Overnight, the death toll among Egypt’s masses protesting for the overthrow of US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak has risen to over 150 and thousands injured. With telecommunication services blacked out by the authorities (and willingly obliged by the telecoms corporations), it is hard to verify the exact casualty figures. But it is undeniable that a massacre is occurring. And it is a massacre made in the US.
The US public needs to be very clear about this. The armed forces of the Mubarak regime are now killing and maiming civilians with weapons that are made in the US and supplied by the US at the rate of $1.5 billion a year – for the last 30 years.
Mubarak’s regime could not carry out its violent repression without the material and political support of Washington. For 30 years, the Mubarak regime could not have impoverished its mass of people, subjected them to terror, illegal incarceration, torture and killing without the material and political support of Washington (and other Western governments).
Now bitter irony heaped upon bitter irony, the Israeli regime is reported to be sending weapons to its partner-in-crimes against humanity in Cairo to put down the popular uprising. Israel, which receives $4-5 billion a year from Washington to crush Palestinian Arabs, is sending its surplus of US-made and US-supplied weapons to crush Egyptian Arabs.
The bottom line is that US weapons, whether sent directly or indirectly, are being used to massacre civilians who are simply demanding democracy, economic justice and human rights.
With millions of citizens taking to the streets in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria – and reports of similar unrest in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere across the Middle East and North Africa, it can be fairly said that a revolution in popular awakening is underway. And it is clear that these people are demanding an overthrow of decades-long regimes that have denied them, often brutally, democracy. Simple as that.
It is also crystal clear on which side of the struggle that the US government and its Western allies stand. Despite mealy-mouthed and disingenuous ‘support’ being voiced from Western capitals for the demands of the people, these same capitals are steadfastly on the side of the corrupt status quo. Think about that. The US and other Western governments are against democracy. They are for fascistic dictatorship, massive immiseration, countless other crimes against humanity and other ‘evils’ that go with that, such as extremism that so haunts the West.
In many and very real ways, as Andrew Gavin Marshall (1) and others have pointed out, what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa is the beginning of a global awakening.
Right now, the streets of Cairo, Tunis and elsewhere look like battlefields. But the biggest battlefield yet to come will be in the US. And quite fittingly so. As the executive power upholding the capitalist order that has for decades spawned wars, violence, injustice, corruption and fascism around the world to achieve its undemocratic ends, the US is the primary site of struggle for democracy, not just in the US, but also for the rest of the world.
In past decades, the battle lines were obscured by lack of communications and propaganda diversions (the ‘evil Soviet empire, Vietnam, Latin American subversion, war on drugs, and, latterly, this phony war on terror, etc). But with mounting and unrelenting poverty across the US (and Europe), and global communications, the battle lines are now becoming apparent. The real enemy is the US/Western diktat of capitalism – the economic system that enriches the few and impoverishes the majority because it is all about private profit, and increasingly elite private profit.
The people of the US and Europe are not mere observers to some kind of removed spectacle. They are intimately involved in this struggle. It is their governments that have already taken sides in this struggle. It is their governments that have sparked the revolution by creating these regimes in the first place.
It is their governments that form and inform the policies of these regimes. Because they are the very same policies of anti-democracy that are also being forced – and all too painfully being forced – on the people of the US and Europe: autocratic political monopoly under two- or three-party systems of servility, economic injustice, elite embezzlement, financial oligarchy, erosion of human rights, police state powers. It’s a sliding scale of fascism that has as its epicentre Western capitals, and in particular Washington. The struggle for democracy is not just being fought for in the streets of the Middle East and North Africa. The struggle is on every US and European street too – albeit latent and partially obscured for now. In this struggle, we are no longer Americans, European, Africans or Asians – the elites long ago gave up their pretense of patriotism in their quest for profits. We are people of the world who demand democracy – real, sustainable democracy that can not be delivered by Global capitalism.
The world is witnessing a world revolution. Its origins, of course, go back a long time to the tyrannies of Europe. But its latest phase began in the US. There, it will have to be finished. It is a vital task. Onerous yet potentially glorious for the sake of democracy, justice and peace in the world.
Finian Cunningham is a journalist and musician: [email protected], www.myspace.com/finiancunninghammusic