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Wall Street Journal calls for counter-revolution in Egypt

Paolo Bassi

July 20, 2013

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)—the voice piece of the American monied classes—responded to the latest phase of the Egyptian revolution by calling for a return to the dictatorship and free market policies against which Egyptians are revolting.
In an editorial titled “After the Coup in Cairo,” the WSJ stated that “Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.”
Pinochet, Mubarak
Pinochet, one of Latin Americas most infamous military rulers, overthrew the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende in a violent CIA backed coup in September 1973—a coup hatched in Washington by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. Pinochet consolidated his power by the extra-judicial murder and torture of thousands, and subjected Chile to a drastic, neo-liberal economic experiment and opened up its markets to American corporations.
The WSJ did not discuss how long Egypt would need military dictatorship before the sort of democracy acceptable to the Egyptian business class and international investors would take root. Nor did it mention how many death squads would be needed to remove any opposition. The WSJ did however offer the prospect of Washington using its leverage to open markets and arrange IMF loans: “The U.S. now has a second chance to use its leverage to shape a better outcome.”
The liberal UK Guardian newspaper, rightly shocked, could not explain the WSJ editorial. But the WSJ’s call for counter-revolution in Egypt, however nonchalantly, is fully consistent with its politics and it knows exactly what it means. The WSJ is frustrated that president Morsi was not able to return Egyptian neoliberalism to “stability” of Mubarak, and longs for a Pinochet. But what Pinochet did for Chile, Mubarak did for Egypt—which is why he was overthrown: putting Egypt’s unions to heel, murdering and torturing the political opposition, privatizing everything in sight, subjecting the country to IMF debt and foreign investment, and so bringing it firmly under Western control.
At the same time Mubarak’s military regime was a loyal servant of US imperialism—supporting Israel, and the Islamophobic “war on terror”—which the WSJ is eager to maintain: “Unpopular as America is in Egypt, $1.3 billion in annual military aid buys access with the generals. U.S. support for Cairo is written into the Camp David peace accords with Israel. Washington can also do more to help Egypt gain access to markets, international loans and investment capital.”
The Egyptian revolution has threatened to undermine this pillar of imperialism and to win economic and social justice for people across the region. The US has tried to maintain control—first backing Mubarak and then Morsi—while paying lip service to the revolutions against them. As the WSJ complained, “The Obama Administration has been caught trailing events at every turn, supporting Mr. Mubarak before abruptly throwing him over, and then embracing Mr. Morsi despite his authoritarian turn.”
Now Egyptians have toppled two consecutive US-backed rulers, while organizing into independent trade unions, and fighting for the rights of women and religious minorities. Pinochet brought counter-revolution to Chile when popular committees, the cordones, began organizing society from below. Egypt is not at that stage, but the confidence of millions who forced the military to remove Morsi could develop in that direction. This mass democracy would be “chaos” in the eyes of the WSJ, which it wants crushed through the counter-revolutionary “stability” of dictatorship. People in the West need to oppose any attempts of our governments--whether political, economic, or military--against the Egyptian revolution, so that it can continue in the direction feared by the WSJ: “a military coup riding mass protests carries its own risks to future stability… If General Sisi merely tries to restore the old Mubarak order, he will eventually suffer Mr. Morsi's fate.” Let’s hope so.


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