America: Standing in the Way of Democracy
It is pathetic and even laughable to hear American leaders, and the leaders of the other Western democracies in Europe, cautioning that Egypt’s revolution needs to move slowly, as they call for a “transition” government that would be gently guided to elections by the very man, Omar Suleiman, who for years has headed the dreaded Mukhabarat, the Egyptian secret police, all under the protective umbrella of the Egyptian military.
What is this nonsense?
Did America’s revolutionary government have a slow transition to democracy? Did America’s revolutionaries sign the Declaration of Independence and then hand over the reins of government to a general from the British Army to oversee things as they prepared for elections? No. They immediately set up a democratic system, even in the midst of a bitter war for independence. Did the African National Congress turn to a general from the South African military to run a transition government in South Africa when they finally ousted the Apartheid regime in that country? No, they held an election, and went on to rule as the elected majority. When the People Power revolution in the Philippines toppled the Marcos dictatorship after a generation of autocratic and brutal martial law law, did the people turn to the country’s military and ask it to run the country for a transition year to democracy? No, of course not! They held a snap election and elected the widow, Corazon Aquino, wife of the martyred democracy activist Benigno Aquino.
Democracies don’t need “transitions” run by military rulers and hold-over tyrants. These are tactics designed to subvert, delay and even prevent true popular rule.
How tragic, sad and outrageous to hear our own political leaders, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama, calling for a period of interim rule--either under the hated dictator Hosni Mubarak himself, or under his hated enforcer, Suleiman. Is this what the young people who have already defended, with their blood, the idea of a truly free, democratic Egypt, were struggling, and even dying, for? Of course not!
How many times have we heard that the vast army of 100 million unemployed, uneducated young people in the Middle East, including Egypt, is a vast “breeding ground” for terrorism, as if these young people were just some species of deadly mosquito larvae. And yet, here these young people are, in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Yemen, in Algeria, in Gaza , in Iraq, and even perhaps in Syria and Saudi Arabia, engaging not in terror, but in peaceful if militant protest to demand what we in the West take for granted: freedom and a voice in their own destiny.
How insulting for us in America--we who cannot even name three or four cities in Egypt, who don’t bother to vote in elections, and who readily equate Arab with terrorist -- to imply that these brave protesters “may not be ready” for democracy, adopting the classic fall-back position that colonial, neocolonial and imperialist rulers have turned to for centuries.