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August 20, 2013

“The White Man’s Burden”

Roy Meachum

Rudyard Kipling came up with the expression in 1899. He meant to warn the United States of acquiring the Philippine Islands. Published in American McClure’s magazine, some say that he was celebrating Great Britain’s glory days of colonization and conquest. I’ve had that opinion myself, until writing this column.


A series of White Houses ignored him. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to take his advice. He was helped by national liberation movements. With World War II bankrupting England, France and Italy, the principal colonizers, it was moot, until Harry S Truman decided to enter the field. He helped Charles de Gaulle use American ships to return to Vietnam in 1945, sharing the “White Man’s Burden,” which became the tragedy of my manhood years.


In particular, Mr. Roosevelt wanted the British out from Africa and Asia. Impoverished London agreed. But they stayed on in Egypt until the Free Officers revolted, under Colonel Gamal al-Nasser, and the king was dumped in 1952. The English monarchy had lost India and Pakistan already; its sole justification for retaining the Suez Canal.


Meanwhile, Mr. Truman rushed into the vacuum, by first declaring recognition of Israel, in 1948. Our relations with the Muslim world have not recovered, in the last 65 years; not even when Dwight D. Eisenhower forced England, France and the Jewish state to abandon the canal, which they banded together to seize Suez.


Lyndon B. Johnson branded the United States policy in the Middle East for evermore when he did not demand reparations for the USS Liberty, attack with loss of American lives during the 1967 Five-Day War. His justification? He wanted to get re-elected the following year. I was an advisor on the performing arts during his terms in the White House. I didn’t resign but should have. The large flag that established the USS Liberty’s identity and other facts came out years later.


Washington is in bed with Jerusalem, sealed by Anwar al-Sadat’s first visit to Israel. I was living in Cairo when the other Muslim nations tried to dissuade him, sending several emissaries to the airport in Heliopolis. They weren’t permitted to come into the city, fearing what took place. The US established strong relations with the Egyptian military, to the tune of currently $1.5 billion; Israel gets more.


When Hosni Mubarak inevitably fell; he was a disaster for the land along the Nile.


Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan Muslimun) had been outlawed under the British; they had been illegal for the first 80 years. Under American pressure, they were made legitimate in the post-Mubarak government. Under the last presidential election, the Brotherhood was rated the strongest among the political parties, but not alone. The other factions decided to skip the balloting; they campaigned fitfully, if at all. Almost by default, the Brotherhood won, not big but sufficiently. Muhammad Morsi was the new Egyptian president; this bespoke tragedy for Israel.


The Jewish nation didn’t want religious radicals next door. The Islamists gave Christians trouble; they wrecked churches. At the time I lived there, the Copts complained to me.


Inevitably, the armed forces deposed Mr. Morsi. Washington and President Barack Obama are not calling it a “coup.” That would free the Egyptian generals of all restraints. Cries from Capitol Hill, echoed by journalists and sundry individuals, not Zionists, name it what it clearly is, a coup. Main stream media doesn’t give it the right name.


But, as Lyndon Johnson, they fear the powerful voice of American Jews. We lost locally Sen. Charles “Mac” Mathias because gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson bought property in Maryland – and a voice in state politics.


As I wrote before, a week ago: “The Jewish Nation will dictate the outcome; mainly because most Americans don’t give a tinker’s dam about the Middle East.”


Still, every time I turn around, “Egypt” comes to my ears.


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