Some Americans are agog at the U.S. government’s indifference to the military coup in Egypt and to the dictatorship’s brutal massacre of peaceful demonstrators. They just don’t get it. The U.S. government loves Egypt’s military dictatorship as much as it loved the Chilean military dictatorship that took power in 1973 and proceeded to rape, torture, or kill tens of thousands of peaceful Chileans.
That’s why there’s no outrage from President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA over the conduct of their longtime friend and partner, the Egyptian military. U.S. national-security state officials believe in this form of government, one in which a giant military establishment forms the base of society, ready at all times to do whatever is necessary to protect “national security.”
What is the first thing that U.S. officials do when they successfully invade a country and effect regime change? The first thing they do is reformulate the military, making it the most powerful part of the government and the foundation of society. They did it in Iraq. They did it in Afghanistan. To both U.S. officials and Egyptian officials, a vast military establishment within a country is a necessary prerequisite to maintaining “order and stability” and “freedom” within the nation.
U.S. officials have absolutely nothing against the Egyptian military for ousting the democratically elected Morsi, jailing him, and killing his supporters. Why else would they have been funding the Egyptian military for the past 30 years? To fortify it in case it got into a war with Israel? Don’t make me laugh. The reason the U.S. government furnishes the Egyptian military with $1.3 billion in weaponry each year is to ensure that it’s able to do what it is doing today — killing people who object to the dominant role that the military plays in Egyptian society.
President Obama and the U.S. national-security establishment are obviously walking a fine line, trying to create the appearance that they really are shocked over the bloodshed and pretending that they continue to be lovers of democracy. Thus, Obama makes the dramatic announcement that he is cancelling joint military exercises with the Egyptian military that were scheduled for next month.
Joint military exercises? Notice that not one single mainstream newspaper picked up on the essential point: that the U.S. national-security state was even conducting joint military exercises with a military dictatorship. In and of itself, that speaks volumes. It’s all just considered normal. Egypt is our friend, they tell us. We have to maintain influence with the Egyptian tyrants. We don’t want to make them mad. We have to keep working with them and trying to convince them to transition to democracy. At most we should “suspend” foreign aid to the Egyptian tyrants. The thought of permanently ending foreign aid, as libertarians have long advocated, doesn’t even enter the mind of a statist. It’s considered too “radical.”
It’s all a crock. U.S. national-security state officials are buddies with their counterparts in the Egyptian national-security state. They work together. They socialize together. They train together.
Don’t forget, after all, that the U.S. government chose the Egyptian military dictatorship to be one of its rendition-torture partners. They did that because they knew full well how brutal this dictatorship was, a brutality that Americans are now seeing firsthand.
One of the most hilarious aspects to this entire sordid episode is when the military dictatorship announced this week that the Muslim Brotherhood movement posed a threat to “national security.” Now, let’s see: I wonder where they got that phrase from! Isn’t it interesting that those two words just happen to be the two most important words in the lives of the American people?
Oh, and don’t forget that all those people who are opposing the military dictatorship and fighting to restore democracy are considered “terrorists” by both Egyptian and U.S. officials. Recall the noted lawyer Lynn Stewart. U.S. officials went after her for sending a message to Egyptians that purported to exhort them to violently overthrow their military dictatorship. (See here and here and here.)
To U.S. officials, Stewart is a supporter of “terrorism.” To them, the Egyptian military dictatorship is a friend and ally that is devoted to defending “national security,” just like the vast U.S. national-security state apparatus here at home. Anyone who supports the overthrow of a loyal and dedicated dictatorship must obviously be a “terrorist.” That’s why Stewart is now residing in a federal penitentiary.
The American people are getting some harsh lessons about the nature of their national-security state. Inculcated with the myth and delusion that a national-security state is a necessary prerequisite to a free society and that it is a great spreader of democracy, Americans are seeing their real national-security state rearing its ugly head and showing its love of secret surveillance schemes, lies, perjury, torture, invasions, wars of aggression, occupations, and support of military dictatorship, vast military establishments, and brutal national police forces — all justified, of course, by those two magic words, “national security.”
For their part, the Egyptian people are learning why America’s Founding Fathers had such a deep antipathy toward vast military establishments. They are also learning why President Eisenhower warned the American people of the extreme dangers that a vast military establishment poses to a free and democratic society. These are lessons that Americans would be wise to ponder as well.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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