On her MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow continued her coverage of the crisis in Egypt, and she pointed out that the Egyptian protesters are calling out the US commitment to democracy, “The people in Egypt are calling us out on that. They are saying out loud we know our leader is illegitimate. We do not support him. We want him gone. They are saying does America agree?”
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Maddow opened by discussing the importance of the Suez Canal, “Today, the Suez Canal transits nearly 10% of all the ocean going freight in the world. It may be an 1800s kind of idea, but if you want to get a tanker full of crude today from Saudi Arabia to Houston, you can go through that canal, or you can add 12 days to your trip around the bottom tip of Africa. As Egypt now undergoes what really and truly looks like a revolution, the Suez Canal is still open, even as we got reports of other ports in Egypt closing of shortages and price spikes in food and gas and cash, Suez is open. And at Suez, America is first in line. It’s true. Of all the ships in the world that want to take Egypt’s celebrated, save you 5,000 miles shortcut, vessels of the US Navy get to jump the line. American military vessels get expedited processing through the Suez Canal. Why is that? Because America and Egypt, we are way more up in Egypt’s business than most of us think we are.”
After she covered the close relationship between the Egyptian military and the US military, she brought up how many weapons Egypt buys from the US, “The Egyptian military flyovers to spook the protesters in Tahrir Square. Those were made in American made F-16s which they bought from us…In fact they bought so many M1A1 Abrams tanks from us that we started shipping tanks to them in parts so they could assemble them in Egypt. They are still American tanks but some assembly required. The only country in the world that buys more weapons from us or gets more money from the United States is Israel. Egypt is second only to Israel. That was set in motion in the late 1970 when Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel. Our part of the deal is the $2 billion we send to Egypt every year most of it for their military. Also, getting to go first in line at the canal. And also, well, us calling this guy president, as if we think the way he stays in office is by elections.”
She moved on to the question of Mubarak’s legitimacy, “As America watches unfold what looks like a revolution, that question of the legitimacy as a leader is the fulcrum on which the drama, politics, and ethics of all of this tilt. When president Obama spoke about the situation in Egypt, he spoke in generally supportive terms of both the Egyptian people and protesters ear demands. He said Governments must derive their power from consent not coercion. But If that is true, then you have to answer the question does the United States believe that Mubarak holds power legitimately? Is he the legitimate leader of Egypt or is he illegitimate?”
Maddow suggested that the Egyptian people are calling out America’s commitment to democracy, “The United States does not only support governments around the world that are legitimate in the eyes of its people. We don’t talk about it a lot but it’s true, and now today the people in Egypt are calling us out on that. They are saying out loud we know our leader is illegitimate. We do not support him. We want him gone. They are saying does America agree?”
The MSNBC host concluded by telling her audience that the events in Egypt are a big deal, “This is a big deal. The world is tilting on its proverbial axis. This is the biggest country in the Arab world. And our country, the most powerful country in the world, we plated our trough for 30 years with the man in charge there who may be getting overthrown by his own people, and the other force in that country that we are inextricably linked with, the military, that the s the force that signaled they may let the overthrow happen.”
For all the reasons, that Rachel Maddow outlined and more, the events in Egypt are a really big deal. She didn’t mention it, but there is also the role that Egypt plays as America’s strategic ally in the region. Mubarak isn’t the first autocrat or dictator that the United States has been involved with. Ever since our nation became involved in international trade, we have always spoken of democracy, but quietly done business with kings and dictators. This isn’t a primary characteristic of only Democratic or Republican administrations. It is a consistent feature of US foreign policy.
The Egyptian protesters have called us out, and our lack of support for the Mubarak regime has spoken volumes. Make no mistake about it, some of words of support for Mubarak from the Obama administration could have propped up the regime, but by their silence, this White House has made their preference clearly known. They want Mubarak gone. The Egyptian military wants Mubarak gone. The Egyptian people want Mubarak gone, so it is a pretty safe guess that Mubarak will be gone.
Long after the revolution has ended and change has come. Long after Mubarak is relegated to the history books, the truth is that America and its interests will remain in Egypt, and this is why pictures of protests in such a far off land should be paid attention to, because whether we Americans believe it or not, the situation in Egypt has a lot to do with us.