No to Imperialist Intervention in Libya

The drive toward war, which was given the green light by the UN Security Council on Thursday, has nothing to do with the humanitarian pretexts offered up by the major powers. Rather, it represents the violent imperialist subjugation of a former colony.

The bombing of Libya by French, British and American planes is not protecting human life, but is transforming the country into a battlefield with thousands of innocent victims. This is an imperialist war. Libya is an oppressed, former colonial country.

Moreover, this war takes place without any democratic legitimacy. There is not the slightest indication that it is supported by the populations of the countries involved. Once again, huge sums are being spent on a war even as the same governments declare there is no money for social programs.

Those who say a military attack on Gaddafi’s bases would bolster a democratic opposition movement against a bloody dictatorship must answer the following question: Why are the great powers not applying the same criteria in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the regimes they back employ brutal violence against any opposition?

And what of Bahrain, headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet, where Sheikh al Khalifa has shot down unarmed protesters with Saudi support? What about Gaza, where these same powers stand by as the Israelis massacre Palestinians? What about Yemen, where the Western-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday shot dead some 50 protesters?

Not a single government or newspaper that supports a military strike against Libya has taken the trouble to explain these glaring contradictions. However, the real target of the violent action against Libya is clear, if one considers the logic of recent events.

It is only two months since the Tunisian ruler, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was overthrown in a popular uprising. One month later, he was followed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. As a result, the Western powers have lost two of their key allies in the region.

As with Gaddafi himself, the US and Europe had collaborated closely with these dictators until the last minute. France, which is now shouting the loudest for military action against Libya, even offered Ben Ali police assistance when the uprising against him was in full swing.

Only a few weeks later, the great powers are preparing a military intervention in North Africa. Coincidence? Only someone who is politically blind can fail to see the relationship between these events.

The domestic opposition to Gaddafi, a brutal tyrant and a close ally of the Western powers, may initially have expressed real grievances of the Libyan people. But in the underdeveloped desert state of Libya, forces quickly materialized that were ready to do the dirty work of the great powers.

They were to be found in the figures making up the so-called National Transitional Council, who not only guaranteed international oil companies unhindered exploitation of the country’s mineral wealth, but also called for the bombing of their own country. The Transitional Council is composed of senior officials of the old regime who turned their backs on Gaddafi in response to the shift by the imperialist powers.

Military intervention in Libya, whose energy resources have made it the object of imperialist intrigues for decades, is being used both to secure access to oil and to contain the revolutionary movements in the region, which are increasingly directed against the interests of the imperialist powers and capitalist property.

A military presence in Libya, which is bordered by Egypt to the east and Tunisia to the west, would help the major powers to intimidate revolutionary movements throughout the Arab world.

Reference in the UN resolution about excluding the military occupation of the country by foreign troops is hogwash. Military necessity has its own logic. Officially, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq are “occupied” by American troops, but this does not change the fact that in both countries tens of thousands of American soldiers have taken up permanent residence.

It is significant that it was the Arab League that called for a no-fly zone over Libya, giving the US and its imperialist allies a cover of “regional support” for military intervention. The representatives of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other emirates, who are in the process of arresting, torturing and shooting opponents of their own regimes, have voted in favor of a military intervention for the supposed purpose of strengthening democracy in Libya!

The major powers are acting with extreme recklessness. Apart from the greed for oil and domination, they seem to have no thought-out strategy. President Sarkoz y, who received Gaddafi four years ago with great pomp in Paris to negotiate trade deals worth billions, recognized the National Transitional Council as the official representative of Libya without even consulting his own foreign minister, let alone his NATO allies.

No one seems to have considered the likely economic, geopolitical and security implications of a longer war in Libya, a country on the Mediterranean in the immediate vicinity of Europe. Those expressing warnings of the consequences of military action come mostly from conservative circles of the military, who, after Afghanistan and Iraq, have little desire for another military adventure.

Both President Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron also have their own domestic political reasons for intervening. A year before the next presidential elections, Sarkozy is falling in opinion polls and hopes to make up ground through an aggressive foreign policy.

Cameron faces growing opposition t o his austerity measures and–echoing his model Margaret Thatcher’s 1982 Malvinas war–hopes a war against Libya can divert attention. Since the British army has been weakened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is barely able to intervene independently, Cameron has worked hard to engage the US.

The imperialist adventure against Libya is reawakening old divisions in Europe. The European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is once again in tatters. Germany abstained in the vote on the UN Security Council, stressing it would not be party to any military intervention. It thus found itself in a bloc with Russia, China, India and Brazil against NATO allies France, Britain and the United States–a development with far-reaching implications.

These divisions result from the imperialist character of the war. It is significant that for the first time since the Second World War, Britain and France are jointly involved in a military conflict and have take n a position opposed by Germany. One should also recall that the last war between German and British armies included major battles in North Africa.

Germany does not in principle reject taking military action against Libya, and the German government has pushed for tough economic sanctions. However, it has to date based its influence in North Africa and the Middle East less on military than on economic factors, and fears losing out in any military adventure. “Germany fully supports the economic sanctions, because the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi is over and must be stopped,” said UN Ambassador Peter Wittig to justify Germany’s abstention. “But the use of the military is always extremely difficult and we see great risks.”

While there are disagreements within the European and American ruling class over a military offensive against Libya, among the “humanitarian” imperialists there is full and enthusiastic approval. This category also includes political tendencies tha t support military operations in the name of an abstract “humanity,” ignoring class issues and questions of history–such as the Greens, Social Democrats, the Left Party, etc.

Since the German Greens supported the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, they have become enthusiastic supporters of war and play an irreplaceable role in the imperialist war propaganda. The same applies to the preparation for a military intervention against Libya.

The Greens have attacked foreign minister Guido Westerwelle because he did not support the resolution in the UN Security Council. “We have a responsibility to defend human rights,” parliamentary faction leader Renate Kuenast said. The Social Democrats also attacked Westerwelle because he does not favor the war effort.

Green EU Parliament representative Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a major figure in the 1968 student movement, campaigned aggressively for the recognition of the Libyan National Transitional Council and the establish ment of a no-fly zone. The parliament finally adopted such a resolution on March 10 by an overwhelming majority.

In addition to the Greens, a variety of pseudo-left organizations in France have demanded recognition of the National Transitional Council. A resolution to this effect from the Committee of Solidarity with the Libyan People bears the signatures of the Communist Party, the Left Party and the New Anti-Capitalist Party. President Sarkozy is now fulfilling their demand and launching a military offensive.

From WSWS

Libya: Imperialist Powers Accelerating Plans for Military Intervention

The situation in Libya is threatening a major world oil price shock and a sharp downturn in the US economy. On Thursday, Obama underscored this concern when he addressed corporate executives assembled for the “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.”

Speaking of oil prices, he declared, “We actually think that we’ll be able to ride out the Libya situation and it will stabilise.” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sought to allay concerns by stressing the excess oil producing capacity of other OPEC member states.

A US military operation in Libya would have nothing to do with defending the population against Gaddafi’s violence or establishing “democracy” in the country. When the regime first unleashed a wave of carnage against opposition forces, Obama’s initial response was to say nothing, apparently waiting to see if Gaddafi’s forces would quickly regain control.

The dictator has enjoyed the warmest of relations with the US and European powers in recent years, having junked barriers previously erected against the operations of foreign oil companies in Libya and declared his full support for the so-called war on terror.

Western governments regarded with alarm the spread into Libya of the North African uprising of workers and youth. Obama was not alone in his prevarication as reports of Gaddafi government massacres first emerged. TheGuardian today reported that the British government’s delay in preparing to evacuate its citizens from the country was primarily due to commercial considerations.

Unnamed officials told the newspaper that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government of Prime Minister David Cameron had “hesitated because it was concerned about the Libyan response to a hurried decision to evacuate UK citizens from a country with which it was still keen to do lucrative business and in whose future it had invested heavily.”

Only now that Gaddafi has lost control of the majority of Libyan territory and proven unable to crush the opposition have the US and European governments moved against him. They fear the consequences for their economic and strategic interests of a power vacuum or protracted civil war in Libya.

It remains to be seen whether a military intervention eventuates, but there is ongoing discussion of an initial imposition of a “no-fly” zone. James Phillips, a Middle East expert at the Heritage Foundation, admitted to USA Todaythat this “would amount to military action,” adding it “should be used a last resort.”

The systematic US bombardment of Iraqi targets in the 1990s demonstrated the aggressive character of “no fly” zones. The establishment of one over Libya would almost certainly result in deadly air strikes.

The US and international media have thrown their weight behind the US and European governments’ humanitarian posturing, reviving the pretexts that were used as a cover for US-led interventions in the Balkans in the 1990s. On Thursday, the Financial Times recalled US President Ronald Reagan’s denunciation of Gaddafi in an editorial entitled “Time to Muzzle Libya’s Mad Dog.” The London-based publication demanded an immediate no-fly zone and the opening up of “humanitarian corridors” from Tunisia and Egypt.

The same theme was sounded by the New York Times in its editorial “Stopping Gaddafi.” Halting just short of openly demanding military intervention, the newspaper declared: “After Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda, the United States and its allies vowed that they would work harder to stop mass atrocities. One thing is not in doubt: The longer the world temporizes, the more people die.”

These statements are utterly cynical and hypocritical. Less than a decade after the New York Times played a central role in promoting the bogus “weapons of mass destruction” pretext for the US invasion of Iraq, it is propagandizing in support of another colonial intervention in yet another oil-rich country, Libya.

US Veto: Speaking With Forked-tongue

By Jim Miles

It is common within early U.S. history to describe the communications from the white settlers to the indigenous population as being done with a “forked tongue,” as described clearly by Wikipedia:

The phrase “speaks with a forked tongue” means to say one thing and mean another or, to be hypocritical, or act in a duplicitous manner. In the longstanding tradition of many Native American tribes, “speaking with a forked tongue” has meant lying, and a person was no longer considered worthy of trust, once he had been shown to “speak with a forked tongue”.

The U.S. tradition of speaking with a forked tongue is long and dishonourable, as the actions taken by the U.S. for its imperial and foreign policies are as indicated hypocritical, duplicitous, and untrue.

Today’s vote at the UN continued this manner of dialogue as Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN tries to explain why the U.S. vetoed the UN vote on settlements. Her arguments and reasoning, while rhetorically sounding firm, are at best duplicitous and at worst lying by evasion.

Rice begins saying, “The United States strongly opposed continued Israeli settlement activity so our objection was not on that point.” Okay, so why then over the history of the ongoing settlements has the U.S. not done anything within its power to prevent the settlements. Words are fine, but as the Palestinians have learned on one side of the fence and the Israelis have learned on both sides of the fence, words simply allow more settlements to be built, more Palestinian land to be expropriated.

If the U.S. actually wanted to do something, they could have held back many or all of the billions in dollars of aid that it forwards each year, and could have held back much or most or all of the military equipment and technology it has transferred over each year. Actions like those would speak much louder than words.

Rice continued, “The question for us was would this resolution and its adoption advance that goal of achieving an independent Palestinian state or cause one or both parties to dig in and make it even harder to resume the very necessary process of direct negotiation?” Well, yes, it would as it would signal that perhaps the U.S. is finally reading world opinion more correctly and is at minimum willing to change some of its rhetoric if not its actions.

Two problems remain. First, the Israelis are already dug in, literally, as they have built their settlements, have built their barriers, have built their bypass roads, have built their waterworks and gas lines. They are literally dug into the Palestinian territories, as the Palestinians are slowly being ethnically cleansed from their own land.

Secondly, the “process of direct negotiations” has always been and always will be a failure, as one side with no power of any kind cannot “negotiate” with a side that has all the power, and further has all the complicit and tacit support of the world’s largest and most powerful military and economic empire.

That is sheer and utter hypocrisy – pretending to be good, moral, and ethical, while stealing what one wants – as the U.S. did in its imperial drive against the indigenous peoples of North America and as they continue to do so alongside Israel within the Palestinian territories.

On the limitations of the UN Rice says, “The United Nations cannot create an independent state of Palestine. It won’t happen. It has to be negotiated between the two parties.” This is an interesting statement as it is part of the Israeli narrative of their creation that – apart from biblical claims and following on the Balfour Declaration – the UN “legitimized” Israel when it proposed the UN partition plan.

The UN also created a series of mandates in the Middle East that the world did not seem to have too much trouble with, mainly because they carved the region up for the sake of mainly the British and French imperial interests of the time. There is no reason, other than U.S. obstructionism, that the UN could not make a declaration that there is a state of Palestine in such and such an area.

Many countries of the world, more recently the South American countries, have given recognition to a Palestine using the ‘green line’ of the 1948 war as the border. The green line is an amazing concession of territory on the part of the Palestinians, giving up eighty per cent of their territory for peace and a small remnant of their former territory.

I have already discussed the uselessness of negotiations. In addition to my earlier comments, the recent exposure of the Palestine Papers by al-Jazeera should demonstrate that, yes, there were partners for peace, and even more, partners for capitulation. The Palestinian Authority does not have legitimate authority to negotiate a settlement on behalf of any of the Palestinian people other than its own cronies and quislings attempting to preserve their elite and relatively more powerful and wealthy positions while being subservient to the Israelis.

There is no legitimate authority at the moment to negotiate with – not because there are no “partners for peace” as the Israelis and U.S. have always claimed, but because the Palestinians have not been allowed to create a truly democratic and representative bargaining committee consisting of representatives of the common people of Palestine.

As for the UN declaration, Rice says, “We can have declaration after declaration but at the end of the day they don’t create facts recordon the ground.” Well, truthfully they do, Israeli facts on the ground, as the U.S. provides a smokescreen of useless rhetoric and the lie of neutrality.

Twice Rice phrases a time line during which the U.S. has been “clear” and “consistent” with its comments on the settlements. That much the world knows, and – pardon the constant reiteration (it is what the U.S. is also very good at) – is what allows the settlements to continue unabated.

She says, “The United States has for six administrations been very clear we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. There’s no question about that. We have been clear and unequivocal.” Later she adds, “This is not the view of the Obama administration, this is the view of the United States. We do not and have not for thirty years accepted the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity.”

This can only be read as that the duplicity, lies, and dishonesty are consistent traits of all U.S. administrations. And even though Obama campaigned on “hope” and “change”, and then made a sort of wonderfully conciliatory speech in Cairo (and the world knows what is happening their and elsewhere in the Arab world) he too has accepted as part of his worldview that speaking with a forked tongue works well in the world of U.S. diplomacy.

When questioned on the difference between “legitimacy” and “legality”, Rice came up with the latter statement above on the thirty years of forked tongue speaking. The reality of international law is that the settlements are illegal, under several sections of the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. Part of international law, developing from the Nuremberg trials, is that being passive in the face of internationally illegal activities makes a party complicit with the crime.

The U.S. is guilty of international crimes by supporting the Israeli crimes in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza both materially and politically, as well as supporting their illegal attacks on Lebanon.

The goal of the U.S. as stated by Rice is laughable, “The goal is to achieve a viable, independent, contiguous, and democratic Palestinian state.” Let’s work backwards on this one. When a democratic vote was taken in Palestine in 2006, Canada (being the first), the U.S., the U.K., the E.U., and other U.S. mercenary states disallowed the vote and took concrete actions, in the form of money transfers and training of the PA authorities militias in security measures that could be used against their own people.

The U.S. plays loose and fancy with democracy, and again recent events in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Yemen among others demonstrates the lie of the U.S. rhetoric on democracy (with U.S. puppet regime of Saudi Arabia remaining silent).

Next, a contiguous state is declared the goal. This in total denial of the hypocrisy, the double standards, the basic ignorant stupidity of all other statements about stopping settlement activity. There is no contiguous state, only a series of cantons or bantustans, or enclaves, perhaps prisons will do. This will not be undone through a series of false front negotiations that the Israelis will gladly continue for the next sixty years as they continue to claim Palestinian land.

Viability and independence are next. Another set of impossibilities for negotiations, and another full on ridiculous statement in light of the so called peace process and its total failure to do anything but create more Israeli inhabited territory.

The U.S. has continually used its forked tongue for its own benefit in any “negotiations” it has carried out. This originated from the first negotiated treaties with the indigenous people of North America – at least those that were not simply outlawed and made subject to massacres and murder without recourse to any law of any kind. It continues today with its UN rhetoric and with its rhetoric about its concerns for Palestine and Israel.

No matter how nice and kind and civilized its word, its actions are illegal under international law, and basically barbaric when it comes to human common sense. As the empire unravels, even with the violence that accompanies that, it will be better than the violence of the forked tongue empire.

Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

Top Down Takeover Of Egypt’s Revolution

The revolution in Egypt erupted like all revolutions do, from the bottom up. It was unemployment and high food prices that propelled working and poor people into action. Now, the media reports that the “opposition” in Egypt is a group of well-to-do folks who have very little in common with the poor of Egypt.

This top down takeover of the revolution is being engineered with the support of the U.S. and European nations, the same allies of the dictatorship that lasted three decades. If this elite group of Egyptians manages to gain power, they’ll soon find themselves confronted with the real opposition of Egypt, the overwhelming majority of working and poor people.

Who are these upper-crust oppositionists? Middle East journalist Robert Fisk explains:

“[the oppositionists] include Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League, … the Nobel prize-winner Ahmed Zuwail, an Egyptian-American who has advised President Barack Obama; Mohamed Selim Al-Awa, a professor and author of Islamic studies, … and the president of the Wafd party [a tiny political party], Said al-Badawi…Other nominees for the committee…are Nagib Suez, a prominent [super-wealthy] Cairo businessman… Nabil al-Arabi, an Egyptian UN delegate; and even the heart surgeon Magdi Yacoub, who now lives in Cairo.” (February 4, 2011).

What is the task of this committee? Al-Jazeera reports:

“The committee — which was formed last night… proposed that vice president Omar Suleiman [the head of the brutal secret police] preside over a transitional government, and that he pledge to dissolve parliament (whose lower house was elected just last year) and call early elections.” (February 4, 2011).

Are these oppositionists so naive to believe that a “pledge” from a snake like Suleiman is worth anything? Is this a man that any respectable person should be negotiating with?

And herein lies the problem. There can be no smooth “peaceful transition,” as Obama and other politicians would like to see, unless nothing in Egypt changes. This is because the ruling political power in the country, the National Democratic Party (NDP), has extremely deep ties to the rich and powerful in Egypt, backed up by both senior military officials and the U.S. government foreign aid program, which enriches various sections of the NDP. The New York Times explains:

“Since the revolt, the military has surged to the forefront, emerging as the pivotal player in politics it long sought to manage behind the scenes. The beneficiary of nearly $40 billion in American aid during Mr. Mubarak’s rule, its interests span the gamut of economic life — from the military industry to businesses like road and housing construction, consumer goods and resort management. Even leading opposition leaders, like Mohamed ElBaradei, have acknowledged that the military will have a key role in a transition.”

To summarize, U.S. aid to Egypt has been the lifeblood of the dictatorship and the ruling party associated with it, while leading opposition figures have no interests in confronting these powerful interests, only removing their current figurehead. The opposition group that plans to negotiate with the NDP must know that any agreed to middle ground will be unacceptable to the majority of Egyptians, since the NDP will work to maintain their own privileges and wealth.

If the ruling party stays intact, then so will the ruling security apparatus, which will eventually steer the wheel of history backwards again. The party of the dictatorship must be crushed and dismembered, so that real democracy can have room to grow. The official “opposition” has no interest in doing this, because they have no interest in real change.

What would real change look like? It would require a drastic departure from the free-market policies that have been implemented for years, including privatizations of state run industries, lowering taxes for the rich and corporations, eliminating regulations, subsidies, and tariffs, etc. These policies were required by the IMF and World Bank, U.S.-led institutions that created in Egypt what exists in the U.S. — an incredible gap between rich and poor.

None of Egypt’s “respectable” opposition are mentioning these policies, because many benefit from them.

If an anti-Mubarak, pro-free-market opposition gains power, they will collide immediately with the majority of working and poor Egyptians, who want a change in the above policies that brought about their misery.

The only opposition group that is expressing the economic demands of the people seems to be the newly-formed Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions, which broke away from the government dominated unions to demand that a “… a minimum wage no less than 1200 LE, with a yearly raise proportionate to inflation; guarantee workers rights to bonuses and benefits according to work value, especially work compensation for those facing work hazards.”

and:

“The right for all Egyptian citizens to fair social security including the right to health care, housing, education ‘ensuring free education and syllabus development to cope with science and technology evolution,’ the right for all retired to decent pensions and benefits.”

It is demands like these that will decide Egypt’s future the day after Mubarak is gone. This will require a complete transformation of Egypt’s political system, including its economic policies that are intimately connected to the billions of U.S. foreign aid. It will also require that Egypt’s poor and working class develop a clear vision of what they want in order to avoid being led astray by enemies acting as friends.

By Shamus Cooke/www.workerscompass.org

Egypt: Obama Groping In The Dark

The events of the past week in Egypt took the Obama administration by surprise. It did not foresee the mass revolt against Washington’s longtime asset, Hosni Mubarak. Even as tens of thousands of workers and youth were defying police violence last Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was vouching for the stability of the regime.

The United States is heavily invested—politically, economically and militarily—in the Mubarak regime. Its reluctance to dispense summarily with the dictator is not an expression of sentimentality. Rather, the United States fears that the too rapid ditching of Mubarak will undermine the confidence of other dictators on the CIA payroll in the reliability of Washington.

However, in the final analysis, Mubarak’s fate is a secondary matter. Of incomparably greater concern to Washington is the survival of the Egyptian military and security services upon which capitalist rule depends.

At the moment, the Obama administration is concerned that an attempt to use the army to crack down on the protests could lead to the military’s collapse. It is not certain that the troops can be relied on to shoot down citizens on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and other cities, which might be the only way to save Mubarak.

US policymakers are haunted by the precedent of the Iranian revolution of 1979. Washington had not prepared a political alternative to the Shah, and the Iranian military cracked beneath the pressure of the revolution. The result was the loss of a critical client state in the Persian Gulf.

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.

One candidate for the job is Mohamed ElBaradei, who is being promoted by the US media. A trusted representative of the Egyptian bourgeoisie, ElBaradei flew to Egypt from his home in Vienna last week for the explicit purpose of heading off a revolutionary overthrow and rescuing the bourgeois regime.

The Muslim Brotherhood, for its part, has agreed to back ElBaradei as it makes its own bid for patronage from Washington.

In a series of television interviews on Sunday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clearly indicated the basic outlines of the counterrevolutionary strategy being developed by the White House. She avoided calling for Mubarak’s resignation while refusing to commit to his continued rule.

In line with the Obama administration’s cynical calls for democratic reform in Egypt, Clinton made the ludicrous statement: “We continue to urge the Egyptian government, as the United States has for 30 years, to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people and begin to take concrete steps to implement democratic and economic reform.” [Emphasis added].

Of what has this 30-year crusade for democratic reform in Egypt consisted? Plying Mubarak with $35 billion in aid, overwhelmingly military, and lauding him as a staunch ally in the wars against Iraq, the defense of Israel and the “war on terror.” Not only has the US colluded in the regime’s murder and torture of political opponents, it has used Mubarak’s intelligence agencies and police as torturers-for-hire in Washington’s policy of kidnapping and “rendering” alleged terrorists.

Clinton added, “And we have to make the distinction, as they [the Egyptian army] are attempting to do, between peaceful protesters whose aspirations need to be addressed, and then those who take advantage of such a situation for looting and other criminal activity.”

Here Clinton is already distinguishing between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” forms of protest—the former being those that do not challenge US interests and the latter being those that do. She is laying down the political and pseudo-moral framework for justifying future mass repression.

Washington is aware that whatever government it sponsors will not end the political crisis in Egypt. It is impossible for any capitalist regime to meet a single one of the social or political demands of the masses—for jobs, an end to poverty in the cities and countryside, and the abolition of the brutally repressive police agencies.

Nor will a bourgeois regime end Egypt’s alliance with Israel, which has been an essential component of the country’s strategic role in the Middle East since the trip of President Anwar Sadat, Mubarak’s predecessor, to Jerusalem in 1977. The venal Egyptian bourgeoisie is too complete an appendage of American imperialism to carry out such policies.

The Obama administration’s strategy, therefore, is to prepare the military, behind the façade of a phony “reform” administration, for a future brutal crackdown on the working class. One can be certain that behind the scenes, the Pentagon is conducting a detailed inventory of every regiment, brigade and branch of the Egyptian military to determine which forces can be relied upon.

The burning issue confronting the revolution is political leadership. The American ruling class is well aware of this fact. In an interview published Saturday, Jon B. Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said, “As in Tunisia, the protests appear to represent a largely leaderless movement with no clear agenda and no way to seize power.”

It is this political vacuum that American imperialism and its clients in the Egyptian ruling class seek to exploit.

From WSWS

US Chickens Come Home to Roost in Egypt

Mass demonstrations of workers and youth throughout Egypt shook the regime of US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak on Friday. Hundreds of thousands poured into the streets to demand the president’s resignation, denouncing mass unemployment and poverty, clashing with police, and burning down the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.

The protests came just two weeks after demonstrations forced another US-backed dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, to flee. Significant demonstrations have spread to other countries in the region, including Yemen, Jordan and Algeria.

Like all revolutionary upheavals, the developments in Egypt are serving to clear away hoary myths and lies, including the American ruling elite’s pretensions of support for democracy around the world. These events are exposing the role of the US government as the lynchpin of reaction throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

From the beginning of the unrest, the Obama administration has made clear its support for Mubarak and the Egyptian regime, a critical US ally.

President Obama devoted his remarks Friday evening to defending Mubarak in the face of the mass popular revolt. On a day in which Mubarak’s police killed at least a dozen people, injured hundreds more and arrested an untold number of demonstrators, Obama cynically proclaimed that the US was “calling upon Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.”

Obama spoke as if he were an innocent observer. But the truncheons, guns, tear gas canisters, water cannons and tanks used by the Egyptian government to suppress the people all bear the stamp, in some cases literally, “Made in the USA.” The US provides Egypt with $1.5 billion a year to finance its apparatus of repression, making it the second largest beneficiary of US aid after Israel.

Obama lectured Mubarak about respecting human rights on the very day that WikiLeaks posted US State Department cables showing that his administration was aware of and complicit in Mubarak’s use of torture and assassination against his political opponents.

Obama reiterated the position expressed by other US officials that “those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully,” as if there could be any comparison between the state violence meted out by Mubarak and the attempts by workers and youth to defend themselves.

The main aim of Obama’s remarks was to make clear the administration’s continued backing for Mubarak. Obama spoke shortly after the Egyptian president appeared on television to declare that he would not step down and warn that he would enforce “security” against “chaos.” Mubarak’s announcement that a new cabinet would be formed and his empty promises to make democratic reforms and expand economic opportunity only increased the popular outrage, spurring more people to pour out into the streets in defiance of the military-imposed curfew.

The real attitude of the US to the events in Egypt was revealed in Obama’s statement: “The United States has a close partnership with Egypt, and we have cooperated with each other on many issues.”

In other words, the United States views the Egyptian government, despised by its population, as a key strategic ally. These remarks echo those of Vice President Joseph Biden, who said on Thursday, as Mubarak moved to shut off the Internet and deploy special operations forces, that the president “has been very responsible… relative to (US) geopolitical interests in the region.”

By “geopolitical interests,” the administration means the determination of the United States to maintain its hegemony over the Middle East and North Africa, including the region’s vast oil and gas reserves. With military aid and training, the US has propped up corrupt and dictatorial regimes from Egypt to the sheikhdoms in Saudi Arabia and other oil producing Gulf States.

Through covert and overt military operations, the US has worked systematically to undermine any government that posed a potential challenge to its interests. Over the past ten years alone the United States has launched bloody colonialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Egypt has played a critical role in the maintaining US domination, particularly since Anwar Sadat, Mubarak’s predecessor, signed the Camp David accords with Israel in 1978. In 1979, the US lost a key ally with the downfall of the Shah in Iran. Since that time, the Egyptian military and intelligence apparatus has worked closely with both the US and Israel in the suppression of the masses throughout the region.

The entire approach of the American government to the events in Egypt is guided by its immense fear that the resurgence of the class struggle in the region will deal a major blow to its geo-strategic interests.

While the administration may be considering whether it can do without Mubarak, replacing him directly by the military or by one or another of the “opposition” figures, it also knows that the fall of Mubarak, coming after the flight of Tunisia’s Ben Ali, threatens to unleash a wave of popular revolt that could sweep through the entire region.

Workers in the Middle East and the Maghreb have demonstrated immense courage and heroism. The struggle, however, is still in its initial stages. The critical question facing the working class is the development of a new revolutionary leadership and program. Absent this, the ruling elite of the region, in alliance with US imperialism, will regroup either to maintain the existing tyrants or impose new governments equally committed to the defense of the existing political order.

From WSWS

Tunisia: “The First WikiLeaks Revolution”

American foreign policy specialists have described the events in Tunisia over the past week as the “first WikiLeaks revolution.” This amounts to a grudging tribute from Washington to the impact of the courageous work of Julian Assange and his co-thinkers, who have made public thousands of documents that reveal the predations and crimes of American imperialism and the venality of its client regimes throughout the world.

WikiLeaks has made public ten cables from the US Embassy in Tunis, all signed by US Ambassador Robert Godec. Their content rebuts the lie, regularly circulated by the US government and the American media, that the documents released by WikiLeaks are inconsequential and reveal “nothing new,” or even put US diplomacy in a favorable light. Far from it: the cables contain significant exposures of the corruption of the Tunisian regime and the US “nod and a wink” approach towards torture in the country’s prisons.

They expose the fraud of Washington’s pretense of support for democracy and human rights around the world.

Seven of the cables make evaluations of the regime, commenting on the health of President Zine El Abadine Ben Ali, the corruption of his family, particularly his in-laws, the Trabelsis, and US options for shaping a post-Ben Ali Tunisia. Some highlights include:

June 23, 2008: The now-notorious dispatch headlined “Corruption in Tunisia: What’s Yours Is Mine.” It gives details of the doings, particularly of the Trabelsis—including at least ten known siblings of the first lady and their children—as well as seven siblings of Ben Ali and the president’s children through his first wife. Nearly every significant business in Tunisia involves a member of this extended family, the dispatch reports, adding, “Whether it’s cash, services, land, property, or yes, even your yacht, President Ben Ali’s family is rumored to covet it and reportedly gets what it wants.”

The yacht was owned by the head of the Paris office of the investment bank Lazard Frères and was seized by two Trabelsis and repainted. One of the two, Imed Trabelsi, a nephew of Ben Ali, was stabbed to death at the airport in Tunis over the weekend as he attempted to flee the country, when a crowd of anti-regime demonstrators recognized him as a member of the hated “first family.”

July 17, 2009: A dispatch headlined “A Troubled Tunisia: What Should We Do?” describes the regime as “sclerotic” and with no clear successor to Ben Ali. “Many Tunisians are frustrated by the lack of political freedom and angered by First Family corruption, high unemployment and regional inequities,” the US ambassador reports. With 2009 an election year, “Ben Ali is certain to be reelected by a wide margin in a process that will be neither free nor fair.”

July 27, 2009: The cable gives an account of the private dinner for Ambassador Godec and his wife at the home of Mohammed Saker El Materi, Ben Ali’s son-in-law, and his wife Nesrine, the president’s daughter. Godec describes the luxurious conditions in which the family lives, including fountains (in a desert country) and a caged tiger. He calls El Materi “demanding, vain and difficult,” his wife “naïve and clueless,” concluding: “The opulence with which El Materi and Nesrine live and their behavior make clear why they and other members of Ben Ali’s family are disliked and even hated by some Tunisians.”

The American media has reported the corruption cables, but has kept silent on three other cables released by WikiLeaks which document the direct collaboration of the US government, under both Bush and Obama, with torture in Tunisian prisons.

March 3, 2008: The cable reports the results of a three-day visit to Tunis by assistant secretary of state David Welch for talks with Ben Ali on terrorism and other regional issues. Ben Ali promised “to cooperate with the United States without inhibitions.” This language has grisly implications, given the widespread use of torture by both Tunisian and American interrogators.

June 18, 2009: The dispatch gives an account of a discussion by the ambassador with an official of the International Committee of the Red Cross who, while bound by a confidentiality agreement after visiting Tunisian prisons, said he “would not like to be in the ambassador’s place” when it came to making a recommendation on the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to Tunisian custody.

June 23, 2009: A cable five days later reports that the government of Tunisia is pressuring European countries not to take Tunisian detainees from Guantanamo—in order to insure they are delivered to Tunisian custody—and cites comments by the British and Canadian ambassadors that Tunisia routinely tortures prisoners.

The content of the cables demonstrates why the US government was so furious about the leaks and why it is seeking to prosecute Assange and halt WikiLeaks’ exposures. The revelations have had a definite political impact in undermining the Ben Ali regime and contributing to the mass demonstrations that ousted the dictator.

Far from the exposure of US diplomatic secrets representing no real threat to US imperialist interests, the events in Tunisia show that it can, under conditions of mounting social and political crisis and explosive class tensions in every part of the world, seriously damage Washington’s geo-strategic position.

The Internet played a major role not only in creating the political climate, but also in the organization and mobilization of the mass movement in Tunisia. Thousands of home-made videos of police repression and popular resistance have been posted on the web. The Tunisian people have used Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites to organize and direct the mobilizations against the regime.

It can be certain that the US government will react to the role of the Internet in the events in Tunisia by stepping up its efforts to censor and control the web’s political content.

This underscores the necessity for all those who defend democratic rights and oppose the crimes of imperialism to come to the defense of Assange and WikiLeaks.

Thank you Patrick Martin/WSWS