Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mubarak's Billions...Yet we keep supporting these despots?

Someone was arguing with me the other day about how we need to keep Mubarak in power because he is our friend. I think that when the populace of a nation rises up against its leader, heads usually roll; and in this case, justifiably so. Elections should be held in Egypt as planned and should be monitored, but even in our country, those who shout loudest often get their way as the silent majority stays silent.

When our helping a foreign country involves providing them with money, weapons, and tourism and the result is that a small percentage of those in power reap the benefit while the majority of the population suffers from physical and financial deprivation, it is only reasonable to assume that majority will see the U.S. as the same type of oppressor as their own government. We have been guilty of this behavior time and again; Egypt is not the first non-democratic government we have supported in this fashion, only to have things blow up in our face. We have repeatedly made greedy, evil despots rich and powerful when they have agreed to represent our interests in their regions.

This has been borne out once again with the disclosure of Mubarak’s billions. He has amassed a huge fortune with our help, whether witting or unwitting, while the populace of his country became progressively more impoverished and desperate. The people are not stupid. They are acutely aware of their conditions while they watch a small group of government leaders live lavishly, buy extravagant homes, and travel in luxury with impunity. Because we backed Mubarak’s regime, we will have little or no influence in ensuring that a “friendly” government takes over that country. I have to admit, if I was Egyptian, I wouldn’t trust the U.S. any farther than I could toss Mubarak.

Someone said to me, “Only the angry people are demonstrating there. Millions more are sitting at home quietly supporting us.” I wonder at the stupidity of that statement. Complacency is common until people are personally affected by events. Unfortunately, they then follow whoever shouts the loudest or makes the boldest promises, and they do it without verifying the facts, doing any research, or questioning the integrity or experience of the person or persons they decide to back. We are easy to blame because in many instances they are correct about the results of our questionable involvement. We cannot control the corruption in other governments, so when we try to help, the people in those countries see us as corrupt government supporters. The Egyptian people will need someone to blame, so don’t be surprised when they follow anyone shouting "down with America." The complacent, silent majority tends to follow blindly, and history is filled with the disasters that resulted when populations did just that. Remember Hitler? If you don’t, go read your history books.

As hard as it may seem, whether here, or in Egypt, or in any other country, we need to remove ourselves from the rhetoric, put aside our anger and our disagreements, and work together toward solutions that will return us to peace and sanity. I know this is not always possible. If we, as a country, are attacked, we need to respond in kind. But until that happens again, we need to be the voice of reason and re-assess our position in the global reality we are confronted with as a nation. The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Since the strategies of the past are not achieving the results we want, we need to rethink our foreign policies until we find ones that work. And we need to rethink those policies with NO influence from special interest groups.