Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945

American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945


Douglas Little explores the stormy American relationship with the Middle East from World War II through the war in Iraq, focusing particularly on the complex and often inconsistent attitudes and interests that helped put the United States on a collision course with radical Islam early in the new millennium. After documenting the persistence of “orientalist” stereotypes in American popular culture, Little examines oil, Israel, and other aspects of U.S. policy. He concludes that a peculiar blen…

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Here are the top 10 American corporations profiting from Egypt’s military. The US government gives Egypt $1.3 billion a year. Egypt then uses that money to buy weapons from US corporations.(r/Egypt)

If you think it’s about money and corporations, you are wrong. It’s about keeping countries with a largesse debt to their populations stable, and it starts with Saudi Arabia. Until the last 10-15 years or so, nation states were far more cohesive. In arming Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, yes even Iraq et al, no power vacuum would erupt a destabilization of the oil supply or the canal. You remember that canal right? Pretty important. Egypt’s military isn’t a fantastic fighting force. They can’t even hold the Sinai. In their own backyard. It’s a conscript army with discipline and motivation problems that put it on par with some 3rd world nations. (I once saw a guard outside our hotel sitting on a folding chair with his loaded rifle, butt on the ground, forehead resting on the muzzle. I saw his officer in charge beat the shit out of him not for sitting in a suicide position but for sitting.) They can’t afford the hardware, hence the free aid. The military aid relations that the US involves itself with isn’t to make a penny for defense industry, it’s to keep the oil flowing so the global economy doesn’t outright collapse, a collapse that would certainly precipitate a global war. Not because gas would go up, but because the cost of everything that is shipped anywhere would go up or stop flowing. Things like all the food Egypt imports.

Now 20+ years ago, the US wanted Egypt secure after the routing the Israelis gave it. An unsecured Egypt is a power vacuum with a vital strategic asset, the canal. It’s an insanely tempting target for Libya, Iraq, or Syria to pour into. Mostly Iraq. The genesis of the defense agreements goes back to the Camp David accords. From that point in History on, US policy has always been to seek an equilibrium of power in the region. With no one country getting uppity or feeling cornered, no one country would unilaterally attack another. With the exception of the always unpredictable Saddam Hussein, it worked. That’s the theory anyway. I don’t put much faith in statecraft outside of self-preservation.

It wasn’t until the last 10-20 years that people started looking at countries differently. The globe is a shrinking place, with an even more interconnected economy and an even higher risk of a catastrophic cascade failure. Only now do people look at Egypt not as a country on a map, but as a collection of different peoples within a shared space and culture.

THAT’S why the US is giving Egypt aid. That’s why they are getting Block 52 F-16’s and Apaches. You are getting it for free because it’s worth the billions (according to current policy) to keep the balance of power in play, even if Egypt can’t afford the hardware to make it happen. People think it’s about having a handle of power in the Egyptian government, or making a few million for Lockheed, but in the end it’s just not that simple. In the end the US doesn’t care who is in power in Egypt. That’s for the Egyptian people to decide. So long as Egypt remains a nation state and that canal stays open, the region stays secure, and global war does not ensue.………

I won’t link some stuff, but you can find the bulk of the current assessment of Egypt’s military power online if that’s what you are looking for.

Suggested Reading – all have good things to take from them, though none is authoritative or without contradiction/error:

American Orientalism

Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror in the Middle East

State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department

The last book is more of a recreational read and an insight into this end of things. Just as Egypt is more complicated than Islamists and Pyramids, the US is more complicated than government and people, left and right, etc. etc. The government itself is usually contradictory or even stalemated within it’s own power structures, and power bases exist in spectra rather than categories.

Far more chaotic than corporations want money -> corporations make policy -> policy makes money. It’s far worse than that, because that implies that someone knows what is going on and controls it all. I don’t think either is true. It’s way worse. Nobody knows what is going on, and nobody is in control. Not for lack of trying, but because now the web is too complex to untangle or manage, so now we play patchwork.

Oh and Russia is in on the game too, I would guess. All I have are books and the news to go on. Russia, China, the US, and the EU are all working to keep things running. There’s a lot of political show for the news cameras but the policies and actualities show that the leaders of the world are trying really, really hard right now to keep the peace globally. Egypt features because of the canal. Congrats!

I have faith in the Egyptian people though. Not that Egypt will pull it off, but that Egypt can pull it off.

Edit: punctuation

Edit 2: Holy cow. Thank you! If I had known ahead of time, I would have put a lot more effort into citations and support, and paid closer attention to proofreading.

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Book Author

Douglas Little

Book Edition

3rd Edition

Book Publisher

The University of North Carolina Press

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American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945

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Here are the top 10 American corporations profiting from Egypt’s military. The US government gives Egypt $1.3 billion a year. Egypt then uses that money to buy weapons from US corporations.

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