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Where’s the American Outrage against U.S. Support of Dictatorships?

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yemen-protestersby Jacob G. Hornberger

Once it became clear that Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak was on the way out, U.S. officials quickly shifted gears and took the side of the demonstrators, the people who had suffered for 30 years under the brutal Mubarak dictatorship. U.S. officials even offered their guidance for moving Egypt toward a democratic political system.

Of course, all this pro-democracy hoopla was designed to disguise the fact that the U.S. government has been the prime partner and enabler of this brutal dictatorship for the entire 30 years under which the Egyptian people have suffered. It has been the U.S. government that has been providing the $60 billion in U.S. taxpayer money to Mubarak and his henchmen in the Egyptian military and secret police. It has been the U.S. government that has been paying the salaries of Egypt’s jailors and torturers for the past three decades. It is the U.S. military that has been training the Egyptian military.

In fact, it’s actually worse than that. Believe it or not, U.S. officials actually cut a deal with Egypt’s torturers to torture people on behalf of the U.S. government. The deal called for the U.S. government to bring people into Egypt, where they would be tortured for information or confession, with the understanding that Mubarak would publicly deny that the prisoners would be tortured.

In that way, U.S. officials could proclaim, “We’re shocked that our prisoner has been tortured because they promised that they wouldn’t torture him.” Of course, it was all a sham, one that would enable U.S. officials to deceitfully express shock over the torture, acquire the information or confession with torture, and then secretly thank their Egyptian partners for employing their torture expertise on their behalf. The torture deal was a testament to the U.S. government’s partnerships with dictatorships.

Supporters of the U.S. Empire might respond, “But Jacob, the U.S. government’s longtime support of the Mubarak dictatorship is an exception because the U.S. government is an exceptional government.”

Well, then explain this paragraph from an article about Yemen in yesterday’s New York Times: “Yemen, one of the poorest nations in the Middle East, has become a cause of concern for the United States as the protests have spread because Mr. Saleh has supported the fight against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda.”

In other words, here’s another U.S.-supported dictator in the Middle East, one who has been in power as long as Mubarak—30 years! And the U.S. government, which pro-empire advocates say is exceptional, has been partnering with him, just as it did with Mubarak.

What’s the rationale for the U.S. government’s support of this brutal dictatorship in Yemen? The Yemen dictator has served as a loyal partner in the U.S. Empire’s war on terrorism against al Qaeda. And, as everyone knows, the war on terrorism trumps everything else. As in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, it doesn’t matter how much U.S.-supported dictators oppress, torture, rape, and brutalize their own people. All that matters is that they are loyal members of the Empire, especially when it comes to the war on terrorism.

The irony, of course, is that it is the U.S. Empire’s support of dictatorships in the Middle East that is one of the principal motivations of al Qaeda and other anti-American groups in the Middle East (along with the U.S. Empire’s presence and meddling in the Middle East, including its unconditional financial and military support of the Israeli government).

So, the U.S. government supports the brutal dictatorships that oppress their own people, which inspires anger and rage not only against the dictatorship but also against the United States, which the U.S. government then uses as a justification for its support of the dictatorship. How’s that for empire logic? And when that anger and hatred materializes in terrorist retaliation against the United States, U.S. officials then use that to justify the same type of anti-terrorist measures against the American people that are employed in the brutal dictatorships that they’re supporting.

The solution to this morass of evil is obvious: The American people should require their government to cease all support for dictatorships (and every other foreign regime). They should require their government to dismantle its overseas military empire and bring all the troops home and discharge them. They should prohibit their government from meddling in the affairs of other nations.

With this solution, not only would the anger and hatred against the United States dissipate, the termination of foreign aid would also help alleviate the impending bankruptcy of the United States arising from out-of-control federal spending. Moreover, a principal justification for the U.S. government’s adoption of the type of anti-terrorist measures that are inherent in foreign dictatorships would be removed.

Hasn’t the time arrived for the American people to confront the wrongdoing of their government, much as people in the Middle East are confronting the wrongdoing of their governments? It’s great that Americans are celebrating the toppling of dictators in the Middle East. But my question is: When are Americans going to be become as angry and outraged over their own government’s support of dictatorships as the people who have had to suffer under such dictatorships?

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


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