Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 29, 2011

The anti-imperialist Egyptian army?

Filed under: Egypt,mechanical anti-imperialism — louisproyect @ 9:41 pm

Michel Chossudovsky on the protest movement in Egypt:

The slogans in Egypt are “Down with Mubarak, Down with the Regime”. No anti-American posters have been reported… The overriding and destructive influence of the USA in Egypt and throughout the Middle East remains unheralded.

The foreign powers which operate behind the scenes are shielded from the protest movement.

No significant political change will occur unless the issue of foreign interference is meaningfully addressed by the protest movement.

The cooptation of the leaders of major opposition parties and civil society organizations in anticipation of the collapse of an authoritarian puppet government is part of Washington’s design, applied in different regions of the World.

The process of cooptation is implemented and financed by US based foundations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and  Freedom House (FH). Both FH and the NED have links to the US Congress. the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the US business establishment. Both the NED and FH are known to have ties to the CIA.

* * * *

New York Times December 29, 2011

Egypt’s Forces Raid Offices of Nonprofits, 3 Backed by U.S.

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and

CAIRO — Egyptian security forces stormed 17 offices of nonprofit groups around the country on Thursday, including at least three democracy-promotion groups financed by the United States, as part of an investigation that the military rulers say will reveal foreign hands in the recent outbreak of protests.

In Cairo, heavily armed men wearing the black uniforms of the central security police tore through boxes, hauled away files and computers and prevented employees from leaving offices of two of the American groups, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which are affiliated with American political parties and financed by the United States government. The security forces also raided the offices of the Washington-based Freedom House.

The raids were a stark escalation in what has appeared to be a campaign by the country’s military rulers to rally support by playing to nationalist and anti-American sentiment here.

“General prosecutor & central security stormed N.D.I. office in Cairo & Assiut,” an employee of the National Democratic Institute wrote in a text message from inside its offices. “We are confined here as they’re searching and clearing out office.”

A man, who identified himself as an official with the public prosecutor’s office but declined to give his name, stood outside the offices of the International Republican Institute in the Dokki neighborhood. He refused to answer questions about the raids but said, “Don’t worry, we’re not going to arrest them.”

The raids come of the heels of an investigation by the Egyptian government into foreign financing for nonprofit organizations operating in the country. The military has suggested that such funding has played a role in fomenting protests with goal of bringing down the Egyptian government.

The raids also coincided with the acquittal of five police officers in the deaths of protesters during the revolution that ousted the country’s autocratic president, Hosni Mubarak. An Egyptian court found that the police officers had either not been at the scene or, in the case of two of the men, had fired in self-defense, state media reported, a ruling likely to further inflame opponents of the country’s military rulers.

Human rights advocates have urged the Egyptian government to drop its investigation into foreign funding of civil society, which prosecutors have described as treason. A September report by state security prosecutors identified what it said were more than two dozen unregistered groups receiving foreign funding and operating in Egypt. By the country’s law on associations, the violation is punishable with imprisonment.

The Republican and Democratic institutes have worked openly since 2005 and had been assisting with election monitoring during the country’s parliamentary vote.

In separate statements on Thursday, the two groups said they were troubled by the sudden raids on their offices. “Cracking down on organizations whose sole purpose is to support the democratic process during Egypt’s historic transition sends a disturbing signal,” the N.D.I. president Kenneth Wollack was quoted as saying.

The statement from the International Republican Institute was even more direct. “It is ironic that even during the Mubarak era I.R.I. was not subjected to such aggressive action,” the group said.

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Cairo and J. David Goodman from New York.

14 Comments »

  1. Unfortunately, Chossudovsky and the magazine that he edits, global research, takes an ultra-conspiratorial position on every social and political struggle. Every single uprising or demonstration against a recalcitrant developing country’s leader (especially a leader with anti-imperialist pretensions) is interpreted as the result of a western conspiracy. Hence he falls into a mechanical anti-imperialism and ends up whitewashing reactionary regimes, such as the Baathist government in Syria. I think that Chossudovsky has proposed that the Arab Spring is the result of a vast pro-American trickery, supported by pro-western NGOs, conservative thinktanks and western intelligence services, to oust purportedly ‘anti-imperialist’ leaders and install compliant clients. Well, pro-American stalwarts in the Middle East, such as Mubarak and Ben Ali (and to a lesser extent Qadhafi) have been overthrown and the solidly pro-American dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan are shaking because of the demonstrations and uprisings.

    The Syrian regime is a solid ally of Tehran, and the imperialist powers, in their move to provoke a confrontation with Iran, seek to destabilise the Damascus government and install a more pro-western set of proxies. Yes, the Syrians have supported Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon – thorns in the side of the US and Israeli states. The Syrians have also turned viciously on the Lebanese and Palestinians and killed thousands of their people in the past, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s during the Lebanese civil war, in order to promote pro-Baathist groups in the Lebanon and extend their influence.

    The imperialist countries always use internal turmoil to intervene and push their agenda. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey – all these regional powers seek to exploit the uprisings in Syria and move towards a pro-imperialist, rightist change of regime. However, the uprisings themselves were inspired by the revolutionary struggles of the Egyptians, Tunisians, Yemenis and other Arab peoples.

    So while it is true that imperialist powers always carry out their intrigues to engineer an outcome more favourable to their interests, portraying the Arab Spring as a product of a western conspiracy reeks of smugness and condescension. Chossudovsky fails to understand the genuine, indigenous causes of these uprisings – lack of democracy, mass poverty and unemployment, the obvious double standards of US foreign policy in supporting Israel and ignoring the Palestinians – these issues drove millions into the streets. The imperialist regime change strategy must not obscure the fact of massive social and economic inequalities in the Middle East, not to mention the shattering impact of the American invasion of Iraq and the ongoing colonisation of Palestine by Zionist settlement policy. The calculated immiseration implemented by the IMF, World bank and other imperialist financial institutions condemns millions to a life of degradation and unemployment – they have risen up bravely against despotic regimes. Let’s not dismiss them as the dupes of outside powers.

    Comment by Rupen Savoulian — December 30, 2011 @ 12:06 am

  2. We need a communist coup in Washington.

    I can dream can’t I?

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — December 30, 2011 @ 12:52 am

  3. There’s very little that I could disagree with in the Chossudovsky article that Louis quotes from, even if I disagree with the imaginary Chossudovsky that Louis and others have created. However, there is a sequence of seven words in Chossudovsky’s article that is extremely reactionary. I am referring to the parenthetical remark in the following sentence:

    “The protest movement should focus on the real seat of political authority; it should target (in a peaceful, orderly and nonviolent fashion) the US embassy, the delegation of the European Union, the national missions of the IMF and the World Bank.”

    Can anybody other than a devout pacifist say why those criminal agencies and agents should be targeted only in a peaceful and non-violent fashion?

    Comment by Aaron Aarons — December 30, 2011 @ 9:08 am

  4. The most important question at the moment is surely why isn’t the US-funded Egyptian Military being called to account by the Obama Regime as it guns down ordinary people struggling for democracy in the streets and Tahrir Square not some side show issue about US-backed democracy and Human Rights outfits. Point out the source of their funding and any duality in their positions by all means but surely these groups should be defended against this military crackdown?

    Chossudovsky sounds like some Stalinist apologist for the Egyptian feudal and capitalist class and it semi-colonial state. He probably supported Gadaffi against the Libyan Revolt.

    Comment by David Ellis — December 30, 2011 @ 11:28 am

  5. Can anybody other than a devout pacifist say why those criminal agencies and agents should be targeted only in a peaceful and non-violent fashion?

    I don’t know how this schmuck got through my asshole filter. Will investigate promptly.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 30, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  6. “The imperialist countries always use internal turmoil to intervene and push their agenda. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey – all these regional powers seek to exploit the uprisings in Syria and move towards a pro-imperialist, rightist change of regime. However, the uprisings themselves were inspired by the revolutionary struggles of the Egyptians, Tunisians, Yemenis and other Arab peoples.

    “So while it is true that imperialist powers always carry out their intrigues to engineer an outcome more favourable to their interests, portraying the Arab Spring as a product of a western conspiracy reeks of smugness and condescension.”

    Well put, Rupen! It should come as no surprise, and requires no connect the dots theorizing, to arrive at the conclusion that imperialism seeks to exploit every situation to its own advantage. We’ve seen in regard to the Arab Spring a whole spectrum of such interventions in all their subtlety. It does not follow that said intervention is instantly determinate of the political cast of the indigenous forces in a given country.

    I had said from the beginning that the “MRzine” style stance on Libya or now, Syria, was an implicit condemnation of the entire Arab Spring, 1950’s Hungary style. Had they had the real courage of their convictions, they’d follow out this logic to the end and come out publicly against the whole Arab movement as a wider happy hunting ground for advancing the imperialist position in that region, and therefore objectively “pro-imperialist”, if not counter-revolutionary. Now, what was an “understandable mistake” in the original Hungarian case would appear absurd in the Arab case: this region together with South Asia is the prime victim of imperialism, and any mass movement against ANY part of the status quo there – including Ghadaffi, Assad, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran – is objectively anti-imperialist even if they are hijacked for a time by consciously pro-imperialist political groupings. That risk is well worth self-determination by the Arab masses.

    Strategically, destabilizing the status quo in the Arab world – the most important region in the world for U.S. imperialism in particular – is far worth the “price” of the downfall of a few ex-anti-imperialist tin-pot dictators. They are worse than useless – they go in the “minus” column.

    Returning to the present Egyptian case, it is also worth noting that even this obvious long time agent of U.S. imperialism has to resort to attempts at smearing its opponents as “agents of the U.S. State Dept.”, just like Assad, Putin and the rest. That is an exquisite register of the real, objective tenor of the Arab mass movement – the widespread hatred of U.S. imperialism. However the apparent absurdity in the case of the Egyptian military dictatorship is explained by the fact that the officer caste is also the leading sector of the national bourgeoisie, by virtue of its ownership of large swathes of domestic Egyptian industry, as in “traditional” sectors such as textiles or food production. Given the neoliberal economic policies of imperialism, these sectors could be ripe for the plucking, should that caste prove to be a less than useful agent of imperialism, especially vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinians – other agents can be found. Add to that the potential for extracting rents from water “rights” – one could not imagine a more vulnerable country than Egypt, child forever bound to its mother, the mighty Nile river, source of life for the masses and the secret of social power in that country for millennia, since the very first Pharonic dynasty of the Old Kingdom. And don’t forget the economic importance of passage rights on the Suez Canal. How could not imperialism lick its chops over these? Why would imperialism hesitate to cannibalize “its own” together with that of its pseudo- “opponents”?

    So they may be some rhyme to the Egyptian military caste’s reason here.

    Oh well, there is always the “MRzine Tendency” ace in the hole: North Korea!

    Comment by Matt — December 30, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  7. Louis, I’m not sure I’m fully understanding the juxtaposition of the two articles you’ve posted. Are you implying that somehow Michel Chossudovsky’s post about the insidiousness of the NED is negated by the Egyptian military’s raid on its offices?

    Just at the level of very broad theory, I can’t accept this entirely (if this is in fact what you are meaning to imply)–precisely because the situation is so volatile and changing so quickly, and because there are objective contradictions within the empire that manifest themselves in contradictory events such as allies, or factions of allied institutions, turning on each other from day to day. In other words, I think what these two articles reveal is not necessarily a contradiction in thought or theory on the part of someone like Michel Chossudovsky (I really don’t know his work other than what you’ve posted here, though), but rather the *real* contradictions of empire.

    Comment by JC — December 31, 2011 @ 12:07 am

  8. Louis, I’m not sure I’m fully understanding the juxtaposition of the two articles you’ve posted. Are you implying that somehow Michel Chossudovsky’s post about the insidiousness of the NED is negated by the Egyptian military’s raid on its offices?

    This might explain it:

    V.I. Lenin:

    On May 9, 1916, there appeared, in Berner Tagwacht, the organ of the Zimmerwald group, including some of the Leftists, an article on the Irish rebellion entitled “Their Song is Over” and signed with the initials K.R. [Karl Radek]. It described the Irish rebellion as being nothing more nor less than a “putsch”, for, as the author argued, “the Irish question was an agrarian one”, the peasants had been pacified by reforms, and the nationalist movement remained only a “purely urban, petty-bourgeois movement, which, notwithstanding the sensation it caused, had not much social backing…”

    To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie without all its prejudices [italics in original], without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc.–to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and says, “We are for socialism”, and another, somewhere else and says, “We are for imperialism”, and that will be a social revolution! Only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view would vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a “putsch”.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 31, 2011 @ 12:24 am

  9. “So one army lines up in one place and says, ‘We are for socialism’, and another, somewhere else and says, ‘We are for imperialism’, and that will be a social revolution! Only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view would vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a ‘putsch’.”

    There is nothing to disagree with there.

    My question was really, having not read anything of Chossudovsky’s work other than what you’ve posted, how are we actually supposed to read the Egyptian military’s raid on the NED? I don’t see the NED as analogous to the Irish rebellion. It’s expressly an organ of the US empire.

    The point I was trying to make is that the incoherence of empire results in ambiguous and contradictory events. Are we really to defend the NED, even provisionally? Such a stance seems qualitatively different than defending an agrarian populist uprising. That’s my question.

    Comment by JC — December 31, 2011 @ 12:50 am

  10. JC wrote:

    “how are we actually supposed to read the Egyptian military’s raid on the NED?”

    Forgive my speculation, but I think the point of the juxtapositioning wasn’t so much trying to understand the raid on the NED as it was trying to point out the simplistic, dualistic, “black-hats-vs-white-hats” manner (which Chossudovsky seems to like) in which Chossudovsky’s portraying something much more complex and contradictory (which he doesn’t seem to accept).

    Revolutions happen as they will, not as how we’d like them to or imagine they should.

    Comment by Todd — December 31, 2011 @ 2:42 am

  11. The purpose of the military raids seems obvious – to frame liberal middle-class tendencies as foreign agitators. Washington is trying to continue a shaping role and has relationships with all parties in Egypt as it always does, including the military, MB and the liberal groups. The liberal groups may have more ties to the State Department, and the military with the Pentagon, etc, but that doesn’t particularly matter. The US really doesn’t care what happens as long as the Israel peace treaty is maintained and all the aforementioned groups are committed to doing that. MB got 36 % in the 2nd round elections and the Salafists got 29 %. Realistically, this not a country on the verge of a major social revolution. Similarly, despite the vigorous resistance of OWS, the majority of the U.S. population is not interested in any type of revolutionary movement. Wanting more for oneself, and being angry at one’s own condition, is a far step from understanding or appreciating the concept of solidarity.

    Comment by purple — December 31, 2011 @ 8:31 am

  12. Looks like the SCAF’s “anti imperialism” lasted a nano second as Field Marshal Tantawi has reportedly told US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that NGOs recently raided would be allowed to operate as before.

    Good analysis by Rupen, thanks Louis.

    Comment by Cort Greene — December 31, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  13. Deborah,

    Hi hope you are well. Seriously you are advocating the violent overthrow of the United States Government? Do you know anything at all about revolution? This imperialstic and opressive governmet will fall when the people get ready.

    So for you coup. How will you do it? What troops do you have to accomplish it? Who will take power? How much percentage of the country would support such an action?

    I suggest you take a long contemplative look at things. In a world where children are starving to death yet the governments spend obscene amounts of money on weapons. Where nature is being destroyed with no regard for future generations. Where the government has become bigger brother. Where the World Bank wishes to have once currency controlled by the bankers.

    A coup would never work in the United States presently and is in general a terrible policy. Communism really allocates all the power to the people. You wish on us another Stalin or a Pinochet.

    For the Love of God get with it Deborah.

    Love,

    John Kaniecki

    Comment by johnkaniecki — December 31, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  14. Hello,

    Hope all are well and blessings for a new year! COINTELPRO is illegal and when change comes those who belligerntly defy the law will be brought up on charges of treason!!

    Love,

    John

    Comment by johnkaniecki — January 1, 2012 @ 2:55 am


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