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OP-ED: Egypt and the Emperor's Clothes
On more than one occasion, I’ve referred to the increasing irrelevance of American standing internationally, a sad and potentially dangerous reality that has been exposed once more with the tragedy in Egypt.
There had developed a time after World War II when the United States possessed a status of world leadership, earned or not, because of our military and fiscal power, our contributions to battered nations abroad and our revitalized industrial standing. Then a succession of efforts brought us into international conflicts contrary to our pre-war isolationism, and developed much resentment and fear abroad.
We could defend our involvement in Korea as protection of our Pacific interests. But, ultimately, and ,after horrendous casualties and other realities, we found ourselves beaten down in Viet Nam with nothing to show of any positive result. The same evolved with our massively expensive disasters in both Iraq and Afghanistan, both nations hardly in any better shape for our incursions.
Iraq is once again the haven of bombers and terrorists; Afghanistan has shown that the power of the US is insufficient to overcome a bunch of people called insurgents of the Taliban.
The only real beneficiaries of all this tragedy have been the Russians, driven from Afghanistan; the Chinese who have happily moved away from military fun to industrial and entrepreneurial development, and, of course the huge military-industrial complex of our own nation whose profitability and job production has made a return to peace an economic question mark.
So now as the military forces in Egypt cut a swath through protesting civilians, killing hundreds, imprisoning journalists, about all America is able to come up with are some saccharin comments saying we are shocked and saddened. What, you might ask, could we have done differently to help assuage this ongoing bloodletting? Having bungled our way into both Libya and Syria on top of Iraq-Afghanistan, perhaps not much. However, it might have helped just a little had we pounded more strongly away at the so called United Nations to help bring people together as it was what it was allegedly designed to do.
Perhaps our leadership, both Republican and Democratic, did not have the confidence we could impose that leadership power on the Security Council or the UN General Membership.
But time is not an ally to anyone, and we have been found wanting both internationally and domestically where we’ve had to contend with the combined embarrassment of a former NSA contractor selling secrets while happily accepting asylum in a nation that imprisons politicians who speak ill of the sitting government….and an Army PFC who seemed to have ready access to tons of classified information of great importance not accessible to most way above his rank.
Bottom line: the Emperor’s Clothes have been stripped. Where we once stood tall and proud, we now stand exposed.
It might be useful for whatever functions as leadership of both major parties to lay down the political combat and create at least an appearance they all work for the same country and the same taxpayers instead of what happens at the next Congressional and Presidential elections. (There will be a pause while readers understandably sneer at the very idea of such patriotism.) Absent such action, however, our ability to stand tall among those we want to and must influence will continue to diminish.
Perhaps this can be a challenge as well to the collective genius of those so powerful in affecting public opinion and markets…like the readers of this publication and the big time operators in public relations, marketing and advertising who seem to be able to sell anything.