Following the example of India’s Gandhi and our own Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s strategy of peaceful and nonviolent protests, the Egyptians have shifted the balance of power in the region from the clutches of historical kings, modern-day dictators and self-appointed autocrats to the outreaching hands of a new democracy.
After almost three weeks of protests, President Hosni Mubarak finally resigned. Some demanded he leave Egypt. Saudi Arabia offered him exile status but cooler heads prevailed. He now is living in a villa in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, located on the Sinai Peninsula. There’s no report indicating he’s under house arrest, but you have to think he is. An Egyptian prosecutor already has ordered four members of Mubarak’s ruling party not to leave the country and their assets have been frozen.
Mubarak, rather than building the Egyptian economy, creating jobs or raising the standard of living for his own people with our foreign aid dollars, is accused of stealing $70 billion over the last 30 years. Now, the people want their money back.
The Egyptians’ road to freedom, democracy and self-rule might not be an easy one. Officially, the central government has been taken over in a military coup, placing all decisions pertaining to finance, internal affairs and foreign policy in the hands of a military commission and war machine, which could negatively affect relationships with surrounding countries.
The United States has sent the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah and military leaders in Israel. I wonder why?
It’s simple. For 30 years the United States has been paying the dictator Mubarak for keeping Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Now, in his absence, we don’t know who to bribe. But I’m sure Mullen will be pointed in the right direction by both Jordan and Israel.
President Obama supported the Egyptians’ demand for democracy. He handled the betrayal of his political ally, Mubarak, using typical U.S. diplomacy: calling for his resignation and exile.
The United States has a history of deserting its allies when they are no longer useful. Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega are two prime examples.
The U.S. once supported Iraq, providing weapons and aid during its conflict with Iran in the 1980s. In the 1990s Hussein’s status as a U.S. ally was shaken but his presence provided a buffer between the radicals in Iran and al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although he was a ruthless dictator, he used his power to preserve Iraq’s independence. He kept the terrorists out and protected the his country’s oil investments. When he continually refused to expand oil leasing agreements with the United States, instead of initiating diplomatic negotiations to resolve the issues, president G.W. Bush destroyed Hussein’s country, killed more Iraqis than Hussein did and hanged him until dead. Now that’s no way to treat a political ally.
Noriega was really blindsided by G.W. Bush’s father. Noriega helped the U.S. sabotage the Soviet Union-backed revolutions in Nicaragua and the Sandinistas in El Salvador. He was paid as much as $200,000 annually for working as an agent for our Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), providing information on the smuggling of illegal drugs originating in South America. We covertly set him up as a drug dealer to get insider information. He also was a source of communications between Cuba and the United States.
Ironically, George H.W. Bush was CIA director in 1976 and became “chummy” with Noriega. H.W. Bush was a two-term vice president from 1981 until 1989. Meanwhile, Noriega also rose to power as a corrupt military dictator beginning in 1983.
By agreement, we returned 60 percent control of the Panama Canal to Panama in 1979. Wanting Noriega out of Panama, the same DEA that was paying him as an informant indicted him for money laundering and drug trafficking. Rather than negotiate, we indicted and convicted him for what we paid him to do. His “friend” H.W. Bush invaded Panama just before he left office in 1989. Noriega has been in a federal prison ever since.
It’s expected to take a year for a new democracy to be formed in Egypt. Meanwhile, the United States will be searching for the next president it can control, bribe, corrupt, convert to a dictator and then betray.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. He can be reached at email@example.com. His website is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.