It is sad and disturbing to watch Barack Obama's United States position itself as an unreliable ally; one that preaches morals and gives kisses of death in the form of advice to its so called friends while their home is burning—but shows patience and caution towards its enemies and its friends' enemies.
Instead of creating a 21st century Marshall plan—a plan that will bring investors to Egypt, assist in restoring order and rehabilitate its economy—the US prefers handing out donations that will perpetuate Egypt's existing conditions, and is mostly concerned with its image.
In 2009, the Obama administration showed restraint that bordered on servility vis-à-vis the Iranian regime, while the Ayatollahs brutally oppressed the reformists' protests against the presidential election fraud. Less than two years later, Obama pushed Egypt's military leaders to oust Hosni Mubarak, his ally, claiming his men were firing at protestors.
The explanation for this behavior is that Washington has lost its self confidence as a global power; instead of caring for its interests and those of its friends it is busy cultivating to itself an image of a beacon of democracy and human rights. This is the cumulative result of the US defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ongoing financial crisis and neo-liberal ideology.
This quasi-missionary ideology, which has followers from both parties in Capitol Hill, sanctifies elections as an expression of true democracy, whereas in most cases in the third world elections are nothing but an empty formality that does not create the most basic conditions for the existence of true democracy and human rights.
Middle East expert Professor Asher Susser rightfully claims that the struggle currently sweeping the Arab world is not between democrats and anti-democrats, but rather between modernists and the Islamic neo-traditionalists – those who wish to restore Islam to its former glory. The neo-traditionalists, even the moderates among them, create a habitat for world Jihad preached by the al-Qaeda temple.
Mohamed Morsi was no exception. As president, he failed and even prevented lawful rule in Egypt. Because of his peaceful policy, Jihad terror is blossoming in Sinai. Other than begging for arms in the West and in Gulf States, he did not even attempt to solve the chronic financial distress of his people. Instead, he focused on taking over government institutions, undermining the judicial system, and forcing Muslim values on his countrymen through a new constitution. All this doesn't stop the Muslim Brotherhood from presenting themselves as victims and cultivating this image through provocations, in order to amplify the pressure Western statesmen put on the interim government and the army.
But in Washington, semantics and political correctness dictate political discourse and policy. While Egypt bleeds, senators in America are arguing whether to call Morsi's ouster a coup—in which case aid must be stopped—or a popular revolution, in which case aid can continue.
Americans and Europeans must know that demanding swift elections and canceling the state of emergency may well intensify anarchy in Egypt. They also know it's important to maintain their ties with General al-Sisi and his men, so that US jets will contiune to have access to Egypt's airspace; that US aircraft carriers will still get priority in the Suez Canal; and that the army will run an all-out war in the developing center of the world Jihad in Sinai.
Simultaneously, it's important to the US administration to support an Egyptian regime that has an interest in maintaining the peace treaty with Israel. This is an important strategic interest not just of Israel, but of the US as well. This is why Israel is allowed to use its influence in Washington in shifting the discourse in favor of al-Sisi, just like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Sunni states are doing, other than Qatar. Therefore, there is no room for a vague condemnation of Israel through US media. But the US's biggest mistake is that it does not offer Egypt any meaningful aid that will allow it to rise above current conditions. Patronizing lectures and advice are no substitute to Egypt's physical need to be rescued from complete collapse.
The most urgent need is to stabilize Egypt's economy, renew growth, and integrate the nation's economy with the global one through massive foreign investment. This is the only way it would be possible to overcome chronic unemployment, especially among younger Egyptians, which is the source of the political instability and gross lack of human rights. Billions of dollars worth of handouts, necessary to bring food to millions of hungry mouths, will not solve the problem—only postpone it. But no rightful investor will come to Egypt if it is lacking stability and security. Therefore, before worrying about democratic elections, the West must assist Egypt in rehabilitating police and security means protecting personal safety and enforcing law in Egypt.
Caricature depicting al-Sisi with piles of bodies. Crucial that the army maintains its status
These means disintegrated after their brutal and cruel behavior in the last coup, two years ago. But now they are needed. The Egyptian army is not built or trained to maintain order and public security, and it is best if it won't lose its status as an institution preserving Egyptian nationality. The Americans and Europeans would therefore be better off sending experts and equipment to train and rehabilitate Egypt's police in its handling of protests. This way, they will serve democracy and human rights better than publicly reprimanding and insulting Egypt's honor as they are now doing from their comfortable seat in Washington and Brussels. This way they will also assist the war against Islamic Jihad, which is a risk to them to.
As for Israel—we are already intimately familiar with neo-Liberal passion that blinds the eyes of decision makers in Washington. It was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush who forced Ariel Sharon to politically legitimize Hamas, enabling it to rule Gaza. Egypt and Israel are paying, together, a heavy price for this fatal error which has contributed to rocket firing from Gaza and to the severe instability and terror in Sinai. But current behavior of the Obama administration towards Egypt makes one worry and wonder: Can we and should we count on the US to be our ally with regards to the Iranian problem?
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