March 2, 2012

Egypt goes South

I was holding out for Egypt, hoping against hope that the same military-backed regime that controlled the levers since 1952 would now allow some semblance of democracy -- while also honoring the 40-year alliance with the United States and peace treaty with Egypt. It is no longer possible to pretend that any of these imperatives is guaranteed, and the first is most likely unachievable for the near future.

The $4 million just paid to ransom a handful of U.S. non-profit workers -- against the $1.5 billion in aid that we send over every year -- is an imperfect fix to a ridiculous gambit by the regime. We just paid "get lost" money, and we're the ones who are supposed to get lost.

The preposterous charges against the Americans included possession of a Wikipedia-based map of Egypt.

We have no alternative to supporting Egypt's transition or its role as a force for regional stability -- unless the regime is unwilling to accept even that level of cooperation. If the military junta chooses to squander Western support and investment as part of its strategy to avoid meaningful democratic reforms, we cannot force it do so. Sanctions against the regime won't have much impact, especially since everyone form France to Russia, to China, will be happy to fill that void.

Because Egypt controls the Suez Canal, and because it controls access to and from Gaza and the Sinai peninsula, and because it has a formidable U.S.-equipped army, we cannot afford to write it off.

The only remaining alternative is to pull out our non-military presence and continue the military relationship for as long as possible, because we really do have no choice -- especially with a post-Iraq Iran sharpening it's arsenal; Russia seeking any opportunity to add bite to its diminished bark; Israel turning increasingly inward; and Americans too exhausted to start building new alliances anywhere on this planet.

Despite heroic sacrifices by so many Egyptians, their democracy has proven to be stillborn. We in the West have no realistic way to help them for this round, and need to shift into damage-control mode before it becomes a case for disaster relief.

The only hope is for some renewed vision and redoubled heroism by the Egyptian people, as election results and their lack of relevance become unavoidably obvious.

1 comment:

  1. Just curious...what does 'Israel turning increasingly inward' have to do with an utterly failed 'revolution'? What could the government and/or the people of Israel do, in your opinion, to help move Egypt along a healthier post-Revolutionary path?