by Jacob G. Hornberger
The disingenuousness of the U.S. government clearly has no bounds. What better example than its recent, somewhat lackadaisical call on the Egyptian military to relinquish power to the civilian sector?
After all, guess who’s been propping up and supporting Egypt’s military dictatorship for decades. Yes, the democracy-loving U.S. government. Billions and billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money have been sent to Egypt’s military dictators, year after year, decade after decade. The money went to build the vast military machine that has not only warped the Egyptian economy but also terrorized and tyrannized the Egyptian people for decades.
The fact is that the U.S. government likes democracy only when it brings about a U.S.-favored ruler. The preference of the U.S. government, especially the Pentagon and the CIA, has long been dictatorships, especially military dictatorships.
Example: The Shah of Iran. U.S. officials loved the Shah, and they loved his brutal dictatorship. Why? Because the Shah was loyal to the U.S. Empire. He was a friend and ally of the Empire. When the Shah was in power, Iran was considered to be a friend and ally of the United States.
And it didn’t matter how much the Shah brutalized and tyrannized the Iranian people. U.S. officials actually liked the Shah’s tyranny because it ensured “order and stability,” one of the longtime goals of U.S. foreign policy.
Why, the CIA even helped train and support the Shah’s much-feared intelligence force, the Savak, which tortured and terrorized the Iranian people during the entire time of the Shah’s dictatorship.
The U.S. Empire didn’t like the Shah’s predecessor, the democratically elected Mohamed Mossdegh. Unlike the Shah, he believed that Iran should be a sovereign and independent country rather than a vassal in the U.S. worldwide imperial fiefdom. So, the CIA simply ousted Mossadegh from power and installed the Shah in his stead.
Order and stability — well, except for the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which resulted in a radical Islamic dictatorship, which means that Americans are now supposed to hate Iran and Iranians and support a imperial war against them.
The same with Guatemala. The CIA didn’t like the democratically elected president of the country, Jacobo Arbenz, because he was independent of the U.S. Empire. The CIA ousted him too and replaced him with a series of army generals. Order and stability — well, except for a 30-year-civil war that killed around a million people.
The U.S. Empire loved the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and supported his coup against the democratically elected Salvador Allende. In fact, Pinochet’s military dictatorship — including his tyrannical regime of arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, torture, and assassination — may well have served as the model for the U.S. Empire’s post-9/11, 10-year-old war on terrorism.
More recently, the U.S. government supported the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.
And don’t forget the billions of dollars in foreign aid that the debt-ridden U.S. Empire sends to dictatorships in the Middle East as well as dictatorships that used to be part of the Soviet bloc.
But among the best examples of the Empire’s love of dictatorships is Egypt. After all, don’t forget the torture partnership between Egypt and the Empire. Do you recall that case in Italy where several CIA officials were convicted of unlawfully kidnapping a Muslim cleric and whisking him out of the country?
Well, guess where the CIA took the guy? You guessed right! Egypt! Why Egypt? Because Egypt’s military dictatorship is renowned for torture. It’s got some of the best torturers and torture facilities in the world, bought and paid for by U.S. taxpayer money (i.e., foreign aid).
It’s not the only instance of close cooperation between the Empire and Egypt’s military dictatorship. For decades, the Pentagon and Egypt’s military officials have had a close working relationship, in large part because their military mindsets are the same.
Just as the Egyptian military plays an enormous role in the Egyptian economy, so does the U.S. military-industrial complex. Both militaries have countless citizens, communities, and businesses dependent on the military dole — people who panic at the thought of drastically reducing the role of the military in economic life.
Like the Pentagon, the Egyptian military in convinced that its existence is necessary to “national security.” The belief is that without an enormous standing military force, the economy would crater and the nation would be taken over by communists, terrorists, or drug dealers.
Just as the U.S. government does, the Egyptian military loves to stir up crises and enemies, both external and internal, in order to convince people that an enormous military-industrial complex is necessary to keep them safe.
One of the best examples of the shared mindset between the U.S. Empire and the Egyptian military dictatorship is the enemy-combatant doctrine. Just like in the post-9/11 United States, the Egyptian military dictatorship has the omnipotent authority to take suspected terrorists into custody, incarcerate them indefinitely without trial, torture them, and execute them. In fact, the power in Egypt also extends to suspected drug dealers, a power that U.S. officials, especially within the Pentagon and CIA, undoubtedly envy and would love to see adopted here.
Such tyrannical authority on the part of the Egyptian military goes back 30 years, when the president of the country was assassinated. It was their 9/11. The Egyptian people have recently been demanding that the military dictatorship relinquish that 30-year-old emergency power, but the dictatorship has refused to do. It’s necessary, the military says, to keep the people safe.
Ironically, the U.S. government, including the Pentagon and the CIA, rely on the same justification for continuing the same power as part of its war on terrorism. U.S. officials say that even though 9/11 occurred 10 years ago, the emergency powers that the federal government assumed — the same powers exercised by the Egyptian military dictatorship because of an assassination 30 years ago — are still necessary to keep us safe. In fact, the U.S. Senate is now in the process of passing a bill that would make such dictatorial powers a permanent, emergency feature of American life.
There is only one real solution if the Egyptian people want to achieve genuine freedom and economic prosperity, and it’s the libertarian solution, the solution advocated by America’s Founding Fathers. That solution is the dismantling of the nation’s enormous standing army and military-industrial complex and the adoption of a limited-government, constitutional republic.
The same solution applies to the American people.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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