Egypt: Fruit of the Poisonous Olive Tree
What democracy in Egypt means to the United States
The emerging democracy in Egypt is yet another blow to US influence and yet another boost to the region’s local superpower, Iran. Perhaps fifty years from now, the disadvantages of democratization will be erased by its benefits. In the meantime, a democratic Egypt virtually assures the end of secular government in the Middle East. As Egypt reorganizes under some form of religion-dominated democracy, it is also inevitable that they will turn away from the United States.
Not that we didn’t ask for it, mind you. We’re getting ready to eat the fruit of the poisonous tree we nurtured. For most of the last century, the United States has aligned itself with Middle-East dictators and thugs. The net effect of our blood and treasure has been to over-weaponize dictatorships while simultaneously giving their people reasons to hate us.
In all fairness, back when we started meddling in the Middle East (meddling became really popular after World War II) there were only tribal leaders to choose from. But our foreign policy never attempted to nudge these monarchs toward a better form of government. We didn’t even want to. The truth is that democracies are harder to deal with and, well, we chose selfishly.
Arguably, the worst of our dictator buddies was the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, who was fond of making dissidents wear metal boxes padlocked over their heads while he tortured them for months or years. But he was 100% our guy. He did whatever we asked, and when we gave him tons of cash, he spent it at our arms bazaar. The Shah was a willing middleman in the scam to launder billions of US taxpayer dollars into corporate profits. He was also Israel’s biggest arms customer. He was our kind of guy.
Today, Iran is a regional powerhouse, ruled by a group of evangelical Mullahs who have veto power over every rule or law that is passed. Though not good for us or the Iranian people, the Mullah’s are still a big improvement over the Shah.
When our interests aligned Saddam Hussein we backed his war. We wanted a weaker Iran, so did Iraq. So we gave Saddam billions which he dutifully spent on arms (some foreign) sourced from American companies. Congress’ Riegle Report also found that we sent him biological weapons (including Anthrax and Botulism) seventy-three times. Most Iranians believe the chemical weapons he used on the battlefield came from us.Continued on the next page