Egypt, Osama, and George Washington

The piece below the broken line appeared today on the National Interest’s foreign affairs blog. It is a reflection on the costs Americans pay for their elite’s relentless interventionism, as well as for the failure of the U.S. educational system. I suggest at the end of the piece that we all could stand to closely reread George Washington’s Farewell Address; indeed, I suspect that Obama, Clinton, McCain, Cantor, Biden, and most of the Congress and media would benefit from an initial reading.

On leaving the presidency, Washington provided a clear and concise guide for what America should not do overseas; namely, (1) do not intervene in affairs in which you have no genuine national interest; (2) do not intervene in issues you do not understand; and, above all, (3) do not intervene in the name of imposing America’s political system on others as we are the model, not the war-causing installer of republicanism and/or democracy.

Had any in our governing class been familiar with Washington’s guidance, the makers of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East for the past half-century would have been preparing always to be ready to ask one simple question and answer it with another simple question:

Question: Who rules in Cairo? (Or Amman, Tunis, Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Damascus, etc.)

Answer: Who cares?

Alas, the America-protecting path delineated by President Washington was not taken. As a result, we have just seen Obama’s administration and the Republicans not only intervene in Egypt, but intervene on both sides, just as it and its predecessors have mindlessly intervened in the Israel-Muslim war by frenetically funding and arming Israel, while simultaneously arming and providing for the defense of Saudi Arabia.

The wages of both intervention and historical ignorance are quite painful.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.