Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coups d'Etat

Hal Pepinsky,,
February 12, 2011
In Egypt’s case as in many recent others, in the Ukraine for instance, a coup d’etat has occurred without soldiers killing anyone. In all such coups I can think of, soldiers have overwhelmingly been conscripts in remarkably “universal” military service in young manhood. In Egypt, military service became a job for so many otherwise unemployed young men, including those with college and professional degrees. So when Egyptian army tanks rolled up to Liberty Square, soldiers had friends and family, and were buddy with other conscripts who had other family and friends out there. Officers had children out there, and I’ll bet generals had grandkids on both sides of the political revolution. No political head was going to convince conscripts to open fire. Quite the reverse: They started frisking and checking id to guard against violence on the square, and everywhere, even as some soldiers died, soldiers did not open fire.
In such cases, heads are toppled without shedding royal blood.
In my US, conscription toppled our invasion of Vietnam while today, without a draft, US lives are cheap and soldiers are ordered to fire on seas full of strangers. That’s called military occupation, which kills lest it be killed by the people whose land soldiers occupy. Drones haven’t yet lifted US wars above that ground.
Egyptians have a lot to celebrate. They have a lot of room to carry out negotiations among themselves, especially so as they remain in such high spirits. I again invite us in the US to leave Egyptians alone, and get off speculating whether this Egyptian initiative or that threatens or helps US “strategic” interests. Meanwhile, go Egyptians; you give me hope for better worlds to come.
I will observe that even in the best of coups, old forms of political and economic hegemony tend to recreate themselves. Saviors tend to recapitulate plutocracy. I look forward to learning from Egyptians how their experiment in democratization proceeds. For the moment, many thanks especially to Democracy Now! and to Al Jazeera English for helping me hear your many voices. Love and peace--hal

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