WikiLeaks, Dictators, and the End of the US Empire

Posted on 30/01/2011 by

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The efforts of popularly ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mobarak to stabilise his failed regime are telling; particularly, his filling of the office of Vice-President. Leaving aside for the moment his choice of VP, I’d like to briefly touch on what I see as the symbolism of the move.

Mr Mubarak was VP when his president, Anwar El-Sadat, was assassinated in 1981. There has been no VP since then; Mr Mubarak, presumably, had a guilty conscience. Appointing someone to his last office is a sign of the level of desperation which Mr Mobarak has sunk. It is too little, too late, but that is an aside: that office probably last held the instigator of President El-Sadat’s assassination.

The new VP is Omar Suleiman, head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, a position which made him Foreign Policy magazine’s most powerful intelligence chief in the Near East. Here’s a good piece about Mr Suleiman’s sordid and violent history. Additionally, Mr Suleiman might have a very quiet grudge against ex-President Mubarak: from this WikiLeaks release, we learn that Soleiman

was “deeply personally hurt” by Mubarak, who promised to name him [Soleiman] vice-president several years ago, but then reneged.

Curious person to have in the position of gaining the presidency upon death of the president. Suleiman has twin rewards of Mubarak having ‘health problems’: the presidency, and revenge. I think this speaks worlds about the desperation presently in Mubarak’s world, in the aftermath of his failed presidency.

Given the cables [1, 2] which I have so far read about Mr Mubarak, the best way I can describe him, is that he was too honest for the US government’s tastes. Indeed, he perhaps took the ‘dictator or Islamic extremist’ false dialectic to heart. He was not a man who had perfectly learnt the art of Doublethink: knowing one thing, professing the opposite. He knew he was an oppressive dictator, and he didn’t really make moves to cover that up.

The US government prefers its puppet-dictators to have a bit more polish, and more skill in the refined art of Doublethink. Enter Mr Suleiman, a seemingly cultured and civilised man who thinks nothing of brutality for its own sake. He proved himself by being more than just a staunch Mubarak supporter: he could be a suave diplomat in public, brokering peace deals with Israel for the benefit of Egypt; and a bloodthirsty spymaster, killing one person to intimidate another for the benefit of the US Empire. Doublethink could not be expressed in a higher vein: peace in public speech, violence in covert policy.

However dangerous Mr Mubarak was in power, Mr Suleiman, if he gains the presidency, will be worse. He will, I have no doubt, receive the full blessings of the US government and its ‘allies’, if and when he should become titular President of Egypt. The reason is simple: he is a better ally than Mr Mubarak, because he has the better ability to be a paper reformer.

The attempt at transitioning from Mr Mubarak to Mr Suleiman is a window into the remarkable depth of the Western programme of systematically subverting sovereignty. This a programme spearheaded, if you will, by the US government, but they do not act alone. Other interests, notably international corporations, rest upon the heavy-lifting which the US government and its ‘allies’ perform throughout the world.

Thus we enter the curious world of the evolving, US-backed dictator, and the peculiar manner in which they always seem to be 20 years, or more, behind the times. Mr Mubarak was out of date in 1981; now he is positively a dinosaur, as his primitive handling of the internet attests. Mr Suleiman is 20 years behind the times now, but as far as the US is concerned, that’s close enough for government work.

The change-over to Mr Suleiman was probably the standing backup, in case Mr Mubarak’s son Gamal proved unappetising to the US government, as well as Egyptian military leaders. Presumably, if Cablegate had not occurred, neither would have the Tunisian people’s assertion of their sovereignty; without this impetus, as well as further Cablegate information, the Egyptians would still be quietly suffering under Mr Mubarak’s tender mercies.

This would suggest that the power hand-over from Mr Mubarak to his successor would have been a bit calmer, but for the sake of argument, let us assume that the presidency eventually ends up in the hands of Mr Suleiman.

On one hand we have the outgoing dictator, who is a relic of US diplomatic subversion from the mindset of the early Cold War; his techniques are crude, obvious, and inflexible. The incoming dictator, on the other hand, is a relic of the very late Cold War: he is smooth, cunning, malleable, and equally out of touch as his predecessor, but in new and interesting ways.

In essence, this rollover is part of a Cold War-era programme which has never stopped. It took on a life of its own, probably very soon after it was created, and it has been going nonstop since then. That programme was ostensibly preventing communist regimes from arising by preventing any sort of democratic process.

The US government fear of communism and socialism is from internal experience; I touch on this briefly in an earlier article. Suffice it to say, though, the US government has long known that socialism/communism is popularly attractive, and can achieve power through a real democratic process. This is why the US government could not allow democratic processes to exist in ‘high risk’ countries. There was too much of a risk that communist parties could sweep up into power on a groundswell of popular support.

This has morphed into attacking — and usually overturning — those governments which do not bow to the US government agenda of an imperialist world police state, simply because the Empire can do so. Dictators have been the best tool of that police state, because they are oppressive, lawless, and easily bought off by default. This has been the standard answer throughout modern US foreign policy: install a dictator and give him lots of guns.

The continuation of this process hinged upon it being done in relative secrecy. It was not necessary that the effects be secret, but rather the network which made it happen. The most vital part of that network’s secrecy was — and still is — the internal flow of information.

The reason information secrecy is so vital, is that the secrecy is necessary to protect those who are part of the subversion process, and those who are just functionaries or dupes. Dupes have the pesky problem of being principled, or at least possessing a conscience; confronted by the wrong piece of information, a functionary will tend to place morality before Empire and blow the whistle, a.k.a. leaking.

Before the advent of the Internet, leaking was a very difficult process. It involved taking physical material, copying it, putting back the originals, not getting caught in this process, finding a trustworthy journalist, covering one’s back, and so on and so forth. It took, in short, dedicated individuals who had the nerves and the fortitude to see this to the end.

Enter here WikiLeaks, and more specifically the concept behind it: a passive online platform specifically designed to disseminate leaked material and protect the leaker’s identity. Leaking has now become easier than ever, and because of the extremely powerful nature of the platform, there will be more, and not fewer, organisations like WikiLeaks on the internet. Indeed, the more the merrier: with increasing numbers of leaking platforms available to those who have access to information about abuses, the easier it will be for that information to be released.

The implications of this for the Empire are, in the medium and long-term, fatal: in order to maintain information secrecy, constituent governments within the Empire will have to steadily clamp down on its functionaries and operatives alike. Institutional suspicion will flare, and internal information flows will slow to such a point that these countries will no longer be able to effectively deal with emergent overthrowing of the Empire.

Point in case is Egypt: the US government clearly has no idea what is going on in Egypt, and likewise does not know what to do about the situation. The uprising will be long since completed, and a new Egypt will have emerged, before the US government will have made up its collective mind about what to do. Effectively, the US government is increasingly running blind; as it is the backbone and heavy-lifter of the Empire, so too is the Empire generally blind as well.

Dictators support the Empire, and the Empire supports its dictators. WikiLeaks, by revealing the existence of that process with irrefutable information, provides what is needed for the people of the world to stop this process. People can stop supporting the dictators placed over them, and they can also stop supporting the system of oppression. These simple, non-violent acts will do more than just bring the Empire to its knees: it will cease to exist in record time.

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Posted in: WikiLeaks