When it comes to foreign policy and the U.S. government’s imperial and interventionist role in the world, it is sometimes difficult to determine which faction of statists — liberal or conservative — is the more hypocritical and morally blind.
Consider the following editorial in today’s New York Times entitled “The U.S. Should Not Be Egypt’s Accomplice.” When I read that title, my immediate reaction was, “Okay, this is going to be a solid editorial calling on the U.S. government to stop partnering with and supporting, especially with money and weaponry, the brutal, tyrannical military dictatorship that has long ruled Egypt.
As I began reading through the editorial, it was clear to me that the Times’s editorial board does recognize that the Egyptian regime is, in fact, a tyrannical regime.
Egypt has long been ruled by an unelected military dictatorship, which, in and of itself, connotes tyranny. But it is certainly not a benign tyranny. When it violently ousted the democratically elected president of the country — the man who Egyptian voters had elected in a national presidential election — the dictatorship then proceeded to arrest him, round up his supporters, and jail or kill them without any semblance of due process of law.
The military dictatorship also dissolved the parliament and then later reconstituted it as a rubber stamp for its dictatorial edicts. Judges do what the military dictatorship tells them to do.
The regime dominates the economy, especially through ownership of a vast array of commercial businesses, which it runs as monopolies. That is, no private competition is allowed.
Everything is done in secret, especially expenditures.
The press is censored.
The regime has the omnipotent power to round people up, incarcerate them, torture them, and execute them without due process or trial by jury and exercises that power. In fact, the dictatorship’s expertise in torture was one of the principal reasons why U.S. officials selected Egypt to be one of their rendition-torture partners in the so-called war on terrorism.
Egypt is an example of tyranny par excellence. It ranks right up there with the military regime of Augusto Pinochet, a military dictatorship that the U.S. government installed into power in 1973 and then proceeded to partner with and support with money and weaponry to ensure that it maintained its iron grip on power within the country.
The Times clearly sees that Egypt is run by a tyrannical regime. The editorial states:
…. a military coup in 2013 that overthrew the [Muslim] Brotherhood and paved the way for more repression. As Mr. Sisi cracked down on the Islamists — including a 2013 massacre of protesters that killed more than 800 people … Egypt’s worsening human rights abuses….
But his tactics have been draconian and counterproductive. His government has persecuted violent and nonviolent Islamist groups with equal zeal and without due process. It has maligned and harassed human rights activists, rendering their work all but impossible. And it has smothered what remains of the political opposition.
So, as I got to the end of the editorial, I fully expected a full-scale assault on the U.S. government’s support of this tyrannical regime and a full-throated call to terminate any further U.S. monetary and military aid.
Instead, the editorial ended in a weak, hypocritical, morally blind whimper. The Times writes:
The United States needs to be able to work with Egypt. But Washington should not make any more concessions without real reforms in Egypt’s approach to human rights and governance. Before talks between the two governments advance, Egypt should be required to release Aya Hijazi, an American-Egyptian humanitarian worker who has been arbitrarily detained in Cairo since 2014.
That’s the mindset of empire, a mindset that holds that the U.S. government should do its best to rein in its dictatorial and tyrannical partners and allies but otherwise continue to work with and support them.
The Times is wrong. There is no need for the U.S. government to work with, support, or partner with Egypt’s tyrannical regime or, for that matter, any other tyrannical regime in the world. It can and should put a permanent stop to the flow of U.S. taxpayer funded cash and military armaments to such regimes (and, for that matter, all other regimes), especially since such support is used to re-enforce the dictatorhip’s repression of its citzenry.
This is what empire does to people’s consciences and principles — it warps them and perverts them. Unlike what happens under a constitutional limited government republic empire makes people think that it’s necessary to maintain the allegiance and loyalty of allies and partners, including the brutal, tyrannical ones.
Of course, it’s not the first time that the U.S. empire has supported and partnered with brutal, tyrannical regimes. I’ve already mentioned Pinochet of Chile. Also coming to mind is the Shah of Iran, who the U.S. government, operating through the CIA, installed into power and then trained his and much-feared domestic police force known as Savak. Another example: the brutal military dictatorship in Guatemala, which the U.S. government installed into power in 1954 after ousting the democratically elected president in another CIA coup. Installations of dictatorships and partnerships with dictatorships have long been a core tenant of the U.S. Empire and the U.S. national-security state, with the full support of both left and right.
At the end of its editorial, the Times takes Donald Trump to task for “encouraging brutal, anti-democratic leaders in the Philippines, Turkey, and, of course, Russia.”
That is truly a laughable morally blind and hypocritical obtuseness. The fact is that every Democratic and Republican president has encouraged and supported brutal dictatorships ever since the advent of the U.S. national-security state in the late 1940s, with the full support of both liberals and conservatives.