The WikiLeaks revelations on Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak regime provide an interesting political Rorschach test—viewed either as evidence that the US backs unsavory dictators or as vindicating paranoia about neocon conspiracies behind the current wave of unrest in the Arab world. In the words of The Telegraph‘s incredibly distorted lead Jan. 28: “Even as they were officially supporting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, American officials were secretly helping dissidents interested in using social media to overthrow his regime, a secret dispatch from the US embassy in Cairo has revealed.” In fact, the Dec. 30, 2008 cable (on the Wikileaks website) only “reveals” that the US embassy helped a young activist attend an “Alliance of Youth Movements Summit” in New York, while keeping his identity secret from the Egyptian security services.
The more accurate account in the Globe & Mail quotes the cable from US Ambassador Margaret Scobey saying the dissident “offered no roadmap of concrete steps toward [the] highly unrealistic goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections.”
Kind of like the blind men and the elephant, eh? The Guardian cites another US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks as documenting that the embassy knew police brutality and torture in Egypt are “routine and pervasive”—yet this never prompted the US to cut off aid (an annual $1.5 billion, exceeded only by Israel and Pakistan), much less unleash the kind of demonization campaign reserved for official enemy states (e.g. Iran).
Read one cable: “The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders… NGO contacts estimate there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone.” It found that under Mubarak’s presidency there had been “no serious effort to transform the police from an instrument of regime power into a public service institution.”
Particularly egregious is a YouTube clip of an RT TV interview with William Engdahl, author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. (Both the oxymoron “totalitarian democracy” and the invoking of the “New World Order” cliché should clue you in that we have now entered the wack-o-sphere.) Engdahl waxes histrionic about supposed US instrumentation of the “color revolutions” in the ex-Soviet sphere (and we can imagine that Russia-based RT TV is sympathetic to such a view)—without offering a shred of evidence that “the Pentagon, the State Department and various US-financed NGOs” are similarly at work in Egypt, Tunisia, etc. This hasn’t stopped his irresponsible speculations from going viral on the conspiranoid circuit.
We have warned again and again and again that elements of the “left,” in reaction to the “regime change” hubris of the neocons, are becoming apologists for the dictatorships favored by paleo-cons or “pragmatists” as guarantors of stability. We saw such ugliness in “leftist” gushing for George Galloway, an avid enthusiast for authoritarian Arab regimes, and in the downright eagerness of “progressives” to betray the opposition movement in Belarus during last month’s protests there.
Remember when the left used to fetishize balaclavas and molotov cocktails? Today it seems to more often fetishize police uniforms and truncheons. What’s up with that?