The lesson for America of the last few weeks is not that we can force dictators or weak allies such as Pakistan to convince their peoples to love us; but that we should at least put pressure on them to stop the outpouring of hate directed at The United States in their government-controlled media.

As we have seen recently in Tunisia and Egypt -- and might still see in other countries in the region -- the old autocratic ruse of using the US and Israel to deflect the attention of their local population from their rulers' own bad governance no longer works, thanks partially to the open communication now available on Facebook and Twitter -- at least not unless autocracies are prepared to repress communication even more, or use overwhelming force against their own people.

We should also insure that whatever is US government-controlled media puts out is pro-American, instead of the either vapid or self-flagellating version of what is broadcast by the mainstream press. Just as the US political establishment was shocked to find that there was a mass market for Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, the foreign policy establishment might be equally shocked to find that there is a large audience waiting to hear a strong, unapologetic pro-US message. The lesson for America is not that we can force dictators or weak allies such as Pakistan to convince their peoples to love us; but that we should at least put pressure on them stop the outpouring of hate directed at The United States in their government-controlled media. As we have seen recently in Tunisia and Egypt -- and might still see in other countries in the region -- the old autocratic ruse of using the US and Israel to deflect the attention of the local people from the bad governance of the rulers no longer works with the open communication now available on Facebook and Twitter -- at least without either even further repression of communication, or the use of overwhelming force against one's own people.

We should also insure that whatever is US government-controlled media puts out is pro-American, instead of a diluted, often self-flagellating version of what is published and broadcast by the mainstream press.

Just as the US political establishment was shocked to find that there was a mass market for Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, the foreign policy establishment might be equally shocked to find that there is a large audience waiting to hear a strong, unapologetic pro-US message.

As long as every pundit on Earth is comparing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to the late Shah of Iran, it might be worth recalling what the Shah was really like: He was not, as often portrayed, the close ally of the United States.. In public, he echoed almost every anti-American cliché of the time: He attacked America's "permissive society," and had the nerve to rant against American "corruption." He said that the US should use less oil and more solar power; and complained, on the CBS show 60 Minutes, that the Jews had too much influence in the American media. He treated American Presidents with disdain, and never for a moment allowed anyone to forget the he was the Shah.

Similarly, Hosni Mubarak acted as if he were doing the US a favor by graciously permitting Washington to give his army and government more than a billion dollars a year in military and economic aid. Meanwhile he encouraged the government-controlled press to publish and broadcast a stream of hate-filled, anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda. To judge by the rhetoric of the Egyptian government over the last twenty years,no one could call him an ally or friend. Sure there are arguments about the need for stability or the need to keep the peace with Israel - and they are important; but as bad as things are in the Middle East, they can get worse.

No matter how events evolve in Egypt, however, what policy makers in Washington need to remember is: that as long as we tolerate and support leaders, whether religious or secular, who depend on making America the scapegoat for all their national ills, we shall be confronted again and again by situations like those of the last few weeks.. It is therefore time for us to realize that the great model for these dictators was not Hitler, Stalin or Mussolini, but Charles De Gaulle.

Even while the Shah was receiving massive amounts of US aid in the 1950s and 1960s as well as US weapons, he looked to Europe for his cultural and political examples. His father's flirtation with Fascism had ended badly: Communism was, by its nature, hostile to emperors; and the British style of constitutional monarchy was out of the question. But Charles De Gaulle depended on the US for both his nation's security and prosperity; and, as the leader of a proud and ancient nation, he despised the vulgar and nouveau riche yankees. He understood just what a perfect scapegoat the US was. The left could not complain when he poured out his hatred and contempt for the Americans, and the right was happy to applaud any attack on foreigners who threatened American allies such as France.

Educated in French-speaking Switzerland, the Shah spoke excellent French, and, like many Middle Eastern leaders, understood French political culture better than that of any other European nation: in the lands of the Pharaohs, Caliphs and Shahs;"L'Etat c'est moi!" {"The State, that is me"] sounds more familiar than "All men are created equal.".

Mubarak, like Sadat and Nasser before him, is a pure product of Egypt's military, an institution that may have been nurtured by the British in the 1920s and 1930s, but whose members hated the Anglo Saxon interlopers with a passion as became apparent in the 1940s with dozens of pro-Nazi and anti-British plots -- culminating in the overthrow of King Farouk in 1952.

Many commentators forget that Egypt was, for many decades, closer culturally to France than to the UK. King Farouk did not retire to London, but to the South of France. To this day French influence in Egypt is far more powerful than that of any other culture.

In the 1950s, Nasser and his supporters were happy to accept American aid and support, especially during the Suez crisis of 1956, when Eisenhower save him from the fate of Saddam Hussein. When the US put limits on its generosity, however, Nasser was equally happy to side with the Soviet Union. This did not turn out well for him and his successor, Anwar Sadat. The USSR was barely able to provide Egypt with effective advanced weapons, and failed repeatedly to deliver the large amounts of grain it had promised.

After the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Egypt, with a little encouragement from President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, again switched sides. No one in the US foreign policy establishment imagined for a moment that the Egyptian Army's dictatorship lacked legitimacy. After all huge mobs in Cairo and elsewhere had repeatedly cheered Nasser and later Sadat.

For a few short years from 1975 until 1981, Egypt's government encouraged its people to be friendly towards the US; Egypt was rewarded with economic and military aid beyond anything the Russians could supply. All that ended with the assassination of Sadat in 1981. Mubarak, a cold and distant man to begin with, chose publicly to keep the US and Israel at arms length, even while reaping the diplomatic and economic benefits the the Oslo Treaty in 1993 had provided.

Like De Gaulle, Mubarak's diatribes against America and Israel, neutralized many of his opponents on the left and right -- for a time. Mubarak's enemies -- at least the most violent and determined ones -- often hated America and Israel even more than he did, as did the enemies of the Shah. Yet, the Gaullist model of biting the hand that feeds one no longer seems to help either the autocrats or us.

© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Recent Articles by
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list.

en

Comment on this item

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Gatestone Institute greatly appreciates your comments. The editors reserve the right, however, not to publish comments containing: incitement to violence, profanity, or any broad-brush slurring of any race, ethnic group or religion. Gatestone also reserves the right to edit comments for length, clarity and grammar. All thoughtful suggestions and analyses will be gratefully considered. Commenters' email addresses will not be displayed publicly. Gatestone regrets that, because of the increasingly great volume of traffic, we are not able to publish them all.