Egypt protests reveal hypocrisy of bipartisan foreign policy consensus

The response of the US political establishment to the popular uprising in Egypt reveals the hypocrisy of a long-standing bipartisan foreign policy consensus.  Unlike Democrats and Republicans, Greens and Libertarians are united in their support for the people of Egypt in their fight to topple its oppressive regime.

The protest movement that erupted in Egypt over two weeks ago aiming to topple the nation’s authoritarian regime, headed by Hosni Mubarak, immediately captured the attention of the global media and heightened an acute contradiction in the decades-old foreign policy consensus of the US political establishment.  Rhetorically, the bipartisan Democratic-Republican party consensus stands for the expansion of freedom and democracy across the world.  In actuality, however, Democratic and Republican administrations alike have consistently supported repressive and tyrannical governments with massive amounts of foreign aid.

Hosni Mubarak assumed the presidency of Egypt in 1981 following the assassination of Anwar El Sadat.  The government of Egypt has imposed “emergency rule” on its people more or less continuously since 1967.  Under this law, the country’s president has free reign to restrict the freedom of assembly and speech, police are empowered to search and seize any individual at will, and the government has the authority to arrest and imprison citizens indefinitely without trial.  Among the primary demands of the protest movement in Egypt are the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, the repeal of the emergency law, and the implementation of legitimate constitutional reforms.

The United States has provided between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in military and economic aid to Egypt every year since 1979.  The untoward uses to which such aid is put became apparent when the state’s police forces sought to quell the January 25th uprising and launched all out attacks on protesters.  As ABC News reported on January 28th:

“Egyptian riot police are firing tear gas canisters bearing the label “Made in U.S.A” against street demonstrations in Cairo.”  The article continues, “the protesters see U.S. aid as the key that allowed President Hosni Mubarak to hold power for almost thirty years.”

The contradiction between the rhetoric of the US political establishment regarding the promotion of freedom and democracy abroad, and the reality of the bipartisan Democratic-Republican foreign policy consensus in support of dictatorial regimes, has been apparent for quite some time.  As George W. Bush stated in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in 2004, “For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability.”  The disconnect persists, however, and is obvious in the confused response of the Obama administration to the events unfolding in Egypt.  Administration officials and emissaries continue to express support for both Mubarak and the protest movement that seeks to topple his government.  On the other side of the duopoly divide, Republicans are equally conflicted about the popular uprising half a world away.

Unlike the Democrats and Republicans, the Green and Libertarian parties have both taken an unambiguous stance in support of the Egyptian people and against the bipartisan Democratic-Republican policy in favor of foreign entanglements with corrupt and repressive regimes.

Green Party leaders declared their support for non-violent protesters in North Africa and throughout the Middle East in a statement issued late last month.

“The Green Party of the United States supports democracy, here, and throughout the world. We hope that the protesters in Egypt succeed in deposing President Mubarak, and we’re thrilled to see so many young people stand up against dictators,” said Dr. Anthony Gronowicz, a former Green candidate for Congress and a member of the party’s International Committee.

“We condemn the brutal responses to the protests, including police violence and the shutdown of the Internet,” he continued.

David Doonan, the mayor of Greenwich New York and a Green Party member, criticized the US policy of supporting dictators such as Hosni Mubarak.

“The US continues to send the Egyptian government billions of dollars in military aid, some of it now being used by security forces to beat and teargas protesters,” he said, adding, “For true stability in the region, North African and Middle Eastern governments must serve the interests of their own people instead of the demands of the US State Department and western business.”

This sentiment was echoed in a statement released by Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle.  Hinkle declares his support for the Egyptian democracy movement on the basis of the Declaration of Independence.

“My sympathies are with the Egyptian protesters. Our very own Declaration of Independence said that government exists to secure people’s rights, and ‘whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government,” he wrote.  Hinkle then calls on the US government to cease “foreign meddling.”

“In almost every case, U.S. intervention has made American taxpayers poorer, and it has usually served to entrench corrupt authoritarian rulers,” he stated, calling for an end to such “aid.” “Libertarians call for the U.S. government to stop interfering in the Egyptian crisis, and to end foreign aid to all nations, including Egypt.”

Those who continue to advocate US intervention and aid in every corner of the globe in the supposed interest of promoting freedom and democracy abroad might consider revisiting George Washington’s farewell address and reflect on the state of freedom and democracy at home:

“The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”

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The Great Centralizer: Lincoln and the Growth of Statism in America

By Thomas J. DiLorenzo
[Thomas DiLorenzo discusses his upcoming online Mises Academy class The Great Centralizer: Lincoln and the Growth of Statism, a six-week course starting January 18.]

In his 1962 book, Patriotic Gore, Edmund Wilson wrote that “if we would grasp the significance of the Civil War in relation to the history of our time” it is important to realize that the “impulse” for centralized governmental power was very strong in the 19th century, all around the world. Wilson wrote that it was Lincoln, Lenin, and Bismarck who were more responsible than anyone in their respective countries for introducing the plague of centralized governmental bureaucracy. Lincoln became “an uncompromising dictator,” and expanded and centralized governmental power in such a way that “all the bad potentialities of the policies he had initiated were realized … in the most undesirable ways.”

The Lincoln regime destroyed the system of federalism, or states’ rights, that was established by the founding fathers. After the war, the union was no longer voluntary, and all states, North and South, became mere appendages of Washington, DC. Lincoln illegally suspended the writ of habeas corpus and imprisoned tens of thousands of political dissenters without due process; waged total war with the bombing, plundering, and mass murder of some 50,000 of his own citizens; signed ten tariff-raising bills; imposed heavy “sin taxes” on alcohol and tobacco; introduced the first federal income-tax and military-conscription laws; introduced an internal-revenue bureaucracy for the first time; executed thousands of accused deserters from the army; shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers in the Northern states; went off the gold standard and nationalized the money supply; introduced massive corporate-welfare schemes; deported an opposition member of Congress; and exploded the public debt, among other sins. By “targeting and butchering [Southern] civilians,” Murray Rothbard wrote in his essay, “America’s Two Just Wars: 1775 and 1861” (in John Denson, ed., The Costs of War), “Lincoln and Grant and Sherman paved the way for all the genocidal horrors of the monstrous 20th century.” They “opened the Pandora’s Box of genocide and the extermination of civilians …”

Commenting on the evils of such centralized governmental power in his book, Omnipotent Government, Ludwig von Mises wrote that, as new powers accrued to governments during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the powers

accrued not to the member states but to the federal government. Every step toward more government interference and toward more planning means at the same time an expansion of the jurisdiction of the central government …. It is a very significant fact that the adversaries of the trend toward more government control describe their opposition as a fight against Washington and against Berne, i.e., against centralization. It is conceived as a contest of states’ rights versus the central power. (p. 268)

All of this must be forgotten, Pulitzer prize-winning novelist Robert Penn Warren wrote in his 1961 book, The Legacy of the Civil War. It must be forgotten so that the federal government can perpetuate the lie that it possessed a “treasury of virtue” at the end of the Civil War. All of this virtue supposedly exists to this day, even if it is expressed as “American exceptionalism.” With all this “virtue,” anything the American state does, no matter how heinous, is said to be virtuous, by definition.

It also “must be forgotten,” Warren wrote, that “the Republican platform of 1860 pledged protection to the institution of slavery … and the Republicans were ready, in 1861, to guarantee slavery in the South.” It must be forgotten that “in July, 1861, both houses of Congress, by an almost unanimous vote, affirmed that the war was waged not to interfere with the institutions of any state [i.e., slavery] but only to maintain the Union.” It must be forgotten, also, that the Emancipation Proclamation was “limited and provisional” in that “slavery was to be abolished only in the seceded states [where the government had no power to free anyone] and only if they did not return to the Union.”

“The Lincoln myth is the cornerstone of the ideology of American statism.”

It must also be forgotten, I would add, that Great Britain, Spain, France, Denmark, Sweden, the Dutch, and every other country where slavery existed in the 19th century ended slavery peacefully (as the New England states had also done).

We must also forget that most Northern states like New York, where slavery had existed for more than 200 years, “refused to adopt Negro suffrage,” Warren wrote, and that Lincoln was as much a white supremacist as any man of his time, announcing in his 1858 Charlestown, Illinois, debate with Stephen Douglas, “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.”

The effect of all this forgetfulness about history is that “the man of righteousness tends to be so sure of his own motives that he does not need to inspect consequences” (emphasis added). A further effect of “the conviction of virtue is to make us lie automatically … and then in trying to justify the lie into a kind of superior truth.”

This last sentence is a perfect description of modern “Lincoln scholarship” in America. It is mostly a bundle of lies, half-truths, and excuse making, the purpose of which is to portray lies as truth and immoral acts as moral ones. That sentence is also the motivation for my new online Mises Academy course, beginning in January: The Great Centralizer: Lincoln and the Growth of Statism.

The Lincoln myth is the cornerstone of the ideology of American statism. Lincoln was the most-hated president of all time during his own lifetime, as Larry Tagg documents in his book, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America’s Most Reviled President. The fact that he is now the most revered of all American presidents is a result of the work of generations of court historians and statist apologists who have literally rewritten American history in the same manner that the Soviets rewrote Russian history to consolidate their political power. The deification of Abe Lincoln eventually led to the deification of all presidents, and to the American state in general, as Professor Clyde Wilson has written, effectively resurrecting a version of the medieval notion of the divine right of kings. The divine right of kings is now called “American exceptionalism.”

The purpose of the course will be to apply the tools of Austrian economics, Austrian political economy, and libertarianism to demystify the Great Centralizer and to seek to learn the truth about the real nature of the American state and its economic interventions. We will not twist and “reinterpret” Lincoln’s own speeches to make him, and the state he presided over, look saintly, as is done by all “Lincoln scholars.” (The typical method of Lincoln “scholarship” is called “hagiography,” which is a religious term that was originally meant to describe studies of the lives of the saints).

Among the topics to be discussed in this six-week online course are Lincoln’s real views on race, including his lifelong infatuation with “colonization” or the deportation of all black people from America; his long history as a forceful proponent of Hamiltonian mercantilism in economic policy; the myth of secession as treason and of the union as “perpetual” and “divine”; the abolition of civil liberties in the North during the war; the introduction of total war, including the mass murder of some 50,000 Southern civilians; the economic consequences of the war, including the adoption of the entire Whig/Hamiltonian agenda of protectionism, nationalized banking, corporate welfare, large public debt, and an internal-revenue bureaucracy; and the politics of the Lincoln cult. Students will be asked to read only one publication, my book The Real Lincoln, along with several online articles that will be assigned each week.

12/15/2010 | Source: The Great Centralizer: Lincoln and the Growth of Statism in America