I recently received an email from Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois who asked his constituents what U.S. policy in Egypt should be.
He provided a simplistic choice of four answers.
>back the government
>push the government to new elections
>watch closely but do nothing
>do not know
Instead of selecting one of these. I wrote him the following email.
You asked for your constituents to voice their opinions on U.S. policy in Egypt but the choice for answers you provided was quite limited. You deserve to hear something more than a selection from 4 terse statements, one of which is of no help at all - "do not know"
U.S. policy toward the entire Arab world, including Egypt, has been a disaster unless looked at from the standpoint of the dictators who exercise power in the Arab countries.
Hosni Mubarak is a perfect example of U.S. policy ignoring the U.S. founding principle of liberty and justice for all. Mubarak has been paid off/supported by the U.S. to maintain good relations with the government of Israel, regardless of his oppression of his own people. In fact, there is no real U.S. policy in the Middle East other than seconding whatever Israel decides to do or going silent if in disagreement with Israel (as our president does).
The U.S. invasion of Iraq was supposed to bring democracy to the Middle East, yet democracy in Egypt has always been a possibility without the use of American armed forces. Our leverage there is great because of the billions we send there, just as our leverage in Israel is great...but we have not done anything in either country to defend the rights of the large number of Arabs who are oppressed and have been oppressed for decades, the most outrageous example being the Palestinians.
This has only confirmed United States hypocrisy in Arab eyes (and the rest of the world as well).
President Obama gave a historic speech in Cairo at the beginning of his presidency, yet he failed to follow up on it and the Congress has been the last place to find any support for the civil rights of Arabs anywhere in the world.
If President Obama and the Congress had followed up on his Cairo speech, the United States would be in an excellent position to rise appreciably in the eyes of Arabs everywhere.
As it is, the ball has been dropped and we are looking like a party covering itself as best it can while its policy crumbles. It's late in the day to be calling for Mubarak to leave when a few weeks ago we were happy with the man.
So U.S. policy in Egypt has been flubbed. What to do?
Senator Kirk, you have an obligation as an American with real political power, to work tirelessly to end the control of Congress by the Israel lobby. You must change course from the automatic support for Israel that you have shown in the past. The Israeli government is actively pursuing a policy toward the Palestinians that is the exact opposite of the United States refusal to endorse the settlement project. Stop the IRS from granting tax exemption to U.S. "charities" that funnel money to the settlements. Denounce the trampling of human rights that takes place daily in the occupied territories, where the only law is what the Israeli Defense Forces say it is. Demand a withdrawal by Israel to the Green Line of 1967 with land swaps if necessary and give recognition to East Jerusalem as a capital for the Palestinians.
The "peace process" is now clearly seen to be the fraud that Israel has always known it to be, covering for the relentless land-grab in the occupied territories.
You have a great deal of work to do undoing the hole the United States has dug for itself by years of automatic support for a humanitarian and legal travesty undertaken by Israel. With the exception of the United States, the whole world recognizes this travesty. Stop the oblivious manner in which endorsements of anything Israel does are automatically passed in the Congress.
Stand up for the justice that America supposedly values but has failed to support in Palestine for decades.