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Imperialspeak: Is Egypt an Ally or an Enemy?


President Obama’s pointed observation that Egypt is no longer an ally of the United States reveals the imperial mindset that characterizes U.S. officials.

Obama was recently asked in a television interview, “Would you consider the current Egyptian regime an ally of the United States? The president responded, “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally but we don’t consider them an enemy.”

The president’s sudden conversion of Egypt from ally to non-ally caught the world by surprise, including the U.S. State Department, which scrambled to correct the president, assuring the world that Egypt is, in fact, still considered a major non-NATO ally.

What motivated Obama to issue his proclamation?

For decades, Egypt has been governed by a military dictatorship, one that was headed by Air Force Marshal Hosni Mubarak.

During that time, the relationship between the United States and Egypt was one of master and servant. The U.S. government would place billions of dollars in cash and weaponry into the hands of Mubarak and the military, which would help solidify their omnipotent, dictatorial control over the Egyptian people.

In return, Mubarak would agree to maintain a position of subservience in the U.S. government’s worldwide military empire. Whenever the Empire needed something, the Egyptian regime would immediately hop-to. One of the best examples of this phenomenon was when the CIA needed regimes to serve as rendition-torture partners. Egypt leaped to accept the invitation and ultimately became a loyal, brutal rendition-torture partner in the war on terrorism.

With the ouster of Mubarak, however, the situation changed dramatically.

U.S. officials were hoping that Army General and intelligence officer Omar Suleiman would replace Mubarak as president. If that would have happened, there is no doubt that Obama today would consider Egypt to still be an ally of the United States.

Alas, the Egyptian people were not interested in replacing Mubarak with a Mubarak clone. They instead elected Mohammad Morsi to be Egypt’s new president. The problem, however, is that much to the chagrin of Obama and other U.S. officials, Morsi, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has steadfastly refused to place himself in the same subservient position that Mubarak placed himself and Egypt.

That’s why President Obama no longer considers Egypt to be an ally of the United States. What’s fascinating, however, is that the Egyptian military itself is still considered a U.S. ally, which is why the U.S. Empire continues to funnel a billion dollars a year in cash and weaponry into the hands of the military.

So, given Morsi’s independence from U.S. imperial control and the Egyptian military’s continued subservience to U.S. imperial control, it’s not surprising that there would be confusion within the ranks of the Empire as to whether Egypt is still an ally or not.

One might find all of this interesting or not, but the important thing to note about it all is that this is the way empires think. Notice how U.S. officials judge a country: If the regime is subservient to the Empire, it’s considered an ally. If it’s not subservient, it’s not an ally.

Of course, under the imperialist mindset, even though a regime isn’t an ally, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an enemy, as Obama himself intimated. It’s possible for a foreign government to be independent of the Empire but still not take positions that are contrary to the wishes of the Empire.

If a foreign regime is independent of the empire and openly criticizes or condemns imperial policies, it is considered an enemy of the empire. Venezuela, Iran, and Cuba come to mind.

Imperialists not only view foreign countries in terms of allies, non-allies, and enemies. They also look on foreign regimes as “rivals.” China is a good example. It isn’t considered an ally or an enemy but instead a “rival” to the United States, as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would attest.

How would things be if libertarians were to prevail in our goal to end the U.S. government’s role as a worldwide military empire, international policeman, and welfare (foreign aid) provider? What would things be like if the entire national security state, including the vast military establishment and CIA, was dismantled? What would life be like if the U.S. government was prohibited from imposing sanctions and embargoes against other nations? How would things be different if the U.S. government was reined in and the American people were liberated to freely travel, trade, and interact with the people of the world?

Consider Switzerland. Its foreign policy is similar to that on which our nation was founded. Do we see the Swiss government anguishing over whether Egypt is an ally or an enemy? No. It’s totally irrelevant, because Switzerland isn’t an empire. The Swiss government doesn’t involve itself in Egyptian affairs. It’s not trying to form alliances or partnerships with foreign regimes. It’s not trying to purchase loyalty and allegiance with foreign aid.

The Swiss government minds its own business. At the same time, the Swiss government and the Swiss populace devote their efforts to fortifying the defenses of their own country, which is why no one would ever dare to invade the country.

At the same time, people in the Middle East are not trying to kill Swiss citizens or attack Swiss government installations because the Swiss government is not humiliating, torturing, and killing people in the Middle East (or elsewhere) and not sanctioning, embargoing, invading, or occupying foreign lands.

It’s that sense of normality that could return to the United States except for one big obstacle: America’s role as a worldwide military empire, a role that our nation’s Founding Fathers firmly opposed. Dismantling the national security state, including the vast military establishment and the CIA, ending the U.S. government’s role as international meddler and interloper, and unleashing the American private sector is the only way to restore balance, harmony, fiscal soundness, and economic prosperity to our land.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.