NATHAN FIELD | NATHAN-FIELD.COM
Continuing an early-administration priority of restoring relations with key allies, the POTUS pulled out all the stops Monday for the first meeting to the White House by an Egyptian leader since 2009:
Was the meeting a success?
Here are three core principles to keep in mind.
#1 – Allies will act as good allies IF they believe they are considered genuine allies
Bottom line: The only way the US gets the benefits of an alliance with a country like Egypt, is if it’s a strong relationship and one where the junior partner truly feels valued.
Otherwise – and with virtually no exceptions to this rule – this is what happens:
“Egypt will give the US the metaphorical finger and do what it wantsas part of a classic Egyptian desire to demonstrate a certain spunk and ‘independence.'”
Exact same thing is true of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
This is why I wrote in a February 2011 article that it was a huge mistake for President Obama to make a vocal show of telling Mubarak he “had to go.” Why? Because by doing that, the US gave away much of its ability to influence the politics of the post-Mubarak era over the next several years.
So what is the main objection to Sisi’s visit to the White House?
It is true. The government of Egypt is not perfect. And I guess we can say that President Sisi is a “strongman,” whatever that means.
But two qualifying points for context with Joy Ann Reid doesn’t mention.
First, President Sisi is not the cause of repression in Egypt. Rather repression is the symptom of the vast political, social, cultural and class differences in Egyptian society, that make Zero-Sum politics and repression inevitable no matter who is in power.
In fact, it is hard to imagine a scenario where there wasn’t some form of repression in Egypt, whoever was in charge from 2011 to the present.
It’s also true that the parts of the Egyptian government that are most repressive, are largely outside the control of the President.
But second, here is the most fundamental question at play:
Does the US have a pragmatic relationship with foreign governments or not? Get the benefits of the alliance, or not?
Joy Ann Reid, let’s be honest, has no thoughtful, deep, well-thought out, answer to this question. But essentially she is repeating a Liberal talking point and demanding that Trump take a highly ideological approach which will always lead to Egypt as I suggested above, giving the US the finger.
President Trump just wants to focus on forming more productive relationships.
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Nathan Field is an Arabic speaker and a commentator on Middle East politics based in Washington, D.C. He spent two years as part of the management team of a one billion dollar engineering project in Saudi Arabia. He then spent five years building up and then selling a translation company called Industry Arabic. Follow him on Twitter at @nathanrfield1. Check out his website, www.nathan-field.com for expert, in-depth, and entirely unique perspectives on resolving so many of our most vexing problems in the Mideast today.