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As Long as We Remember...

February 7, 2011

The Consequences in Egypt

Steven R. Berryman

In an America addicted to cheap oil, our apparent “ends justify the means” foreign policy is consistently justified.


During World War II we were strange bedfellows with the Soviet man of steel Josef Stalin; deaths directly attributed to this dictator’s policies were greater than those of our Axis enemy of the day, Adolph Hitler!


But “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” as the saying goes.


Enter Anwar Sadat, leader of Egypt 30 years ago, signatory of the Camp David Peace Accords, agreed to just in our backyard north of Frederick. Although the treaty was essentially regime-to-regime, as opposed to Egypt-to-Israel, Sadat was later assassinated very publicly; informed sources claim this was the result of a faction of the radical group Muslim Brotherhood.


Beneficiary of this was the now infamous man of the hour, Hosni Mubarak, President Sadat’s right-hand man, and Egyptian Air Force hero.


Protector of the Suez Canal, and the national petroleum-interests, President Mubarak subjugated his own people under this pretense. Willingly, America facilitated this with $20 billion, chiefly benefitting our military-industrial complex.


It was a political win-win for decades!


Except, of course, that this arrangement spawned Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and Egyptian Islamic jihad. That makes 9/11 an unfortunate “unintended consequence” of facilitating stability in the Middle East.


At this writing on Saturday, Egyptian internal security police – as in Germany’s Gestapo from WWII – have ceased their masked attacks on anti-Mubarak protesters having their “1776 moment.” Exposure and international pressures apparently got them reined-in.


So, now we are back to a mid-level intensity détente between struggling forces in Egypt. This balance of power seems to be maintained – at least in part – by a fear of allowing an opening to militant Islamic forces bent on global caliphate. Should Sharia Law take root in Egypt, the dominos would easily fall unencumbered.


The special relationship between America and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been an unspoken imperative in any resolution of the Egyptian conflicts to date; mainstream news does not address the potential consequences for the repressive regime in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi oil domination and OPEC are, of course, the model of Arabic influence on the West. In petro-terms, they sneeze, we get a cold!


So, human rights are not so important in oil-rich nations, as long as we get “our cut” of the action via contracts for drilling, production, and exploration in the region. Imagine if Communist (Red) China had vast exportable oil reserves. Perhaps in that instance we would not be so harsh on their human rights “violations.”


One main spark of the current amorphous revolution in Egypt is said to be general populace unrest over the cost of their food. The Chinese say, “when one has not enough money, there are many problems, but when there is not enough food, there is only one problem.”


As a household expenditure, Egyptians must spend 41 percent of their income to provide for their food consumption on average. By comparison, Americans spend but 11 percent.


Ironically, back in the U. S. of A., America’s richness in natural food production capability via rich land is being undermined by our own energy policy. Taxpayer subsidized ethanol-from-corn is being mandated in our fuels.


American food prices are now escalating as corn and corn byproducts are forced up in price due to supply and demand worldwide. Without tax-based subsidy from your money, ethanol actually costs more to produce than it contributes to the fuel itself, this when the true measure of corn’s nitrogen fertilizer, transportation costs, and labor are correctly accounted for.


Americans do have a vested interest in maintaining “thugocracias” in circumstances where the alternative for us may be even worse – witness Mexico, for instance; but in the end, it seems to me that it always does come back to bite us.


In analyzing American petro-foreign policy, it can be hard to separate real enemy from an enemy of convenience, both external and internal.


Me, I’m planning on having a personal “day of rage!”


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