Unraveling the Illusion: the Democracy that Never Was

By William A. Cook

‘The only people in Egypt who are committed to peace are the people in Mubarak’s inner circle, and if the next president is not one of them, we are going to be in trouble.’ — (Eli Shaked, former Israeli ambassador to Cairo, in Yediot Ahronot).

The Egyptian peoples’ revolution against their government forces to the fore the unfortunate reality that America’s friendship is an illusion created for its own benefit, a strategy, if you will, that creates a mirage of trust, compassion, and good will for the people while it disfranchises them from power, enriches the “inner circle,” establishes a brutal police force to control them, providing thereby a resident dictator that will do the bidding of America’s military-industrial complex to sustain its enormous need for on-going wars and a budget that saps the wealth of the nation itself. Mark that Egypt’s military spends 6 billion a year to maintain its million soldiers and absorbs another 1.3 billion of U.S “aid” to buy American warplanes, tanks, and helicopters. Virtually nothing is left for humanitarian needs or domestic relief. The people have had enough.

Consider Iran, perhaps our most graphic undemocratic entrance into the greater middle-east. Our CIA assassinated the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and installed our own “beholden” King, the Shah of Iran. He in turn created the SAVAK police to control the people enriching his benefactors by using American tax dollars to buy weapons from United States munitions’ industries. Clever, even demonic. But the Iranian people revolted. Twenty five years of undemocratic, dictatorial rule beneficial to U.S. and Israeli interests if understood in weapons sales and oil to say nothing of the Shah’s recognition of our puppet state, but disastrous for the Iranian people and America that now sees Iran as a major enemy in the mid-east. But we do not learn.

Now, Mubarak’s 30 year strangulation of the Egyptian people appears to be unraveling while our administration and the Netanyahu governments look on in disbelief and fear. What do we do with our 1.5 billion that has served our dictator yearly for these many decades as a guarantee of peace with Israel? To whom will it go if, as Eli Shaked observes above, the “inner circle” alone in Egypt supports that agreement and they too are deposed? The Muslim Brotherhood? Mohammad ElBaradei? The Egyptian military? An “existential” quandary certainly! Israel’s Michael Ledeen, writing in Pajamas Media, states “Mohammed ElBaradei is one of the last men I would choose for leading Egypt to a ‘peaceful transition’ to greater democracy. He doesn’t like America and he’s in cahoots with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

How does America protect its client state of Israel now? Consider what happens if Mubarak is dethroned: nearly half of Israel’s natural gas is imported from Egypt, gas needed by its own population as well as its military; Israel’s military planning relies on Mubarak’s government and its complicity in guarding the southern border of Gaza much to the dismay of the Egyptian people, a border that has already been punctured by escaped Hamas prisoners who have fled home through the tunnels; changes could be made in the control of the Suez Canal to the detriment of Israel, and, perhaps most importantly, Jordan and Saudi Arabia could become the next dominoes to fall toward Israel leaving it isolated in a landscape dominated by people unfriendly to it because of its undemocratic subjugation of the Palestinian people.

It’s enlightening to peep in on the Daily Alert, the daily report prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. If anything reflects the mindset of the lobbies that support unconditionally the Israeli state, it’s this Alert. Given the conditions outlined above from both Iran under the Shah and Egypt under Mubarak in their respective alliances with the U.S. and Israel, one might expect some reflection on what drives people into the streets to overthrow their governments.

Obviously the conditions created by the American strategy of shoring up dictators guarantees a steady rise in citizen anger against the regime and, concurrently, a rising hatred for the power that feeds the dictator while suppressing the people. America’s interest resides in its weapons sales that seed internal conflicts and manufactured “wars” against neighbors as we witness in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s why we have in excess of 737 military installations around the globe supported by 1,840,062 military and domestic personnel; it’s why we strategize to turn factions in a country against each other; it’s why we want Israel to exist, to foster unrest in the mid-east as it stealthily grabs more and more land from its neighbors claiming they are victims of Arab aggression to wipe Israel off the map; it’s why we need an overwhelming presence in the mid-east with Israel serving as our largest military base to ensure that our industrial complex controls the oil and gas that’s needed to maintain our dominance in the world markets; unfortunately, it’s also why America has become the most hated nation on the planet because its propaganda expressing freedom and liberty, human rights and democracy for all is now understood to be a lie, a fabrication of deceit designed to dehumanize not liberate, to subjugate not free, to enslave not acknowledge, with respect, the dignity of the individual.

The Alert responds to the reality above because the audience they serve is a recipient of America’s largesse; indeed, their Israel is the recipient of more federal aid than any other nation coming to an estimated 1.8 trillion “including special trade advantages, preferential contracts, or aid buried in other accounts.” (“The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Thomas Stauffer, Washington Report on Middle East). What does Israel do with all this money?

Most importantly it buys U.S. weapons from private corporations with tax dollars to create the fourth largest military in the world (Israel estimate) to protect 6 million people, the vast majority foreigners to the land, while it subjugates approximately 4 million Palestinians under occupation stealing their land so that only 22% remains, and, in addition, lays siege to Gaza for the past three years causing an estimated 60% unemployment and forces 80% to live in poverty. This siege includes all access and possession of the natural gas and oil reserves that exist off of the Gaza coast thus depriving the Palestinian people of approximately 3500 billion cubic meters of gas deposits and 1.8 billion barrels of oil. (“Arabs keep out! Israel lays claim to all the resources,” Veterans Today, Manlio Dinucci, Voltairenet.org). Additionally, the IDF has destroyed the infrastructure, restricted water consumption drastically, sabotaged electricity to the area, and prevented entrance for medical supplies and basic food stuffs, suffocating the people in intolerable conditions and in complete disregard for international law. And in one of the most recent atrocities perpetrated by this true “friend” of America, it invaded Gaza killing over 1400, decimating homes, schools, storage facilities, hospitals, and UN buildings in a slaughter seen and heard around the world.

It is not lost on the Arab world, or the rest of the world for that matter, that Israel’s “democracy” is exclusive and totally unique in the world. Nor is it lost on the Arab world that Israel exists because America subsidizes its existence and gives it the means to occupy and subjugate while it touts to the world that it believes “that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and free of corruption; and the freedom to live as you choose. These are human rights, and we support them everywhere.”

Interestingly enough, despite the evidence listed above, nothing in the Alert papers suggests that Israel should reconsider its policy of military force and occupation. Indeed, even with the disclosure of the Palestine Papers released by Wikileaks that describes in horrific detail the collaboration of American diplomats with Israeli counterparts to undermine by bribery and coercion the Palestinian negotiators, Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat, displaying for all to see the duplicity of America and Israel as they manipulate the peace process to achieve their ends, regardless of the illegality or injustice inflicted upon the Palestinian people, Israel finds no need to reconsider its approach to the Arab world.

Rather, they emphasize what Netanyahu proclaims, that all their European friends must defend Mubarak lest the unrest come to haunt Israel. That the Egyptian people have expressed their anger at the undemocratic, dictatorial policies of his regime means nothing to Israel, that bastion of democratic values, which calls upon the U.S. Congress and the state department to back Mubarak lest conditions force Israel into a confrontation with the Egyptian military, the one supplied by America and ranked as number 10 in the world. How ironic: American F-16s fighting American F-16s above the Sinai.

Perhaps our Congress might reflect on what America has become since it spawned the rogue state of Israel into this militaristic monster that conceives of force as the only solution to international conflicts. Perhaps it might consider that it, too, should learn something from the Egyptian people who see virtue in true freedom of expression, value in the rights of humankind, and respect and dignity in being part of the government, not its slave. Perhaps our Congress should see the world they have created for this illusionary democracy, where a cauldron of millions live on two dollars a day, where children starve, mothers are famished, the old and the infirm deprived of joy at the very end of their lives, the young made fodder for the elite who rule the world, a world of misery and despair made possible by our corporate complex of munitions manufacturers that suck the lifeblood of the masses to enrich their own. Perhaps, then, they can face themselves and ask,

What manner of men can distance themselves from their kin?
What beast of prey have they become to devour so many
Without compassion or remorse, able to wield
Weapons of unimaginable force against unseen foes,
Who hear the screaming cry of the angel of death
Hurtling from the sky,
Where life itself should be the only force:
The warmth of the sun, the gentle cooling rain,
The promise of spring, the hope that comes again. 

– William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His most recent book, The Plight of the Palestinians was just released by Palgrave Macmillan in July. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.laverne.edu and www.drwilliamacook.com.

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