Friday, April 11, 2008
may the kings all drown in the blood of conquest:
Abu Muqawama surveys Egyptian unrest and says "this isn't an insurgency (yet)":
If the unrest does become an insurgency, one should, unfortunately, probably bet on the Egyptian apparatus of state repression to triumph. The Egyptians do counterinsurgency the old-fashioned way: they kill a lot of people, arrest even more, torture those who they arrest, intimidate the families and professional contacts of those targeted, shut down channels of political dissent, and keep the pressure going indefinitely. How long has Egypt been under a state of emergency? Nearly 30 years, right?

Obviously I think this state of affairs is reprehensible. But to look at it outside the realm of normative judgment, what stands out is that a domestic insurgency really would become a fight for survival on the part of the ruling Egyptian clique. That will make the Mubarak-niks fight with all the brutality a battle for survival entails. To make the obvious point, an army of occupation does not face the same existential imperatives as a government beset with a mass uprising does -- unless the purpose of that occupation is to sustain itself forever. (And even then, the imperative doesn't really exist unless the occupation implicates the survival of the imperial metropole. Not the case in Iraq, despite all the "we fight them over there so we won't fight them over here" lies.) Furthermore, we should be very, very wary of viewing counterinsurgency as a continuum of operations, since doing so could draw us into the mistake of saying, "Well, you know, the Egyptians really know what they're doing..."
--Spencer Ackerman