I haven’t published anything since the holidays. First I was taking a break for personal reasons. Then I got overwhelmed by the massacre in Arizona and, now, events in Egypt. Today I have some righteous anger I had to get out.

Like everyone else I’ve been following Egypt almost religiously. This is a really amazing moment to me. A broad based, leaderless democratic uprising has turned into a full fledged revolution in a matter of days. With any revolution, particularly a populist democratic one, comes the captivation of one’s imagination about what is possible. Great things are born in revolution, but so are even worse alternatives to the status quo. The possiblity of what can be needs to be fostered and protected. Every revolution has the potential to be a lot of different things.

The Egyptian people are the best people to preserve the potential of their future. They are the stakeholders, and the stakes are impossibly high. I do not mean to romanticize them, or view the revolution through rose colored glasses, but the conditions on the ground are in fact very fertile for profound and lasting social change. You’ve got a young and decently educated population. Strong labor movement. A relatively wealthy country that has been subjected to brutal neo-liberal economic policies and looting by a small kleptocratic elite, where there’s enough wealth to go around if the economy is reformed.

But most of all, if they fail, they probably get killed, imprisoned and/or tortured. If they succeed, they get a chance to plot their own future. The incentives are there for real change that makes the lives of Egyptians better by fighting on.  Which is why this pisses me off so much.

MUNICH — The Obama administration on Saturday formally threw its weight behind a gradual transition in Egypt, backing attempts by the country’s vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman, to broker a compromise with opposition groups and prepare for new elections in September.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking to a conference here, said it was important to support Mr. Suleiman as he seeks to defuse street protests and promises to reach out to opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Administration officials said earlier that Mr. Suleiman and other military-backed leaders in Egypt are also considering ways to provide President Hosni Mubarak with a graceful exit from power.

The attempt by the U.S. government to meddle in the transition of Egypt’s government from the Mubarak era is just mind bogglingly stupid and tone deaf. In the U.S., we know our elites are corrupt, only capable of thinking in neo-liberal terms, and incompetent. This is best considered as an example of their incompetence.

To start with, this is a populist uprising and the people know that the U.S. isn’t an honest broker in all this. The protesters know that the U.S. used Egyptian intelligence for extraordinary rendition of terror suspects. They hate Suleiman, who they know as head of the 1.3 million employee Interior Ministry that runs all of the widely reviled police forces in the country. The Egyptian protesters know that the U.S. has a serious interest in preserving the economic status quo in the country.

They also know enough to remember that they control their own destiny and that they don’t want the U.S. government telling them what to do when they’re trying to get rid of their U.S. backed oppressor.

Pretty much the worst thing the U.S. can do for it’s long term interests in the Middle East, strictly in realpolitik terms, is to overplay it’s hand in the epicenter of a pan-Arab uprising and further anger the Arab public. Heavy handedness in the situation will show Arabs under all these repressive regimes that the U.S. doesn’t put democracy first, at least not for them, and will turn them against us. Which will have serious consequences when they eventually do establish democracies, or at least states that better reflect the will of their people.

The realpolitik really shouldn’t matter that much, anyway, because of how morally wrong and unsavory this whole thing is. It is morally reprehensible that the U.S. government just presumes to have a say in how a democracy will be formed in Egypt when it is the same U.S. government that has enabled and supported the repression and brutality that the people are revolting against.

Further hypocrisy will only serve to further exacerbate the very real and justified anger towards the U.S. and the governements of its client states. Not that Obama or Clinton will ever actually “get it”, but here’s some free advice

You’re not thinking outside of the status quo system. You’re not capable of it. If you were, you wouldn’t be in your offices or in this particular geopolitical situation. You cannot see that this is the beginning of the end of an era. The days of the United States projecting economic, political and military power in the Middle East at will are coming to an end.

The existing political and economic order that serves U.S. and Israeli hegemony may not fall apart right away. Or even for a few years. But events in Tunisia and Egypt have started something that cannot be contained. The economic and social system that is propagated by U.S. hegemony in the region has failed to provide enough economic opportunity or political and social rights to satisfy the Arab world. They know it. You know it.

And now they know it’s possible to do better and stop caring about what you, Obama and Clinton and the U.S. government, think. And they care so much, and have so little to lose, that they are willing to risk their lives and the lives of their families in the now and in the aftermath to get rid of your dictator. Even though this revolution is not about the United States, it can be said objectively that it is about the effects of U.S. policy, without which the Mubarak regime never would have lasted 30 years.

Your solution is to remove Mubarak and install…the guy carrying out the torture orders. Out with the guy that orders torture and murder, and in with the guy that follows the orders. Then, at best, elections later this year where the same brutal regime with a different head is supposed to oversee them and conduct them fairly. Maybe this is supposed to work the way health insurance reform here was supposed to work, by further empowering the actors that created the problem, slapping the “reform” label on it and pretending that everything will magically get better.

Or you don’t care whether or not it gets better. You only care about American corporate interests, Israel and covering the government’s ass on torture.

Get your hands off Egypt. Everyone sees through your rhetoric and everything you do. You, however, do not see that we all see that you’re morally bankrupt and cynically calculating. The world is changing. Start thinking about the changes we need to make at home and how to get there, because the way we used to do things won’t work anymore.

And stop pretending that anyone cares what you think. You’re irrelevant in Egypt. Act like it. For once maybe we can get a good outcome if you decide to not go out of your way to screw it up.

Cross posted at Captured State

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