Foreign Affairs: Intent and Perception

I have been covering the happenings in Egypt since January 24, 2011.  As time has gone by, I've enjoyed the chance to talk to many people inside Egypt before the internet was shut down as well as after the Internet was shut down.  The reports that I am getting from these brave individuals are the same.

It appears that the Western Media is interpreting things that they hear from individuals in Egypt in a way that they understand - but not how Egypt understands.  This is common throughout the

Western hemisphere; this idea that the rest of the world thinks exactly as they do not allowing for other perspectives and cultural identifiers.  It simply isn't that way in Egypt and there is a completely different mindset over there.  These are the things that we must understand in order to report the news to the Western world in the perspective of Egyptians and not Americans or Europeans.

The first thing that needs to be understood is that Egypt does not want democracy, at least not the Western definition of it.  Egypt wants freedom without the influence of foreign countries.  Tonight in Mubarak's speech, he talked about bringing Egypt to modern day including

democracy and technology.  In the Western World, these things are foundational and essential.  Living in a world without technology and democracy would literally destroy the land, the people, and the principles in which we are all acclimated to.

 In Egypt, democracy (In the way that the Egypt thinks of it) is seen as how the United States and other "democratic" nations have portrayed it, that being corrupt. Egyptians see democracy as what they are living in right now. Egypt's political system is ruled by one man and is surrounded by cronies, all of whom have the ability to hide things with ease from the public as well as steal and then cultivate profits all the while the Egyptian citizens starve and cannot find employment.  Egyptians see democracy as a system that is abusable because of the way the United States has fondled it over the past hundred years.

In the address that President Mubarak gave tonight he referenced "freedoms" and portrayed them to be the culprits for the unrest and disturbance within Egypt right now and in the past.  He went on to say that he was willing to bring Egypt to a speed that matches the rest of the modern world.  He continued on to state that the protests and damage being done throughout Egypt was because of freedoms such as the freedom of the press among others.

Anyone in the Western World who is politically informed, knows that the United States is the mold upon which the rest of the world that seeks democracy rests.  Recently, there has been a push for an "internet kill switch," on behalf of Sen. Joe Lieberman.  Reading the recent news about it, we have come to find that President Obama was urged by many to sign that bill.  When congress changed seats this last election cycle, the bill went dead.  That is not to say that it won't be rise again in the future.  The very notion of anyone in our congress putting forth such an Unconstitutional request speaks volumes about what the current definition of "democracy" is.  And here we begin to see the confusion that plagues countries such as Egypt when the topic of democracy is brought up.

Other developments that have come  across the wire were things such as the US government in the Pre-Wikileaks world moving toward a system of clouding government information and documents.  Obviously, that approach was abandoned without a second thought as soon as Wikileaks began releasing classified and secret documents to the world.

Listening to Mubarak's address tonight has pressed upon me some very serious and disconcerting thoughts.  While the mainstream Western Media has reported the statements made by Mubarak in a way that they understand, I am left perplexed that there was a lack of alternative perspective coming from cultural experts dealing in politics.  When Mubarak uses terms such as "freedom" and "democracy" it is not so much that he is thinking in terms of internet and first amendment items.  Instead, because he has a different mindset than the Western world, he is thinking in terms of politics and government rather than people and liberty.

Mubarak was being duplicitous in his address because he was addressing not only Egyptian citizens, but the western world as well.  A man who has been in control and power for thirty years does not make ambiguous statements like this because it is an error on his part.  It is an illusion that he is attempting to create.  He speaks the same language to both the Western Media and Egypt knowing that they are perceiving it in different ways.  Again, Egypt sees democracy as oppression while the western world sees the word democracy as something not unlike a rock that we all stand on for stability.  When President Mubarak speaks to the Egyptians using these statements like he did - he is telling them that he will not step down and that they will pay for what they've done to "his" land and property.

When he makes these statements while the Western world is listening - he is also sending the west a message of negotiation.  In this portion of the world, we are easily led by rhetoric and although I do not support Mubarak in any way, he was a genius to come forth using this tactic.  To the Western world, he is presenting the Egyptian population with a chance to reform their country while at the same time ensuring that they will always have technology at their leisure.  Unfortunately, he banks on this perceived notion and has chosen to remain in office while pushing the blame on an entire government underneath him.

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