John Key was very keen for former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak stay in charge because of the ‘dangerous’ alternatives. It turns out these ideas come out of the American far-right. While its easy to laugh at Glenn Beck’s crazy conspiracy theories or the hypocrisy of people who wanted to invade Iraq to spread democracy but oppose free elections in Egypt because of who might get elected, there’s a deeper story here: the end of the American Empire.
Here’s a sample of what the American Right is saying:
BBC – US right-wingers split over Egypt protests
I don’t know how Egyptian elections will play out, even pre-supposing that the Army allows them. I doubt we’re going to see a country that is highly Westernised, dependent on tourism, that has a large Christian population and has historically been secular turn overwhelmingly to insular radical Islam (and the Army would prevent it anyway, like the Turkish and Pakistani armies do). But that’s not the point.
The point is to ask what lies behind the paranoid delusions of Beck and the hypocrisy of the less batshit crazy righties who call America the font of democracy but don’t want democracy if it means losing a trusted ally.
One of the outposts of the American Empire just fell. Egypt is the second-largest aid recipient in the world, behind Israel. Mubarak received something like $60 billion in military aid from the US over the term of his rule as a proxy of the American Empire.
To people who believe in that Empire, or American Exceptionalism, whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t matter how the outpost of the Empire is run as long as it is secure and delivering what it is meant to (in Egypt’s case, a secure passage for US-centric global commerce, especially oil, through the Suez Canal). The proxy who was delivering on the US’s requirements has fallen, therefore the people who did it are the enemy and to be feared. You see this in Beck’s crazy diagrams where he claims that the overthrow of Mubarak was organised by a sinister network of Marxists, Islamists, and Obama – all his enemies rolled into one.
Beck, Millennialist that he is, thinks that Egypt is the start of the end of days, which will see a new caliphate take over the Middle East and Europe with China ruling Asia, Africa, and New Zealand (yay!). Strip away the crazy and the grain of truth in this is a future where the US no longer calls the shots. Its proxies have fallen in South America. Now, they’re falling in the Middle East.
And there’s nothing that the US can do. Once, this empire could afford to expend tens of thousands of troops on defending outposts of minor importance like Korea and Vietnam. Now, it is struggling to win wars to secure supplies of its basic, dwindling economic resource – oil – and losing allies. Like all empires, it is ending with a bankrupt state and an overstretched military. (check out “Peak Civilization”: The Fall of the Roman Empire for comparisons)
Unlike, Beck and John Key, I don’t find this prospect terrifying. I don’t believe that American Empire will be replaced with Islamist and Chinese Empires. The only way forward is democracy, ever deeper and broader. It’s a pity that the Right don’t agree.