Posted by: Catherine Lugg | February 1, 2011


While I am NOT a foreign policy geek, I have been watching events unfold in Egypt (as well as Tunisia and Jordan) with absolute wonder. The only analogy, and it’s an uncomfortable one, is when the Soviet client states collapsed (East Germany, Hungary, etc), and moved towards more popular democratic forms of governance.

Perhaps, one could argue that the US’s client states in the Middle East are now collapsing thanks to similar institutional and political rot. Tunisia’s former ruler, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was a long-standing US ally AND corrupt as all hell. Similarly, Egypt’s Mubarak has set up a near kleptocracy, making it nearly impossible for ordinary Egyptians to have a decent life. Factor in the sheer brutality of the Egyptian regime, and you have decades of frustration boiling over in perhaps one of the most constructive examples of people power since Ferdinand Marcos was bounced out of the Philippines.

And then there is the Kingdom of Jordan, where King Abdullah II sacked his Prime Minister and cabinet. While the King’s position doesn’t seemed imperiled at present, Jordan faces many of the same political issues as Egypt and Tunisia.

I doubt “radical Islam” will gain ruling power in any of these countries, but the old order is crumbling quite quickly. Given the US’s support of these secular despots (Mubarak and Ben Ali) , the US influence in the region is going to be greatly reduced. And there’s not much the corporate empire that is the US can do about this.



  1. This was an opportunity for the U.S. to exert tremendous influence and make a fundamental shift in foreign policy by restricting aid to Egypt until Mubarak stepped down. This would support the will of the people in Egypt and maybe minimize the chances for violent outbreaks like we’re seeing this morning. The U.S. cannot continue to advocate free and democratic elections that are directed and prodded in the general interests of the U.S. That will surely erode American’s influence in the Middle East.

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