And just why are we maintaining this damaging, hated quasi-imperial role in the Middle East? Is it for the oil? Yet what tin-pot dictator has ever refused us oil? Furthermore, we don’t even rely that much on Middle East oil – Saudi Arabia ranks only number three among our top five providers: Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria.
Or is it perhaps all about Israel? Yet why should that state constitute the seeming touchstone of everything that we do in the region? After all, Israel is overwhelmingly the most powerful military state in the Middle East, acts at will in the Middle East under the protection of American veto, manipulates our own domestic politics in its favor, and is now run by the most inflexible and ultra-right-wing government in Israeli history, while soaking up more American foreign aid per capita than any other state. The US still backs Israel against the Palestinians in an Israeli occupation now into its fifth decade.
So given the new outburst of frustration, anger, and violence, we still do not seem to acknowledge the need to change the narrative. Washington does not yet grasp the phenomenon of popular Middle Eastern will that now seemingly defies us everywhere. Our default instincts from cold-war days are still to grasp for a phantom “stability” at any price and prop up anyone who will be “pro-Western.” Egypt is a “vital American ally,” we hear – but what does this mean? The ruler may have been bought, but the Egyptian people are not allies – indeed they are predictably hostile to the status quo and to the powers that have propped it up.