Be Careful What You Wish For…


Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

When my NY Times headline feed came in today the headline and then to this article stood out:

 Egypt Military Aims to Cement Muscular Role in Government

Reading it, I thought of the euphoria that we felt when Hosni Mubarak left, overthrown by the bravery of the Egyptian people as they had fought and protested for a more democratic way of life. How stirring the unfolding story was of Muslim Peoples beginning to rise up and overthrow the tyranny they under which they lived. The tipping point in Mubarak’s ouster was the support of the powerful Egyptian Military, who promised a civilian authored constitution and democratic reforms. Knowing Egyptian history for the last 60 years or so did little to damp my enthusiasm, despite the fact that every regime change came about by military coup/intervention. Afterwards, like many of us Egypt passed out of my thoughts as other issues came to the fore. Then this story drew me back to the experiences of my life and the stream of disappointments that followed every seemingly triumphant political moment I’ve lived through.

In 1959, when the news came in that Fidel Castro controlled Havana and the brutal dictator Fulgencio Batista has fled the country, I felt tears of joy run down my face, and comforting warmth spread through my body. Cuba was free and justice had triumphed over tyranny. My support for Castro remained even after he adopted close ties with , because the US had always supported Batista and the “Bay of Pigs” was a CIA debacle in attempting to usher in Batista’s return. My emotional support for Castro remained, even though he had gone too far in allowing Russian missiles, because the previous US interference had put him in a defensive position. The Cuban embargo was wrong and so Fidel was hampered in his aims to create an autonomous democratic Cuba. Fifty-two years into the Castro Brothers reign, with Raoul nominally replacing Fidel my initial excitement has turned to disgust. Perhaps the state of Cuban lives is better under Fidel, but anyone remaining in absolute power for Fifty-two years, without a clear line of democratic succession is merely a tyrant, benevolent or not.

 This has been a continual occurrence in my lifetime and indeed in history. The hated and hateful Tsars and Aristocracy overthrown in Russia, replaced by a type differing only in name, from Lenin, to Stalin, to today’s Putin. The Tsars deserved what they got, but the Russian people deserve better than they received. The awful Chinese Emperor’s were replaced by the democratic government of Sun Yat Sen, only to have his government overthrown by a collection of bandit chiefs and then rescued from their depredations, by Mao Tse Tung. His Communist party rules the country, but it has  become a fascist state, as has Russia. So it goes. 

People burdened under the yoke of tyranny yearn to be free, yet tyranny keeps replacing tyranny, and things essentially remain the same in many venues. We in the U.S.tend to view this smugly; after all we’re different, aren’t we? In Great Britain and in most EU nations the tides of Democracy have swept through and yet we see the elements of “Police State” beginning to seep back into many seeming democracies. Is it in fact an overriding truth that humans are constantly driven back to a tyrannical hierarchy? Are many of us genetically wired to respond to and not question authority? Is this the true state of human affairs and thus no different in our society from that of the Great Apes? To maintain my sanity and faith in the future I have to believe this isn’t so, but at times the cynicism of historical experience makes it difficult to believe we can truly change. 

Returning to the story I began with, reading between the lines, it does seem that the military is indeed exerting its’ control over the Egyptian people. Given what I know of U.S. foreign policy preferences this might even be aided by our encouragement, since we provide Egypt with considerable funds in military and monetary aid. The purpose may well be to diminish the power of the Muslim Brotherhood. We have seen this kind of rationale byU.S.Foreign Policy’s “Wise old Men” to justify maintenance of tyrannies in power, in the name of a greater good. The problem is it doesn’t work as a hoped for stabilizing force, it merely leads to a string of chaotic destabilization and oppression of people.

 I hope, against my better judgment that this somehow works out well for establishing  an Egyptian Democracy, rule of law and freedom. I suspect though that it is just going to be the reiteration of a constant historical theme.

12 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Wish For…

  1. We have had a long, close relationship with Egypt’s military for decades. They receive the second largest chunk of military aid from the US, right behind Israel, and their officers, many of them, received training from America.

    They also have a lot of autonomy from the state because they have their own business culture. They do not burden the country budget as much as a similar sized military would in other countries. They are their own military/industrial complex. That always gave them a lot of freedom to do as they chose to do.

    The military’s autonomy worked in the protesters favor during the revolution but once the military assumes the kind of power they are now proposing the best that can be hoped for is a limited democratic role for the citizens.

    From article linked in posting:

    “Proposals under consideration would give the military a broad mandate to intercede in Egyptian politics to protect national unity or the secular character of the state. A top general publicly suggested such a role, according to a report last month in the Egyptian newspaper Al- Masry Al- Youm. The military plans to adopt the document on its own, before any election, referendum or constitution sets up a civilian authority, said Mohamed Nour Farahat, a law professor working on the declaration. That would represent an about-face for a force that, after helping to oust President Hosni Mubarak five months ago, consistently pledged to turn over power to elected officials who would draft a constitution. Though the proposed declaration might protect liberals from an Islamist-dominated constitution, it could also limit democracy by shielding the military from full civilian control.”

    The military has been in charge and looks like they will continue to be in charge. The only question left is, what kind of government will they allow to be established.

  2. Mike S.,

    The Egyptian people are very smart. They are back in the streets. They aren’t backing down until their demands are met. They never let their guard down. They gave the military a decent chance to do what they said they would do. As soon as they saw the military was lying and had no intention of keeping their word, they went back into action. Don’t give up!

    Go to or AJE for several updates on the situation.

    It’s the same as we need to do here. Obviously, we the people are being lied to. More than a decent amount of time has passed for the ruling elite to keep their word, to do right by the people and this planet. We need to learn from the Egyptians. If “leaders” don’t do the right thing, they need to be replaced by those who will. They aren’t backing down, neither should we. Together we still have a chance, just like the Egyptians. Maybe they won’t succeed. Maybe we won’t either. But they are damn well trying. And without trying, the outcome is assured!

    I also want to point to the long period of human existence, that while we don’t have written history for it, we do have archaeological evidence and oral traditions that tell us about that time. It hasn’t always been a hierarchy. In fact, evidence suggests that hierarchies are fairly recent. So, we can draw on that long period of human existence where people choose a better path. If people lived a different way once, we can live that way again. We can make better choices.

  3. are these articles all written by Jonathan Turley?
    He seems a bit too young to have experienced the overthrow of Batista.
    I have always wondered who the narrators are in these excellent articles in this blog.
    Does anyone know who’s behind them?
    Thank you,

  4. Tarik, the guest bloggers are always identified at the top of each article. If it does not say it was written by one of the guest bloggers, then the Professor wrote it. This particular article was written by Mike Spindell.

    And I am quite old enough to remember the overthrow of Batista. I was in college at the time.

  5. Mike Spindell-
    “Mubarak seems to have had a massive stroke.”

    Maybe he went to one of his caches of stolen money and found that some other thief had stolen his stolen money.

  6. sadly, very few revolutions ever actually achieve the goal of given power to the governed. Instead they tend to end up giving power to the most militant. The American revolution is one of only a few exceptions. Even France, which eventually go it right took a long and bloody road to democracy.

    Its not surprising that the void left by the collapse of any government should be filled by strongmen with guns. “Sewing the wind” and all that.

    It is foolish to assume otherwise when encouraging people to rise up against oppressive regimes. If we did that we share the blame for what comes next, not just the credit. But then US blame for damage in the ME goes back to at least 1950’s. Lets hope the people Of Egypt have a soft landing in spite of the odds and a brighter future.

  7. “Tarik
    1, July 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm
    are these articles all written by Jonathan Turley?
    He seems a bit too young to have experienced the overthrow of Batista.
    I have always wondered who the narrators are in these excellent articles in this blog.
    Does anyone know who’s behind them?
    Thank you,”

    I’m quite sure your statement has made the professor,and our guest bloggers day.

    We the (I guess I would consider myself a regular)are exposed to these “excellent articles”daily and keeps us all thinking and contributing to as you say”these excellent articles”

  8. At the beginning of any revolution it is uncertain who will remain and be in power…As time has proven over and again…the apparent leader is not usually the beginning agent….

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