Meyer: Clinton’s Fear-Mongering about Egyptian ‘Chaos’

Carlyn Meyer writes in a guest editorial for Informed Comment

The Egyptian Uprising is not a Revolution – “Chaos’ Fear a Cynical Red-Herring

Over the last few days, Hillary Clinton has been pushing the Mubarak/Suleiman ‘orderly transition’ hype hook, line and sinker. But why would Mubarak leaving bring chaos? The protesters demands are: no Mubarak, rewrite of constitution (including rescinding decades of martial law), free and fair elections.

These are demands for reform, not revolution. The uprising is not calling for dismantling the authority of the state or the army. This is not 1917 Russia, 1949 China or 1776 New World. The demands of Egyptians are much less extreme than the destruction of the Iraqi state and army after the 2003 US invasion. Now that resulted in chaos.

In fact, the Egyptian popular revolt has been exemplary in discipline and unity of purpose. The only chaos in two weeks of massive outpourings was caused by paid pro-Mubarak thugs. But the discipline of the protesters pushed back even these horse and camel night-riders.

Clinton says there needs to be time to set up free and fair elections. Who disagrees with that? Who in the opposition is calling for immediate elections? After all one demand of the protesters and legal and banned opposition is that the constitution be re-written first.

There is no reason the state apparatus would not function at least as well under an interim government as it did under Mubarak. An interim government composed of the opposition, military and Suleiman could surely handle any transition.

So people might ask, if Suleiman, Mubarak’s confidant,stays, why it is so important for Mubarak to resign. First, the opposition secures its credibility when Mubarak leaves. Second, without the participation of the opposition in setting the course for free elections, transparency is a joke. Currently, the opposition has no way to monitor the actions of government, nor are there any credible proposals from the government that would permit popular oversight. Promises mean nothing after the cameras are gone and the world turns to another crisis.

Do Clinton’s remarks mean President Obama is backing down from his demand that Mubarak leave? He hasn’t yet. But Clinton is obviously trying to sway Western opinion to accept that possibility.

Every organization within the Egyptian opposition has pledged to uphold Egypt’s treaties and international obligations. The only danger of chaos or regional upheaval comes from Mr. Mubarak, Vice-President Suleiman and the Egyptian military ignoring popular demands for the most basic of democratic reforms.

Looked at another way, Mrs. Clinton, what if Mubarak, an ailing 82-year-old, were to drop dead tomorrow? Surely there is a plan within the Egyptian government for carrying on without him.

Carlyn Meyer blogs at Read Between the Lines

22 Responses

  1. Look, the US policy motive is pretty clear.

    If you think of it as a policy perspective rather than personage perspective (Obama, Hillary Clinton, so forth), you would obviously assume that US would prefer that Mubarak — now a source of instability — would be replaced by a more acceptable, more stable military-backed leadership.

    Why would this be surprising in any way?

    The power center in Egyptian government is the military. The US has been funding their military for 30 years.

    Mubarak had been fine for 30 years. Sadat before that, once the US and Israel were ready to accept Egypt’s 1971 proposals as the 1979 peace treaty.

    So, yes, now the US would prefer to ease Mubarak out, to replace him by some government which would be more acceptable to the population and international community, but which would be constrained by the same boundaries set by the Egyptian military that it had been.

    Anyone looking at the situation from the perspective of figuring out what a US administration would prefer would make similar conclusions.

  2. As far as I understand, Clinton et al. still think inside the framework of the current constitution, which says that if the president were to drop dead now, there would be new elections in 60 days. That election would naturally be run according to the rules of the current constitution, which is designed to shut out the opposition and guarantee a win for the NDP. Nobody wants that.
    (source: link to eipr.org)

    El Baradei has been quoted to say that the current constitution is just as illegitimate as the current regime, so let’s forget about it and start from scratch.

    There are also reports of a statement by the Faculty of Law of Cairo University, suggesting ten steps of action, including the appointment of a committee to draft a new constitution: (I can’t verify the authenticity of that document)
    link to libertyforegypt.blogspot.com

  3. Hillary is bought and paid for by AIPAC. An Egypt who allows aid into starving Gazans is not acceptable or compatiable with US foreign policy.

  4. Why blame Clinton, not that I like her. This is another of Obama’s Bush moment. Remember Bush the first, after the first Iraq war and after having encouraged the Shias to revolt against Saddam, left than hanging and being massacred by Saddam?
    Obama is not different. After having called on the Arabs to stand up for democracy and freedom, and after the Egyptians did an unprecedented peaceful move, what is Obama, our “Nobel Peace Prize Winner” doing? No, I am not going to call him a WIMP, not only because one of the readers of this blog found the word inappropriate. No Obama is a FAKE.

  5. And then there is the deeper issue: how is it Clinton’s business to tell Egyptians what to do?

  6. The anti-Mubarek forces should offer a compromise to test the interim government’s intention, and ability, to open up the system. The anti-Mubarek forces should demand that they be given 1 hour/day of uncensored TV time, and 2 pages/day in Al Ahram. After one month of unhampered reporting, the anti-gov’t forces would agree to exit the square. Even given the constraints that a screwed-up American Middle East policy has set, the Obama gov’t would probably support such a compromise, which at least has the ability to reach millions of Egyptians with scant knowledge of the uprising and its causes. Such a compromise would test the resolve of both sides to move toward a peaceful and thoughtful resolution of a crisis that’s been stewing for more than a decade.

  7. I think that the chaos might result from somebody in a new government and getting access to files concerning the USA’s contributions to the oppression of the Egyptian people and payoffs for collusion with US policy on Israel and the Phony War on Terror.

  8. The point of the White House policy would seem more to be backing Suleiman and making sure he stays in office, rather than Mubarak. Mubarak is already pretty irrelevant, but his regime is not, and this is what Washington wants to remain in power.

  9. When a million+ people decide to protest against their government it is unrealistic to believe that it can be orderly in the usual sense. The changes that the Egyptian people want can’t happen as long the old regime hangs on. Their influence will continue to interfere with progress. The cry for “orderly transition” is narrowly defined. It’s more realistic to anticipate uncertainty and deal with things as they happen. Hoping for a peaceful change is much like an ‘amicable divorce’. If people could be amicable, they wouldn’t be getting divorced. The Egyptian people are not ready to accept the terms they’ve been offered. We should respect that. The Egyptian people want the support of the American people. It’s not alot to ask.

    • By and large, the unorganized yet fairly-clear-thinking majority of the American people have given their support to the Egyptian people. And would probably like to give more support, if they knew how.

      But in today’s American democracy, that doesn’t really count with the American government power structure, the weak and cowardly elected officials of the Democratic Party, the Pentagon and intelligence officials who shipped off suspected Islamist radicals to be tortured by Suleiman’s security police, the power structures of the elite media, the business interests that gain from crony capitalism here and abroad, or anyone else who “counts” with the small groups in Washington DC and New York City who are allowed to be the acceptable face & voice of American society.

      • “…. the weak and cowardly elected officials of the Democratic Party…”

        I would seriously reconsider this well misconception. The reality is that they are neither weak nor coward – they are rather shrewd and gutsy. I say that because the Democrats manage to give the impression that they are for the progressive and for the common working people, and even manage to get their support and vote. In reality their real constituents are the same big corporations, MIC, Israel. etc. as the Repubs’ constituents. The fact that they can manage to fool so many people year after year does not indicate that they are weak or cowardly….

        • Dear Citizen, I have been reconsidering my and your descriptions all night, and I do hope I understand the evidence and the emotions that lead to your position.

          Nevertheless, I still feel you are under-estimating the many complexities of a global situation in which nearly all believe they are acting for their own, and others’ best interest. If the elected Democrats were as shrewd as you say, they would have been defending their own institutional interests more closely. Also, consider the evidence that the most cynical forces of corporate greed and state oppression may not always know or be able to act in their own long-term best interests — perhaps Gamal Mubarak now wishes he had been a somewhat more enlightened would-be despot? While many elected Democrats do defend corporate & statist interests, are these corporate and state interests truly being served by, for example, the Koch brothers and the tea partiers going off on extremist tangents that are probably not in the long-term interests of corporate-owned stability?

          Again, there is some evidence to support your conclusions, yet I really hope that you are doing something to organize your fellow nihilist/cynics for some better future … I find it important to insist that there do remain opportunities for taking advantage of the paper liberties and privileges that remain to us, for Americans of positive purpose to do something more with our ideals than just buy Groupon coupons to be more efficient consumers.

  10. The American people don’t have a voice. They have the illusion of having a voice. The powers that be have done as they pleased for decades. The concept of “two” political parties is a most handy control mechanism. As long as we stay divided thinking that “just if our party were in power all would be well”, we remain docile, passive and controllable. Distraction is an excellent device. And to place the blame on Obama is sheer foolishness. He is simply the latest in a long line pushing the agenda. And Hillary is part of this. All this game takes is a message acceptable to a gullable public while the real agenda is put in place. In this case, it’s a controllable Egypt. I don’t see this as a “conspiracy” but simply a mind set as to what needs to be done for the “good of America”. I hear the mind set every day and, at one time, had it myself.

    • I welcome you to the reality in our country. I have had this opinion since at least 2+ years. Initially I was opposed, if not ridiculed as a radical. But now I see some people seeing the light……………

  11. Secretary Clinton seemingly has no respect for democracy only respect for support for America from any power that exists. Of course, Clinton works for Obama. I am so saddened.

  12. Both the US and Israel seem to be freaking out over the putative takeover of Egypt by religious fundamentalists. But I guess both countries know something about religious extremism, since both are infested by their own varieties.

    Whenever a government is too weak to address domestic unrest, it looks for a scapegoat. In the West, it started during the Middle Ages, and Jews were targeted. Today, it’s Muslims.

  13. Dear Philosophical Ron.
    Thanks for your response, and I do hope you had some sleep. Without going into too many details let me assure you that I am no nihilist or cynic. I am a scientist by profession which in essence comes down to solving complex problems. I strongly believe that in order to be able to solve a problem one first needs to understand the problem as much as possible – and this is equally valid when we consider the problems in our political system. So what I said about elected Democrats is my assessment of the problem rather than cynicism. By sharing my assessment I am hoping that more people will see the reality, and take the right actions. Because of you define the problem differently that actions you’ll chose to solve it will be different.
    I understand that the world is complex. But please ask this simple question: if both parties are dependent on getting as much money as possible from the same group of donors (big corporations, MIC, etc.) wouldn’t it be irrational to expect them to act differently? Mind you that I am not saying there is no difference between the two parties, but these differences are “irrelevant” for the real issues (for example, there is indeed a difference between a temperature of 10 degrees and 30 degrees – but if you are in need of a cozy temperature than that difference is irrelevant).
    BTW lest one says that Obama’s Presidential bid was supported by many small donors please do not forget that he got more money from corporations and lobbyists in the entire history of our Presidential elections. And mind you these big donors do insist on getting a sit at the table when they give money. Can you say this for the small donors? So wouldn’t it be illogical for us to expect Obama to act in our interest?
    No, the problem is not that the Dems are weak or spineless. The real problem is that they are dependent on the same source of money that both parties depend on. Admittedly the Dems have a tougher job because they have to project a different stance on issues which is contrary to what they really intent to do. And that’s why Dems’ policies are so full of sell outs and surrenders rather than tough battles and compromises. No sir they put up a “show fight” to placate the gullible public, all the while knowing fully well that they have to serve their real masters. With that I rest my case.

  14. I have an 8-page article up detailing my thoughts on ways forward. I am not an apologist for the Democratic Party by any means, yet for my science the relevant fact is that what exists of a “left” in America is not organized enough to confront Obama in 2012. And I often fear we are not realistic or mature enough to get as well organized as we will need to be for the struggles of the future.

    And the difference between 10 and -30 Fahrenheit is a difference I’ll take, maybe at 10 one could get some shelter in a snow cave or something. I can process all the evidence that calls for pessimism and despair, my spirit demands that be an ever greater reason for finding scientific optimism.

    • I wish the difference between the Dems and the Repubs were really between 10 and -30 degrees. That is not what I had said.

      I used to be a Democrat, but a closer examination of their behavior for the last 18 years has cured me of my affliction. Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men was the beginning. I thought, oh with Bill Clinton the Dems have lost their traditional connection with the working and common people. But the real cure came after reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of America. It became very clear that all throughout the history the two major parties have always been on the wrong side of the interest of the common people, social justice, peace – domestic and international. Zinn has done a tremendous service to us – if we are willing to spend the time to read.

      Once we understand the true nature of the both major parties then the problem has to be defined differently. Lesser of the two evils has brought us a “Democratic” President, supported by “progressives” who claims the power to execute Americans without a trial, can lock them up indefinitely, can spy on them, stop any investigation just by claiming national security, start secret wars, will not prosecute allegations of torture and war crimes…. (check out Juan’s piece from today)

      So I have come to the conclusion that the road to evil was paved with many many stones of lesser of the two evils that Americans lay down at the ballot box, and I am not going to be a party to that.

      • I believe your analytical mistake is assuming that all Democrats are actually on the same page.

        There are, within the elected Democrats:
        (1) dishonest authoritarians like Obama
        (2) deluded dopes
        (3) actual activists who think inside-the-system work is worth it, like Kucinich

        Don’t toss the good with the bad. That’s all I’m saying. Don’t let us lose the voice of a Rush Holt just because we have so many Ben Nelsons.

        • Dear Nathanael,

          It comes down to my original statement on “difference” vs “relevance”. Yes, Rush Holt and Kucinich are different than Ben Nelson, but for the actual outcome this difference is irrelevant….. because it is a systemic failure and not a person related failure. Even without regurgitating Obama’s colossal failure (betrayal? lack of character/principle? whatever one wants to call it) the cumulative historic evidence is merciless: ruthless exploitation of the native Americans, slavery, the Spanish-American war, brutal suppression of labor movements, atrocities in the Philippines, Vietnam war, in general countless illegal foreign adventures throughout our history, Iraq war, blundering in Afghanistan, Patriot Act, torture, bailing out Wall Street…. The Dems and the Repubs have always been united and on the wrong side of history (Thanks to Prof. Howard Zinn for opening my eyes in his classic A People’s History of the US).

          At one time I was an active campaigner for Kucinich and used to support the good Dems, but now I return every request for donation with a handwritten note that I’ll gladly support them if they try it from outside the Democratic Party. Of course nobody reads my note, but in the meantime all my money goes to ACLU and a bunch of independent news media.

          So, in my humble opinion the real issue is the continued misdiagnosis of the situation. Not surprisingly the cure remains elusive and actually the patient gets sicker and sicker…

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