Every Sunday millions of American Christians go to church, where they recite the Lord’s Prayer, which includes the following plea to God: “Deliver us from evil.” I wonder how many of them think about their own government’s support of evil in Egypt when they say that prayer.
Evil is really the only way to describe Egypt’s military dictatorship. It’s not just a dictatorship that must depend on the loyalty of the military establishment. This dictatorship consists of the military itself, which makes it much more powerful.
It is a tyrannical dictatorship. It has used its military might to smash Egypt’s experiment with democracy, ousting the democratically elected president of the country, incarcerating him, and threatening to kill him. It has killed upwards of 1,000 demonstrators who are protesting the regime’s tyranny. It has closed down newspapers and other media outlets in order to suppress any criticism of the regime. It has even arrested foreign reporters for daring to report what is occurring in the country.
By any objective measure, what is happening in Egypt is the very model of tyranny and evil.
Yet the U.S. national-security state continues to support this evil. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. This is what the billions of dollars in annual U.S. foreign aid have always been for — to establish and fortify Egypt’s military dictatorship and to provide it with the military means to smash any threat to its existence.
During the Arab Spring protests of three years ago, many Egyptians thought that getting rid of Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, who had been a longtime friend, partner, and ally of the U.S. government, would be the answer to the nation’s woes. But Egyptian officials and U.S. officials knew better. They knew that the real issue never involved Mubarak’s continued term as dictator. For them, he became expendable.
What mattered above all to both Egyptian and U.S. officials was protecting the Egyptian national-security state system itself — a system in which Egypt’s vast military-intelligence establishment would continue to be the permanent foundation of Egypt’s governmental system — the system that U.S. financial and military aid has built up and fortified over the decades and which both Egyptian and U.S. officials are firmly committed to maintaining.
There is nothing new here. From 1953 to 1979, the U.S. national-security state, after smashing Iran’s experiment with democracy by ousting the democratically appointed prime minister of the country, helped the Shah to maintain the same kind of brutal hold on the Iranian people as the Egyptian military tyrants have on the Egyptian people today: massive secret surveillance, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, torture, and execution, all without due process of law. It was all part of the Shah’s brutal and evil tyranny over the Iranian people, and it was all installed, built up, fortified, and supported by the U.S. government. How could U.S. officials have truly been surprised when Iranian revolutionaries in 1979, after suffering for some 25 years from brutal U.S.-installed and U.S.-supported tyranny, took U.S. diplomats hostage during the Iranian revolution, which succeeded in ousting the Shah from power?
The same with Guatemala in 1954, after the U.S. national-security state destroyed that country’s experiment with democracy and then installed, fortified, and supported a succession of brutal, tyrannical, and evil military dictatorships that were no different from the one today in Egypt.
The same holds true with respect to the Pinochet regime in Chile, where the U.S. national-security state conspired with the Egyptian military establishment to destroy Chile’s experiment with democracy and to install one of the most brutal and evil military dictatorships in history, one that arrested, tortured, raped, and murdered tens of thousands of innocent people for nothing more than their beliefs, with the full support of the U.S. government. In fact, it was during the Pinochet coup that the U.S. national-security state worked with Pinochet’s goons to murder two young American men, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi. These two murders have never been investigated by Congress or the Justice Department.
One could always say, of course, that those U.S. partnerships with evil are history and that they were the moral responsibility of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations.
Not so with what’s going on in Egypt today. While American Christians pray every Sunday that God deliver them from evil, they know full well that their very own government has partnered with and supported the cruel, brutal, tyrannical, and evil military dictatorship in Egypt and continues to do so to this very day.
Recently an Egyptian military installation came under a violent attack, killing several Egyptian military personnel. The Egyptian tyrants called it a “terrorist” attack and promised to bring the “terrorists” to justice.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a tyrannical regime would treat those who are trying to overthrow the tyranny as “terrorists.” That’s what we would expect tyrants to do.
But the Egyptian tyrants aren’t the only ones who consider those attackers to be “terrorists.” So does the U.S. government, the longtime loyal partner, fortifier, supplier, funder, and trainer of the Egyptian military dictatorship. This was confirmed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who offered U.S. assistance to the Egyptian tyrants with their investigation into the attack.
That’s, of course, not the first time that U.S. officials have taken such a position. Just last week, New York lawyer Lynne Stewart was released early from jail after serving 4 years of a 10-year jail sentence. They released her early because she’s dying of cancer. What was her crime? She read a note to the press that supposedly called on some Egyptian group to take up arms against Egypt’s military dictatorship.
The obvious question arises, What’s wrong with the violent overthrow of a tyrannical regime? Isn’t that what the Declaration of Independence is all about? Doesn’t it say that people everywhere have a fundamental right to use force to overthrow tyranny? Why should there be an exception carved out for an Egyptian tyrannical regime just because it happens to be a loyal partner and ally of the U.S. government?
Indeed, what’s wrong with citing rights enunciated in the Declaration of Independence? For the life of me, I still don’t understand what in the world Lynne Stewart did to justify a criminal conviction. All she did, at most, is speak some words, words that supposedly exhorted people thousands of miles away to do what the Declaration of Independence says that they have a right to do.
If it were the Chinese communist regime killing peaceful demonstrators and shutting down the press, U.S. officials, along with the mainstream press, would be screaming like banshees. In fact, they did scream like banshees, and rightly so, after the Chinese communist dictatorship’s massacre at Tiananmen Square. Is it really against U.S. law for Americans to exhort the Chinese people to violently overthrow their communist tyranny?
Government officials and the mainstream press screamed like banshees, and rightly so, when the Soviet Union smashed democratic efforts in Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Didn’t Reagan call the Soviet Union the evil empire? Was it really against U.S. law for Americans to exhort Eastern Europeans to violently overthrow the Soviet empire’s puppet regimes?
They scream like banshees, and rightly so, when the tyrants in Iran, Cuba, and North Korea jail or kill critics. In fact, don’t U.S. officials say that these regimes are evil? Is it really against U.S. law for Americans to exhort Iranians, Cubans, or North Koreans to violently overthrow their tyrannies?
So, what’s different about Egypt? Why is it against the law for Americans to exhort Egyptians to overthrow their tyranny? Why do U.S. officials stand on the side of the tyrants rather than on the side of those who are trying to violently overthrow the tyranny, or better yet, why don’t U.S. officials butt out of the matter entirely, especially with a permanent cutoff of foreign military aid to the Egyptian tyrants?
The reason for this difference in treatment is that this evil regime just happens to be a longtime member of the vast U.S. empire of loyal and compliant foreign regimes, and the mainstream press isn’t about to challenge or condemn that long-term partnership with the Egyptian military dictatorship. Don’t forget, after all, that before the Egyptian tyrants were calling opponents of their tyranny “terrorists,” they were serving as one of the U.S. empire’s most loyal and competent torture-rendition partners as part of the U.S. government’s “global war on terrorism,” with nary a peep of protest from the mainstream press.
Some people might say that the Egyptian people should not resort to violence and instead work peacefully within the system to change it.
But didn’t Egyptians already do that? Wasn’t that what Morsi’s election was all about? Yet the military dictatorship has smashed that election result and is now taking the necessary steps to ensure that it can never happen again.
Isn’t that what the killing of peaceful protestors and demonstrators is all about — to ensure that people can’t try to change the system peacefully?
Isn’t that what the dictatorships’ smashing of newspapers and other media is all about — to make sure that people can’t peacefully question or criticize what the dictatorship is doing?
There are those who say that Morsi was a disaster as president. But as libertarians have long pointed out, democracy is no guarantee that voters are going to elect the “right” people to public office. People oftentimes elect demagogic, corrupt, and incompetent politicians, ones who adopt disastrous policies.
The only real virtue of democracy is that it provides people with the ability to peacefully change government officials. Once that route is closed, along with the fundamental, God-given right to speak out against the government, then pray tell: What alternative do people have to overcome the tyranny under which they are suffering except by resorting to force?
The question remains: Why does the U.S. government stand with tyranny and evil in Egypt? Equally important, how can American Christians who pray to God every Sunday to “deliver us from evil” continue to support their own government’s support of evil?
It only goes to show how the U.S. national-security state apparatus has warped and perverted the values, morals, and principles of the American people. Like our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, we are expected to simply defer to authority and blindly and passively accept that our government’s support of evil is necessary to protect “national security,” a term that ironically the Egyptian military tyrants are using to justify their tyranny, along with, of course, their use of the term “terrorists” against people who are opposing their tyranny.
The support of evil is not what America is supposed to be all about. It’s also not what Christianity is all about. Maybe what is happening in Egypt will cause Americans to question their own government’s support of evil, tyrannical regimes. Maybe it will even cause Americans to challenge the entire notions of empire, alliances, foreign aid, foreign interventionism, and even the entire Cold War-era national-security state apparatus that is at the core of it all.