Monday, January 31, 2011

Fastmoving events in Egypt

The current unrest in Egypt calls for an analysis with a longer perspective. After 1945 the British sought to maintain their hegemony in the Arab world. In the 1950s, however, this system sustained a major setback when the corrupt King Farouk was deposed in Egypt, eventually being replaced by the charismatic Gamal Abdel Nasser. For a time, Nasser maintained a union, more in name than in fact, with Syria (1958-61). The two states became the standard bearers of Arab Socialism, which in those days enjoyed the same sort of insurgent popularity that Islamism does today.
Having taken over Britain’s imperial role, the US sought to organize a counterbloc centered on Baghdad, where the monarchy was upheld by a strongman, Nuri as-Said. On July 14, 1958, inspired by Nasser, officers known as "The Four Colonials" overthrew the Hsshemite regime and proclaimed a republic. The Baghdad Pact ceased to function. The US interest in the Arab world was then perforce limited to backward feudal states, headed by Saudi Arabia.

Since 1958, however, our government has sought by various means to restore the kind of hegemony to which it aspired before the “loss” of Egypt and Iraq. From a realpolitik point of view this restorationist strategy has obtained some successes. Disappointed with the Soviet connection, Sadat's Egypt came over to our side. After enormous expenditures of blood and money, Iraq is in our corner--sort of. But now Egypt, a much bigger prize, is slipping away. Israel is shrouded in gloom and anxiety.

The whole house of cards is collapsing, and no amount of hypocritical commentary by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can conceal this fundamental realignment. The US dream of controlling the Arab world, so dear to the neocons, is over.

CONCLUDING (DEFINITELY UNSCIENTIFIC) POSTSCRIPT. For almost 30 years Mubarak's Egypt has been receiving 1.5 billion dollars in annual US "aid." What does that amount to? Answer: a sustained commitment to national prostitution. And the US government is the john. Israel, of course, gets even more $$. What is its status? Answer: dominatrix.

POSTSCRIPT NO. 2. Particularly absurd is the notion, promoted by that appalling media ghoul Charles Krauthammer, that the events in Egypt justify the bloody interventions of George W. Bush. Absurdly, James Woolsey has claimed that the people in Cairo are all neocons. What planet are these people living on?



Blogger Burk said...

Hi, Wayne-

It's been a long time. But I'd like to comment that your views here are way too cynical. The US will do far better with a democratic Egypt than with what went before, unless one's priorities are having torture dungeons at one's disposal, and a frigid detente with Israel. I think Obama's comments clearly imply that position.

Putting aside the truly nefarious past actions, mostly by Republicans, in propping up the Shah, the Saddam regime, and others, the US preference has been clear for a long time- democracy in the broadest sense. The Gaza-Hamas situation is an unfortunate aberration, due to our grievous policy mistakes more generally vs Israel.

It doesn't help for those in the US to buy into the same conspiracy theories that litter the middle east, when our overall aims are quite clear, if clouded by the real-politic required to deal with reality as it arises. It was never our job to create or force democracy in Egypt- we have always had to deal with Egypt as it existed.

We certainly have never "dominated" Egypt. We have given them money, due to our peace treaty commitments.. that was pretty much it. Our relations with a democratic Egypt are sure to be warmer and deeper by far, as they are with, say, Israel and Turkey. Sure, we have problems with Turkey, but the relationship is pretty stable and productive.

9:57 AM  

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