OK, I’m an American, why care about Egypt?
Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2011
Bob Schneider served on Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council. He is a recognized expert on Middle Eastern policy and a respected consultant on international business and foreign affairs. Schneider is also a humorist whose writings are popular among the politically savvy.
By Bob Schneider:
There it is on our TV sets, hour after hour, day after day, a constant barrage of information about Egypt. Egypt: the land of the Pharos, and Pyramids, and Mummies. So what? Why should I care? I have the mortgage to pay, food to put on the table, kids who are demanding on my time, Egypt, so what? It is thousands and thousands of miles away, and means very little to me. I’m sorry they’re having unrest, but it doesn’t affect my American life, not one iota.
To the contrary, there are some compelling reasons why we, as Americans, should be concerned about Egypt.
Our Economy Let’s put the big one on the table first, our American pocketbooks. How on earth is that an issue? It boils down to two words: Suez Canal. But wait, why is the Suez Canal important to our economy? The price of oil at the gas pump is why. Ships bringing crude from the Middle East, pass through the Suez Canal, on their way through Gibraltar, then to ports in the East Coast, and Gulf of Mexico. Without the Canal open to traffic, oil will have to go all the way around Africa, then all the way up Africa to those ports, adding weeks, and weeks to the trip. Time is money, and the crude will cost a lot more. In fact, the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $92.19 a barrel Monday, up $2.85 or 3.2% — the highest price since October 2008. With the Canal still open, oil prices have jumped nearly 8% over all. This has a ripple effect throughout our economy, and the Global Economy. Higher oil prices means higher prices from everything from food, to textiles, to housing will also rise. It’s all interconnected: the rise in prices for consumer goods, will spell inflation. The only way to combat inflation, is to raise interest rates. What will higher interest rates do to an already morose economy? It will kill any chance of recovery, keep unemployment high, and further weaken the dollar, which will make that oil, an import, even more expensive. So our lifestyle and recovering from a horrible recession are at stake.
World Peace This is starting to sound like a really bad George Clooney film you say? Maybe so, but it is true. The Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest, and one of the most extreme, radical Islamist organizations, believe in building a society which complies with Sharia, from the ground up. They are like the Taliban, only more severe. Think of them as Iran, only without a sense of humor. Egypt has been our strategic ally: Mubarak has cooperated with the USA in a multitude of programs, many of which are very unpopular at home: joint military exercises, he put together the coalition in 1990 which ejected Saadam Hussein from Kuwait, and deployed thousands and thousands of combat troops against his Arab Brother. Egypt has also been an honest broker for Peace in the Mideast, and has enjoyed friendly relations with Israel. Of course, they have been compensated, but they were influenced by the West, and tried to live in both worlds: the Muslim emerging world, and as a Western Partner. While many cite their cooperating with the West as Mubarak’s weak spot, leading to the current instability, that is a straw-man: corruption has led to this situation. With World Peace affected, refer back to the Economy section above: same rules apply. Do you think an Islamic Radical new state will keep the Canal open to Western ships? Do you think if they try to close it, we won’t have a military response? Wrong on both, if you think regime change will put things back the way they were. It will not.
So the people in the streets of Cairo, isn’t just a curiosity on TV. They are events which affect us from Sea to Shining Sea, and all points in between. Watch and monitor this one closely. It does affect you and I, and our everyday lives.