Why We Give Egypt So Many Weapons

 

Two days ago a friend said to me, “I’ve never understood why we give Egypt so much military aid.” I’ve actually been waiting patiently since 1993 for someone to say that to me.

I wrote my doctoral dissertation about the formation of American arms transfer policy toward the Arab-Israeli antagonists. In other words, I could actually bore you from now until the end of time with a really serious answer to that question, not just the kind of fine-sounding thing pundits typically pull out of their keisters because there’s a microphone in front of them. I really, actually know the answer.

That dissertation has been read, I think, by four people at most, one of them my supervisor, two of them my examiners, and one of them, maybe, my mother. Last I checked, it had never been checked out of the library, not even once. So obviously, this is my big moment.

Are you ready? Are you curious? Here’s the answer. Or part of it. There’s more, but I’ll wait for you all to beg to read the rest.

I’ll keep waiting. I’ve been waiting for eighteen years. I can wait a while longer. 

There are 32 comments.

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  1. Inactive

    I wonder what percentage of dissertations are never read by anybody but those directly involved?

    • #1
    • January 29, 2011 at 8:01 am
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  2. Inactive

    Claire: Would you please tell me what you said in your thesis without my having to read it? Please?

    • #2
    • January 29, 2011 at 8:28 am
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  3. Inactive

    Wasn’t that the standard way that countries got American arms during the Cold War? First import lots of Soviet arms, with some Soviet advisers, and then ask the Americans if they had a better idea…. “Hey, you guys sell arms…don’t you?”

    • #3
    • January 29, 2011 at 8:32 am
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  4. Coolidge

    Now you can say five people have read it, almost. I read all of what you released in the link. I think this is what it says:

    Before 1974 Egypt was a Soviet client. The U.S. feared the spread of Soviet influence in the Middle East and wanted to gain more influence with Egypt. The U.S. could not wean Egypt away from the Soviets without a promise of arms. There was much talk of helping Egypt have all it needed to compete in the 20th Century, including modern arms. The U.S. also wanted other Arab countries to see that it was to their advantage to make deals with the U.S.

    After Sadat dumped the Soviets and became open to U.S., we wanted to reward him. Congress was concerned about Israel’s security, but a crucial CIA document showing that Israel has nuclear weapons was released with propitious timing during discussion of the sale of 6 C-130 aircraft to Egypt. This convinced undecided members of Congress to approve the deal. It appears this is the event, if there is one, that opened the floodgates for arms sales to Egypt. Every president since supports it.

    • #4
    • January 29, 2011 at 8:44 am
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  5. Coolidge

    Your thesis says more than what I posted above but there’s a 200 word limit.

    • #5
    • January 29, 2011 at 8:47 am
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  6. Inactive

    Thanks TeeJaw.

    • #6
    • January 29, 2011 at 8:50 am
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  7. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    TeeJaw–A++. Exactly. Etoile, yes.

    • #7
    • January 29, 2011 at 8:53 am
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  8. Member

    This makes me so happy, you don’t even know. Smootch.

    • #8
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:02 am
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  9. Inactive

    I read it; it’s rather well done. Unfortunately it brings back the general disgust I felt back then towards Nixon, Kissinger, Congress, and Carter, and Realpolitik in general. Why is it so hard to simply stand beside Israel – not because it is Jewish, not because of Holocaust guilt – but simply because it is a free and democratic state? It’s not perfect, but then again, neither are we. But the struggle is the same.

    • #9
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:07 am
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  10. Member

    Thanks. As informative as anything on Wikileaks.

    • #10
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:13 am
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  11. Inactive

    Well!

    I just popped it into Evernote (the greatest application in the world ever invented for layabout house cats like me) and was just about to settle down with a cup of coffee and a tin of tuna and now you’ve all spilled the coffee beans.

    Whatever happened to Claire’s no peeking rule?

    • #11
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:17 am
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  12. Inactive
    Douglas Pologe: Claire: Would you please tell me what you said in your thesis without my having to read it? Please? · Jan 29 at 7:28am

    We give Egypt weapons to buy influence and allies. See, foreign policy is easy.

    • #12
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:18 am
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  13. Member

    So is it a success story or a story of caution?

    • #13
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:19 am
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  14. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author
    Casey Taylor: This makes me so happy, you don’t even know. Smootch. · Jan 29 at 8:02am

    I knew, I knew, that if I just waited long enough, if I just kept the faith, one day someone would respond this way to a discussion of my doctoral dissertation. I never gave up hope.

    • #14
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:27 am
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  15. Member

    Wow! How beautifully and clearly written, Claire. I learned a lot in just a few minutes of reading.

    I just have one question: How did you manage to write an entire PhD thesis without once mentioning Foucault? And how did you subsequently slip it past your advisors in this state?

    • #15
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:31 am
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  16. Inactive

    Yes Daniel. I’ve read some hideously contorted doctoral work and this was crystal clear. A pleasant reading experience. I’ll give something more substantive once I’ve finished it.

    • #16
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:34 am
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  17. Inactive
    Ken Sweeney
    Douglas Pologe: Claire: Would you please tell me what you said in your thesis without my having to read it? Please? · Jan 29 at 7:28am
    We give Egypt weapons to buy influence and allies. See, foreign policy is easy. · Jan 29 at 8:18am

    Sounds good to me – even if Dale Carnegie wouldn’t have exactly agreed.

    • #17
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:36 am
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  18. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author
    Aaron Miller: So is it a success story or a story of caution? · Jan 29 at 8:19am

    It’s both. It’s mostly an answer to the question. And the answer–which no one is apt to hear–is not, “because we are terrifying imperialist hypocrites who hate the Egyptian people.” Yet it is perfectly understandable to me that a young, poorly-educated Egyptian who finds himself on the business end of an American-made tank right now would be inclined to think so.

    • #18
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:41 am
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  19. Member
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    Casey Taylor: This makes me so happy, you don’t even know. Smootch. · Jan 29 at 8:02am
    I knew, I knew, that if I just waited long enough, if I just kept the faith, one day someone would respond this way to a discussion of my doctoral dissertation. I never gave up hope. · Jan 29 at 8:27am

    Eighteen years isn’t too long to wait for a man to love the product of your mind. Happy early-Valentine’s Day, Beautiful.

    • #19
    • January 29, 2011 at 9:57 am
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  20. Member

    Claire said:

    “In other words, I could actually bore you from now until the end of time with a really serious answer to that question, not just the kind of fine-sounding thing pundits typically pull out of their keisters because there’s a microphone in front of them.”

    I’m reminded of one of my favorite Dilbert lines – The word “Analysis” is a combination of two Greek words – Anal, and ysis which means “to pull out of”.

    • #20
    • January 29, 2011 at 10:17 am
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  21. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author
    Daniel Frank: Wow! How beautifully and clearly written, Claire. I learned a lot in just a few minutes of reading.

    Either you’re all making fun of me now, or I’ve entered a weird counter-reality dream universe.

    I hope my mom is reading this.

    • #21
    • January 29, 2011 at 10:45 am
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  22. Inactive
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    Daniel Frank: Wow! How beautifully and clearly written, Claire. I learned a lot in just a few minutes of reading.
    Either you’re all making fun of me now, or I’ve entered a weird counter-reality dream universe.

    I hope my mom is reading this. · Jan 29 at 9:45am

    Have you read doctoral work these days? This is Hemingway compared to most stuff I’ve read.

    • #22
    • January 29, 2011 at 10:53 am
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  23. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author
    Anthony Aristar: Damn, this is unfair! No one’s ever read my dissertation either, apart from my committee, so why does Claire get to post hers when I don’t? · Jan 29 at 2:19pm

    What was your dissertation about?

    • #23
    • January 30, 2011 at 2:22 am
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  24. Inactive

    Damn, this is unfair! No one’s ever read my dissertation either, apart from my committee, so why does Claire get to post hers when I don’t?

    • #24
    • January 30, 2011 at 3:19 am
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  25. Member

    Claire, I just finished reading, very clear and persuasive. In the context of the Cold War coaxing Egypt to switch sides makes perfect sense, and seems to me to have been a good move.

    What I’ve been wondering though is: why did we keep it up after the Cold War ended? If we had reduced or cut off military aid in the ’90s what would they have done? They could have gone back to buying arms from post-Soviet Russia, I suppose, but at that point (or now) would we really care?

    If another chapter of your dissertation answers this question I’d love to read it!

    • #25
    • January 30, 2011 at 5:26 am
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  26. Inactive
    Judith Levy: Hot damn. I’m totally jealous now. Who wants to read a chunk of my dissertation on the evolution of the Israeli policy of active defense during the 1948 War of Independence? · Jan 29 at 10:54pm

    Since you were kind enough many, many posts ago to suggest I read Keegan’s The Face of Battle, I’m going to put my paw up, knowing the rest of the class is laughing at me.

    • #26
    • January 30, 2011 at 6:53 am
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  27. Contributor

    Hot damn. I’m totally jealous now. Who wants to read a chunk of my dissertation on the evolution of the Israeli policy of active defense during the 1948 War of Independence?

    • #27
    • January 30, 2011 at 11:54 am
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  28. Member

    Thank you, Claire.

    Although written several years ago, and extremely well I might add, it helps to understand how we got where we are and to make a most complicated part of the world at least a little bit more understandable. Mom, certainly, is already very proud.

    • #28
    • January 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm
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  29. Inactive

    I am in the middle of watching Patrick Allitt on a Teaching Company DVD on the Art of Teaching and he just finished up a lecture on writing explaining how much time he spends breaking students of the habit of writing up to their professor’s level of knowledge and writing for people who know less about the subject than they do, rather than more.

    Your thesis is a perfect example.

    Edit: Ack! Your thesis is a perfect example of writing for people who know less about the subject than you do.

    • #29
    • January 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm
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  30. Member

    Why does it not surprise me that Kissinger under Nixon wanted to circumvent congress, the representatives of the people, and give Egypt arms via Saudi Arabia.

    • #30
    • January 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm
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