Denial: Also a River in Egypt

According to George W. Bush, Egypt is making progress toward "greater political openness." That's, um, not true.

I'm not sure there's very much the US government can or should do, in practice, to push Egypt into becoming a democracy. And, certainly, I grasp the pragmatic need to get along with governments willing to get along with us. But I don't really understand why this need is pragmatically construed as the need to lie and pretend to believe that Hosni Mubarak is moving his country toward democracy when everyone knows that he's cracking down on the opposition and trying to install his son as the next pharaoh. The schizophrenia of American policy -- invading Iraq to spread the flame of democracy, and then spinning on Mubarak's behalf in Cairo; between demonizing Hugo Chavez as a totalitarian menace and then hanging out with Saudi officials at the president's vacation home -- is really absurd.

The idea that these tin pot dictators would somehow turn on us if we didn't kiss their assess doesn't hold much water. We need Saudi oil, and the Saudis need our money. We have interests that can be advanced through collaboration with the government of Egypt and the government of Egypt has interests that can be advanced through cooperation with our government. The pretense that every country we have a dispute with is run by the New Hitler while every country we opportunistically ally with is run by a Bold Reformer is incredibly dumb and something a grownup country ought to be able to move past.

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In