The Egyptian Revolt Is Coming Home

The uprising in Egypt is our theatre of the possible. It is what people across the world have struggled for and their thought controllers have feared. Western commentators invariably misuse the words “we” and “us” to speak on behalf of those with power who see the rest of humanity as useful or expendable. The “we” and “us” are universal now. Tunisia came first, but the spectacle always promised to be Egyptian.

As a reporter, I have felt this over the years. In Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square in 1970, the coffin of the great nationalist Gamal Abdul Nasser coffin bobbed on an ocean of people who, under him, had glimpsed freedom. One of them, a teacher, described the disgraced past as “grown men chasing cricket balls for the British at the Cairo Club”. The parable was for all Arabs and much of the world. Three years later, the Egyptian Third Army crossed the Suez Canal and overran Israel’s fortresses in Sinai. Returning from this battlefield to Cairo, I joined a million others in Liberation Square. Their restored respect was like a presence – until the United States rearmed the Israelis and beckoned an Egyptian defeat.

Thereafter, President Anwar Sadat became America’s man through the usual billion-dollar bribery and, for this, he was assassinated in 1980. Under his successor, Hosni Mubarak, dissenters came to Liberation Square at their peril. Enriched by Washington’s bag men, Mubarak latest American-Israeli project is the building of an underground wall behind which the Palestinians of Gaza are to be imprisoned forever.

Today, the problem for the people in Liberation Square lies not in Egypt. On 6 February, the New York Times reported: “The Obama administration formally threw its weight behind a gradual transition in Egypt, backing attempts by the country’s vice president, General Omar Sulieman, to broker a compromise with opposition groups … Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was important to support Mr. Sulieman as he seeks to defuse street protests …”

Having rescued him from would be assassins, Sulieman is, in effect, Mubarak’s bodyguard,. His other distinction, documented in Jane Mayer’s investigative book, The Dark Side, is as supervisor of American “rendition flights” to Egypt where people are tortured on demand of the CIA. He is also, as WikiLeaks reveals, a favourite in Tel Aviv. When President Obama was asked in 2009 if he regarded Mubarak as authoritarian, his swift reply was “no”. He called him a peacemaker, echoing that other great liberal tribune, Tony Blair, to whom Mubarak is “a force for good”.

The grisly Sulieman is now the peacemaker and the force for good, the man of “compromise” who will oversee the “gradual transition” and “defuse the protests”. This attempt to suffocate the Egyptian revolt will call on the fact that a substantial proportion of the population, from businessmen to journalists to petty officials, have provided its apparatus. In one sense, they reflect those in the Western liberal class who backed Obama’s “change you can believe in” and Blair’s equally bogus “political Cinemascope” (Henry Porter in the Guardian, 1995). No matter how different they appear and postulate, both groups are the domesticated backers and beneficiaries of the status quo.

In Britain, the BBC’s Today programme is their voice. Here, serious diversions from the status quo are known as “Lord knows what”. On 28 January the Washington correspondent Paul Adams declared, “The Americans are in a very difficult situation. They do want to see some kind of democratic reform but they are also conscious that they need strong leaders capable of making decisions. They regard President Mubarak as an absolute bulwark, a key strategic ally in the region. Egypt is the country along with Israel on which American Middle East diplomacy absolutely hinges. They don’t want to see anything that smacks of a chaotic handover to frankly Lord knows what.”

Fear of Lord Knows What requires that the historical truth of American and British “diplomacy” as largely responsible for the suffering in the Middle East is suppressed or reversed. Forget the Balfour Declaration that led to the imposition of expansionist Israel. Forget secret Anglo-American sponsorship of Islamic jihadists as a “bulwark” against the democratic control of oil. Forget the overthrow of democracy in Iran and the installation of the tyrant Shah, and the slaughter and destruction in Iraq. Forget the American fighter jets, cluster bombs, white phosphorous and depleted uranium that are performance-tested on children in Gaza. And now, in the cause of preventing “chaos”, forget the denial of almost every basic civil liberty in Omar Sulieman’s contrite “new” regime in Cairo.

The uprising in Egypt has discredited every Western media stereotype about the Arabs. The courage, determination, eloquence, and grace of those in Liberation Square contrast with “our” specious fear-mongering with its al-Qaeda and Iran bogeys and iron-clad assumptions, bereft of irony, of the “moral leadership of the West”. It is not surprising that the recent source of truth about the imperial abuse of the Middle East, WikiLeaks, is itself subjected to craven, petty abuse in those self-congratulating newspapers that set the limits of elite liberal debate on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps they are worried. Across the world, public awareness is rising and bypassing them. In Washington and London, the regimes are fragile and barely democratic. Having long burned down societies abroad, they are now doing something similar at home, with lies and without a mandate. To their victims, the resistance in Cairo’s Liberation Square must seem an inspiration. “We won’t stop,” said the young Egyptian woman on TV, “we won’t go home.” Try kettling a million people in the centre of London, bent on civil disobedience, and try imagining it could not happen.

John Pilger is an internationally renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker. His latest film is The War on Democracy. His most recent book is Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire (Bantam/Random House, 2006). Read other articles by John, or visit John's website.

13 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Josie Michel-Bruening said on February 11th, 2011 at 10:12am #

    Thank you very much, John Pilger! If only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would read it.
    Instead it is said that US citizens have to fear a new McCarthy era which certainly will swash across Europe too.
    In Germany, we are noticing first respective signs, although by the courage of the Egyptian people just now our politicians and medias seem to be alarmed and are giving hypocritical statements about their “good democratic will” wishing the Egytians more democratic circumstances etc.

  2. Don Hawkins said on February 11th, 2011 at 11:50am #

    In Washington and London, the regimes are fragile and barely democratic. Having long burned down societies abroad, they are now doing something similar at home, with lies and without a mandate. Pilger

    A quick note today an old farmer came into the shop and I asked him did you see the tyrant in Egypt has left the Country. Yes he said and now they can elect another tyrant. I said you mean like here in the States except more than just one with there hands out. All he did was smile I knew his answer.

  3. hayate said on February 11th, 2011 at 12:35pm #

    Looks like mubarak has stepped down. The media is awash with reports of rejoicing that he has. Headlines such as this:

    “Crowds rejoice after Mubarak resigns. The embattled president hands over power to the military after a wave of historic protests. ‘We are free’

    I’m sure the Egyptian people realise that they have just seen the “changing of the guard”, even if the zionist run media would rather play make believe that it’s an end of “the problem”.

  4. Deadbeat said on February 11th, 2011 at 1:38pm #

    I’m sure the Egyptian people realise that they have just seen the “changing of the guard”, even if the zionist run media would rather play make believe that it’s an end of “the problem”.

    I’ve been doing much of my viewing from Press TV. You just can’t accept any information from MSM and the pseudo-Left. Press TV is Iran state run TV. So they have a bias as well but at least they are not propounding fear (like what commoner3 is doing) and fully embrace the hopes and aspiration of the Egyptian people.

    IMO the main concerns of the pseudo-Left is whether Egypt becomes anti-Zionist (aka Islamic, or whatever pseudonym they use to conceal their true feelings) and not her liberation.

  5. pabelmont said on February 11th, 2011 at 5:32pm #

    We need a FACEBOOK REVOLUTION HERE IN THE USA.

    Please see my After-Egypt-the-USA-must-have-the-next-Facebook-Revolution

    Please READ IT, PUBLICIZE IT, LINK TO IT.

    What it says is this:
    USA needs a facebook revolution to generate 1,000,000 signatures to PETITION Obama/Clinton/Rice *NOT* to VETO Palestinian UNSC draft resolution (coming up soon for a vote), the resolution once-again declaring teh Israeli settlements to be illegal.

  6. commoner3 said on February 11th, 2011 at 10:19pm #

    Deadbeat wrote:
    “So they have a bias as well but at least they are not propounding fear (like what commoner3 is doing)”
    —————————————————————-
    Deadbeat,
    I have no agenda and I am just expressing my humble honest opinion.
    I firmly believe that the US will deliberately deliver Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood. I could be wrong and nobody is infallible, but as the adage says: TIME WILL TELL .

  7. hayate said on February 12th, 2011 at 7:59am #

    Deadbeat

    Agree about Press TV, it’s one of the better guv media orgs. I’m sure not being full of goebbels wannabee zionists has a lot to do with it. :D

    “IMO the main concerns of the pseudo-Left is whether Egypt becomes anti-Zionist (aka Islamic, or whatever pseudonym they use to conceal their true feelings) and not her liberation.”

    That seems to be the major concern across the board at ziofascism, inc. and among their various minions, “left”, right and centre:

    Egypt military promises to abide by peace deal

    By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Maggie Michael, Associated Press – 17 mins ago

    CAIRO – Egypt’s ruling military reassured its international allies Saturday that there would be no break in its peace deal with Israel following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak…”

    [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110212/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt]

  8. hayate said on February 12th, 2011 at 8:21am #

    I was curious what the zionists at znet are saying about the recent events in Egypt. But they are demanding money to read their site instead. Every page brought up the same dead end money demand page instead of what usually was displayed. Typical.

  9. mary said on February 13th, 2011 at 12:25am #

    These are the names and faces of Egyptians that will not be going home. Brave souls. May they all rest in peace.

    {http://1000memories.com/egypt}

    Some are unknown and some of the details of how they died are dreadful.

  10. mary said on February 13th, 2011 at 12:54pm #

    Published on Sunday, February 13, 2011 by Reuters

    Egypt’s New Military Rulers To Ban Unions, Strikes
    by Marwa Awad and Alistair Lyon
    BREAKING

    Egyptian protesters stage a sit-in in Tahrir Square, rejecting army’s appeal to leave. (John Moore/Getty Images) CAIRO –

    Egypt’s new military rulers will issue a warning on Sunday against anyone who creates “chaos and disorder”, an army source said.

    The Higher Military Council will also ban meetings by labor unions or professional syndicates, effectively forbidding strikes, and tell all Egyptians to get back to work after the unrest that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

    The army will also say it acknowledges and protects the right of people to protest, the source said.

    {http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/02/13-1}

  11. hayate said on February 13th, 2011 at 11:29pm #

    “The Higher Military Council will also ban meetings by labor unions or professional syndicates, effectively forbidding strikes,”

    Now that the ziofascists got their new quisling in Egypt, it’s time to grab those ankles again and submit quietly like good little serfs. That’s the message there.

  12. Deadbeat said on February 14th, 2011 at 12:24am #

    The people of Egypt must persevere and continue the rebellion.

  13. mary said on February 14th, 2011 at 7:42am #

    I mentioned John Humphrys of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the other day and how he shills for Israel. This is him with Ayalon, Lieberman’s deputy, providing all the necessary prompts.

    {http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9396000/9396638.stm}

    Remember over 6 million listeners heard this propaganda about the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.

    This is a comment on medialens about the ‘interview’.

    If you get the chance listen to the interview John Humphrys did with an Israeli spokesman this morning. What I think I noticed were the vocal and linguistic signals JH was giving out. There was the cue of identification with Israel when he used the phrase “Israelis sleeping better in their beds” of the effect of the Israel/Egypt peace treaty. The first part of the questioning was a framework of questions to permit the Israeli to put the usual case…mention of the Muslim Brotherhood etc…and at one point he got ‘ahead’ of the interviewee who could then appear moderate. Then the tone of the voice changed and you were signalled that he felt he had to ask some questions for those nasty people who don’t buy that Israel is in fact looking for peace.

    The interview was followed by questions to J Bowen who was unusually blunt describing of the Israeli’s views that they were ‘partial’.

    This is a subtle layer of media manipulation that I am beginning to notice more. It is not just that the fact seeking questions don’t get asked but that the vocal body language of the interviewer puts a view across to the listener. No doubt you knew of this phenomena anyway but interesting nevertheless.
    ~~~~

    I agree that Bowen was unusually blunt.