Letter to the Editor: U.S.: Hands off Egypt!

We'll run through the streets of the cities we wreck / And send you a leader whom you can "elect"/ Those treaties we signed are a pain in the neck / 'cause we're the cops of the world.

Back in the heyday of imperialism a little over a century ago, Rudyard Kipling rationalized a racist "right" of colonial powers to appoint "leaders" and dictate policies for non-whites under the guise of the "white man's burden."

Things are only slightly different now in this age of neo-colonialism and indirect rule of "third world" lands, with journalists and academics calling for "democracy" and the election of a U.S. ally to run those countries.

It is in this context that one must view The Lamron commentator Alex Fitzpatrick's Feb. 3 opinion piece, which concedes that Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt with an iron fist for three decades – his immediate resignation is the demand of up to hundreds of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators – is a "dictatorial president." When Fitzpatrick wrote that "the United States has for decades supported a dictatorial president ruling by decree, and there's no rewriting that shameful bit of history," he implied that U.S. support of Mubarak is a thing of the past. This assumption deliberately omits Washington's continual complicity with and aid to the regime.

As the Feb. 8 L.A. Times front-page headline put it, "U.S. backs off call for swift Egypt reform." Calling Mubarak a proven "valuable asset in the region," Fitzpatrick's editorial declares that the U.S. administration "has been wise in its caution thus far," and has (through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Queen of "DeNile") restrained from issuing any verbal condemnation or financial severance from the Egyptian government.

Mubarak has not only been an "asset" to the U.S. foreign policy balance sheet, he has served as a proxy president who has followed Washington's whims and policies. For years continuing into the present, Egypt has been among the top four recipients of U.S. "aid," the bulk of which ($1 billion-plus per year) goes to Egypt's armed forces and other repressive agencies. Save for camels and horses, all supplies provided to the Egyptian personnel attacking the demonstrators – from tear gas to rifles and bullets – are made in the U.S.

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War (U.S. government and its "allies" against Iraq), other than the U.S. and the U.K., which led that war, Egypt supplied the greatest number of troops (35,000). During last year's brief war between Israel and the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip, Egypt sealed its border with Gaza so that people couldn't leave and supplies and food couldn't enter.

If, as many U.S. decision-makers, academics and commentators would prefer, Mubarak steps down and, after a "transitional period," is replaced by Omar Suleiman, his vice president (also the long-time chief of intelligence services whom Mubarak himself hand-picked and, arguably, the man now actually running Egypt), there will be little change except for a "new" face and fingerprints serving as president.

The headline of Jane Mayer's Jan. 31 New Yorker article summarized Suleiman succinctly: "CIA's Point Man in Egypt." Mayer euphemistically commented on Suleiman's association with the U.S. policy of kidnapping and torture of selected "enemies:" "Suleiman … work[ed] with the CIA in a controversial program known as ‘rendition' in which the U.S. spy agency secretly transferred captured terrorism suspects to Egypt for interrogation."

We own half the world – ‘oh, say can you see!' / And the name for our profits is ‘democracy' / so – like it or not! – you have got to be ‘free' / ‘cause we're the cops of the world.

Contrary to the cries of apologists for U.S. policy – whether professionals for U.S. policy on government, recipients of mass media payrolls or amateur commentators such as the Lamron columnist – one must demand, as part of the principle of national sovereignty, an immediate end to U.S. government meddling in the Middle East.

-Barry Schier, class of '73