By Jay Holmes
This is in response to “mr blue,” who asked last Monday, “So what countries currently have the biggest impact in Egypt besides the Egyptians?”
First Mr. Blue, take a deep breath. Except in Las Vegas, blue is not a good color for people to be.
On paper the USA has the biggest impact, or at least the biggest potential impact. To what degree the USA decides to attempt to impact the political future in Egypt remains to be seen.
The real total is hard to know, but the USA is spending at least 2 billion US$ a year on or for Egypt. If nothing else, Mubarak proved that 2 billion doesn’t always get you much in that neighborhood. I say always because the potential is there. Although the USA is in a position to strongly influence events in Egypt, we do not know how far they will go or how successful they will be.
Right now Mubarak’s pals are still running the show in Egypt, and they have little reason to feel confident in any promises that this administration makes, but they do have every reason to fear a withdrawal of financing and military support. All of the USA’s potential impact will mean little unless wisdom and skill are brought to bear in attempting to influence events. In order to achieve a desired force vector, one must first know the starting position of the object to be moved, then one must know where one would like the object to end up. The western governments seem confused on both points. There is a general, vague agreement that nobody wants “Ayatollah 2″ in Egypt, but beyond that simple desire and the wish to have more oil every day, there has always been trouble refining long-term goals in the Mideast from the US, European Community or NATO points of view. It seems we just bounce from crisis to crisis, trying to figure out how to keep the oil flowing.
The other player attempting to create a sizeable impact in Egypt is, of course, Iran. Iran has the determination, the cash, and the manpower to make a big difference. They also lack the need to entertain any domestic or foreign arguments about anything like ethics. That sounds like a winning formula on the surface, but most Egyptians are as disgusted with Iran as the average westerner is. Iran’s skill at dealing through intermediaries is very limited. They call the shots with Hezbollah, and Syria is frightened of disagreeing with Iran, but beyond that small playground, the Iranian government is a drunken one-eyed bull in a china shop. I do not speak Persian, but I am wondering if there is a word for “subtle” in the Persian dictionary, or if the hash-heads and thugs calling the shots in Iran have outlawed that word in Iran. Iran keeps itself so busy trying to intimidate and abuse Iranians inside and outside of Iran that they have little time for establishing any positive initiatives anywhere. Iran is undoubtedly making every imaginable effort to take over the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but the vast majority of Egyptians do not want a radical theocracy theater company running their country. Another factor for the Iranian government is that they are very busy this week trying to fend off Iranians.
Israel will work subtly and quietly and will at least be clear about their goals. Hilary is perhaps on the phone right now with them. I can imagine the conversation.
Hilary: “The situation is critical and your cooperation is essential.”
Israel: *suppresses a laugh* “Uhm, yea …uhm you’ll be the first to know if anything comes up. What do you guys know so far?”
Hilary: “Well naturally we know EVERYTHING…except maybe a few things…and a few other things…or anything about Egypt…but we’re, uh, working on it and, uhm, we’re trying our best to bring about a peaceful solution.”
Israel and Hilary simultaneously laugh out loud.
Israel: “Yea, us too. . . . Ok. I’ll call you if anything comes up. My mom is calling on the other line. . . . I gotta go.”
Then the next conversation on the Israeli side.
Mossad: “You didn’t tell her anything did you?”
Israeli foreign ministry: “What? Do I look like a lunatic? Just don’t attack any US spy ships and leave the diplomacy to us!”
Mossad: “I’ve told you a thousand times, we had nothing to do with that USS Liberty business. . . .”
Israeli Foreign minister: “Save that line of crap for the press!”
Mossad: “Alright, alright, nobody is attacking any US ships! I swear!”
The various powerful Mideast business elites will not be concerned by where Egypt ends up, but will concentrate on profiting from whatever the results are. The same can be said of most European and Western business magnates.
I had no clue that the US was already pouring 2 billion dollars into Egypt! Thanks for the update, Holmes.
Holmes: You’re welcome.
my cohort in tweet pronet has stated that the CIA and State Dept have completely blown it again, like after the Berlin wall came down, before 9-11; now the entire Middle East is under turmoil. We have not edged any of these societies toward Democracy. What is telling about Lonny’s one tweet, upon contemplation, Holmes, is not that Egypt’s coup is paying lip service to “Democracy” like all good coups do, but that the world hasn’t caught on to the coup. two days ago, the military issued a decree that banned anymore demonstrations in the name of tourism. i am sure there will be more of these decrees, and possibly more violent crackdowns on the demonstrators if things get too “democratic”.
revolutions are chaos, as our own founding fathers were very much aware. they realized quickly with the articles of confederation that the U.S. would become anarchy rather quickly with a “one person, one vote, one voice” system and adopted a “representative democracy” instead, to avoid anarchy and chaos.
but the citizens of the colonies were trained to democracy, and had lengthy experience with it. virginia it’s house of burgess, massachusetts with it’s town meetings, etc.
it is obvious that once again our overseas diplomacy has not trained any of these middle eastern nations to the vote, to democracy, and there seems to be not coherant policy from either State, our Intelligence Agencies or this Administration about how to handle this wildfire of chaos, and anarchy. these wide spread contagions are exactly what the theocratic zealots crave in order to destabilize the world.
my question for you is this? what kind of situation is the world in for in the immediate future and what changes can be made to our foreign policy to assure peaceful and democratic rule, or the ferret already out of the bag?
thanks. @Samuel_Clemons currently dressed as a plumed blimp cause i wanna sing with a skinny girl
Hi Sammy. See Holmes’ reply as a special edition post What Is the World Situation, and How Do We Ensure Democracy? Thanks for your questions, and thanks for stopping by.
History is filled with regimes falling to the next bad crew. Some of these recent scenes look like a wave that shot through Eastern Europe in the 50s.
America always has to come up with some kind of strategy. Everyone dumps all over the U.S. for supporting so many nasty dictators in the 20th century, especially in Latin America. But when the choice was between communism and anything else, well, the choice was easy.
So we can probably take these events in the Middle East and replace communist with terrorist/biggest threat to financial interests.
The advantage to dealing with Iran is, as you say, that most everybody hates them already.
Interesting stuff Holmes.
Excellent point. I think it’s too easy for people who didn’t live through the Cold War to pass judgment, not understanding the danger we would have faced with a true Soviet satellite nation in our back yard. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, and thanks for stopping by.
The people are finally standing up against the dictators. I’m more worried about the aftermath. Are they gonna go back to dictatorship ten, twenty years from now? Then these protests would get nasty.