It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)—REM, 1987
The U.S. Empire’s Praetorian Guard in Cairo actually rode into Tahrir Square on horses and camels Wednesday—what a fitting way for an antiquated system to battle for survival against the future.
Oh sure, Obama is doing his best to bleat platitudes about democracy and nonviolence while he tries to usher in an obsequious replacement for the old dictator that he, Clinton, Bush, Reagan and the other Bush backed all these years. But the tear gas and other weapons used against ordinary Egyptians don’t lie, they’re all stamped “Made in the USA.”
Obama, Clinton and Bush—as if on cue—closed ranks to throw their old pal Mubarak under a bus. According to the New York Times, the task of breaking the news to Mubarak that the Empire had decided he was no longer of use to them was left to George Bush, “because he was an old friend.”
Hillary could just as well have made the call, since just a while back she mentioned that she “really consider[s] President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.” Perhaps she and Bill have started fluffing the pillows in their Chappaqua guestroom.
This week we discover another imperial skankweed, Frank Wisner, who, when he’s not pilfering millions as vice chairman of AIG, is deployed to hot spots around the globe as a sort of Western Union pink slip deliveryman to teetering dictators. It must have been tough for Wisner, a diplomat known as “Pasha,” Obama’s man in Cairo, to have to inform his “old friend” Hosni that the Empire is casting about for a replacement.
As the world watches events play out on the streets of the most populous and strategically most important U.S. ally in the Arab world, it seems worth noting that the actions of cab drivers, unemployed youth, students, house cleaners and doormen are shaking the Empire to its core. Their bravery in the face of extraordinary violence is awe-inspiring; their ingenuity in the midst of depravity is humbling.
The Egyptian revolution doesn’t just pose a threat to Israel, “the equivalent of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East,” as Jesse Helms once aptly put it. Or even “just” threaten control over the Suez Canal, a key global transit point for oil and other goods through which 8 percent of global sea trade passes. No, at stake is the collapse of a political order that’s been in place all of our lives.
The economic decline of the U.S. Empire, combined with its deadly, inept and colossally expensive military adventures, has finally caught up with its diplomatic treachery. To be sure, the U.S. still maintains the world’s biggest armed forces and it will remain a decisive power for some time to come. But Egypt, Tunisia and the mass eruptions across the Middle East are exposing and widening cracks in the Empire.
What will our world look like if democratic struggles succeed in bringing about genuine social and economic transformation in the Middle East? How will ordinary people suffering here in the United States and Europe view these events?
After all, even the New York Times admits to 17 percent real unemployment in the U.S., decent health care remains out of reach for even those who technically have it, infrastructure is crumbling and all of the traditional political parties are useless to anyone without a yacht or penthouse suite. How strangely familiar these images of abused and ignored poor working people in Egypt seem to me.
Yes, I believe the tectonic plates beneath us all are shifting and old political assumptions about U.S. global dominance suddenly seem as outdated as marauders wielding clubs on camel and horseback.
If you’re in the NY metro area, don’t even think of missing this amazing panel Saturday, Feb. 5, 6:30PM: Wikileaks, the Palestine Papers, and Revolt in the Arab World: Cracks in the U.S. Empire, see details here. And of course, join the solidarity protests with Egypt in your city this Friday and Saturday afternoon.