Tuesday, April 23, 2019
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America’s Partnership with Egypt’s Dictatorship

Egyptby Jacob G. Hornberger

This week, the Egyptian people got a taste of the reality of military dictatorship, while the American people got a taste of the reality of U.S. foreign policy.

The Egyptian Supreme Court dissolved the Egyptian Parliament, and Egypt’s military dictatorship declared martial law in the country. These dictatorial events occurred just a few days before Egypt’s presidential run-off election.

Even though a president is being elected, there still is no constitution in place. That means that whoever is elected president will have omnipotent dictatorial powers, given that there will be no constitution to limit his powers and no Parliament to oppose his exercise of power.

Of course, the newly elected president will have to answer to the Egyptian military, which ultimately remains in charge.

Thus, the real issue in Egypt is that the country is governed by a military dictatorship, one that has made it very clear that it does not intend to relinquish or subordinate its power to anyone or any institution.

As long as the military dictatorship remains in control of the country, everything else, including the Parliament and the presidency, is just window-dressing.

And make no mistake about it: military dictatorship equals tyranny. For decades, the Egyptian people have been suffering under a brutal tyranny. As long as the military remains in control of the country, the Egyptian people will continue to suffer under that brutal tyranny. Any hope of achieving a free society under a military dictatorship is delusionary.

Some Egyptians figured that the solution to their woes lay simply in getting rid of the longtime head of the dictatorship, Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian military itself was obviously hoping that the citizenry would be satisfied with Mubarak’s ouster.

But the core problem was never Mubarak. The core problem was — and remains — Egypt’s military dictatorship, which, like America’s national-security state, is deeply imbedded in the country’s societal and economic affairs.

What will happen with respect to the Parliament and the presidential election? Whatever the military dictatorship allows to happen. The military dictatorship is in charge.

If Egyptians want a genuinely free society, the only way to achieve that is by making the military subordinate to civilian institutions and by dismantling its omnipotent role and power in Egyptian society. If the military doesn’t go along with that — and every indication is that it won’t — that leaves the citizenry with a difficult choice: whether to resort to violence in an attempt to oust the dictatorship by force, as citizens in Syria are doing, or whether to simply accept their lot in life under military dictatorship.

Meanwhile, American taxpayers recently sent their annual contribution of $1.2 billion, through the U.S. government’s foreign aid program, to the Egyptian military dictatorship. That money is being used by the dictatorship to purchase things like guns, tanks, planes, and other instruments of war from U.S. arms suppliers, which will, needless to say, be employed against any Egyptian citizens who try to violently overthrow their country’s military dictatorship.

And this isn’t the first time that the U.S. government has funded Egypt’s military dictatorship. The U.S. government has been sending billions of dollars to the dictatorship for decades with the full knowledge of the horrible oppression it was inflicting on the Egyptian people.

The U.S. government’s notion has always coincided with that of the Egyptian dictatorship: that it was vitally important to maintain “order and stability” within Egypt, which is why U.S. officials not only funded the dictatorship but also ensured that Egyptian troops received training from the U.S. military.

Throughout all the years that U.S. officials were funding Egypt’s military dictatorship, they didn’t see anything wrong with the dictatorship. On the contrary, they believed in it, they embraced it, and they supported it. And they still do.

Thus, it was no surprise when the world learned that the U.S. government had made the Egyptian military dictatorship one of its rendition-torture partners in the “war on terrorism.”

What will happen if Egyptian citizens resort to violence to bring an end to tyranny in their country? Who knows? It’s impossible to predict the outcome. But two things are for sure: The Egyptian military dictatorship will be using weaponry provided by the U.S. government in an attempt to quell the rebellion. Moreover, there will be undoubtedly many U.S. officials who will be cheering the efforts of their counterparts within Egypt’s military dictatorship to restore “order and stability” to the country.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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