Friday, February 11, 2011


Moises Saman for The New York Times
Crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo reacted to the announcement on Friday.


I hope everyone clearly understands what the incredible triumph of the Egyptian Revolution really means: This is a turning point in World History. Repeat: A turning point in world history. No matter what happens in the near "future" please REMEMBER THIS DAY. Remember this moment. Remember WHO did it. Remember HOW they did it. Remember WHY they did it. And please, please, please remember what it all MEANS.

In the past century only three other world shattering events even APPROACH the tremendous magnitude and importance of what the Egyptian People have done. It is no mere coincidence that those three events were also epoch making revolutions: The Soviet Union in 1917, China in 1949 and Cuba in 1959. What is truly significant about the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 is that NO ONE BUT THE MASSES OF THE EGYPTIAN PEOPLE have determined the course of these amazing events.

Imagine: In the mere span of 18 days Egypt has overturned and renounced all vestiges of political, economic, and cultural domination and control by the (so-called) "West"--especially the massive support of Mubarak's oppressive regime by the United States government over the past 30 years!--have openly repudiated the contemporary legacy of backward and reactionary feudal regimes like those of other major U.S. allies in the region like the Islamic monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and have rebuked the terrorist overtures of extreme Islamists like Al Queda and pro--terrorism states in the Middle East like Iran by asserting and advocating a decidely secular and independent revolution rooted in mass democratic principles and values. It's absolutely paramount to remember too that the Egyptian People have categorically refused to pay any attention to the twisted, opportunist, and ludicrous machinations of President Obama's clueless administration who all too predictably have constantly flipflopped between gingerly backing Mubarak and weakly "asking" and then begging Mubarak to (sort of) step down...maybe...if he felt like it...soon...

The bottomline of all this of course is that the valiant, heroic masses and leadership of this revolution were never fooled, distracted, or intimidated in the slightest by the rank phoniness, posturing, bad faith "bargaining", dishonesty, patronizing manipulations, tone deaf condescension, or bullying of either Hosni Mubarak, Omar Sulieman, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, the U.S. State Department, the CIA, the pro-Mubarak street thugs, or the pro Mubarak wing of the Egyptian Army. Along those same lines it's important to remember that the overwhelming majority of all the so-called "pundits" from the U.S. media, academia, the military, and political elites HAD NO IDEA WHATSOEVER OF WHAT THE EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION WAS OR MEANT. They--like everybody else-- had no idea that it was going to happen of course, and neither did their "analyses" (hah!) come even remotely close to what the Revolution was doing or represented at any given time--even now. I personally derived a great deal of pure pleasure watching their typically arrogant, smug, dismissive, and RACIST attitudes, stances, and judgments constantly fall far short of reality from one day to the next. To watch and listen to them today after the triumph of the Egyptian people and to witness their completely DAZED AND CONFUSED faces, drooping jaws of astonishment and strangely flat, even desultory "assessments" of the "future" of Egypt made me incessantly laugh out loud to the verge of tears and random bathroom breaks! For once, all the so-called American and other "Western" "experts" (double hah!!) were FORCED into stunned humility in the face of a REAL REVOLUTION that was not dependent for one nanosecond on what they thought, felt, or desired (and this goes double for all the clueless, idiotic promotors of Facebook, Twitter, and other "social media" who, as many other sane commentators like Malcolm Gladwell have pointed out, are NOT responsible for the revolution's emergence, growth, and expansion in the end any more than telephones, radios, or television were responsible for what happened in Cuba and China in the '40s and '50s, or the telegraph in 1917 Russia!)

Finally, what distinguishes the Egyptian Revolution is that often unjustly ignored or dismissed notion of the fundamental guiding principles of UNITY AND STRUGGLE. Make no mistake: It took tremendous ORGANIZED intelligence, discipline, united front consensus, determination, cooperation, patience, and strength to pull this off (and don't let anyone tell you that there is anything mutually exclusive about the values animating both acts of spontaneity AND self organization; in any mature, disciplined struggle these ideas, values, and principles are joined at the hip and always were).

So while the real work of making this revolution grow and sustain itself for years to come is obviously going to take a great of effort, commitment, organization, struggle, clarity, faith, and determination I have no doubt whatsoever that the masses of the Egyptian People are more than up to the task. So long as they don't allow either the reactionary wing of the Egyptian military, the United States (and Europe), Israel, or the reactionary terrorists and extreme Islamists in the Middle East to deter and misdirect the course of their revolution they will continue to win and prevail. This is truly a joyous day and I am in complete AWE of what the Egyptian People have already achieved. To say that what they have accomplished is the greatest and most profound political inspiration of the past half century (at least!) is a huge understatement. LONG LIVE THE DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION OF THE EGYPTIAN PEOPLE! LONG MAY THEY REIGN AND PROSPER!!

Unity & Struggle,


Mubarak Steps Down, Ceding Power to Military
Egypt Erupts in Jubilation as Mubarak Steps Down
February 11, 2011

New York Times

CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt resigned his post and turned over all power to the military on Friday, ending his nearly 30 years of autocratic rule and bowing to a historic popular uprising that has transformed politics in Egypt and around the Arab world.

The streets of Cairo exploded in shouts of “God is Great” moments after Mr. Mubarak’s vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced during evening prayers that Mr. Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders.

“Taking into consideration the difficult circumstances the country is going through, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the post of president of the republic and has tasked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to manage the state’s affairs,” Mr. Suleiman, grave and ashen, said in a brief televised statement.

Even before he had finished speaking, protesters began hugging and cheering, shouting “Egypt is free!” and “You’re an Egyptian, lift your head”

“He’s finally off our throats,” said one protester, Muhammad Insheemy. “Soon, we will bring someone good.”

The departure of the 82-year-old Mr. Mubarak, at least initially to his coastal resort home in Sharm el-Sheik, was a pivotal turn in a three-week revolt that has upended one of the Arab’s world’s most enduring dictatorships. The popular protest, peaceful and resilient despite numerous effort by Mr. Mubarak’s legendary security apparatus to suppress it, ultimately deposed an ally of the United States who has been instrumental in implementing American policy in the region for decades.

His departure leaves the military in charge of this nation of 80 million, facing insistent calls for fundamental democratic change and open elections. The military, which has repeatedly promised to respond to the demands of protesters, has little recent experience in directly governing the country. It will have to defuse demonstrations and strikes that have paralyzed the economy and left many of the country’s institutions, including state news media and the security forces, in shambles.

Shortly before the announcement of Mr. Mubarak’s departure, the military issued a communiqué pledging to carry out a variety of constitutional reforms in a statement remarkable for its commanding tone. The military’s statement alluded to the delegation of power to Mr. Suleiman and it suggested that the military would supervise implementation of the reforms.

The military did not indicate whether it intended to take the kinds of fundamental steps toward democracy that protesters have been demanding. This was the second direct statement from the military in two days, and it largely stuck to the main constitutional and electoral reforms that Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Suleiman had promised to implement. It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Suleiman would retain a role, under the military council, in running the country.

State radio reported that Naguib Sawiris, a wealthy and widely respected businessman, has agreed to act as a mediator between the opposition and the authorities in carrying through the political reforms, a development that was cheered by protesters.

In Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising, many protesters were overcome with the emotion of achieving their unlikely but determined quest to overthrow Mr. Mubarak. More than an hour after Mr. Suleiman spoke, the din was undiminished, as the celebrants, some in tears, shouted, sang, embraced and chanted. The slogan of the revolution, “The people want to bring down the regime,” adopted from Tunisia, became, “The people, at last, have brought down the regime.”

Parents were seen putting their children on the tanks to have their photos snapped with the soldiers, while the soldiers reached down to shake hands with the protesters and people chanted, “The people and the army are one hand.” In a show of solidarity in at least lower levels of the army, three Egyptian officers shed their weapons and uniforms and joined the protesters.

“Now, we can breathe fresh air, we can feel our freedom,” said Dr. Gamal Heshamt, a former member of Parliament and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. “Now we can start to build our country. After 30 years of absence from the world, Egypt is back.”

Some people waved Tunisian flags, while young women danced on the hulking remains of burned-out armored personnel carriers.

The Qasr al-Nil bridge, the sight of ugly fighting between the protesters and Mubarak supporters, was crammed from one end to the next with people cheering and chanting, “Egypt! Egypt! Egypt!”

“The Egyptian people are heroes,” said Samia Mahmoud, 41, who said he works in the tourist industry in Sharm el-Sheik. “I’m hoping for a new Egypt.”

Amr Sayed, 20, who had been in the square for the last 15 days, said simply, “The people wanted to take back their rights, and now they have.”

David D. Kirkpatrick and Anthony Shadid reported from Cairo, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Liam Stack, Mona El-Naggar and Thanassis Cambanis from Cairo, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg from Marquette, Mich.

Obama’s Remarks on the Resignation of Mubarak


This is what is known as becoming a footnote to History folks. Talk about a man who blew his opportunity to really affect the course of history and actually inspire people! And to think all he had to say from the very beginning of the Egyptian Revolution was:
"The United States supports the Egyptian People in their struggle for Democracy and we absolutely repudiate the rule of our former ally Hosni Mubarak." But of course he didn't. That's HOW you wind up a mere footnote. In that light some of the remarks from the President's hollow speech below are strangely and rather ironically poignant (especially the great quote about freedom and the human soul from the immortal Dr. King!). Too bad the President wasn't up to the task before him and wound up once again stuck in the so-called "middle" of an important issue (which is to say NOWHERE)...Oh well...This is what always happens when a person is more concerned with their "public image" in the eyes of their enemies than with asserting their independent LEADERSHIP and allowing the chips to fall where they may because--trust me!--they're gonna fall anyway...



Obama’s Remarks on the Resignation of Mubarak
February 11, 2011

Following is a transcript of President Obama’s remarks on Friday, after President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt announced his resignation, as released by the White House:

Good afternoon, everybody. There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.

By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people's hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt's transition. It's a beginning. I'm sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.

The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt's citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt's voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.

The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary -- and asked for -- to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I'm also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity -- jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.

Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years. But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.

We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.

We saw a young Egyptian say, "For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I'm only one person, this is the way real democracy works."

We saw protesters chant "Selmiyya, selmiyya" -- "We are peaceful" -- again and again.

We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.

And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.

We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – "Muslims, Christians, We are one." And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.

And above all, we saw a new generation emerge -- a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.

This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they've done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence -- not terrorism, not mindless killing -- but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.

And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can't help but hear the echoes of history -- echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.

As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, "There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom." Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.

Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.

The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people -- of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.

Thank you.

Al Jazeera Broadcasts of the Egyptian Revolution Live From Cairo, Egypt


Revisiting President Obama's Speech at Cairo University in Egypt, June 4, 2009


In light of the extraordinary events over the past 17 days in Egypt I thought it would be interesting to reprint a piece that I posted on this site June 12, 2009 covering President Obama's pathbreaking speech at Cairo University from June 4, 2009. What follows is the entire text and video of that speech as well as my own commentary on it. What's fascinating and of great interest about going back to this historic moment in U.S.-Egyptian relations is not only the content but the TONE of Obama's speech and what he said about the issue of "Democracy" in not only Egypt but the Middle Eastern region in general and the general Muslim world specifically as far as his take on what he as the new American president "SHOULD" be doing with respect to the Egyptians and the Middle East as opposed to what it has historically done (and what it was obviously still doing) in that world. In its own inadvertent way the speech manages to shed some very important light on how and why the President is responding in the political and ideological manner he has been since the Egyptian revolution emerged. Check out the lead-in quotes to the text following the title (The Ultimate Meaning of President Obama's Speech in Cairo, Egypt: "A New Beginning") as well as my commentary and the text of the President's speech to follow below...


Friday, June 12, 2009
The Ultimate Meaning of President Obama's Speech in Cairo, Egypt: "A New Beginning"

"The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments - provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy."
--President Barack Obama, June 4, 2009-- Cairo, Egypt

"However, it still remains to be seen if any of this rhetoric will be transformed into real action via actual hard foreign policy shifts and genuinely new political, economic, and cultural arrangements and relations between the United States, Israel, Palestine, and millions of Muslims in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. This of course is the real political, moral, and ideological challenge facing not only Obama's administration but the rest of us. Stay tuned..."
--Kofi Natambu, June 12, 2009-- The Panopticon Review


President Obama's June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University in Egypt is an undeniably important and watershed moment in contemporary American foreign policy if only because it rhetorically raises and openly acknowledges the major political, ideological, economic, religious, and cultural issues, contradictions, problems, tragedies, and conflicts facing the complex and often virulently violent relations between the United States, Israel, Palestine, and much of the heavily Arabic Islamic/Muslim world in both the Middle East and the U.S.

What distinguishes Obama's address however--especially for an American president--is how strikingly upfront and far more honest and direct his analytical and ideological assessment is of the meaning of this byzantine history. Obama also acknowledges the highly oppressive and destructive dynamics of imperialist politics and economics via both government invasion, infiltration, and military occupation by the U.S. as well as the ongoing milatarism of the state of Israel (and its brutal colonial dismissal of the rights of national sovereignty and self determination of the Palestinians) and the subsequent retaliatory attacks on Israeli citizens, property, and civilians by various Arabic terrorist and national liberation organizations like that of Hamas and Hezballah, and the late Yasir Arafat's PLO.

So while there is nothing particularly new or suprising in Obama formally calling for peace on all sides and for an end to this global conflict, what is significant is the fact that the President evinces a deep intellectual and emotional respect and admiration for the accomplishments and historically civilized values of Islamic culture in a manner that is neither condescending nor crassly hyperbolic. It is this strikingly sincere and respectful tone more than anything else that makes the speech so extraordinary given the context of the American government's clearly reactionary, exploitive, and manipulative historical role in many Arabic societies in both the Middle East and toward Muslims and the religion of Islam generally in the West. In this respect then Obama is to be commended for his rhetorical approach and tone in his speech that was clearly well received by the Egyptians and much of the Islamic/Muslim world in the region as well as globally.

However, it still remains to be seen if any of this rhetoric will be transformed into real action via actual hard foreign policy shifts and genuinely new political, economic, and cultural arrangements and relations between the United States, Israel, Palestine, and millions of Muslims in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. This of course is the real political, moral, and ideological challenge facing not only Obama's administration but the rest of us. Stay tuned...


"A New Beginning"
Speech by U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama
Cairo University
Cairo, Egypt
June 4, 2009

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world - tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." That is what I will try to do - to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam - at places like Al-Azhar University - that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers - Thomas Jefferson - kept in his personal library.

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words - within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores - that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations - to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

That's why we're partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths - more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism - it is an important part of promoting peace.

We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future - and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers - for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them - and all of us - to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments - provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld - whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.

Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's Interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action - whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights.

I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now let me be clear: issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity - men and women - to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations - including my own - this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities - those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek - a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

I know there are many - Muslim and non-Muslim - who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort - that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country - you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort - a sustained effort - to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples - a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you.

The Madness of Hosni Mubarak Will Not Defeat the Egyptian Revolution!

EGYPT TV via APTN, via Associated Press
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made a televised statement on Thursday

Moises Saman for The New York Times
Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, an Egyptian military commander, was surrounded by antigovernment protesters as he arrived in Tahrir Square to address the crowd on Thursday.


THIS IS PURE MADNESS! This crazy muthafucking MANIAC is willing to take his entire country down with his psychotic 82 year old ass and is insanely telling not only his people but the entire world--including his servile sponsors in the U.S. government--to go fuck themselves as he defiantly refuses to act in a sane and responsible manner and step down from power. Like I said all along this MONSTER is like something straight out of a Garcia-Marquez novel; it's like being exposed to a real life caricature version of the fictional surreal dictators from "Autumn of the Patriarch" and "100 Years of Solitude" who actually looks, speaks, and acts like some fiendish robotic imitation of bloodthirsty tyrants that can only be found in some badly written graphic novel or horror comicbook. Only this is actually happening before our very eyes and ears as the entire world scrambles to make some "sense" out of what is far beyond any rational explanation or understanding...

Meanwhile the millions of now seething Egyptian people in Tahrur/Liberation Square are vowing to march on the presidential palace tomorrow in what is shaping up to be a massive national showdown between the masses and the Egyptian Army which is presently split amonfg its ranks between officers and soldiers who support and are intensely loyal to Mubarak and his handpicked puppet VP Omar Sulieman and those members of the armed forces who are intensely loyal to and supportive of the Egyptian antigovernment demonstrators who are in the streets. It looks to me that either there will be a horrific violent massacre tomorrow or sometime soon or the Army will "stand down" essentially and try to get rid of Mubarak themselves via a military coup. I can't imagine any other scenario emerging at this point given the tensions and anger that has been generated by Mubarak and his equally crazed henchmen in the government, the military, and among the goon squad vigilantes and gangsters whom Mubarak used just last week and have constantly relied on over the past 30 years to oppress and intimidate the people.

In any event the entire situation is completely out of control and neither the U.S. State Department, CIA, or the White House can possibly dictate what happens over the next 24-48 hours. Mubarak has now told Obama to fuck off just as forcibly as he has his own people so the ball is completely the court of the Egyptian masses for once--which is where it should be! Let's just fervently hope that the revolution can somehow defeat this madman once and for all and rid both their country and the world of this MURDEROUS CANCER that the United States has backed and supported with billions of $ and outright violent brutality for over 30 years.

Yeah chickens are coming home to roost alright. STAY TUNED...


Mubarak Refuses to Step Down
February 10, 2011
New York Times

CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak told the Egyptian people Thursday that he would delegate more authority to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but that he would not resign his post, contradicting earlier reports that he would step aside and surprising hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered to hail his departure from the political scene.

In a nationally televised address following a tumultuous day of political rumors and conflicting reports, Mr. Mubarak said he would “admit mistakes” and honor the sacrifices of young people killed in the three-week uprising, but that he would continue to “shoulder my responsibilities” until September, and did not give a firm indication that he would cede political power.

Mr. Suleiman, speaking a few minutes after President Mubarak, urged the crowds in Tahrir Square to go home. “Heroes. Go home, go back to work. The nation needs you to build, develop and create.”

Even as Mr. Mubarak spoke, huge crowds in Cairo who had anticipated his resignation shouted angry chants when they were confronted with a plea from the president to support continued rule by him and his chosen aides. The mood, celebratory throughout the day, suddenly turned grim. Protesters waved their shoes in defiance, considered a deeply insulting gesture in the Arab world, and began streaming from the square saying they would march against state TV.

Mr. Mubarak said the process of political change initiated by his administration, including a dialogue with opposition groups, would not be reversed. But he signaled no imminent transfer of power and blamed foreigners for seeking to interfere in Egypt’s affairs.

“We will not accept or listen to any foreign interventions or dictations,” Mr. Mubarak said, implying that pressure to resign came from abroad rather than from the masses of people demanding his ouster throughout his country.

His statement marked the latest twist and turn in a raucous uprising. Earlier in the day, the Egyptian military appeared poised to assert itself as the leading force in the country’s politics, declaring on state television that it would take measures “to maintain the homeland and the achievements and the aspirations of the great people of Egypt” and meet the demands of the protesters who have insisted on ending Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Mr. Mubarak made no reference to the military in his speech, and it was unclear what the military’s earlier announcement had meant.

Several government officials said during the day that Mr. Mubarak was expected to announce his own resignation and pass authority to Mr. Suleiman, although the country’s information minister proved prescient by insisting the president was not stepping down.

Before Mr. Mubarak spoke, President Obama, in an appearance at Northern Michigan University, in Marquette, Mich., said that “We are witnessing history unfold,” and that “America will do everything we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy.”

Throughout the day on Thursday, support seemed to be crumbling for Mr. Mubarak within his own party and government. Hossam Badrawy, the newly appointed secretary-general of the ruling National Democratic Party, said Mr. Mubarak appeared to accept his call to peacefully transfer power to the vice president.

He said he hoped that Mr. Mubarak would not only step down, but that the country would move toward early elections so the “people can move to another era.”

He had called Mr. Mubarak “very accommodating.”

“I know it is difficult for him,” he said. But he added, “I think I convinced him to do that as soon as possible.”

Earlier in the day, the military’s chief of staff, Sami Anan, made an appearance in Tahrir Square, where he pledged to safeguard the people’s demands and their security. Thousands of protesters roared in approval, but they also chanted “Civilian! Civilian!”

Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, also appeared in Tahrir Square and told the demonstrators, “All your demands will be met today.” Some in the crowd held up their hands in V-for-victory signs, shouting, “The people want the end of the regime” and “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” a victory cry used by secular and religious people alike.

Yet, officials in Mr. Mubarak’s government had been warning for several days that protesters faced a choice between negotiating in earnest with the government on constitutional changes or having the military step in to guard against a descent into political chaos. Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit seemed to add a further ominous tone to those comments on Thursday, telling Al Arabiya television, “If chaos occurs, the armed forces will intervene to control the country, a step which would lead to a very dangerous situation.”

For weeks, the protesters have hoped the military would intervene on their side, though it remained unclear whether the military would support democratic reforms that would threaten its status as the most powerful single institution in the country.

For much of its modern history, the military has played a powerful but behind-the-scenes role, reflecting its confidence that any government would protect its stature. Across the political spectrum, many wondered whether that posture had shifted after the military’s announcement.

“We’re excited and nervous,” said Ahmed Sleem, an organizer with an opposition group led by Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate. “If Mubarak and Suleiman leave, it would be a great thing. A six-month deadline for elections would be suitable.”

Asked about the possibility of a military takeover, he said he was not afraid. “We know how to force them to step down. We know the way to Tahrir Square.”

The overlapping statements by the military and civil authorities seemed to indicate a degree of confusion — or competing claims — about what kind of shift was underway, raising the possibility that competing forces did not necessarily see the power transfer the same way.

Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Liam Stack, Mona El-Naggar and Thanassis Cambanis from Cairo, Alan Cowell from Paris, Helene Cooper from Washington and Sheryl Stolberg from Marquette, Mich.













Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Use of Language As An Instrument of Power and Oppression


Chris Hedges continues to rapidly evolve as a major social and cultural critic as well as historian of great power, insight, and intellectual clarity. He is especially prescient in his sharp assessments of the politics of empire in the United States and its pervasive--and pernicious-- impact on global economics and culture today.


Recognizing the Language of Tyranny
Sunday 06 February 2011
by: Chris Hedges | Truthdig | Op-Ed

Empires communicate in two languages. One language is expressed in imperatives. It is the language of command and force. This militarized language disdains human life and celebrates hypermasculinity. It demands. It makes no attempt to justify the flagrant theft of natural resources and wealth or the use of indiscriminate violence. When families are gunned down at a checkpoint in Iraq they are referred to as having been “lit up.” So it goes. The other language of empire is softer. It employs the vocabulary of ideals and lofty goals and insists that the power of empire is noble and benevolent. The language of beneficence is used to speak to those outside the centers of death and pillage, those who have not yet been totally broken, those who still must be seduced to hand over power to predators. The road traveled to total disempowerment, however, ends at the same place. It is the language used to get there that is different.

This language of blind obedience and retribution is used by authority in our inner cities, from Detroit to Oakland, as well as our prison systems. It is a language Iraqis and Afghans know intimately. But to the members of our dwindling middle class—as well as those in the working class who have yet to confront our new political and economic configuration—the powerful use phrases like the consent of the governed and democracy that help lull us into complacency. The longer we believe in the fiction that we are included in the corporate power structure, the more easily corporations pillage the country without the threat of rebellion. Those who know the truth are crushed. Those who do not are lied to. Those who consume and perpetuate the lies—including the liberal institutions of the press, the church, education, culture, labor and the Democratic Party—abet our disempowerment. No system of total control, including corporate control, exhibits its extreme forms at the beginning. These forms expand as they fail to encounter resistance.

The tactic of speaking in two languages is as old as empire itself. The ancient Greeks and the Romans did it. So did the Spanish conquistadors, the Ottomans, the French and later the British. Those who inhabit exploited zones on the peripheries of empire see and hear the truth. But the cries of those who are exploited are ignored or demonized. The rage they express does not resonate with those trapped in self-delusion, those who continue to trust in the ultimate goodness of empire. This is the truth articulated in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and E.M. Forster’s “A Passage to India.” These writers understood that empire is about violence and theft. And the longer the theft continues, the more brutal empire becomes. The tyranny empire imposes on others it finally imposes on itself. The predatory forces unleashed by empire consume the host. Look around you.

The narratives we hear are those fabricated for us by the state, Hollywood and the press. These narratives are taught in our schools, preached in our pulpits and celebrated in war documentaries such as “Restrepo.” These narratives humanize and ennoble the enforcers of empire. The government, the military, the police and our intelligence agents are lionized. These control groups, we are assured, are the guardians of our virtues and our protectors. They produce our heroes. And those who challenge this narrative—who denounce the lies—become the enemy.

Those who administer empire—elected officials, corporate managers, generals and the celebrity courtiers who disseminate the propaganda—become very wealthy. They make immense fortunes whether they deliver the nightly news, sit on the boards of corporations, or rise, lavished with corporate endorsements, within the vast industry of spectacle and entertainment. They all pay homage, even in moments defined as criticism, to the essential goodness of corporate power. They shut out all real debate. They ignore flagrant injustices and abuse. They peddle the illusions that keep us passive and amused. But as our society is reconfigured into an oligarchic system, with a permanent and vast underclass, along with a shrinking and unstable middle class, these illusions lose their power. The language of pleasant deception must be replaced with the overt language of force. It is hard to continue to live in a state of self-delusion once unemployment benefits run out, once the only job available comes without benefits or a living wage, once the future no longer conforms to the happy talk that saturates our airwaves. At this point rage becomes the engine of response, and whoever can channel that rage inherits power. The manipulation of that rage has become the newest task of the corporate propagandists, and the failure of the liberal class to defend core liberal values has left its members with nothing to contribute to the debate.

The Belgian King Leopold, promising to abolish slavery and usher the Congolese into the “modern” era, was permitted by his European allies to form the Congo Free State in 1885. It was touted as a humanitarian gesture, as was the Spanish conquest of the Americas, as was our own occupation of Iraq. Leopold organized a ruthless force of native and foreign overseers—not unlike our own mercenary armies—to loot the Congo of ivory and rubber. By the time the Belgian monarch was done, some 5 million to 8 million Congolese had been slaughtered. It was the largest act of genocide in the modern era until the Nazi Holocaust. Leopold, even in the midst of his rampage, was lionized in Europe for his virtue. He was loathed in the periphery—as we are in Iraq and Afghanistan—where the Congolese and others understood what he was about. But these voices, like the voices of those we oppress, were almost never heard.

The Nazis, for whom the Holocaust was as much a campaign of plunder as it was a campaign to rid Europe of Jews, had two methods for greeting arrivals at their four extermination camps. If the transports came from Western Europe, the savage Ukrainian and Lithuanian guards, with their whips, dogs and clubs, were kept out of sight. The wealthier European Jews were politely ushered into an elaborate ruse, including fake railway stations complete with flower beds, until once stripped naked they became incapable of resistance and could be herded in rows of five under whips into the gas chambers. The Nazis knew that those who had not been broken, those who possessed a belief in their own personal empowerment, would fight back. When the transports came from the east, where Jews had long lived in fear, tremendous poverty and terror, there was no need for such theatrics. Mothers, fathers, the elderly and children, accustomed to overt repression and the language of command and retribution, were brutally driven from the transports by sadistic guards. The object was to create mass hysteria. The fate of the two groups was the same. It was the tactic that differed.

All centralized power, once restraints and regulations are abolished, once it is no longer accountable to citizens, knows no limit to internal and external plunder. The corporate state, which has emasculated our government, is creating a new form of feudalism, a world of masters and serfs. It speaks to those who remain in a state of self-delusion in the comforting and familiar language of liberty, freedom, prosperity and electoral democracy. It speaks to the poor and the oppressed in the language of naked coercion. But, here too, all will end up in the same place.

Those trapped in the blighted inner cities that are our internal colonies or brutalized in our prison system, especially African-Americans, see what awaits us all. So do the inhabitants in southern West Virginia, where coal companies have turned hundreds of thousands of acres into uninhabitable and poisoned wastelands. Poverty, repression and despair in these peripheral parts of empire are as common as drug addiction and cancer. Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Palestinians can also tell us who we are. They know that once self-delusion no longer works it is the iron fist that speaks. The solitary and courageous voices that rise up from these internal and external colonies of devastation are silenced or discredited by the courtiers who serve corporate power. And even those who do hear these voices of dissent often cannot handle the truth. They prefer the Potemkin facade. They recoil at the “negativity.” Reality, especially when you grasp what corporations are doing in the name of profit to the planet’s ecosystem, is terrifying.

All tyrannies come endowed with their own peculiarities. This makes it hard to say one form of totalitarianism is like another. There are always enough differences to make us unsure that history is repeating itself. The corporate state does not have a Politburo. It does not dress its Homeland Security agents in jackboots. There is no raving dictator. American democracy—like the garishly painted train station at the Nazi extermination camp Treblinka—looks real even as the levers of power are in the hands of corporations. But there is one aspect the corporate state shares with despotic regimes and the collapsed empires that have plagued human history. It too communicates in two distinct languages, that is until it does not have to, at which point it will be too late.

Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a weekly columnist for Truthdig. His latest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”

Even the New York Times Knows What Time It Is in Egypt!


Mr. Suleiman’s Empty Promises
February 8, 2011
New York Times

We are a long way from knowing how Egypt will turn out. The government is using all of its power — including a promised 15 percent raise for federal workers — to try to hang on. The opposition is courageously pushing back, and, on Tuesday, it drew thousands of supporters to Liberation Square.

The United States and the European Union may not have been able to wheedle or push President Hosni Mubarak from power. Still, they badly miscalculated when they endorsed Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, to lead the transition to democracy.

Mr. Suleiman may talk sweetly to Washington and Brussels. But he appears far more interested in maintaining as much of the old repressive order as he can get away with. That is unacceptable to Egypt’s people, and it should be unacceptable to Egypt’s Western supporters.

President Obama said the right things last week when he demanded that democratic change in Egypt start “now.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent statements that change would “take some time” have taken the pressure off. Mr. Obama needs to regain his voice and press Mr. Suleiman to either begin a serious process of reform or get out of the way.

The protesters have won some important concessions. They forced Mr. Mubarak to forsake re-election. Mr. Mubarak’s son and Mr. Suleiman, a former intelligence chief, also will not run. On Saturday, the government opened a dialogue with the opposition — including the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

More reform was promised, but it has been hard to take that seriously after Mr. Mubarak gave himself the sole power to appoint a panel to recommend constitutional amendments.

And while Mr. Suleiman was conciliatory in the early days of the protests, his recent public statements have been chilling. He said he does not believe it is time to lift the three-decade-old emergency law that has been used to suppress and imprison opposition leaders. Most alarming, he said the country’s “culture” is not yet ready for democracy.

Mr. Suleiman is not going to do what’s needed on his own. So the United States and its allies will have to lay down a clear list of steps that are the minimum for holding a credible vote this year and building a democracy.

The Egyptian government cannot choose which reforms to dole out when. Opposition leaders must participate in all aspects of the reform process. The emergency law must be lifted and Egyptians guaranteed freedom of speech and association. All detained protesters must be freed and the government-allied forces who viciously attacked demonstrators last week must be prosecuted.

The government and the opposition need to jointly set a date for elections and establish an independent commission to oversee the process. Egyptian and international monitors will need to observe the vote and the count. The government and opposition will need to work together to establish criteria for registering parties and candidates and ensure that all have access to the news media.

Then the full debate over Egypt’s future can take place and the Egyptian people can decide.

The Friendly Face of the American Empire

"Don't simply be the friendly face of the American Empire..."
--Dr. Cornel West
Open Video letter to President Obama
January 20, 2010


Douthat is the NY Times resident in house rightwing conservative political columnist and tellingly he provides the clearest and most brutally honest assessment yet of the openly reactionary (which Douthat predictably labels "realist") foreign policy aims, objectives, strategies, and tactics of what Douthat himself characterizes as President Obama's "coldblooded" vision of American Empire politics in the world today. The chilling and horrifying point of course is that Douthat--and the entire American foreign policy apparatus--agrees 100% with Obama (what could possibly be worse than being compared favorably with a war criminal like Henry Kissinger!) Obviously, this spells deep trouble for Egypt and the people's democratic revolution there as well as the rest of not only the Middle East but everywhere else on the globe the United States is aggressively asserting and imposing their imperialist economic, ideological, and political worldview (which ominously of course is just about everywhere in the world)...



Obama the Realist
February 6, 2011
New York Times

On the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama played to two very different foreign policy constituencies. Often he presented himself as the tribune of the anti-war left — the only candidate who had opposed the invasion of Iraq from the beginning, the man who could be trusted to civilize the global war on terror, and the perfect figure to smooth the transition to a post-American world order. To more bipartisan audiences, though, he cast himself as a cold-eyed realist — the rightful heir to George H. W. Bush, if not Henry Kissinger, who would pursue America’s interests without pretending (as the younger President Bush often did) that they matched up perfectly with America’s democratic ideals.

This two-step worked during the election season because realists and left-wingers were united in their weariness with the Bush administration, and their distrust of John McCain. But to govern is to choose, and after two years in office we can say with some certainty where Barack Obama’s instincts really lie. From the war on terror to the current unrest in Egypt, his foreign policy has owed far more to conservative realpolitik than to any left-wing vision of international affairs.

Many Republicans have been loath to admit this. In the first year of the Obama presidency, conservatives rushed to portray the president as a weak-kneed liberal who would rather appease terrorists than fight. They accused him of abandoning the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies, taking the pressure off Iran, and playing at being president of the world while giving his own country’s interests short shrift. They insisted that his distrust of American power and doubts about American exceptionalism were making the country steadily less safe.

But this narrative never really fit the facts. On nearly every anti-terror front, from detainee policy to drone strikes, the Obama administration has been what The Washington Times’s Eli Lake calls a “9/14 presidency,” maintaining or even expanding the powers that George W. Bush claimed in the aftermath of 9/11. (Dick Cheney himself admitted as much last month, effectively retracting his 2009 claim that Obama’s terrorism policies were undermining national security.) Time and again, this president has proved himself a careful custodian of both American and presidential prerogatives — and the most perceptive critics of his policies, tellingly, have been civil libertarians rather than Republican partisans.

On Israel-Palestine and Iran, the Obama administration did briefly flirt with new strategies, putting more pressure on the Israeli government and attempting outreach to Tehran. But the White House soon reverted to the policy status quo of Bush’s second term. Indeed, from the twilight struggle over Iran’s nuclear program — featuring sanctions, sabotage, and the threat of military force — to the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, this White House’s entire approach to international affairs looks like a continuation of the Condoleezza Rice-Robert Gates phase of the Bush administration.

Obama’s response to the Egyptian crisis has crystallized his entire foreign policy vision. Switch on Rush Limbaugh or Fox News, and you would assume that there’s a terrible left-wing naïveté — or worse, a sneaking anticolonial sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood — at work in the White House’s attempts to usher Hosni Mubarak out the door. But look closer, and it’s clear that the administration’s real goal has been to dispense with Mubarak while keeping the dictator’s military subordinates very much in charge. If the Obama White House has its way, any opening to democracy will be carefully stage-managed by an insider like Omar Suleiman, the former general and Egyptian intelligence chief who’s best known in Washington for his cooperation with the C.I.A.’s rendition program. This isn’t softheaded peacenik dithering. It’s cold-blooded realpolitik.

Cold-blooded, and probably correct. Obama might have done moreto champion human rights and democracy in Egypt before the current crisis broke out, by leavening his Kissinger impression with a touch of Reaganite idealism. But there isn’t much more the administration can do now, because there isn’t any evidence that the Egyptian protesters are ready to actually take power.

There are moments when American presidents can afford to stand uncompromisingly with democratic revolutionaries. But they need someone to stand for. In the Soviet bloc of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan had Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Pope John Paul II — and ultimately Mikhail Gorbachev. In Egypt, Obama has Mohammed ElBaradei, the Muslim Brotherhood and the crowds: the first dubious as a grass-roots leader, the second dangerous, and the third perilously disorganized.

This is a situation that calls for great caution, rather than grand idealistic gestures. And it calls for a certain measure of relief, from the American public, that this liberal president’s foreign policy instincts have turned out to be so temperamentally conservative.