Protest outside presidential palace July 1. AP photo by Hassan Ammar
This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
If there’s any doubt that we live in an Orwellian National Security State universe, you haven’t been keeping up with the news. 1984 could just as well be 2013 – The Sequel.
As Edward Snowden remains in the Moscow airport for outing the kind of surveillance that boggles even the 1984 mind, the New York Times reports on the behind-the-scenes negotiations that led to President Morsi’s ouster a few days ago. To say that America was in the coup d’état mix understates its influence. According to the Times, United States officials had the final say.
Reading the Times article one wonders if Susan Rice or Barack Obama – or our soon-to-be anointed ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power – have read another still relevant novel,The Ugly American. If they haven’t they should. They’re providing material for yet another round of anti-Americanism.
In the final hours – right there on the phone – Rice and the American Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Peterson, are proposing to Morsi that he accept life as a Presidential figurehead rather than be thrown out on the street. Morsi refuses and the reporters for the Times are stuck. Was Morsi an indigenous Egyptian hero for refusing American dictates or simply a power grabbing Islamic idiot?
How America is referred to by Morsi, his aides, the military and everyone on every side of the political equation is telling. The American government is Mother – as in Mother America.
Here’s how the Times reports the last offer and conversation between the Americans and Morsi’s aides:
[Morsi’s] top foreign policy advisor, Essam el-Haddad, then left the room to call the United States ambassador, Anne Peterson, to say that Mr. Morsi refused. When he returned, he had spoken to Susan Rice, the national security advisor, and that the military takeover was about to begin, senior aides said.
Now the Guardian reports that the announcement of Mohammed ElBaradei as the new Prime Minister has been put on hold due to American pressure. Of course, American officials deny this in no uncertain terms:
”The United States categorically rejects the false claims propagated by some in Egypt that we are working with specific political parties or movements to dictate how Egypt’s transition should proceed. We remain committed to the Egyptian people and their aspirations for democracy, economy opportunity, and dignity. But the future path of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people.”
It goes without saying that the future of Egypt can only be determined by Egyptians – with America on the phone calling the shots. And it also goes without saying that progressive forces in Egypt who sided with the coup – that wasn’t really a coup in their contribution to our Orwellian dialogue – also wants America on the phone calling the shots. For both sides the only question is whether the United States is going to act in their Egyptian interest.
Why are progressive forces also depending on America? At least from my reading and encounters, progressive forces are afraid of their fellow citizens and what they might decide for Egypt’s future. They’re afraid of Islam, at least the way it is currently mobilized in the Arab world. They don’t trust the non-American outside forces that seek to influence Egypt’s future.
A conundrum of epic proportions, to be sure.
I could be wrong but it seems that Egyptians of all political stripes are betting on their preferred America because they are afraid of each other and their neighbors.
Is there something wrong with this (American) picture?