Hillary Clinton’s trip to Egypt should provide her with food for thought, assuming she is capable of the independent variety of that activity. On Sunday, protesters hurled tomatoes and shoes at her motorcade. One tomato landed in the face of an Egyptian official. Some of the Egyptian charmers taunted Clinton with chants of “Monica, Monica” as she passed by.
The Egyptian military was next in line to rebuke the Secretary of State. During a meeting with military leaders, Clinton urged them to return the armed forces to a “purely security role.” This means letting the elected government, which is thoroughly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, run the show. Clinton later stated that the U.S. is doing all it can to support the “democratically elected government.”
Within hours of the meeting with Clinton, the military publicly stated that it would not allow a “certain group” to dominate Egypt. The comments came from Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. Although he did not specify which group the military had in mind, Tantawi’s meaning was clear. “Egypt belongs to all Egyptians and not to a certain group. . .especially [a group] pushed from outside,” he explained.
What should Clinton take away from her visit? First, she should understand that the U.S. cannot get on the good side of the radical “Egyptian street.” Decades of support for the old regime, several years of which occurred under the Obama administration, preclude this. Oppressed people have long, distorted memories.
More importantly, ideological considerations preclude it. Radical Islamists, embodied in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood, hate what the United States traditionally stands for — freedom, secularism, and so forth. No one, not Clinton and not Obama, can overcome this hatred. Nor, considering its source, should they want to.
Second, as things now stand, the military is a positive force in Egypt, comparatively speaking. It is also the force over which, potentially, the U.S. can exercise influence. But the Egyptian military will stop taking the U.S. seriously if we urge them to take no role in the politics of their country.
Indeed, no one should take the U.S. seriously if we advocate a policy so clearly antithetical to our interests, the interests of our allies, and the interests of the Egyptian people.