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The Biggest Threat to Democracy and Freedom


By all objective standards, Egypt’s government is a military dictatorship and a brutal one at that. Having ousted the democratically elected president of the country, Egypt’s national-security establishment has not only taken control over the reins of government, it is the government. In order to fortify its grip on power over the Egyptian people, it has done what dictatorships do: intimidate, incarcerate, torture, and kill those who dare to question or criticize the existence of the dictatorship as well as its dictatorial actions.

Why is omnipotent power so important to the Egyptian national-security establishment? Because like all dictatorships, its officials are running a racket, one in which government employees and people who receive government largess are coming out like bandits. Under the Egyptian dictatorship, everything in the country is oriented toward funneling as much of the nation’s resources as possible into the coffers of the government so that the privileged elite can get wealthier and lead better lives than everyone else.

While it might be tempting to believe that this military dictatorship came into existence after the ouster of President Mohammad Morsi, nothing could be further from the truth. Egypt’s military dictatorship has been in existence for decades.

For much of that time, the man at the top of this dictatorship was military strongman Hosni Mubarak. When the Egyptian people succeeded in ousting him from power, they undoubtedly thought that their decades of suffering had come to an end, especially when they were permitted to democratically elect their president.

That was a pipedream. That’s because the ouster of Mubarak and Morsi’s election did not fundamentally alter Egypt’s governmental structure. It remained a national-security state controlled by the military and intelligence forces of the country. As long as that governmental structure remained in place, it didn’t matter who the president was because of the obvious reason: Whoever was president could be ousted from power at any time the military decided he needed to be ousted.

How did this dictatorial structure come into existence? The U.S. government helped to bring it into existence. That’s because U.S. officials believe in a national-security state. Indeed, that’s the type of governmental system that the United States adopted after World War II, a system that consists of an all-powerful military and intelligence establishment that wields omnipotent powers over the citizenry.

When President Eisenhower delivered his Farewell Address in 1960, he warned the American people that this type of governmental structure —a national-security establishment — or what Ike called “the military-industrial complex,” which was new to the American way of life — posed a grave threat to America’s democratic processes.

What Ike obviously meant by that is what the Egyptian people have experienced with Morsi. In Egypt, the national-security establishment came to the conclusion that Morsi’s policies posed a grave threat to national security in Egypt. Therefore, with the purported aim of protecting national security, the military and intelligence establishment ousted him from power and took control over the country.

That’s what Eisenhower was saying about the U.S. national-security establishment — that faced with a president whose policies constituted, in the eyes of the military and CIA, a threat to national security, there was a real danger that the Pentagon and the CIA would do the same thing that the Egyptian national-security establishment did to Morsi.

It’s clear that the U.S. government has no fundamental problems with what the national-security establishment did in Egypt. Just last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sent a personal envoy to Egypt to participate in a conference organized for American businessmen by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where the attendees were exhorted to invest in Egypt. That, of course, would mean more money being funneled into the coffers of the Egyptian military-intelligence dictatorship.

More important, the U.S. government has continued to furnish the Egyptian dictatorship with hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid, which obviously helps the military-intelligence dictatorship maintain its iron grip over the Egyptian people.

In fact, the very reason that the U.S. government has been furnishing hundreds of millions of dollars in military and financial aid to Egypt over the decades has been to erect and fortify an omnipotent national-security state dictatorship in Egypt, one that would have the means to continue its grip on power domestically while at the same time serving as a partner for the U.S. government in international affairs. Don’t forget, after all, that Egypt willingly served as one of the U.S. government’s rendition-torture partners as part of its war on terrorism.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that U.S. officials have supported the doctrine that empowers national-security state officials to oust a democratically elected president whose policies are considered to constitute a threat to national security. Recall Chile, when U.S. national-security state officials were teaching Chilean military and intelligence officials that they had a moral duty to violate their country’s laws and constitution and oust the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, from power and install a national-security state dictatorship, one that, not surprisingly, was quite similar to the national-security state dictatorship that the U.S. government is partnering with in Egypt.

Ike was right about the grave danger to democracy and freedom posed by national-security state governmental apparatuses. Just ask Egyptians. Or Chileans.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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