WATCH: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Bemoans US’s Lack of ‘Loyalty’ to Egypt’s Brutal Dictator
Last Friday, Chris Matthews appeared on Morning Joe where he questioned the Obama Administration’s character for not showing proper loyalty to one of the Middle East’s most brutal dictators, Hosni Mubarak. He tells Joe Scarborogh and Mika Brzezinski:
Americans think upon ourselves as the good guys, and being good friends, and loyal. And these are values that mean a lot to us as people … Was he our friend for 30 years? Are we denying that? […]
And we’ve been with him for 30 years and now we say “It’s time for the gate”. […]
I feel ashamed about this. I feel ashamed as an American the way we’re doing this. I know he has to change. I know we’re for democracy, but the way we’ve handled it is not the way a friend handles a matter. We’re not handling it as Americans should handle a matter like this. I don’t feel right about it.
And Barack Obama — as much as I support him in many ways — there is a transactional quality to the guy that is chilling.
I believe in relationships. I think we all do. Relationship politics is what we were brought up with in this country. You treat your friends a certain way, you’re loyal to them, and when they’re wrong you try to be with them, you try to stick with them. As the great old line was “I don’t need you when I’m right”. You gotta help out people when they’re in trouble. […]
You’d think Matthews was defending a law-abiding respectable statesman — someone whom he merely opposed on ideological grounds — who has now fallen on tough times. You wouldn’t expect this sort of sappy loyalty babble with regards to a ruthless tyrant who has terrorized the citizens of his country for upwards of thirty years.
Either Matthews is ignorant about Mubarak’s brutal reign, or his notion of loyalty is royally fucked up. Obviously, loyalty is an admirable trait, but what if the person in question has imprisoned people indefinitely without trial? Tortured them? Murdered them? Robbed a poverty-stricken country blind of its national treasures?
Sounds as if Matthews believes that a country’s political elites — regardless of their crimes — should be accorded immunity merely for being an ally of the US and Israel.
He’s a leader too … I think we have to think about America here and our character. And I go back to the question of shame. Do the American people like the image of this guy being hauled out of that country?
When I heard the other day that some clown, and I mean clown, living in Italy somewhere in the Alps — Alpine, Italy — said he wants a trial for Mubarak. Now here’s a guy who’s an expatriate to begin with, and I don’t think much of expatriates, but what is this guy saying they’re going to bring out at trial? … You start talking about trials it’s like unconditional surrender. You want the war to last longer? Do you want to have this guy fight to his death?
Talk about a trial. What … we should get the army over there and immediately start negotiating with the fact a … one: this guy will not stand charges for anything. If he wants to leave he can leave. If he wants to live peacefully in his country we’re going to do what we can to make that possible. But the idea of trying the guy before he’s even out of office is exactly the way third world countries behave. You lose an election, you’re hanged. If that’s the way it works, these guys are never going to give up power. Would you give up power if you knew the next step was “Oh it’s not a peaceful retirement. It’s not teaching at some college. Oh, you’re trial is next, and guess what? — the Islamic Brotherhood is your judges.”
To fully appreciate how anti-democratic Matthews’ line of thinking is, you need to consider the degree of Mubarak’s despotism.
For the entirety of Mubarak’s reign, Egypt has remained under martial law — a police state. From suspending all constitutional rights, to censoring all media; from outlawing all political expression and organization (unless expressly approved by Mubarak himself), to indefinitely detaining and torturing political dissidents without trial, one could reasonably conclude that Mubarak is nothing more than a brutal thug.
Knowing full well how Mubarak engaged in torture, the United States eventually began to outsource the torturing of its own apprehended suspects to Egypt, which housed some of the CIA’s infamous black sites.
Additionally, Mubarak pillaged the country’s wealth for himself, amassing a fortune reported to be upwards of $70 billion (exceeding that of both Bill Gates & Warren Buffet) making him a likely candidate for the wealthiest individual on the entire planet. He’s reported to have stashed his swindled fortune in Swiss and British banks, plus UK and US properties. He did all this while the Egyptian people suffered massive unemployment, and dire living conditions. Forty percent of Egypt’s population (or 33 million people) live below the poverty level.
The Corruption Perception Index rates the corruption level of 178 countries around the globe, from least corrupt (1) to most corrupt (178), and Egypt placed 98th.
Matthews’ remarks exemplify the conventional inner beltway mentality, where egregious crimes of the ruling class are never to be tried in a court of law. Political elites are supposed to be loyal to one another. After all, loyalty, he contends, is the important quality that Americans value most.
Their punishment should simply be getting rebuffed at the ballot box, and then they should be allowed to enjoy their post-Presidency days teaching at a prestigious university in the country of their choice. Because, according to Chris Matthews, the rule of law is something only a Third Word Country would try to impose upon their political class. It’s so “transactional”.