May 06, 2011
Since Hosni Mubarak’s fall, Egypt has pursued a similar course. Cairo has allowed Iranian warships to transit Suez and is about to re-establish ties to Tehran. She has brokered an agreement uniting Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and is about to reopen the border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. Israeli anger and American alarm are politely ignored.
Though their population, like Pakistan’s, is anti-American, neither Turkey nor Egypt is openly hostile. Yet both pursue policies that clash with U.S. policy. And this new distance from Washington is being met with the approval of Turks and Egyptians. For the one thing all of the uprisings of the Arab Spring have had in common is a desire of these peoples to be rid of American hegemony.
Indeed, taking inventory after four months of Arab revolts, it is difficult not to declare America a net loser.
Our ally of 30 years, Mubarak, was overthrown. The new government is moving away from us. Our ally in Tunisia was ousted.
Our unpopular and ruthless ally in Yemen is still fighting for survival. The brutality shown by our friend, Bahrain’s King Khalifa, against peaceful Shiite demonstrators probably means eventual loss of basing rights for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
We are to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan this summer and complete the withdrawal in 2014. We are down from 170,000 troops in Iraq to 50,000. All are to be gone by year’s end.
Americans have had their fill of nation-building. We cannot afford any more decade-long wars where the benefits to the American people have to be endlessly explained.
Why is America’s footprint shrinking in that part of the world?
First, Americans have never been less popular there, and one demand of every revolution is for a new government, independent of the United States, that will defend the national sovereignty.
Second, we are broke. We can no longer afford the bases. We can no longer afford the wars. We can no longer afford the aid.
Third, the true vital interest of the United States in this part of the world is that these Islamic countries not become base camps of terror, especially nuclear terror, targeted against the United States.
That end is surely better served by packing and departing than by staying and fighting.