Egypt’s Protesters Will Spark Global Mass Movements

Internet and Globalization’s Positives

Americans remain largely ambivalent to the tectonic shifts taking place in Egypt, Jordan, Albania, Lebanon and Tunisia. What’s worse is that most Americans 40 years and under have an oh-hum view about their own government employees (soldiers, diplomats), and contractors, who are fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. Do they know that US Special Forces engage in Foreign Internal Defense operations in 65 countries around the globe supporting “friendly governments” like Egypt, Jordan, Thailand, Iraq and Israel through training and, if necessary, combat support? Pew Research reports that only 11 percent of the American public is following the historic people movement in Egypt.

Don’t the Egyptian people deserve the same support from Americans given to the Iranian Green movement in 2009?
Given the indifference of the American public, it is no surprise that it’s political, military, and business leaders—and academia in think tanks and universities—remain blind and unprepared for game changing street movements taking place in the most heavily armed region of the world, the Middle East/Central Asia. The USA lacks agility in policy making and execution. More’s the pity; it lives still in the Cold War era longing for the grand enemy and having to settle for impoverished insurgents/terrorists.

Yet the governing and policy setting elite in the USA are simply reflections of the apathetic will of the American people.
Zbigniew Brzezinski captured it best in an interview with Der Speigel in 2010:

I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world. [American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.

Yes, “stunningly ignorant”. The US Congress has become a loony bin with the arrival of the Tea Party, and the Oval Office hosts a President who, looking caring and liberal on paper and in the virtual world, has continued and even accelerated the Reagan-Bush I-Clinton-Bush II 80/20 program: 80 percent of the wealth is to be owned by 20 percent of the people. That process continues as more Americans (human capital) are written off the books. The ranks of the American unemployed, homeless, benefitless, and temporary work force continues to swell. It also includes many formers members of the US military.

In the face of all this, the US Congress finds it difficult to extend unemployment benefits but, with Presidential support, approves a trillion dollars to salvage banks and financial houses. Yet, American consumers are called upon by leaders to borrow and spend to stimulate the economy. Perhaps a better plan would have been to have the US government pay off all the mortgages of American homeowners and buy out other consumer debt.

And the USA continues its slide into some sort of military-capitalist-democracy as the eloquent Andrew Bacevich has pointed out. There is an important lesson from Egypt here: as the Egyptian Army maintains an environment where protesters can demonstrate without reprisal, they are showered with praise by commentators and government officials alike. Images of lovey-dovey military members and civilians in solidarity are all over the Net. But make no mistake; the armed forces are employees of the government and their interests are quite clear: If not overly, then covertly retain power and position.

Angels do not sit in the turrets of Abrams tanks.

The public would do well not to deify, further, the military. The armed forces of nations constantly at war, operating under a state of emergency—like the USA—and whose military machinery is nearly indistinguishable from civilian government should be viewed cautiously. As President Eisenhower pointed out, a robust military and defense industrial base is necessary but “the problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.”

Socialists with Keen Observations

As the writers at the ever observant World Socialists recently stated, the USA clearly has interests many government and business officials, pundits and commentators do not want to discuss. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the Egyptian people is not first among those interests.

The policy being developed in Washington has, in the short term, two aims: to shore up the Egyptian military and intelligence apparatus—hence the appointment of intelligence chief and former general Omar Suleiman as vice president—and to prepare a political alternative to Mubarak if his removal proves necessary. But any replacement sanctioned by Washington will be nothing more than a puppet providing pseudo-democratic window dressing for a new military regime.

As the Obama administration confronts a growing revolutionary movement in Egypt, its tactics will flow from two overriding and inseparable strategic aims: defending the Egyptian capitalist state and maintaining the country as the linchpin of American imperialist operations in the Mediterranean, North Africa and throughout the Middle East. The working class in Egypt and its allies among the insurgent masses must not permit themselves the slightest illusions in the intentions and plans of President Obama. The president and his advisors in the Pentagon and the CIA are determined to contain…the revolutionary movement.

The demonstration of the working class’s immense social power has shaken the ruling class and its spokesmen in the mainstream media. As the New York Times decried that the protests are becoming “open class warfare,” CNN explained the collapse in stocks of US oil companies with investments in Egypt by fears that “a new government could expropriate their land concessions. The financial aristocracy, however, fears far more than the loss of an oil field—or even of a sea-lane like Egypt’s Suez Canal, which is critical to world commerce. More fundamental political issues are at stake.

Leaders in every nation are now watching their backs as well they should. But the masses, the people, are ultimately responsible for whom they choose for figureheads/leaders. Concrete change that alters the course of a nation must come from The Street. It is there where 80 percent of the people work their lives away for the 20 percent who rule–whether through the voting process or brutal oppression.

The Egyptian people have shown that the Net and Globalization can be used for more than fun and games. As the Egyptian government shut down the Net and other communications channels to disrupt protesters, it was engaged in a cut-off-the nose to spite-the-face policy. For example, millions of dollars in lost business revenue for telecommunications companies has taken place. The ripple effect must be enormous.

The Net and Globalization have given people everywhere the ability to see past the statements/data of their governments and corporations. Wikileaks Cables, of course, confirmed that there are methods and madness in a diplomatic corps, intelligence agency, contractor or military service.

Thanks to the Net and Globalization, leaders everywhere may well yet be held to account in a timely manner. The Egyptian protesters (and to a degree the Wikileaks case) have shown that it is possible to create a Global Virtual Mass Movement in support of a political/labor cause. Al Jazeera, Facebook, Twitter, TOR and Anonymous and a host of hackers, computer technicians, et al, have, from a distance, accelerated the demise of Mubarak’s government.

The day should be near when the disenfranchised in one country can call on the public of many countries to protest/strike against governments and industry in virtual and physical space. A Global Mass Movement, or strike, is just around the corner that will bankrupt a corporation or weaken another government.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security affairs. He wrote The Raptor's Eye, and his latest book is US Army Human Terrain System. He can be reached at: captainkong22@gmail.com. Read other articles by John.

7 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Rehmat said on February 2nd, 2011 at 8:29am #

    The Leader of Islamic Revolution (1979), Imam Khomeini is quoted as saying that road to Jerusalem passes through Cairo, Baghadad and Riyadh. What he meant was that Muslims cannot recover their third most sacred city of Al-Quds without getting rid of the pro-USraeli regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq, which are maintained there by the West as Israel’s ‘first line of defense’ against the Islamic forces. To the great fear of Israel and its puppet regimes in the West – Iraq, though, occupied to block that road to Jerusalem – has been reopened by the Nuri al-Maliki government in Baghdad. Egyptians protesters are currently removing the roadblocks too. If an anti-Israel regime get established in Cairo – similar anti-government mass protests will spread to Saudi Arabia and Syria. The governments in both Lebanon and Gaza Strip are already pro-Iranian.

    Among the many slogans carrie by the Iranian protesters against US-Israel puppet regime of King Reza Shah, one was:

    Our enemy is imperialism, capitalism and feudalism!

    Islam belongs to the oppressed, not the oppressors!

    Oppressed of the world unite!

    Islam is not the opiate of the people!

    Islam is for equality and social justice!

    Islam represents the slum dwellers, not the palace dwellers!

    Islam will eliminate class differences!

    Islam comes from the masses, not the rich!

    Islam will eliminate landlessness!

    We are for Islam, not for capitalism and feudalism!

    Islam will free the hungry from the clutches of the rich!

    The poor fought for the Prophet, the rich fought against him!

    The poor die for the revolution, the rich plot against it!

    Independence, freedom, Islamic Republic!

    By following those Islamic revolutionary principles, despite three-decade of western sanctions, Islamic Republic has become not only a regional power but a light to the free world. Fearing its growing influence around the world especially in South America – both the so-called ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ groups are blaming Washington’s support for the corrupt kings and dictators in the Muslim world. None of these ‘self-denials’ want to accept the fact that America’s foreign policy in the Muslim world has always been controlled by the Jewish Lobby under different names. The Republican, Democrat and the Tea Party – are all dominated by the pro-Israel anti-Muslim facists.

    American leaders never felt ashamed to admit that “invasion of Iraq was good for Israel” or “We support Hosni Mubarak because he created stablity in the region which is good for Israel”. Even those who happen to criticize Israel, such as former US president Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky, Patrick J. Buchanan, Congressman Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand Paul, Maurice Hinchey, Congressman Keith Ellison, Glenn Beck, Rick Sanchez, etc. are in fact all support the illegal Jewish occupation of Palestine.

    Rehmat’s World

  2. MichaelKenny said on February 2nd, 2011 at 10:18am #

    “The day should be near when the disenfranchised in one country can call on the public of many countries to protest/strike against governments and industry in virtual and physical space”. For that to happen, the various groups concerned would have to have a sense of common interest. That might work within regions which see themselves as having something in common and, of course, the Middle East/North Africa region is one such place. EU citizens regularly demonstrate together in Brussels or Luxembourg and I could see similar things happenning in Latin America as their new regional grouping gets off the ground. But beyond that, any such movement is probably at least one, if not several generations into the future.

  3. Don Hawkins said on February 2nd, 2011 at 10:41am #

    Today on the MSM here in the States was stranger than say yesterday. On CNN as the pro Mubarak people magical showed up well Anderson Cooper I guess was punched and some of his crew ruffed up by the pro Mubarak people. Am still trying to figure out how this will play out at CNN. Now on CNBC no figuring out is needed as there man on the scene said after Mubarak’s speech some in Egypt had there heart’s touched. That’s why I guess they started with ruffling up part and then of course CNBC went on to ok how do we make money on this. Fox new’s is sort of like CNBC as they are now talking about the brotherhood. Well between CNBC and Fox New’s at least in this country there’s a brotherhood alright. The good neighborhood and the bad neighborhood comes to mind along with the thinking of most people in the States as nothing more than two legged bipeds. Yes the good the bad and the ugly and I think I know where CNBC and Fox New’s fit’s out of those three can you walk like an Egyptian.

  4. mary said on February 2nd, 2011 at 11:31am #

    Fox News don’t even know where Egypt is.

    {http://hypervocal.com/news/2011/fox-news-map-room-where-egypt-lies-between-iran-syria-and-saudi-arabia/}

  5. Don Hawkins said on February 2nd, 2011 at 12:04pm #

    Thank’s Mary maybe Fox New’s is like Texas instead of rewriting history just redraw the map. Here’s one you might like remember the Gore, Bush election well I was in front of the library in Tallahassee, Fla for the final count of the ballots. I had t-shirts made up that read a ballot in the hand is better than two in the Bush. I sold a few to Republican’s they thought it was about them I guess. Well I was standing with the Democrat’s a motley crew we were some on crutches some in wheel chairs and street clothes you just regular clothes. Well then the buses showed up the Republicans oh my god as we numbered about fifth and then 300 Republicans in there polo shirts were on the scene with bullhorns. I went over to them and could tell they were an arrogant bunch and began selling them t-shirts until a few caught on that I was for Gore some wanted there money back sorry all sales are final. Then the lawyers showed up wow talk about well dressed and for some reason they didn’t look real to me. Then the word came down stop the vote the Supreme Count has just ruled Bush is President and the rest is history. Oh during the day I was at the CNN tent and old Bill Hemmer now at Fox New’s was sitting in his chair waiting for his next guest a local lawyer in the Tallahassee area and I was trying to sell the lawyer a t-shirt but he wanted a free one I did give many a free t-shirt but not him and he probably didn’t remember anyway as he was so drunk he could hardly stand up. I see the word has just came down get out of the square in Cairo people. Such arrogance!

  6. mary said on February 2nd, 2011 at 12:20pm #

    Those little hanging chads didn’t know what they were letting us in for did they? Eight years of horror, war and torture and still counting.

    {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_election_recount}

  7. Luis Cayetano said on February 3rd, 2011 at 11:36am #

    ”By following those Islamic revolutionary principles, despite three-decade of western sanctions, Islamic Republic has become not only a regional power but a light to the free world.”’

    No, it hasn’t. Suppression of labour unions, suppression of free speech, religion-drenched politics, vicious intolerance of homosexuals, and a clique centred around the Revolutionary Guard aren’t manifestations of a light to the free world. The Iranian state is a capitalist-clerical-bureaucratic configuration with its own set of strategic imperatives, like any state. To think otherwise is delusional.

    Ahmadinejad can’t seem to go one day without singing praises to God.
    Have Iran’s religious laws and religion-drenched politics cleansed it of class inequality? Not even close. If anything, quite the opposite. There are very definitive political and economic hierarchies and inequalities, ”in spite of”’ the standing that the clergy has. That’s not accidental, and it should tell us something. The Revolution got rid of the Shah and his machine of repression, only to see another nexus of power emerge.

    Religion is a deadly venom to the working class. It always sells the masses short down the road, diluting their movement for freedom and emancipation of its vitality and clarity. Why? Because very little good comes from lying to oneself. While religion has done much good, it also predisposes people to believing in things without evidence, and that predisposes them to being gullible, to being cheated and defrauded, to being deferential when they should be rebellious, to be trustful of those who wrap themselves in the mantle of God, and to confuse cause and effect. Religion will always be the bourgeoisie’s Trojan Horse. Mysticism is the last thing that the working class needs. True consciousness begins with the realisation that enlightenment comes from the masses and a critical appraisal of their material conditions, not from God or any other master. And if one is rational, one also has to admit that God then becomes superfluous, and in fact a drag.