BTS 1/28/11: Revolt in Egypt; Building a Powerful Left in the United States

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On tonight’s program we begin with the momentous events in Egypt. Hisham Ahmed of Saint Mary's College said today that Egypt is sitting on top of a volcano. It used to be one of the region’s most advanced countries in terms of education and health care, but today it is one of the most backward. Hisham says the movement to get rid of Mubarak is irreversible, despite Mubarak’s shutting down all means of communication, and we’ll ask him why.

Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus says Washington's continued support for the Egyptian dictatorship in the face of massive pro-democracy protests is yet another sign that both Congress and the Obama administration remain out of touch with the growing demands for freedom in the Arab world. Just last month, Obama and the then-Democratic-controlled Congress approved an additional $1.3 billion in security assistance to help prop up Hosni Mubarak's repressive regime. We’ll have a roundtable with Hisham Ahmed and Stephen Zunes on the events in Egypt, Tunisia and the possibility of continued spread, the prospects for democracy in the Middle East and the US response.

Then Alan Minsky and I preview KPFK’s series next week “Building a Powerful Left in the United States.” After reviewing the events in the Middle East, we ask the question, can it happen here? Of course the situation is vastly different, but the consequences of the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression have put the American population in the same boat with the rest of the world’s population in this respect: nowhere are the interests of the vast majority represented in the halls of power, where it counts.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Hisham Ahmed, formerly Associate Professor of Political Science at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, is now a professor of Politics at St. Mary's College in California. He is the author of a 1994 book on Hamas, From Religious Salvation to Political and Social Transformation.

2. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, and senior policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus. He is the author of scores of articles for scholarly and general readership on Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, international terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, strategic nonviolent action, and human rights. His books include Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003), Nonviolent Social Movements, and (with Jacob Mundy) Western Sahara: Nationalism, Conflict, and International Accountability (Syracuse University Press). Dr. Zunes is a foreign affairs columnist for the National Catholic Reporter and a regular contributor to the Common Dreams website and Tikkun magazine. His op-ed columns have appeared in major daily newspapers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.