The writer is a consulting editor with The Statesman and writes for several newspapers in India
The Americans are finding that it is not easy to conquer the world. Military power and diplomatic machinations can work only to a point, after which, even the so-called superpower is humbled by the people of the nations it seeks to control. And not just that, it finds itself more and more on the periphery with no justification for its naked ambitions that lead it to support any and every thing that crawls out in its favour from the Salafis, to the criminals, to the fundamentalists, to — indirectly — even al Qaeda.
Egypt has become a significant case in point where the US has found itself on the wrong side every time. Support to former despot Hosni Mubarak failed to work in the face of the people’s revolution, and when it became apparent that the boat could not be saved from sinking, the US dropped its former ally and came out — or so it claimed — on the side of ‘democracy’. Even as it embraced the revolutionary chaos of Tahrir Square, US wheels started spinning for a ‘solution’ that would continue to work in favour of Washington. US sights settled on the Muslim Brotherhood and the world’s big ‘democracy’ went on to support the conservative organisation and its President Mohamed Morsi.
The Brotherhood found a passionate supporter in the US ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, who was popularly described by the liberals in Egypt as the Muslim Brotherhood’s “sleeper cell”. On June 18, ignoring the anti-Morsi protests, she said, “because many in the Egyptian government are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood or its Freedom and Justice Party, the US government must work with them. Some say that street action will produce better results than elections. To be honest, my government and I are deeply sceptical.” That was then. Today, confronted with the overthrow of Morsi, the US has, in another U-turn, gone on to support the protestors and ‘democracy’, with its now captive Al Jazeera running a strange story of how the Americans were supporting the people all along. Ironical, considering that some of the most anti-Morsi newspapers in Egypt carried stories placing the US on the side of the Brotherhood.
The downside of the upsurge, at the moment, is the increasingly important role acquired by the Egyptian military. This will have to be watched closely, particularly as the US has been fairly supportive of it through the years. However, events suggest that the Egyptian military is working in tandem with the popular will at the moment, as mass movements of the kind witnessed in Egypt cannot be controlled, much less manipulated. Mohammad ElBaradei has been brought in as the interim vice-president, a secular and liberal face of the struggle. The protestors, who clearly have a will of their own, are allowing the army to restore peace and political equilibrium but it will remain to be seen whether they will remain in the driving seat in the future, or will be replaced by the men in uniform and their international backers.
It is ironic that the US, which justifies the worst kind of military action across the world in the name of democracy, is now seen on the side of the fundamentalist and extremist groups in West Asia. Starting with the Zionists, who have the full backing of the US, it is the extremist religious-militant organisations that have gained ground in the region, ever since the invasion of Iraq. Al Qaeda, far from being dismantled, is active in Iraq, Libya and Syria, where the Obama Administration has been supporting bands of criminals, Salafis, extremists and terrorists to effect a ‘regime change’. The US would have succeeded in its plan of toppling the Assad government and replacing it with the conglomerate of forces working with it had it not been for the tough position taken by Russia. As it is, the heavy weapons that are being pushed into Syria at the instance of the US, will eventually be used by al Qaeda. So much for US-sponsored democracy!
Saudi Arabia is now the only voluntary ally of the US in West Asia. It is interesting to note that Washington sees nothing wrong with this country that is exporting conservative Wahabi-ism to the world. The US has dismembered Iraq, controlled Saudi Arabia but the other countries in the region are in ferment as the people fight the war for democracy against their compromised governments and their western backers. And as the people of Egypt have shown twice over, the Americans are no longer in command.