I am old enough to remember the constant American pressure against what it considered to be 'British Imperialism'. This gathered strength ofter WWII and reached its consumation when 'Ike', in a supreme act of real-politik, ditched his wartime ally over the Suez crisis and actually sided with the Russians against us. Not that I'm complaining. The empire was dead on its feet by then, or to be more precise, we were dead on our feet! It is said that we obtained our empire more by accident than design which, given the general incompetence of most British governments, I can believe, however, I am rather proud of the way in which we gave it up. I don't think, post WWI, the British people were particularly proud of, or interested in, the empire. So long as it ran at a profit it was OK but the minute it began to cost us, as it did, then support for it dwindled. Exhausted and broke after WWII we were quite glad to see the back of it - a rare example of proletarian commonsense.
So Uncle Sam got his way and took over the world. I do hope he got something out of it because it sure has cost him several fortunes in blood, tears and treasure. Again, I'm not complaining because during the cold war Europe enjoyed the equivalent of several decades of free lunches as the Americans took the military strain - and cost! Us Brits did our best to contribute but the other Euros simply enjoyed the lunch - and asked for more! And again, to be fair to America, it won the cold war. Those who say they would have won it anyway without all that military hardware may be right but, I ask, were you in charge and responsible at the time, would you have had the guts to take a chance that the Russians would never, no, not ever under any circumstances, attack? That smacks of Churchillian gambling to me!
In this 21st century, having passed through the cold war period, and then through the post-cold war period, we are now well into . . . well, what shall we call it? . . . apologies for the use of a jargon word but it is both appropriate and accurate . . . we are now in the asymetric period. There is no single grand enemy, instead there are dozens of them - and some of them, whilst being quite capable of inflicting huge damage on us, are not even nation states! So what's a politician to do? I would suggest, diffidently, more or less the exact opposite of what President Obama is doing! The current Egyptian imbroglio has at least shown up Obama's clueless foreign policy for the vacuous pontification that it is. As usual 'The Kraut' sums up Obama's nonsensical non-policy better than I can:
Obama doesn’t like this terror war. He particularly dislikes its unfortunate
religious coloration, which is why “Islamist” is banished from his lexicon. But
soothing words, soothing speeches in various Muslim capitals, soothing
policies — “open hand,” “mutual respect” — have yielded nothing. The war
remains. Indeed, under his watch, it has spread. And as commander in chief he must defend the nation.
He must. But he desperately wants to end the whole struggle. This is no
secret wish. In a major address to the National Defense University just
three months ago he declared “this war, like all wars, must end.” The plaintive
cry of a man hoping that saying so makes it so.
In Egypt's parlous state there will be no long-term winners and uncertainty rules over everything. In this condition it is necessary for an outside statesman to analyse carefully what are the main, essential interests to be protected as strongly as possible - and then go for it. The Russians have shown how to do it in Syria, they picked a side and stuck with it, and it is time that Obama did the same in Egypt. American interests are simple to define - keep the canal open, keep Egypt to the peace treaty with Israel and keep the Islamist extremists out. There is only one faction in the country capable of doing that - the Egyptian army. The fact that they are a corrupt bunch of murderous thugs is neither here nor there. The policy can be summed up in a paraphrase in a speech from another age - 'give 'em the tools and they'll finish the job'! Yes, it will be bloody and nasty but, hey, Uncle Sam, did you really think running the world was easy?