“Dear Western Governments. You have been supporting the regime that was oppressing us for 30 years. Please don’t get involved now. We don’t need you.”
That was the pointed tweet from Wael Ghonim on February 11, after remarks by President Obama in the heat of the Egyptian people’s unwavering resolve to rid themselves of President Honsi Mubarak and all his cronies. Ghonim is a Google executive and an Egyptian national who heads up the company’s marketing operations in the Middle East. Little did Ghonim - or anyone else - know that his country was hours from the resignation of embattled dictator, Mubarak.
Ghonim’s tweet was an ugly reminder for some and a wake-up call for others in the U.S. about our role in robbing the Egyptian people of their aspirations for a truly democratic country.
Except for Israel, Egypt received the most U.S. aid of any country. (Together, the two countries receive one third of U.S. total aid.) Egypt’s reward for signing the peace accord with Israel in 1979 was about $2 billion annually; the majority of that going towards military assistance. In return, the U.S. received unfettered and expedited access through the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace. This arrangement means that the U.S. is directly and almost totally responsible for propping up the brutal and oppressive regime of Mubarak.
The Mubarak regime is yet another vivid example of how the U.S. receives benefits at the exploitation of other peoples in these countries. These foreign policy decisions are not the doings of a misguided President and Congress. They span decades, involving many countries, and continue irrespective of party politics.
This is why it’s important that those of us in this country understand our role - and yes, complicity - in the foreign policies that prop up the likes of Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Saddam Hussein, Honsi Mubarak, Pervez Musharraf, Juan Manuel Santos and the list goes on and on and on.
We must demand an end to that kind of military and financial support to these despotic leaders. We must demand that the monies to them be re-allocated in the rebuilding of America’s deteriorating infrastructure along with bolstering up our social and educational programs. Our government cries broke for meeting these critical needs while at the same time sending boatloads of money, arms, people, and whatever else to support the regimes of war criminals. Our government professes its undying love for Democracy while at the same time sneaking around with Tyranny.
The resolve of the Egyptian people during the three weeks of occupation of Tahrir (Liberation) Square was a culmination of years of resistance to the Mubarak regime. The new organizing tool of social networking played a role but it did not and will not trump the traditional organizing methods like street protests, distribution of literature and door-knocking to talk face to face with the people. We saw these methods kick in when Mubarak shut down the communications system and the crowds in Tahrir Square only got bigger and more determined.
The resignation of Mubarak is only the first step on the long road to democracy for the Egyptian people. They must be vigilant for the slight-of-hand tricks that await them. They must continue to organize the people to ensure that a military government is just temporary and that democratic elections do take place in September as planned.
There are some serious demands that have yet to be fulfilled. These include the end of emergency rule, freeing all political prisoners, the termination of the entire Mubarak regime and bringing all to justice.
For those of us in the belly of the beast, we must honor the Egyptian people’s wish to keep our government out of their affairs. This includes halting U.S. military aid and making sure the Egyptian people get back the billions stolen by the Mubarak family (some estimates are as high as $70 billion).
Lastly, Americans can learn a lot from the disciplined, courageous and determined spirit of the Egyptian people to free themselves from the bondage of fear and domination. While ours is a corporate-controlled government, the stranglehold on true democracy is really no different.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Jamala Rogers, is the leader of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and the Black Radical CongressNational Organizer. Click here to contact Ms. Rogers.