20 February 2014

Wake me up when Egypt makes a revolution

Does anyone talk 'Arab Spring' any more, I sometimes wonder.  If 'revolution' was what was happening in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt and if all that was thought to be cheer-worthy by Washington, then 'Occupy Wall Street' was the Mother of All Imminent Revolutions.  It wasn't reported that way.  And Egypt, we can safely say today, never had a revolution.  The following was written in May 2011.  The world doesn't seem to have changed.  Just some big names here and there.  Worth a re-read, I thought.

Wikileaks exposures, carefully screened by oversight outfits such as the New York Times and ‘managed’ in the matter of dissemination through highlight and comment by the largely pro-Washington and pro-Israel media moguls of the world, didn’t tell the discerning anything radically new and especially not those who diligently add to the mainstream media the salt of alternative sources of information. 

Apart from people like Patricia Butenis being shown up (that’s nothing-collateral as far as the Evil Empire of Greed, Resource Extraction and Poverty Production is concerned), the only ‘news’ that Wikileaks leaked was what made Benjamin Netanyahu leak. He said that they had confirmed what Israel had known for years, ‘the leaders of the Arab world are worried about Iran’s nuclear programme.’

Noam Chomsky observed at the time that neither Netanyahu nor the big name media outfits cared to point out that a) the majority of Arabs are more worried about Israel’s nuclear programme, especially the military aspect of it, and b) all the Arab leaders expressing concern are despots who are thick as thieves with Uncle Sam’s agenda for the Middle East and the world. 

People rebel against tyrants sooner or later and it is only the most naïve who would believe that Washington did not anticipate ‘Tunisia’ or ‘Egypt’ or even ‘Libya’ where foe turned buddy Muammar Gaddafi is wondering which is worse, the nightmares of slumber or those that harass his wakeful hours.       

Have you ever wondered why the reams of copy about the so-called Middle East crisis talks so much about the absence of democracy but has little or nothing about the relevant political economy?  Have you asked why Hillary Clinton was so enthusiastic about the anti-Ahmadinejad protests in Iran, cautiously supportive of the anti-Mubarak moves in Egypt and visibly perturbed about developments in Bahrain?  This is not because events were not anticipated, folks, it is because sometimes even carefully crafted scripts are subverted by irreverent casts of players. 

Who are the dictators who have fled, planning flight or wondering right now if they would have to flee?  The mainstream media paints them all as brutal, power-hungry egotists intent upon hoarding bucks and bumping off anyone and everyone who would as much as utter a whimper of objection.  John Pilger has given us the other side of the story in a thought-provoking and disturbing analysis in the New Statesman titled ‘Behind the Arab revolt lurks a word we dare not speak’.

He argues that the agitation is not merely objection to the relevant resident dictator but is prompted by the miseries produced by a worldwide economic tyranny ‘designed by the US Treasury and imposed by the US Agency for International Development, the IMF and the World Bank, which have ensured that rich countries such as Egypt are reduced to vast sweatshops, with 40 per cent of the population earning less than $2 a day.’ 

Pilger describes the people's triumph in Cairo as ‘the first blow against what Benito Mussolini called corporatism, a word that appears in his definition of fascism’.  He may be correct.  Maybe this is why we are not hearing so much about Egypt these post-Hosni days.  Maybe this is why at best we hear talk of democratization but nothing about altering the arrangements of resource extraction and labour exploitation.  Maybe this is why Hillary is worried about ‘Bahrain,’ where military prerogatives override all other concerns. 

Pilger quotes Chomsky ‘from a generation ago’: ‘It is necessary to destroy hope, idealism, solidarity and concern for the poor and oppressed [and] to replace these dangerous feelings by self-centred egoism, a pervasive cynicism that holds that [an order of] inequities and oppression is the best that can be achieved. In fact, a great international propaganda campaign is under way to convince people . . . that this not only is what they should feel but that it is what they do feel . . .’

It is interesting that the reports from and comments pertaining to Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East while talking on freedoms, stresses the individual and when talking of collective action limits it all to regime change with nothing more than lip-service reserved for realities of poverty and its sustained development. 

The funny thing is that for all the rhetoric about freedom, democracy, decency and whatnot that Hillary Clinton spews periodically, she is mum on the violation of these very ideals by preferred and secure tyrants the world over.  Even more hilarious is the fact that she waxed lyrical on these subjects while her security dragged off a conscious and peaceful objector to her lying ways while speaking at George Washington University.

Ray McGovern, one of an elite group of CIA officers who prepared the President George W Bush’s daily intelligence brief.  On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, he and 45 other former senior officers of the CIA and other US intelligence agencies wrote to President George W Bush that the "drumbeat for war" was based not on intelligence, but lies.

McGovern claims that Bush was helped by the press: ‘the press allowed the administration to get away with it’.  While Hillary talked about the liberating power of the internet she did not mention that her government was planning to close down those parts of the internet that encourage dissent and truth-telling, Pilger reports. McGovern (71) objected. Silently.  He was seized, beaten to the floor, dragged out and thrown into jail, bleeding. Clinton saw. She carried on.

Some conclusions can be drawn. First of all, this democracy talk emanating from Washington is toilet-wash. Second, it plays down and edits out the work of Tyranny’s equally evil twin, ‘Exploitation’.  That’s not what they want you to know. 

For now the Washington script titled ‘Plan B’ is being played to near perfection.  People are making a lot of noise about Twitter and Facebook and their role in all this.  I am tired. Going to take a long nap. Wake me up when the mobs hoof out the IMF and World Bank reps from Cairo. 

Malinda Seneviratne is the Editor-in-Chief of 'The Nation' and can be reached at msenevira@gmail.com