Strengthening America in Egypt

American Egyptian Relations

Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. embassy in Cairo, September 11, 2012. Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

Many Egyptians believe the United States is out to get them. Yet at the same time, the United States is the primary supplier of the Egyptian military, and ties between the two armed forces are strong.

Samuel Tadros wrote an engaging history of post-Arab Spring Egypt for the Hoover Institute, entitled “The Follies of Democracy Promotion.”

In it he brings to task the sentiment of past administrations — Bush and Obama included — who sought to pressure Egypt to open up democratically.

Some critics might say it is the underlying relation with the military and the failure to push harder for democracy that makes the United States a popular target. Tadros is cynical.

Regardless, in his conclusion he hits at a very important but often overlooked feature of the bilateral relationship:

Beyond any specific policy disagreements between the two countries throughout the years, the weakness of the alliance stems from the failure of Washington to build a constituency for the United States in Egypt.

As anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories overtook the country, no one in Egypt was willing to stand for the United States, defending the importance of the alliance.

Engagement with Egyptian society should not be limited to Cairo or to the business community, but the United States should make an effort to reach wider spectrums of Egyptian society.

And he offers several rather practical steps:

The US embassy should offer a correction to every anti-American story appearing in the Egyptian media, and those who actively spread such stories and refuse to correct them should pay a price.

A journalist consistently spreading conspiracy theories about the United States should not get invited to the US embassy Fourth of July party and he should not receive a visa to go shopping in America.

Alhurra, the US-based satellite TV channel, should be revitalized to provide fact-based news for Egypt and the region as a whole.

Above all, President el-Sisi should give a major speech making the case for the US-Egyptian alliance, detailing what America has done to help Egypt and refuting anti-American conspiracy theories. If he is committed to the alliance and wants US economic and military aid, he should be required to make the case for America to his people.

America has been content to look the other way as its reputation is trashed, assured vital interests will be [and have been] protected. And Egypt is free to pursue its favored foreign policy, independent of the United States, if it chooses.

‘Hearts and minds’ only go so far in a climate of disinformation. And America must step up to the plate and deserve the good reputation it desires.

But Tadros’ suggestions are sensible. It is strange they have not been widely discussed before.

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2 thoughts on “Strengthening America in Egypt

  1. Dear Jason,

    Hope you and the family enjoyed the 4th July.

    I am writing in reaction to your latest entry for Strengthening America in Egypt.

    I have some thoughts but other than with you I would prefer not to respond in the comments, it goes without saying that my trust and faith in you I am happy for you to use any of my comments. Many of them you will have heard before.

    So having been here in 2013 and the second revolution, I found the delay of both the British and American government were very slow to come on board, harking on about the democratic position held by the then president. A position gained with less majority than Brexit. Some having said that if you gave some people a supply of oil and flour, together with certain other pressure and brainwashing. It is a surprise that he won by such a small majority.

    The follies of democratic promotion. In the last four years we have seen this blow up in the face of both American but also British Politics. Especially when you have apathy spreading so far across those who do not appreciate the gift certain countries have in being able to go to the ballot. Are they basically too idle to go out and vote. When you only have a percentage of the populous voting is that true democracy. Take for instance Brexit I understand that about 66% of the uk voted. 48% to remain and 52% to leave. However if you take the 52% across all those eligible to vote, that is reduced to 39% however if you take into account every person in the country, including those who will be affected most by Brexit the number who have forced Brexit is 29%. Hence my total desperation over the current incumbent of no.10. Who had tried to push Brexit through without going through the House of Commons let alone both houses. Between her and your own incumbent of the White House. They have turned democracy into the laughing stock of the world.

    Another thing mentioned while you were away with all the will America support the new government, was the long delay in confirming whether previous agreements and Supply equipment would be honoured. Why it took so long but one thing I read was that most of the equipment is mothballed and not really wanted, but also the American government could not afford not to continue as it would make all those in the manufacture of said items would be thrown out of work.

    Unfortunately as I have said numerous times before Egypts biggest enemy after terrorism is overseas media, including that by Egyptians outside of Egypt using second hand news, and being responsible for so much disinformation. It is years since the BBC could be relied upon to give unbiased news, I believe your own country suffers the same with a number of news suppliers. A number of uk newspapers are not even fit to wrap up fish and chips let alone provide unbiased reporting. The Independent the Mail and Express are among the worse. It is very rare to find a report on Egypt to actually be factual and positive.

    I am sorry I never got back to you about people not coming to Egypt because of the negative overseas press. Before I came out here a friend told me I am mad going somewhere so dangerous. I pointed out that with twenty years of pounding the streets in the UK, I had not come across anywhere in Cairo that I felt unsafe, where as there are numerous places in the UK I would not go in daylight let alone nighttime, the friend is from just outside of Manchester, an area of Manchester called Moss Side being such an area.

    On my recent visit to the UK when people realised I am living in Egypt, they would say oh is that not dangerous, after admitting the attacks on churches it was no more dangerous than Westminster Bridge, London Bridge, and Manchester.

    Unfortunately the stupid and selective actions ordered by the current incumbent of the White House, and as with Bush and Blair, May is chasing around like the proverbial lap dog, copying the crazy ideas as in no laptops or iPads. Or those from certain nations, not being allowed into the US. I have no wish to prove myself wrong, but as I was born in Hargeisa, the capital of the then protectorate of British Somaliland, later to become part of Somalia, and as the unrecognised state of Somaliland, despite it having its own Government and peace over the past 25 years. I don’t think I would currently be allowed into the states. When I went to Australia in 2009 Ethihad did not sort out the visas as they were supposed to have done, this was no problem for my mother as she was British Born and bred, but they would not accept my application without a photocopy of my passport showing my photograph, did they accept my application.

    It is great that you have brought this subject up, being a Muslim majority country, there appears to be a total lack of understanding of Muslims and Islam, when as I have mentioned Those holding high office both in the UK and US together with high profile christian friends come up with reterick about Islam, and Muslims, together with trying to force democracy onto a Muslim country where the basic belief is your faith your politics and your morals are all one and the same. They judge all westerners as being Christians, with their skimpy clothing, drunken behaviour etc etc. Those more activated are then likely take it out on the Christians closer to home.

    Unfortunately the delay by both countries to back the current Government allowed the falsehoods and conspiracies to grow, since then there has not been any attempt by anyone to make a visit to Egypt, there has been more news cover on Putin’s Visit and support.

    I can’t see where banning members of the press from visits to the USA and 4th of July events, will have any effect. But maybe a change of attitude by media in general to report the facts as opposed theories and subjunctive.

    Maybe it’s because I am advancing in age, had a life in the police, where I served a Queen and dealt only facts. My faith is strong and therefore if my time is up it’s up, we both know we are going somewhere better. As I believe you are aware I did not go to University until 2003, during my first year my results were god. I treated essays like statements looked at the question worked out what I needed to prove and wrote the essay. In my second years my marks dropped and part of the reason was not adding discussion and argument. Where as I was always used to giving facts.

    He restrictions put on both Americans and to the same extent others does appear to me to be over protective brought on by a fear of being sued, because they had not said it may be unsafe. I really would argue that this country is a lot safer than both the US and U.K. But at the same time, we could be knocked down by a bus where ever we are.

    Written in the spirit of love and faith.

    Yours as always in Him

    Peter.

    >

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