I originally posted this blog November, 2015--but feel it’s even more relevant now. It’s a “distant mirror” to the mounting hysteria in the United States and Europe today.Read More
The U.S. Senate’s shocking report on CIA torture during the George W. Bush administration’s War on Terror has provoked a storm of outrage, and calls for at least some form of punishment of those responsible. It’s unlikely those calls will ever be heeded.
The fact is that the CIA under America’s leaders—Republican and Democrat--has been implicated in torture around the globe for at least the past half century.Read More
something almost obscene about the announcement
out of Washington that the U.S. is going ahead with plans to deliver more
sophisticated military equipment to Egypt, despite the military coup that
overthrew President Mohammed Morsi.
With Egypt in meltdown, its economy in tatters, food prices soaring, land and water resources disappearing, unemployment rampant, the government a shambles, what is the United States offering in the way of aid to this basket-case nation?
Four F-16 fighter jets.
This despite that fact that, by law, the Obama administration is supposed to cut off aid to regimes that seize power via military coups. But not this coup.
In the wake of the bloody shootings in Cairo last week, and even as the military continues to arrest hundreds of Moslem Brotherhood members, the Obama administration, in a hair-splitting fashion befitting a president who once headed the Harvard Law Review, has used every semantic trick in the book to avoid calling the coup that took place in Egypt--a coup.
The shipment of those F-16’s is also justified as the continuation of an on-going program of 20 planes—eight of which were sent to Egypt in January. The final eight will be shipped later this year.
Who will benefit by that American “aid”?
Mostly, America’s own Lockheed Martin, which sells those jets at $15 million a copy. Add a few million more for spare parts, training, and ammunition, and you’ve got a half billion dollar deal.
Who will those jets be used to defend Egypt against? Years ago, the Egyptians might have said Israel. But you can be sure that there is no way the U.S. would give F-16’s to an Arab country unless Israel had already signed off on the deal—usually in return for assurances that U.S. equipment furnished to Israel would be far superior.
In fact, those planes are part of a $1.5 billion annual package of aid that the U.S. began giving Egypt after President Sadat signed the Camp David Peace accords with Israel in 1974. By far the largest part of that aid—$1.3 billion a year—has been going to the Egyptian military, in effect an on-going bribe to convince the generals not to ruffle waters with Israel.
What purpose that sophisticated American equipment serves Egypt—other than burnishing egos of the Egyptian military—is anyone’s guess. Similarly, since the only ones with oversight over Egypt’s military budget are Egypt’s military, no one can really be sure exactly how and where all those billions have been spent.
But again, who really cares--as long as they don’t rock the boat with Israel….
On the other hand, it’s only natural that America’s largesse should take the form of military aid. So much of America’s foreign policy over the past two decades —from Iraq to the Gulf to Afghanistan--has been defined in trillions of dollars in military equipment, sprawling bases and futile campaigns.
The other recent announcement of aid to Egypt, which dwarfs Americas, is also laced with hypocrisy. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a massive package totaling 12 billion dollars.
That sum, of course, is vastly greater than any financial aid those Arab states actually delivered to the Palestinians over the past many decades, despite all their rhetoric about supporting the Palestinian cause.
Which makes sense: As the Arab leaders of those three Gulf states see it the Muslim Brotherhood and the Arab Spring are a much greater existential threat to their corrupt regimes, than Israel ever was.
Indeed, they have long detested and feared the Muslim Brotherhood. Not so much the Brotherhood’s religious fervor, as their calls for reform --for an end to the corrupt ruling cliques which have treated the vast natural resources of their states as their personal property.
Their current hope of the leaders of those three Gulf states is that, backed by their $12 billion dollars, Egypt’s generals will somehow be able to squelch the Muslim Brotherhood in what is by far the most important of Arab countries--and turn back the threat of the Arab Spring.
Finally, an intriguing question: Was that huge Arab aid package quickly cobbled together after the coup? Or Isn’t it highly likely that, in the frantic maneuvering that preceded the military’s move, the Gulf rulers were already dangling those billions as a carrot before Egypt’s generals--to encourage them to overthrow Mohammed Morsi?
Probably with the knowledge—and approval?--of the United States.
Here’s a very somber analysis of the current turmoil in Egypt by Sarah Carr, a blogger/journalist who has lived in Cairo for the past ten years, daughter of a British father and Egyptian mother:
“There is a visceral hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Salafi associates amongst some Egyptians. This hatred spans all social classes and predates current events. It is born out of an arguably justified mistrust and fear of the group, which has lied, put its own interests first, excluded other groups, ram-rodded through an excuse for a constitution, attempted to give Morsi dictatorial powers, flirted with the military and dallied in sectarian politics in a frightening way.
“It failed to understand that it was running a country, and it missed the point that for public relations purposes, if you are an Arab president who desires to quash dissent through an organized group, you better make sure that that group is in uniform.
“Perhaps most importantly, they were feeble as hell at governing Egypt at a time when amateurs really just would not do.
“When Morsi supporters attempt to put their case forward, their arguments bounce back off a wall of hate, but — deep breath — in my opinion, these arguments were not without merit — up until June 30.
“Morsi’s intransigence and the behavior of his supporters after June 30 outweighs any legitimacy they once had. Mendacity, poor governance, self-interest and the sidelining of other political powers are pretty much the watchwords of all political groups and are not, in isolation, enough to justify a president’s removal by the military….
…….“So my position on events pre-June 30 has not been changed by events since: The Muslim Brotherhood should have been left to fail as they had not (yet) committed an act justifying Morsi’s removal by the military.
“The price Egypt has paid and will pay for the consequences of this decision are too high. It has created a generation of Islamists who genuinely believe that democracy does not include them. The post-June 30 fallout reaffirms this belief, especially with Islamist channels and newspapers closed down, as well as leaders detained and held incommunicado, apparently pursuant to an executive decision.
“For 30 years, Mubarak told them that due process is not for them, and a popular revolution is confirming that. It is Egyptian society that will pay the price of the grievances this causes, and the fact that, with a silenced media and no coverage from independent outlets, they have been left with virtually no channels to get their voice heard…..
“The real revolution will happen when army involvement in politics is a distant relic of history.
“….The only aspect of the wider argument that interests me is the notion that an elected president’s legitimacy dissolves when millions take to the streets. If this is a precedent, then it means shaky times ahead when the masses’ interests do not coincide with those of the army.
“Politically, Egypt finds itself once again in an almighty mess.
“As the euphoria fades, the opposition remembers that if they were asked to debate how many legs a cow before them had, one faction would question whether the animal was actually a cow, another would say four, and yet another would include the tail as a limb….
“If the army has any sense, it will see that the legitimacy of the June 30 regime (for want of a better term) need not be predicated on crushing Islamists, no matter what the public appetite is. They have to be included, because they are not going anywhere.
“The barely functioning political system born of January 25 has been replaced with something even more fragile: Fractious squabbling with no clear means of resolution, the military as arbiter and an incensed MB that feels it has been cheated. Fasten your seatbelts.”
ONE FINAL THING: Please like the Facebook page for my new novel, “The Watchman’s File”. And, if you feel it merit’s attention, please pass it on to your friends.
We are witnessing a stunning decline of liberal democracy around the globe—the hollowing out of the center, the rise of the radical fringes, of populism of authoritarian Trump-like leaders who feed on know-nothing views. We’re talking not just across Europe, but on every continent, from Turkey, to Russia, to India, Venezuela and Brazil.
Why is this phenomenon happening now? Some say it’s because of the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the market collapse of 2008, a universal disgust with traditional politics and politicians.
All those factors are at play. But I would argue that the principle cause for the collapse of traditional politics is the astonishing rise of the Internet and social media.
The media has been filled today with tributes to the late President George H.W. Bush. He is portrayed as a smart, pragmatic leader, who chose wise counsellors like James Baker—very different from his wilful son, George W. Bush, who led the U.S. into a disastrous attack on Iraq in 2013, the most fateful foreign policy blunder ever made by an American leader.
The fact, however, is that it was the blundering of George H. W. Bush and Baker in 1990 that set the stage for George W. Bush’s calamitous move thirteen years later.
We went to a very moving commemoration in London this week marking the 80th anniversary of Krystallnacht-- when thousands of German Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The opening salvo, as it were, of the Holocaust. But what I found most appalling–because of its relevance to today’s headlines --was not the description of those horrific events, but the motivation of a top Nazi official responsible for carrying out Hitler’s genocidal commands.
Reading the horrified reactions to the bloody attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, one has the impression that the assault was carried out by a crazed individual operating from the most deranged fringe of America’s alt-right: a product of the brutal politics of Donald Trump and social media run amok. The fact is that, though America would dearly love to forget it, anti-Semitism has long been deeply embedded in the U.S.
Donald Trump stands accused of “treason” after his outrageous summit with Vladimir Putin. Those startling charges are no longer coming from the political fringes, but from mainstream politicians, officials, and the press. Despite the gravity of the situation, craven Republican leaders still refuse to act. Is the only option to hope for the best in the November congressional elections, while leaving a treasonous leader in charge of the world’s most powerful nation?
There is another path, a harrowing one, but one that might ultimately be the only way out for America. I describe it in my novel “Deep Strike” –the tale of a corrupt, dysfunctional American president, Walter Stokes, elected with the help of Russian hacking. The book was published a year ago, but it could never be more relevant.
A deranged American president wins election with the aid of Russian hacking. Over the following months, he becomes increasingly brutish. His wild, rabid Tweets and tempestuous acts dismay even his closest supporters. He flirts with nuclear disaster. America’s basic democratic foundations are challenged. Yet Congressional leaders refuse to act. Difficult to believe this is real life.