When the world watched Egyptians bravely gather en masse in Tahrir Square in Cairo in January 2011 to Arab Spring Hosni Mubarak out of office, we were mightily impressed and most of us cheered the nonviolent resistance.
The western press lionized the Egyptian military as it seemed to support the uprising and the generals kindly offered to run the country on an interim basis. Sure enough, there was an election eventually, Mohammed Morsi won, and the military handed over power.
For a minute.
Then we saw the military not-so-kindly grab power, ousting the elected Morsi and General Sisi ordered mass arrests and torture of dissident pro-democracy Egyptian activists.
Now, a few short years since the U.S. calmly watched democracy betrayed badly by the Egyptian military, the U.S. press is valorizing the military officers who are starting to snap some discipline into the most chaotic, dysfunctional, investigated White House this senior citizen has ever observed, at least since the months leading up to Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon’s resignation.
Falling all over ourselves in gratitude because a Marine general imposes some order in the executive branch may benefit the racially biased, anti-immigrant, pro-military agenda of the range of rightwing members of Congress, but that new efficiency is not going to result in the policy changes most Americans want nor those which protect the healthy water and air we all need.
From H.R. McMaster (National Security Adviser), to John Kelly (Chief of Staff) to James Mattis (Secretary of Defense) to Joseph Dunford — all generals — Trump is ceding power to those who know how to seize it. Generals now head his staff in the White House.
In short, handing over the keys to the democratic system to the military might seem like a safe path toward stability, but it failed miserably for the Egyptians and even in our disrupted state we should not seek to hitch our lines to the ones who do not practice democracy, who have a mission to control by threat of destruction, and who practice a dominating form of rule, not a democratic form of governance.
None of these generals is a Dwight Eisenhower, all are dedicated to the Trump agenda — ramping up global climate chaos, sowing race hate and violence, targeting refugees and immigrants fleeing from wars we supply arms to wage, rolling back civil rights, being cozy with the likes of autocrats Putin, Duterte, and yes, General al-Sisi, while scorning democratic humane clean energy leaders like Merkel. Be ye advised.
Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.