The Egyptian Revolution: How Will the US React?
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Anyone familiar with political discourse in the West -- particularly the US -- should be acquainted with the role of the word "freedom" in politics and popular journalism.
For better or for worse, the word has become a prominent feature in the national political vocabulary and is a perennially popular theme in presidential rhetoric.
In last week's State of the Union Address, President Obama lauded the Tunisian people for their bravery in ousting President Ben-Ali.
But the Obama administration has been cautious in addressing the current protests in Egypt. The president and Secretary of State Clinton have highlighted the importance of civil rights, but have not explicitly called for free elections. And Vice President Biden has even denied that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is a dictator. As a result, some observers are asking why this week's demonstrations have received a measured response from administration officials.
In fact the person Mubarak nominated as vice president ran the CIA Black Sites where many war crimes authorized by Dick Cheney. Bush were authorized. There were more than 2 dozen arrest warrants issued in Italy and amore than a dozen arrest warrants for acts of rendition issued in Germany. Many of those people kidnapped ended up in Egyptian secret torture prisons (Black Sites)
To make sense of the American reaction, it helps to look back in time.
After achieving independence from Britain in the 1950s, Egypt began to be recognized as a political and cultural leader in the Arab World. In 1956, President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal -- a symbol of Western imperialism -- and used much of his resulting influence to promote unity within the Arab World.
Since Nasser's death in 1970, the country's influence among its Arab neighbors has waned while its relationship with the US has improved. The country signed a groundbreaking peace treaty with Israel in 1978 and in the early 1990s embarked upon a policy of economic reform with the help of the IMF. The nation is currently the second largest recipient of annual US foreign aid.
But critics note that Egypt's decades-long pro-Western stance has come with a price.
For the past thirty years, Mubarak has received over 80% of the vote in Egypt's doctored elections -- held once every six years. The leader and his regime have denied Christians of their rights, jailed tens of thousands of political dissidents and regularly censored information from its citizens. It has been well documented that these elections all have been fraudulent!
American politicians and diplomats have gone on record urging the president to allow public assembly and freedom of speech, an unlikely proposition for a dictator who on January 28 ordered Egyptian ISPs to shut down most access to the Internet. Still, few leaders publicly question Mubarak's legitimacy.
What the US absolutely does not want is for the well-connected and illegal opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, to win elections in a post-Mubarak Egypt. The organization maintains an Islamist ideology and argues for the cancellation of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel -- a political stance a significant portion of Egyptians agree with, but one that worries Washington.
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