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The Bridge Over the River Nile


U.S. officials undoubtedly don’t know what to do about Egyptian President Morsi’s implicit challenge of Egypt’s military dictatorship with his sacking of high military officials in Egypt. For decades, the U.S. government has funded Egypt’s military dictatorship to the tune of billions of dollars in cash and armaments. The Pentagon and its counterparts in the Egyptian military have worked closely over the years. U.S. intelligence officials and their counterparts within Egyptian intelligence have been close partners in the U.S. rendition-torture program in which Egypt agreed to torture people that the CIA delivered to it.

Prior to Morsi’s assuming the presidency, the Egyptian military dissolved Parliament and strictly limited the powers of the president. It also made it very clear that it would remain the foundation of governmental power within the country. Elections would be permitted but the military would remain in ultimate control. It would control its own budget, and its vast financial assets, its salary structure, and its income and expenditures would continue to be immune from public view or control.

To be blunt: Egypt has long been ruled by a military dictatorship — a tyrannical one, one that has had no reservations whatsoever about rounding up people, incarcerating them indefinitely without trial, torturing them, and executing them.

How did it accomplish this brutal oppression? It did so in the same way that dictatorial regimes have always tyrannized their citizenry — through a powerful military, intelligence, and police establishment that is ready and willing to loyally obey orders to maintain “order and stability” within the nation, in the name, of course, of protecting “national security.”

How did this tyrannical regime become so powerful? It did so in large part with the billions of dollars in cash and weaponry that the U.S. government has delivered into the hands of the Egyptian military and intelligence forces over a period of many years. The more money and armaments, the better able the tyrants have been to tyrannize the Egyptian people.

The fact is that U.S. officials have long believed in Egypt’s military dictatorship, especially given its long, loyal friendship with the U.S. government, much like the Shah of Iran’s dictatorial regime, which was installed into power by the CIA.

Like the Iranian people, who ultimately revolted against the CIA-installed dictatorship in their country, the Egyptian people revolted against their pro-U.S. dictatorial regime. But rather than end the military dictatorship that has ruled their country for decades, the Egyptians so far have settled for simply ousting the head of the dictatorship, Hosni Mubarak. Even though Mubarak was gone, the military establishment in Egypt has remained in control and has shown no interest in relinquishing its omnipotent control over the country.

To this day, the U.S. government continues to ply the Egyptian military with a billion dollars per year in U.S. taxpayer-funded cash and armaments.

Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which at one time advocated the violent overthrow of the Egyptian government. The Egyptian government considers people who try to overthrow the government to be terrorists. That’s not too surprising. It’s also how the Syrian dictatorial regime characterizes Syrians who are currently trying to violently overthrow Syria’s dictatorship.

But what’s interesting is that the Egyptian military authorities are not the only ones who consider Egyptians who try to violently overthrow their government to be terrorists. So does the U.S. government!

Why is that interesting?

Well, for one reason because the Declaration of Independence, one of America’s two founding documents, expressly states that people have a fundamental right to abolish their government when it becomes tyrannical.

Another reason is that the United States itself was founded in violent resistance to the tyranny of the British colonists’ own government.

In fact, when one compares the tyranny under which the British colonists in America were suffering at the hands of their own government in 1776, it pales to insignificance compared to what the Egyptian military dictatorship has been doing to the Egyptian people for the past several decades.

Yet, here in the United States, U.S. officials take the same position as their Egyptian military counterparts: that any Egyptian citizen who actually exercises the right expressed in the Declaration of Independence is a terrorist.

More important, the U.S. government also takes the position that any American citizen who exhorts the Egyptian people to violently overthrow their dictatorial regime is a supporter of terrorism and will be arrested, prosecuted, and convicted in U.S. federal court of providing material support to terrorism.

Consider the case of the New York lawyer Lynne Stewart. That 73-year-old woman is currently residing in a federal penitentiary. Her crime? She passed a note from her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, aka “the blind sheikh,” to the press that exhorted Egyptians to violently overthrow the Egyptian regime. For that, she was convicted of providing material support to terrorists and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

(As an interesting aside, the New York Times related that in his acceptance speech Morsi promised to work for the release of Abdel Rahman, who is currently serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts within the United States, something that an Obama official said had a “zero chance” of happening.)

So, under U.S. law it’s presumably still okay to recite the principle expressed in the Declaration of Independence — that people suffering under tyranny have the right to violently overthrow their government. But as the Stewart case has demonstrated, under U.S. law it is now illegal to exhort foreigners to actually exercise that right within their own country … but with the following caveat: It’s illegal to do so only when the regime happens to be a loyal member of the U.S. Empire, such as Egypt’s military dictatorship. If the dictatorship is not a member of the U.S. Empire, like with Syria, then it is apparently still legal for Americans to exhort people to violently overthrow their dictatorship, as demonstrated by the fact that President Obama and many members of Congress are currently exhorting Syrians to do precisely that.

It all goes to show how the U.S. national security state that was brought into existence in 1947, as well as the U.S. government’s embrace of a vast overseas military empire, have warped and perverted American values. U.S. officials, especially in the Pentagon and the CIA, have become much like the British soldiers in the movie “The Bridge Over the River Kwai.” In that movie, the British POWS became so vested with building an enormous bridge on orders of their Japanese captors that they totally lost sight of who the enemy was. In the same way, U.S. officials have become so vested with their partnership with the Egyptian military dictatorship that they have lost sight of the fact that tyranny and oppression should always be the enemy of the American people.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.