A piece in truthdig on Hilary Clinton's inept visit to Egypt ought to give us all pause that the US continues its misdirected foreign policy toward many countries, Egypt included. Remember that pre the Arab Spring, and all that it brought in its wake in Egypt, the dictator Mubarak was the second-largest recipient of American aid after Israel.
Oh Hillary, if only you had listened when I and others explained that any overt interference by the United States in Egypt’s fledgling democracy would be badly received.
Meeting Saturday with Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s new president, and Sunday with Gen. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Clinton attempted to exercise financial and military influence by demanding that Egypt conform to Washington’s political agenda.
This big-footed gesture was met here with angry protests and marches. The convoy transporting Clinton and other U.S. diplomats was pelted with garbage and old shoes as it made its way through demonstrators from all sides of Egypt’s political arena. The protesters bore signs saying, “You can keep your stinking money, Hillary!” “Hillary, go home, Bill is with Monica,” “USA cannot buy Islam. Allah is great,” and “USA=Israel.” Ironically united liberals, secularists, Christians and Islamists of all orientations joined in reaction against “U.S. bullying.”
Most of the outcry was not from Islamic fundamentalists, but from Egyptian Copts and liberals, disgusted by what they perceived as a betrayal by the incoming government and U.S opportunistic pandering to the newly empowered Islamists. However, Islamic elements, too, strongly opposed Clinton’s colonialist patronizing, so thinly concealed under a tissue of American “support for democracy.”
By trying to leave a big U.S. boot print on this nation, Washington has raised the ire of almost all Egyptians, despite the superficial diplomatic agreement that the American delegation reached with the Muslim Brotherhood government.
The people of Egypt do not examine or care about the fine points of the U.S. worldview. They have an intense national pride and a new hunger for self-determination that are endangered by foreign agendas.
Very few here support the Americans’ invasive gestures and demonstrations of dominance. Contrast the Clinton visit with King Abdullah’s meeting with Morsi in Saudi Arabia last week in which the monarch discreetly promised $4 billion to Egypt, without strings attached. That encounter did not cause even a ripple of upset in Egypt.
Clinton has unnecessarily put herself and the United States at risk of failing yet again in the Middle East. The vast difference in values and traditions between the two countries is a gulf that can drown American diplomats.