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Friday, 25 January 2013
How To Make Sure That Egypt Keeps The Peace

The worst way to make sure that Egypt "keeps the peace" -- a peace its Muslim-Brotherhood ruler, Mohamed Morsi, clearly despises, and that most Egyptians think should be broken whenever the Arab side feels strong enough to go to war -- t he worst thing the American government can do is to continue to send advanced weaponry to Egypt. It should not have sent the F-16s. It should never have gotten itself into a situation of doing the bidding of Egypt's military, and sending, over the past few decades, more than $50 billion in military aid, and another ten or twenty billion in economic aid.

Had it not done so, the corrupt Egyptian military, and corrupt Mubarak, and his grasping courtiers, would not have had so much money, easily diverted, to be corrupt about, and that, in turn, would have led to a population less maddened by the visible signs of that corruption, and the general tone of the opposition, growing slowly, might have been less excitable, hysterical, and even, in one of its strands, given to seeking "Islam as the solution." 

Egypt "kept the peace" because its militay rulers were keenly aware, despite the later mythologizing about a great Egyptian "victory" in 1973, that they had suffered a colossal defeat -- Bernard Lewis in his "Notes On A Century" points out that for months after the Yom Kippur War, the Egyptians made no secret of the scale of their defeat, and only later did they re-work the narrative to turn it into a face-saving "victory." And that defeat would have been even greater had Kissiner not threatened the Israeli government to hold back Ariel Sharon, whose forces had surrounded and could have destroyed the Egyptian Third Army, from acting. And many of those military officers also remembered what had happened to the Egyptian miiltary in June 1967, and some remembered what had happened in 1956. In other words, they were more inclined toward "peace" because they had themselves experienced the war, and even those who took part in dedications of such things as the "1973 War Victory Bridge" knew better. And some, of course, were more Egyptian nationalists, immunte to the siren-song of pan-Islamism, and disabused, by Nasser's collapse, of the siren-song of pan-Arabism (which is not hostile to, but merely a subset of, pan-Islamism).

If Egypt has no American F-16s and no American advanced weaponry, it will keep the peace -- that is, not go to war -- with Israel. And how. In other words, unable to make war, the Egyptians will adapt, and it might even be the case that the only possible ideology that can save overpopulated, permanently impoverished Egypt from complete disaster, Taha Hussain's Pharaonism (q. v.), will come into vogue at long last.

Posted on 01/25/2013 8:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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