By Jim Miles
I have just finished watching an interview from al-Jazeera with former U.S. diplomat to Egypt, Frank Wisner. My gut reaction was anger at the culpability of the U.S. government, not only within Egypt but in all areas of the Middle East and generally throughout the world. Wisner’s position was the usual U.S. diplomatic garbage about ‘political dialogue’ and ‘standing by our principles.’
Both of these strands of course support the desire of the U.S. to have a stable political status quo in the area in order that their overall imperial intentions can continue while the puppet governments and their oppressed people ‘dialogue’ for no change at all.
U.S. principles are clearly defined by their actions. U.S. “principles” are violent and repressive, and have been throughout their encounters since the beginning: towards the indigenous population of North America; towards the Latin populations throughout Central and South America; towards the people of Asia; towards the people of Africa; and today we can see the violence towards the people of the Middle East and South Asia where U.S. military forces are occupying two countries and coercing others through their subservient elites into complying with U.S. imperial wishes.
The main principle expressed throughout U.S. history, in spite of the hubris and arrogance of their lofty verbal principles, is to control as much of the rest of the world as possible, ultimately by violence. Compliance is also achieved through soft coercion of the elites, by manipulating the financial status of nations through the institutions of the Washington consensus, by supporting any group that will overthrow any government that opposes U.S. interests, and through the more obvious direct unilateral military action.
While I do not like violence, as no intelligent and reasonable person would, most of the positives of the world have not come about because people were complacent and governments generous. Human rights of all genres – for children, women, ethnic minorities, workers – have all had to fight in some form or another to achieve their rights. Oppression of these rights in a violent manner – remembering the use of private security officers and the army in repressing the workers movements in the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s – often leads to violent reactions.
To see Egypt protest against its own government, in a manner which is essentially non violent, becoming violent in reaction to the hostility of the police, including under cover plains clothes police, can in certain respects be directly attributed to U.S. support of the Egyptian government. From that I was disgusted in listening to both Hilary Clinton and Frank Wisner proclaiming their love of dialogue and principles.
We have seen how the latter has worked out in Palestine/Israel. We have seen how that has worked out in the broader Middle East extending into South Asia. We have seen how that has worked out for the border fence with Mexico and the new drug war expansion in that country. It is visible within the U.S. as more and more restrictive legislation is passed, while the Pentagon budget, the war budgets, and the security budgets go relatively untouched. U.S. violence is pervasive, from within its own society to its grab for the resources and markets of other societies.
The U.S. has no interest in democracy in the Middle East as that would create governments hostile to its intents and purposes as the electoral success of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shi’ites in Iraq, and Hamas in Palestine testify. It is too late for “dialogue”, too late for “principles” to work their wonders. Now is the time for action and reaction – with the end results unknown. If the U.S. truly wants "diplomatic dialogue" and enforcement of its principels, its first and absolutely necessary tasks will be to remove its military from the region and stop funding of oppressive regimes.
I wish the Egyptian people every success in establishing a government independent of U.S. influence, of any influence other than their own. No one at this conjuncture knows how the situation will settle out or what the long term ramifications are if Mubarak is overthrown. Mubarak operates (operated?) a violent and oppressive government with the clear financial and political support of the U.S. The people want change, and violent oppression may create violent reaction, as the burning police vehicles and the burning of the government party’s offices demonstrate.
And a final note, thank you al-Jazeera for your continued live coverage of the events. Your eyes on the world reveal much of what U.S. media ignores in their support of U.S. military and corporate intentions in the Middle East and around the world.
– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.