Egypt: Let the Looting Begin!

by Kevin Carson

You know the drill: A formerly useful dictator outlives his usefulness to the U.S. government, becoming a public embarrassment, or maybe even a loose cannon who can no longer be relied on to follow orders. So — they suddenly discover he’s a dictator!

The folks in Washington develop a sudden enthusiasm for “People Power,” and start replaying inspiring footage of the Berlin Wall coming down. Then the people marching in the streets, despite all their sincere sacrifice and hopes for building a new kind of society, find — when the smoke has cleared — their revolution stolen out from under them and trademarked as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Soros Foundation, NED or IRI. And the face of Vlaclav Havel or Nelson Mandela is slapped on the side of the box as a brand-name icon.

If they’re lucky their prize is a “spectator democracy,” with formally democratic procedures and a heapin’ helpin’ of what the neocons call “rule of law” (by which they mean mostly Weberian bureaucratic rationality and predictable rules for foreign investors). The people get to choose periodically between slightly differing factions of the same neoliberal power elite, after which they sit down and shut up while the newly elected “democratic” government gets to work implementing the IMF’s structural adjustment program and ratifying the latest “Free Trade Agreement” (complete, of course, with “strong intellectual property protections”).

Which brings us to Egypt. Guess who Obama’s sent as Imperial Plenipotentiary to that country? Frank G. Wisner, former director at Enron and AIG, and namesake son of a founding spook at the OSS and CIA (who helped overthrow Arbenz and Mossadeq).

At Counterpunch, Vijay Prashad describes Wisner as “bagman of Empire, and … bucket-boy for Capital” (“The Empire’s Bagman,” Feb. 2). He’s cast in the same role in Cairo as Dick Holbrooke played for Clinton in the Balkans: A sort of Democratic James Baker.

Wisner, in short, is a gray eminence in the “real government” that runs America and much of the world: Pentagon and CIA black budget operators, narcotraffickers, banks to launder drug money, death squads and paramilitaries that the CIA spooks fund with that drug money, and camp following crony capitalists like Halliburton and Blackwater.

Perhaps the most interesting item on his resume is his role as co-chair of the working group (co-sponsored by the CFR and James Baker Institute) that drafted the 2002 report “Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq.” It called on the U.S. to “promote” a post-Saddam government based on “democratic principles … and free market economics.”

To see what “democratic principles” and “free market economics” translated into in Iraq, you need only look at the “100 Orders” issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer. Order 81 on “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety” had the practical effect of updating Iraq’s IP law to “meet current internationally-recognized standards of protection” (including the licensing of GM seeds and criminalization of seed-saving, per Monsanto’s orders). Bright Young Things from the Heritage Foundation, inside the Green Zone, engineered the “privatization” of some 200 state-owned firms (at fire sale prices) to American crony capitalists.

There were some notable Saddam-era regulations that Bremer neglected to liberalize, like the prohibition on collective bargaining in the (about to be “privatized”) public sector enterprises, and the freezing of the trade union federation’s assets. Bremer’s occupation regime actually stormed the federation’s headquarters and arrested several of its leaders. The Iraqi National Congress, perhaps the most genuinely progressive and democratic force in Iraq, was likewise suppressed.

Once the U.S. military authorities had transformed Iraq into the same kind of banana republic that Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay engineered in the Marianas Islands, it could be safely handed over to the new “sovereign, democratic” government.

So, boys and girls, make some popcorn, sit back and enjoy Democracy Theatre, this week’s episode in Egypt — just don’t look at the man behind the curtain.

Let the looting begin.

4 responses to “Egypt: Let the Looting Begin!

  1. You say nothing about the environment. You are like all the rest who imagine that human beings have a god given (or self assumed) right to exist forever. Materials will run out sooner or later, the environment will be destroyed by free markets (as the were in the dust bowl era eyc.) and most humans will die off prematurely. You are like the rest, moving the political-economic deckchairs when the ship is sinking. There will be no libertarianism once the only agenda is basic survival. Your rich and leisured world will be no more – stop worshipping Mammon now and do something useful.

  2. “Let the looting begin”.

    It already has Kevin – lots of shops have been looted, and so have homes.

    In fact local people have banded together to protect their shops and homes from people like YOU.

    “But I am not a looter”.

    No you call upon other people to loot and kill (for that is what looters do to people who resist their shops and homes being looted) while you sit back and watch the show.

    The present Egyption dictator has not overtuned the basic statist structure set up by Nasser after the 1952 Revolution.

    But there is some private property in Egypt – and rather than expand it, by getting rid of subsides, price controls, licenses, and state ownership you policy is.


    “Let the looting begin” – even though you have already seen what this means.

    And please do not pretend to care about “the poor” we both know that when law and order breaks down it is THE POOR who get it worst.

    The rich have assets overseas – the poor just have their homes, their jobs and so on.

    The very things you wish turned to fire and ash.

    You are no different than the “Islamic Socialists” of the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Marxists of Code Pink – not on the BASIC ISSUE.

    You are the enemy of property – just like them.

    Your own words show you for what you are.

    “Let the looting begin”.

  3. Mr. Carson,
    I share your suspicions (or outright ridicule,perhaps) for Washington’s “sudden discovery” that Egypt is a dictatorship which must be immediately handed over to “democracy”. But I cannot understand your final exhortation, “Let the looting begin”. It is difficult to reconcile your comment with a respect for the right of property.

  4. Mr Carson would reply that he supports JUSTLY ACQUIRED property – but it just so happens that large scale property never is “justly acquired” (according to Kevin), even an estate held for more than a thousand years is not “justly acquired” according to KC.

    It is easy to play this Carson game in Egypt.

    “S0 you claim you own this workshop”


    “How did you get the money to pay for it”.

    “I worked….”

    “Did you in any way work in a government job – for if you did the money is not really yours”

    “Actually no – it was a private sector job”.

    “Oh dear, errr I mean jolly good, but what about the person you bought the land from [the land the workshop is on] did THEY acquire the land justly….”

    And even if they did – the line would simply be traced back (till there was some break in the virgin title).

    In this way it is easy to justify looting (of just about anything). All one has to do is WANT to justify the looting (the rest is easy).

    Mr Carson often says I concentrate on his motivations too much – but actually his motiviations are the key to the matter.