U. S. Interventionist Policy a Failure in Egypt

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Topographic map of Egypt. Created with GMT fro...

Topographic map of Egypt. Created with GMT from SRTM data. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The naivete of U. S. politicians in foreign policy has always amazed me. From FDR and Truman’s beliefs that “Uncle Joe” Stalin could be reasonable to the Iraq War to the current disastrous interventions in the Middle East, the U. S. has taken bad situations and made them worse. Egypt is a case in point. Mr. Obama (as was Mr. Bush) were naive to believe that the Middle East could support a Western style democracy. Whenever something like a democratic system is instituted, Islamist governments have been elected. U. S. support of the (just ousted) Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt was especially egregious.  Thankfully Egypt has enough moderate Muslims who are also backed by the Christian minority to make a difference–and they have. True, the Egyptian Army instigated a coup to force Mr. Morsi out of power, but there seemed to be little choice when Mr. Morsi (true to his principles) did not give an inch on power sharing. Now Mr. Obama, also consistent with his disastrous policy to intervene in a sovereign state’s affairs, including giving military aid to the rebels opposing Former President Mubarak, is condemning the Egyptian military’s action and calling for a full restoration of civilian rule, The United States should stay out of Egypt’s internal affairs. Even before Mr. Nasser’s rule, Egypt was struggling against the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and this allowed a large class of moderate Muslims to flourish. To back the Muslim brotherhood militarily (as the U. S. has done in the recent past) and financially (which the U. S. has done until the current coup) is a foolish and short-sighted policy. It has led to vicious persecution of the Coptic Church and of other Christians in Egypt. It has led to more hatred of the United States in Egypt. Mr. Obama’s glow in Egypt has dimmed with the crowds opposing Mr. Morsi holding up anti-Obama signs and signs criticizing U. S. Ambassador to Egypt Patterson. It is as if the United States is hell-bent on acting against its own interests.

The United States should abandon its interventionist foreign policy in Egypt (and elsewhere, especially Syria). It should let the Egyptians deal with their own problems and stop providing financial support to Islamist groups. It should humble itself and stop its arrogant stance of “The U. S. knows best, and darn it, you’re going to go along with it or else.” Only then might the United States gain back the respect it has lost in Egypt and elsewhere.

Arrogance and Hypocrisy in U.S. Foreign Policy

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Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States...

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President Obama has chosen to lecture Egyptian President Mubarak on the issue of human rights. This is another instance of American arrogance and hypocrisy, as traditional conservatives such as Pat Buchanan and libertarians such as Ron Paul, as well as some on the left, have pointed out. The U.S. has a shameful history of violation of rights and, regarding the American Indians, genocide. The U.S. Army engaged in brutal tactics during the Philippine War in the early twentieth century. In World War II, the U.S. forced thousands of Japanese-American citizens into what de facto were concentration camps–the fact that they were not as brutal as the German camps does not make what the United States did morally right. The U.S. engaged in saturation bombing of Tokyo in March 1945, killing over 100,000 people with the firestorm created from gasoline-laden bombs. The U.S. is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in combat. The U.S. and its allies, violating centuries of just war theory, demanded unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers in World War II. In Vietnam there were multiple instances of abuse by U.S. Army personnel against the Vietnamese people; Lt. Calley’s unit was not the only one to engage in rape or kill civilians. In Iraq and Afghanistan, torture was the official practice of U.S. military intelligence personnel as well as regular army personnel. The U.S. has not eschewed the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict–not even with President Obama in power. And domestically, neither the FBI nor the ATF have clean human rights records, as FBI surveillance of American citizens and the ATF disasters at Ruby Ridge and Waco show. Now many countries engage in similar behaviors or worse–it may be the case, as blind patriots claim, that the U.S. has a better record on human rights than most other countries. But this does not justify our actions, nor does it justify the arrogance of President Obama in telling Mr. Mubarak how to run his country, especially since democracy in the Middle East tends to lead to radical Islamists coming into power. Perhaps Mr. Obama (and Mrs. Clinton) would prefer the Muslim Brotherhood to gain power in Egypt. If that happens, the powerkeg that is the Near East may explode.

In addition, U.S. policy holds that democracy is the best form of government for all nations. But as Aristotle recognized in his Politics, the best form of government for any state is going to depend on its history and traditions. But the U.S. continues to follow the neo-Puritanism of Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy and try to export “democracy” to the world–at the same time democracy is dying a slow death in the U.S. The rest of the world sees U.S. hypocrisy and hates us for it. The U.S. can do better than this–it can clean up its own house and avoid sticking its nose into every other country’s business. I hope such reform happens–but the secularist Puritan strand in American foreign policy is ingrained that I am pessimistic. We need more Ron Pauls, more Pat Buchanans, more true liberals such as Nat Hentoff, to join together in an effort to both stop U.S. abuses of human rights and also to encourage a “more humble” (as President G. W. Bush said in his pre-911 days) U.S. foreign policy.