after the 2011 ouster of Mubarak. Even more bewildering are their political perspectives. The groups include reactionaries & opportunists like Moussa, Nasserites, rogue tycoons, small business interests, liberals, socialists of every hue (including the stinking hues & those most discredited--keeping in mind the now defunct National Democratic Party of Mubarak was formally a member of the discredited Socialist International), but including the most visionary, democratic, & revolutionary forces (including principled socialists).

Often, out of expedience in the interests of political deception & maneuver, malignant political forces join the cause of justice. It’s Amr Moussa we’re referring to. In the interests of defending democracy against serious threat, you sometimes have to march with the devil himself without ever being hoodwinked or contaminated by such influence. This was a lesson learned most dramatically & violently in the fight against the emergence of fascism in Germany, when divided political forces allowed the forward march of fascism. In a less threatening way, this was learned in the US antiwar movement, when Democratic politicians rhetorically joined the antiwar movement.

Egyptian democracy activists have broken through barbed wire barricades around Morsi’s palace, spray-painted “Down with Morsi” on tanks, scrawled “Leave” in red letters across posters of Morsi’s face, & used the cement barricades as soapboxes.

Here a democracy, anti-Morsi protestor chants slogans on a newly erected barrier wall in front of soldiers guarding Morsi holed up inside his palace like a rat. The courage of this protestor is a wonder to behold; his courage a demand for solidarity: No US aid to Egypt!  (Photo by Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

1 comment:

  1. Even as the United States’ economic weight is overtaken by China—perhaps as early as the 2020s based on several forecasts—the US most likely will remain primus inter pares among the other great powers in 2030 because of its preeminence across a range of power dimensions and legacies of its leadership role. Nevertheless, with the rapid rise of multiple other powers, the “unipolar moment” is over and Pax Americana—the era of unrivalled American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945—is fast winding down.