For weeks, U.S. media outlets openly positioned themselves on the side of the demonstrators, depicting the upheaval as a Manichean battle between the evil despot Hosni Mubarak's "three decades of iron rule" and the hordes of ordinary, oppressed Egyptians inspirationally yearning for American-style freedom and democracy.
Almost completely missing from this feel-good morality play was the terribly unpleasant fact that Mubarak was one of the U.S. Government's longest and closest allies and that his "three decades of iron rule" — featuring murder, torture and indefinite detention for dissidents — were enabled in multiple ways by American support.
Throughout Mubarak's rule, the U.S. fed his regime an average of $2 billion each year, most of which was military aid. The tear gas cannisters shot at protesters by Mubarak's police bore "Made in U.S.A." labels. A 2009 diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks noted that "Egyptian democracy and human rights efforts … are being stymied" but described the benefits received by U.S. from support for the regime: "Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the U.S. military enjoys priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace."