Ed Schultz talked to The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel last night about the uprisings in Egypt and across the Middle East and the need for the United States to redefine our national security policies in the region. When Ed asked her about the many on the right who have been supportive of Mubarak and whether their labor's role in the movement might have had anything to do with it. Vanden Heuvel reminded him that neocons have never had much use for real democracy, whether it be at home or abroad.
SCHULTZ: How is in your opinion the president and his advisers and the State Department handling all of this now that we go to day number 18 and mixed signals from the president and really demeaning talk coming from the vice president telling these protesters to go home but—oh, by the way don‘t watch television. What do you make of all of this?
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, I think we all need to step back a little and speak with some humility.
Egyptians are putting their lives on the line. Hundreds of thousands came out yesterday as you reported, Ed, across the country—labor, doctors, lawyers, across class, gender, religious lines. I think it is the Egyptians to sort out, and they will. They have shown the world, they have shown us what a democracy movement looks like.
I believe that behind the scenes, because this country has over invested in, quote, “stability,” propping up dictators, intelligence, security, military apparatuses that we have to be using our leverage, that $1.5 billion a year we give the Egyptian military, to make sure that there is some process, some outcome that will resolve in a more democratic country.
But as you pointed out, Ed, earlier, you know, the labor movement, others in Egypt, have been working toward this moment for years. And it is those people who in this country, human rights organizers and independent trade union organizers, were the ones who put a check on the repression, not our government.
So, I hope that this is a moment to redefine U.S. national security thinking in this region. It is a beginning. It is a process just as democracy is a process.
But we must begin to disinvest from security intelligence apparatuses which don‘t make us secure and reinvest in civic governance, and in economic development which Egypt as it emerges from this extraordinary moment will need desperately.
SCHULTZ: Katrina, what do you make of some of the comments that are coming from conservatives in America? Almost endorsing Hosni Mubarak. And now, it‘s being reported that obviously labor has played a big role in these uprisings around the country.
I mean, does labor‘s role in this suggest why some Republicans are supporting Mubarak?
VANDEN HEUVEL: No, I think conservatives—I think these neocons have a very hard time with democracies that emerge from within a country. The great failure of this last decade was the belief you could bring democracy at the tip of a bayonet, with bombs in President Bush‘s case. That is a disastrous fraud.
So, I think neoconservatives are very uncomfortable when they see real democracy in the streets and, of course, labor is something they wish to repress at home. And they don‘t love dissidents at home and they don‘t love dissidents abroad. So, to me, it‘s a kind of coherent whole I‘m witnessing.