The US National Security Sate Loves Egypt's Dictatorship
08 December 2013
By Jacob G. Hornberger
In a Washington Post editorial
"Egypt's Wrong Road," the Post calls on the U.S.
government to suspend U.S. aid and cooperation with
Egypt until the Egyptian regime "frees political
prisoners and adopts a genuine democratic path."
The Post just doesn't get it. The Egyptian military
dictatorship is precisely what the U.S. government
loves, respects, and admires.
Let's keep in mind that the most powerful and
influential part of the U.S. government is the
national-security state part, which consists of the
vast U.S. military-industrial complex, the CIA, and
the NSA. For all practical purposes, this part has
grown into the fourth branch of the federal
government, one that the legislative, executive, and
judicial branches oftentimes defer to.
From its inception in 1947 through today, the
officials running the national-security apparatus, not
surprisingly, have been convinced that their part of
the government is absolutely essential to the
preservation of America's freedom and prosperity. It
shouldn't surprise anyone that it takes the same
position with respect to pro-U.S. foreign regimes.
It has been the power and influence of the U.S.
national-security state that has, over the decades,
moved America in the direction of favoring,
installing, and supporting foreign regimes that are
also founded on a powerful military-intelligence
establishment and that are pro-U.S.
What is the first thing that the U.S. military and the
CIA do after invading a country and ousting an
independent or recalcitrant regime? In their quest to
"rebuild" the nation, the first thing they do is
establish a new government that is founded on an
all-powerful military-intelligence complex, just like
here in the United States. The first order of business
is always to train the military, especially to how
suppress people who would try to violently overthrow
the new regime.
Never is there any thought of installing a system on
which America was originally founded—one in which
there is no giant standing army, no CIA, and no NSA.
Newly installed regimes are never taught the
principles in the Bill of Rights, including due
process of law and principles of search and seizure,
or the virtues of a government with limited powers.
Instead, what is inculcated in the new regime is the
critical importance of having an all-powerful
military-intelligence force, one whose soldiers wield
the power to bash down people's doors in the dead of
night looking for terrorists and insurgents and that
keeps close surveillance on the citizenry.
Look at the history of U.S. regime-change operations.
In 1954, the U.S. national-security state ousted the
democratically elected president in Guatemala from
power. Who did they install in his place? A military
general! That's not a coincidence. The U.S. military
and the CIA honestly believe that this is the ideal
form of government. Military rule brings order and
stability. Democracy brings socialists and communists
to power or rulers that are not subservient to the
Empire. So, they trained and supported the forces of
that Guatemalan military dictator on how to suppress
resistance to the dictatorship, including through
One year before that, the U.S. national-security state
had done the same thing in Iran. They ousted the
democratically elected prime minister of the country
because he wasn't subservient to the U.S.
national-security state. They replaced him with the
Shah and then proceeded to train the Shah's domestic
police-intelligence force in the arts of repression,
including torture and indefinite detention.
Keep in mind that throughout these episodes, U.S.
national-security state officials genuinely believed
that what they were doing constituted "freedom." In
their minds, these countries were now "free" precisely
because they were now headed by rulers who were
friends and allies of the United States. And they took
the same position that their foreign regimes took—that
people who resisted the foreign regimes were
terrorists — i.e., people who could be killed,
tortured, and incarcerated indefinitely without trial.
Consider the Pinochet regime in Chile. U.S.
national-security state officials loved it. They
helped install it. They helped foment the chaos that
led up to the coup, with the precise aim of helping to
bring on the coup. They participated in the ambush
that killed a Chilean general who was opposing the
coup. And when the coup leaders began grabbing
socialists and communists, incarcerating them,
torturing and raping them, and executing them, U.S.
officials loved it. (Many U.S. conservatives still
do.) They thought what Pinochet was doing was awesome.
This is way to deal with communists, they said. Never
mind that the people they were grabbing, torturing,
raping, and executing weren't engaged in violence. The
fact that they believed in communism and socialism was
all that mattered.
It was that way throughout Latin America from the
start of the U.S. national-security state. U.S.
national-security state officials have always loved
military dictatorships. In country after country, they
helped install them, either through invasion or coups.
Once they installed them, the U.S. military would
train the foreign regime's military forces at the
School of the Americas, especially in the art of
torture. And it was all done in the name of "freedom."
Even to this day, the PR people at the School of the
Americas will tell you that their school was training
the troops of pro-U.S. Latin American military regimes
in order to keep the Western hemisphere "free." What's
fascinating is that they really seem to believe it.
It's not a coincidence that the U.S. national-security
state has embraced its national-security state
counterpart in Egypt for decades, including vast
amounts of U.S. aid for the military, aid that
came—and continues to come—in the form of cash and
weaponry that has long been used to maintain "order
and stability" in Egypt by suppressing dissent against
the dictatorship. U.S. officials have loved the
Egyptian military regime ever since its inception. As
in Latin America, they love the order and stability
that a military regime brings.
Even in places like Iraq, where U.S. officials
ostensibly set up democratic elections, the result
was, at best, nothing more than a democratically
elected dictatorship, one whose ruler wields
omnipotent powers, enforced by an all-powerful
military-intelligence force established by U.S.
officials as part of their rebuilding efforts, all of
which has produced a hell-hole of a country.
In fact, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, there
are marked similarities between the Egyptian and
American systems, in that both countries are based on
a vast military-intelligence complex that plays a
dominant role in the economy. Moreover, both regimes
wield similar powers over their respective
citizenries—e.g., the power of the military to take
suspected terrorists into custody, torture them,
incarcerate them indefinitely without jury trial or
due process of law.
In fact, U.S. officials have long taken the same
position that Egyptian officials do with respect to
people who violently resist the Egyptian military
dictatorship. Such people are considered terrorists
not only by Egyptian officials but also by U.S.
officials. One of the best examples here was the case
of famed New York lawyer Lynne Stewart, who was
convicted in U.S. District Court and given a long jail
sentence for purportedly exhorting the Egyptian people
to take up arms against Egypt's military dictatorship.
You see, neither Egyptian officials nor U.S. officials
consider the Egyptian system to be a dictatorship much
less a tyrannical regime. Since Egypt and the U.S. are
allies, the Egyptian military regime is viewed an
American ally that is transitioning to democracy, even
if it has to oust a democratically elected president
as part of that transition. Moreover, anyone who tries
to violently overthrow the Egyptian regime is
considered, by both Egyptian and U.S. officials, to be
a no-good rotten terrorist or communist.
It was the same in Pakistan, when U.S. officials
embraced the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf.
And Saudi Arabia. And Jordan. And Yemen. And Bahrain.
And so many others.
The fact is that when the U.S. national-security state
apparatus was grafted onto our constitutional order in
1947, America changed and so did America's principles
and values. In the name of "freedom" and "order and
stability" and "anti-communism" and "the war on
terrorism," the U.S. national-security state has taken
our nation down the road of embracing and supporting
tyranny. As long as Americans keep the
national-security state in existence, the perversion
of values will continue, as we see with Egypt.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The
Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised
in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics
from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree
from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney
for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct
professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught
law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the
practice of law to become director of programs at the
Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced
freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all
across the country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto
and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a
regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show