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Explaining Egypt: How the Empire Plays Both Cards, Dictatorship and Democracy

Author bio: 
John-Paul Leonard

Two Progressive Press authors, Engdahl and Tarpley, have made a case in interviews on Russia Today that the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt are Color Revolutions.  [1] This thesis has raised a number of eyebrows and objections, chiefly that

* The revolt arises out of real grievances of oppression.
* Rising food prices are what spontaneously triggered the uprising at this time.
* Why would the US topple a leader who has been so useful to them, and whom they have been funding with over a billion a year in aid?
* A democratic Middle East would be more difficult to control, more anti-Zionist, without pliable satraps in power everywhere.
* If it were a US-inspired revolt, would the US be complicit in suppressing it so brutally?

First let it be said that the empire is not a monolith. It has people working all angles of an important issue. Just as a big corporation wants a franchise in every major market niche, the empire wants to influence the entire political spectrum. Wealthy donors contribute campaign financing to both parties, and the empire supports dictators at the same time as it co-opts the opposition. They are hedging their bets to win no matter what the outcome.

There are also competing factions and schools of thought within the ruling oligarchy. This makes the system more robust, and harder to caricature, predict and explain in simple terms.

The faction the Bushes belong to has traditionally supported fascism, militarism and dictatorship. The Brzezinski-Carter-Obama-Trilateralist camp prefers soft power, democratic and human rights rhetoric, and color revolutions to destabilize target nations.  [2]

NGOs notorious for their role in color revolutions are active in Egypt with US government support. One of them wrote:
"Under the auspices of Freedom House, Egyptian dissidents and opponents of Hosni Mubarak were received in May 2008 by Condoleezza Rice at the State Department and the US Congress.... In May 2009, Hillary Clinton met a delegation of Egyptian dissidents... These high level meetings were held a week prior to Obama's visit to Egypt." [3]

This would explain why "anger flows towards the puppet Mubarak but not the puppet masters in the western financial-political cartels led by the IMF which created most of the policies Mubarak simply implemented."  [4]

Of course it's not only about power, but also about money. From my own experience of the Albanian model, the soft power approach may actually be more lucrative than the dictator business. This is a type of crony capitalism involving the near-total destruction of domestic industry, followed by rampant kleptocracy. Leadership revolves between the arch-thief leaders of two main "left-of-center" and "right-of-center" parties, who compete to sell out the nation's assets to international interests. The CIA-controlled drug and crime trades form a major sector of the economy. Nouveau riche oligarchs, fattened from corruption, recycle their excess funds to the West, like Saudis recycling petrodollars. And the sycophantic TV patters American propaganda 24/7. Speaking of color revolutions -- the Albanian "protesters" of 1992 busied themselves chopping down orange trees and smashing greenhouses -- symbols of tyranny? To this day have never been replaced... leaving the market open to import substitution.

The US, having outsourced most of its manufacturing base to China, is now in the situation of post-imperial Britain, forced to live from intangibles, but with five times the population. Is the empire out to crush all nation states and all strong leaders, and turn the globe into a pliable mush of corrupt oligarchies, who suck their countries dry and funnel the money into every fad dictated by Angloamerica...

The US does have huge reserves of intangible assets: its folklore. American culture and democratic ideals are wildly popular in many parts of the world, especially among the youth. The Bush neo-con approach squandered too much good will. So we see the US grandstanding as the defender of democracy on one side, while sidekick Israel sends crowd-control equipment to Mubarak. Have it both ways.

Political scientist Stephen Zunes writes,
"The United States has promoted 'economic freedom' -- a neo-liberal capitalist economic model that emphasizes open markets and free trade -- as at least as important as political freedom.... the largest single recipient of funding from the National Endowment for Democracy for the Middle East was the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)... CIPE received three times as much NED funding as all human rights, development, legal, and civil society organizations combined."  [5]

"Open markets" may just be another word for colonialism. That is the payoff.

A dictator who can hold on for decades gets in the way of this agenda. He becomes too closely identified with the longer-term interests of his own country, gets to be his own power center and too independent of Washington. Perhaps the US did not want a dynastic succession to the younger Mubarak, a modern businessman and banker with the potential of becoming what they most fear: a progressive, popular nationalist.

Chossudovsky writes: "Historically in Latin America, dictators were instated through a series of US sponsored military coups. In today's World, they are installed through 'free and fair elections' under the surveillance of the 'international community'.... 'Dictators' are seated and unseated. When they are politically discredited and no longer serve the interests of their US sponsors, they are replaced by a new leader, often recruited from within the ranks of the political opposition."   [6]

Taking the argument to its extreme, we arrive on puzzling philosophical ground. Is democracy really the wonder drug that we have been trained to believe? If regime rotation is a form of manipulation, the ideal system might be a monarchy. Interestingly, virtually all monarchies of the planet have been removed, except the British one...

The other iconoclastic thought here for anyone with leftish sympathies is that most revolutions are not what they appear: the energies of the populace are genuine, but the event is organized by the elite for their own purposes against the interests of the people. As Richard Cottrell notes, "The yearning for some egalitarian paradise inevitably spurs some new turn of the repressive screw. Almost everywhere we look in the pages of history is to inspect the proof."

There are hints that the early successes of color revolutions in this century have not been easily repeated because the target regimes had learned how they work. They have gotten sharp to Gene Sharp. Mubarak is trying to defeat the Egyptian revolution by turning off the Internet, which is where color revolutions are staged, and shutting down Al-Jazeera, after it put out the dangerous slander that he had fled to Tel Aviv. Al-Jazeera is based in Qatar, one of the oil emirates created by the British. Tarpley has long said that Al-Jazeera is an MI6 operation. Where else do all the fake bin Laden tapes come to light?

If regimes can learn, so can citizens. An enlightened citizenry is the ultimate solution -- but the bag of tricks they try to pull over our eyes is more sophisticated than people realize. You can fool most of the people most of the time.

The Saudis and Wahhabis too were installed by the British, starting already in the late 18th century. At that time Arabia was a Hashemite fiefdom of the Turkish empire. The British freelancer T. E. Lawrence "of Arabia" instigated an insurrection against the Turks at a very convenient juncture: at the outbreak of the Great War. Wikipedia has an interesting aside on this:

"Contrary to later myth, it was neither Lawrence nor the Army that conceived a campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, but rather the Arab Bureau of Britain's Foreign Office. The Arab Bureau had long felt it likely that a campaign instigated and financed by outside powers, supporting the breakaway-minded tribes and regional challengers to the Turkish government's centralised rule of their empire, would pay great dividends in the diversion of effort that would be needed to meet such a challenge. The Arab Bureau had recognised the strategic value of what is today called the "asymmetry" of such conflict. The Ottoman authorities would have to devote from a hundred to a thousand times the resources to contain the threat of such an internal rebellion compared to the Allies' cost of sponsoring it."  [7]

The soft power tactic in a nutshell.

Whatever the form of government, the puppetmasters behind the CIA, MI6, the State Department, Pentagon and Arab Bureau are the same: they are in Wall Street, the City of London, the IMF. Debt is the superweapon. Take the grandmother of all color revolutions: France 1789. Unable to resist the financial demands of the nation's oligarchy, the aristocrats, the King was counseled to meet them by issuing bonds, or assignats, to private bankers, secured by the national revenues: a National Debt. Economic chaos became the fuel for insurrection, just as rising food prices have been in the latest revolts in the Arab world.

Did you ever wonder why the revolutions of 1848 never struck the conservative regime in Britain, but only her rival powers on the Continent? "Conspiracy theorists" claim that Mazzini, the architect of revolution, was a British asset.

Engdahl says the US-UK objective is to smash things up and then have a hand in remolding the pieces. a classic "creative destruction" New World Order tactic. Certainly, even if the regime remains in place, the dictator's leash will have been shortened, and Israel's influence increased. Whether he falls or not, the empire is getting a chance to interfere in the succession. Even when a revolution is largely spontaneous, as it may have been with the fall of the Shah of Iran, the imperial spies are very quick to hijack it.

Suleiman is much like the kind of people the US put into Iran after the Shah to cap a real revolution there. The anti-US-rhetoric-spouting Khomeini was recruited as the charismatic figure, yet he was an asset of the empire as surely as El-Baradei is. Putting in a caricature like an Ayatollah always leaves open the door to a another color revolution against the new tyranny.

As the repression and bloodshed in Cairo become more brutal, it may seem even more incredible that the Egyptian revolution was made in USA. Yet they have done far worse things before. It was Wall Street and London who funded the bolshies and Nazis to mutually destroy each other's countries, and wipe the world slate clear for anglo-american dominance. The same answer applies to the objection that democracies would take a harder line against Israel. It's divide and conquer again. This is what Israel was created for in the first place: to be the eternal apple of discord. The bloodshed is a risk to take, since not all dictators will leave gracefully as the fall guy for carrying out imperial commands for decades.

Regime change gets messy with the likes of a Saddam or Shahinshah. This is one point the soft power faction has in its favor, with its automatically rotating puppets. Term presidents of course are what we have in the US, too. Ever wonder why Thos. Jefferson was an enthusiast of the Illumati, and Geo. Washington had a background in British intelligence? Was 1776 a color revolution too? Something to wonder about.

The bottom line is that most people are concerned only with their own affairs, and creature comforts. Few are interested in power or knowledge. As long as this situation obtains, the masses will be manipulated, and denied power and real information.

[1] See "Egypt Color Revolution by CIA, MI6" http://progressivepress.com/news/egypt-color-revolution-cia-mi6 for links.
[2] Of course there has never been a pure democracy or pure totality anywhere. Power is always held by the powerful, atop a pyramid supported by the mass of the weak and poor at the bottom. Democracy is a more benign method of cementing the structure than is oppression, but even a totalitarian government's power is not really total, and some power is always shared by the masses, too.
[3] See Michel Chossudovsky, "The Protest Movement in Egypt: 'Dictators' do not Dictate, They Obey Orders" Jan. 29, 2011, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22993
[4] http://rainman.typepad.com/almost_daily_rant/2011/01/color-revolution-in... , Jan. 30, 2011
[5] In "The United States and the Prospects for Democracy in Islamic Countries," Jan. 27, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-zunes/post_1617_b_812666.html
[6] Ibid.
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._E._Lawrence#Arab_revolt

The author, JP Leonard, is the publisher of Progressive Press. He did his BA in Political Science at UCLA. Although that was a long time ago, it probably helped in constructing the above analysis. 

Postscript. Richard Cottrell sent me an article, The CIA On Egypt's Economy, Financial Deregulation And Protest which makes two interesting points: 1) that the protests are mainly about economic pressures, and 2) that Mubarak has already been giving the financiers what they want, opening up the financial sector, deregulating and selling off the nation's banks -- which may be aggravating the economic inequality in the country. The western media of course present it as largely a political protest, casting Mubarak as fall guy for their policies.