The ugly American: ‘This is an American grenade. American! American!’

on 21 Comments

The Obama administration has not taken a strong and unequivocal stand against Hosni Mubarak’s regime yet, and has instead opted for calling for an “orderly transition” to a new government. The latest news on the administration’s reactions to the Egyptian uprising is that the U.S. ambassador to Egypt “spoke today with Mohammed El-Baradei.”

Regardless of the administration’s outreach to a major opposition figure, though, it’s hard to be viewed as a neutral player when the U.S. has not cut off the more than $1 billion in military aid annually to the repressive dictatorship. This fact has not been lost on the Egyptian demonstrators, who have had to deal with the violence meted out by Egypt’s security forces using U.S.-made weapons.

يوم الغضب- ٢٨ يناير ٢٠١١ Days of Anger- Arabic version from tabulagaza on Vimeo.

This amazing video (above), produced by Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly for the Electronic Intifada, provides a taste of how ordinary Egyptians view the United States government. At about 2:30 in the video, a young Egyptian man cries out to the camera (thanks to Lubna Alzaroo for the Arabic translation): “This is an American grenade. American! American! Hosni Mubarak is a spy, he is a collaborator and we don’t want him. We’ve had enough, we are suffocating, the nation is hungry, we’ve had enough.”

Until the U.S. halts its military support to Egypt, Israel and all of the other authoritarian states in the Middle East, the “American grenade” being used to harm pro-democracy demonstrators will be the ugly U.S. face in the region.

Alex Kane blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia at, where this post originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

21 Responses

  1. yourstruly
    February 1, 2011, 1:33 pm

    when opposition leaders meet with agents of the emperial power

    let the public in

    otherwise beware

    empire’s dirty hands

  2. DICKERSON3870
    February 1, 2011, 1:42 pm

    RE – “The ugly American: ‘This is an American grenade. American! American!’” – Alex Kane
    FROM MONDOWEISS, 01/28/11:

    …Adalah-NY recently posted on American-made tear gas made by Combined Tactical Systems (CTS), a part of Combined Systems Inc., being shot at protesters across the West Bank. Now this theme is at last being echoed in the mainstream press, about Egypt and the same US tear gas company.
    From the Telegraph:
    A stark contrast, however, to the US’s calls for calm has come from protesters angry at the fact that the tear gas canisters being fired at them by security forces seem to be made in America – via AFP: “Egyptians staging anti-government protests on Friday vented anger at the fact that the tear gas security forces are firing at them is US-manufactured, probably part of a massive military aid package. “‘The American taxpayer should know how their money is being spent,’ shouted one young male protester who declined to give his name, brandishing a spent tear gas canister marked ‘Made in USA.’
    “Dozens of the canisters made by Combined Tactical Systems in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, were fired at crowds on one Cairo street on Friday, littering the road surface along with rubble and spent shotgun cartridges. “Many protesters have been injured through tear gas inhalation and by being hit by the canisters themselves, with the security forces sometimes firing them straight at demonstrators.”


    P.S. FROM FIREDOGLAKE: Please sign our petition to Congress to immediately vote to cut off any American military aid to the Egyptian government. - link to

    • Psychopathic god
      February 1, 2011, 2:08 pm

      does the firedoglake petition also demand cutoff of support to Israel?

      If not, no deal, no signeee.

  3. yourstruly
    February 1, 2011, 2:06 pm

    same thing in w. beirut during the ’82 u.s. backed Israeli invasion of lebanon

    openly displayed on a city street

    unexploded ordinace dropped by u.s. made israeli warplanes

    phosphorus bomb included

    stamped on each


    the world’s foremost purveyor of death and destruction

    still proud to be an american?

  4. Susan Johnson
    February 1, 2011, 2:38 pm

    It is encouraging to see that “made in the USA” on weapons is finally being exposed and exciting to hear it being met with outrage and the anger…….. even by Americans.

    Those ugly american made weapons have been used by Israel for years and years. In 2004 Israeli soldiers shot tear gas into the midst of our peaceful demonstration. That was a shock, we’d been totally peaceful…….more shocking was finding “made in USA” stamped with pride on the teat gas canisters fired at us.

    Thanks to the Egyptians for bringing it to the attention of the TV cameras covering their brave revolution….now the fact has waltzed its way into American homes. Lets hope the people were watching and got the picture.
    It’s not a pretty one!

    Thanks you mondoweiss for the wonderful coverage of Egypt’s revolution; it’s been outstanding!

  5. radii
    February 1, 2011, 2:52 pm

    Mondoweiss doesn’t allow image uploads, but I think a picture is worth a 1000 words, and the sentiment of the angry Egyptians toward US weapons being supplied to their tyrant are valid, indeed – in satirical imagery, here’s my take on it: israel’s effect on Uncle Sam

    • seafoid
      February 1, 2011, 4:28 pm

      At what point does Israel become a liability to the US ?

      link to

      Back in the 50s all of this stuff was secret. Now any Arab or Muslim can read it.

  6. Lydda Four Eight
    February 1, 2011, 3:02 pm

    I’ve been following Philip’s work/ blog/ film/ videos for years. Know him from Cairo and Gaza. He does good work.

    ******now for some breaking news just read on FB from Hamza B.********
    Mubarak is moving to DC. He is joining the Georgetown University department in International Relations. He will be leading a first-of-its-kind class: Advanced Dictatorship, How to Last 30 years. Ben Ali will be a guest speaker about the first 2 decades.

    • crone
      February 1, 2011, 3:23 pm

      made me laugh… thanks Lydda… I need all humor I can get these days!

    • seafoid
      February 1, 2011, 4:29 pm

      I thought Hosni was going to become a senior VP at Goldman.

    • Jim Haygood
      February 1, 2011, 5:06 pm

      I heard they offered him Tony Blair’s slot on the Quartet. Respect!

      • Frances
        February 2, 2011, 11:52 am

        You’re all dead wrong. He’s heading for a glittering career as a greased-up Chippendale dancer at the Fox News parties.

  7. hophmi
    February 1, 2011, 4:32 pm

    Israel isn’t an authoritarian state, and casting Israel as killing Uncle Sam is stupid and disgusting, but nice try.

    • sherbrsi
      February 2, 2011, 4:36 am

      Israel isn’t an authoritarian state

      If you black out its history of any state or Zionist interaction with Palestinians and Arabs, then yes, it isn’t.

      • Shmuel
        February 2, 2011, 5:01 am

        Israel isn’t an authoritarian state

        See Amira Hass in today’s Haaretz: link to
        (The headline in the Hebrew edition is: “The Order Will Be to Shoot”)

        She writes that were the Palestinians to try anything similar (“Even if it is a march of 200,000 unarmed civilians”), the Israeli army – unlike the Egyptian army – would simply shoot.

  8. joer
    February 1, 2011, 5:10 pm

    What Obama should do is have a plane come and get Mubarak out of the country. Just tell the Egyptian military to get him to the airport. For God’s sake, don’t bring him here to America. That’s where we went wrong with the Shah. Maybe they can ship him off to Micronesia-they’re pretty co-operative with our Mideast policy-and it will be at least a few years before the island nation is submerged. And if that isn’t an option, Saint Helena has been without an emperor since Napoleon died.

    • annie
      February 1, 2011, 5:22 pm

      he has good friends in israel, mubarak should go live in tel aviv.

  9. RoHa
    February 1, 2011, 8:17 pm

    Not everything is made in China.
    There are still American products being exported.

    • Lydda Four Eight
      February 1, 2011, 8:41 pm

      the industrial military complex has not been outsourced.

      well except for Xe (formerly Blackwater) but those mercenaries are mostly American workers, no?

  10. thankgodimatheist
    February 2, 2011, 12:26 am

    Obama doesn’t need and shouldn’t need to say anything one way or another. Just stop meddling and interfering in people’s affaires is what you’re asked to take as a stand! The people of Egypt know what to do and how to do it. The best help you can provide, if you might, is to shut the hell up!

    • James
      February 2, 2011, 2:10 am

      well, it would be nice to keep the tear gas, military poison and etc back at home in the good ole’ usa too fwiw…

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