Greater Krueger National Park

Greater Krueger National Park
An image from a recent trip to South Africa. Clcik on the image for more on this trip.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Egypt, Impact of our Military Aid Decisions


The Obama Administration certainly has it's hands full in the Middle East and I admire the way in which Secretary Kerry is digging in on the issues, but I am very worried that things are not progressing particularly well.  Although nothing is ever written in stone in this region, it currently looks like we may have agreed to prolong the life of the Assad regime in Syria and are actively seeking a dangerous detente with the Ayatollah in Iran.  We have basically washed our hands of Iraq and are in the process of giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban.  Our current policy in Egypt is no less worrying and the situation is just as complicated as in the rest of the region.  Our friends in the area are beginning to ask us some pretty difficult questions and they appear to be worried about the answers that they are getting.  Israel appears to be particularly nervous about our fidelity, Iraq understands that we have abandoned them, Jordan is facing extreme difficulties dealing with the overflow from the Syrian mess,  and the Gulf States are completely mystified by what they see us doing.  Our enemies, on the other hand, are delighted with the strategic American withdrawal from the Middle East that they see as the corner stone of our current foreign policy.

Our recent series of decisions to hold back significant financial and material support from the new Egyptian Government are just the latest signals that feed concern not only in Egypt itself, but among all of our friends in the Middle East.  I suggest that no country in the region understands the nuanced policy that Secretary Kerry and President Obama are attempting to implement vis-a-vis Egypt.  As I understand it, we are trying to say that we oppose the use of military force to unseat a democratically elected government, even if that government was not acting in accordance with democratic principals.  We make a big point of the fact that we have not yet implemented the coup provision of our law that would end aid permanently and we very much look forward to the restoration of democracy in Egypt.  In the comfort of an air-conditioned office in Washington that might look like a sophisticated message and I am sure that we have some pretty elegant talking points for anyone that might listen.  We are skilled at developing sophisticated talking points for almost any occasion.

I doubt that there are very many people hearing what we are trying to say to the current Egyptian government.  Our friends remember how we appeared to fawn over Morsi's Islamic Brotherhood crowd during the year or so that they were in office and how we put up with the Brotherhood's numerous examples of non-democratic actions without taking any apparent notice - certainly not withholding any aid.  Our friends believe that we were actively cheering Morsi on in the naive hope that we could make peace with the radical Islamic World.  The Egyptian military eventually decided that Morsi was not furthering democracy, he was actively hijacking it and trying to turn all of Egypt into a radical Islamic theocracy.  Because the democratic option was being removed from Egyptian politics, the military took the only action that they could to protect against that outcome.  They ran a military coup and the impressive thing about it was the amount of popular support that the military had and still has, for that matter, among a large percentage of the Egyptian people.

Not surprisingly, there is much about our foreign policy that mirrors our domestic policy.  There is a definite connecting thread between Work Place Violence in Fort Hood and support for the Morsi Government.  The reluctance to even use the word terrorist to define our enemy here at home and our refusal to recognize what Morsi was up to in Egypt are intellectually connected.  This situation confuses both our enemies and our friends and I believe that confusion is extremely dangerous to the United States of America.  It emboldens our enemies and frightens our allies.  That, in turn, results in policies and accommodations between countries that are not in our national interest.  To put it very bluntly, America under Barack Obama looks like a bumbling idiot that has no concept of what it is like to live in the real world.  From my point of view, however, that is not the really scary part.  For me, the fact that my fellow citizens don't appear to be sufficiently interested in these issues is the worst part of the problem facing us in the Middle East.

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