Progress in Egypt is Slow While China Regresses.

One step forward, one step back. It seems that reports that the Supreme Military Council in Egypt was as eager to crush the peaceful protests in Tahrir Square could very well been true, that the thugs are still hard at work suppressing dissent.

Freedom House reports that Maikel Nabil Sanad, and Egyptian blogger has been arrested:

by Egyptian military police on March 28 on charges that he allegedly defamed the armed forces

To the generals running Egypt: civil societies are NOT subject to military discipline. Military enrollment is a contract under which an enlistee agrees to accept such discipline. Civilians, by definition, have not agreed to accept being treated like raw recruits. That’s their job.

One wonders when they’ll get that. One also wonders when our own officials will understand that expanding military and police powers does exactly the same damned thing.

The arrest was allegedly provoked by a blog post The army and the people wasn’t ever one hand which asks, “Is The Egyptian Army Standing Beside the Revolution?”:

On the 11th of February 2011, after the President’s stepping down speech that was delivered by Omar Suliman (Vice-President of the Republic, and the former head of the Egyptian intelligence), many Egyptian powers rushed into declaring the victory and the end of the revolution…. I regret having to say the following, mostly because that many of them are my friends, but the people have the right to know the truth… Some of them wanted to take advantage of the presence of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to get some political positions by making deals with the Supreme council. They knew that they cannot achieve such positions through regular democratic process…. And some of them had connections with the secret service before the revolution was declared and supported the secret service institution per default (I don’t want to describe them as Secret Service’s agents) and some others thought that the army was not a part of the July Military Regime!!! And therefore was misled by the Army declarations (Press Releases) and have accepted the Army’s role in the transitional Phase.

These acts in Egypt illustrate the extent to which their revolution is an ongoing endeavor whose outcome is still uncertain, and if diplomacy can do anything, and if the US is willing to expend millions in armaments in the Libya intervention, then they should expend some effort in ensuring that the elements of civil society have a chance to take root in Egyptian society. Step one of this sort of effort is to ask for the immediate release of Maikel Nabil Sanad.

They might, for instance, tell the Supreme Military Council that our military aid to Egypt might in future, be re-channeled to NGO’s tasked with focusing on the abuses committed by Egypt’s continuing authoritarian rule in the future.

On Tom Deluca’s Democracy Hour net-radio show last night, Phyllis Bennis made one very salient point: if you don’t undertake the kinds of diplomatic efforts to address a crisis that you know is eventually coming, then you’re going to expend a lot more effort later on (both diplomatic and as in Libya, military, later on). One other point I’d like to make in this regard: this is also an “intervention.” The term has come to imply that only military deployments count as interventions, but this isn’t true. Diplomatic pressures on another country over its internal affairs are highly welcome. Just ask an official from Beijing, who’ve their own issues in this area:

Ai Weiwei, Chinese Artist, Arrested at Beijing Airport:

“The famous and openly subversive Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was intercepted by police at the Beijing International Airport Sunday morning. His studio was raided and assistants arrested, and all their whereabouts are now unknown.”

Ai Weiwei’s arrest is an example of something fairly new in China, official disappearances. When will we start seeing death squads?

I almost never issue such a call to action, however this is one instance in which I feel that action is warranted.


A boycott of Chinese goods? Anti-sweatshop legislation? An anti-convict labor bill? Boycotting corporations who pander to Beijing’s repressive measures?

Finally, The Times They Are A-Changin’ indeed.


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