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But If It Works?

Something to be said for the Pax Americana, the intentional-coincidental result of a big military

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.

So, today the Egyptian Arab Spring seems to have slid into winter. The Egyptian Army is back in the saddle, and former President Morsi is under some form of restraint that will, most likely, end in a restricted show trial and then the doors of hell open. Morsi was the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, olde school patriarchs trying to return to a mythic past. They have nothing against dictatorships, only that their man was not the dictator.

What scares everyone, I hope, is that as Egypt submits a little more each day to the attractions of a civil war to at least resolve the issue, among the solutions trotted out to prevent it will be a war against Israel, the unifying factor - the only unifying factor - that the Arab world has. It's true. If Israel did not exist, the Islamic world would have to create it. Since Sadat and Begin formed, with President Carter, what has proven to be a surprisingly solid and long lasting peace, hope has found standing in the shifting sands of the Middle East, where illustrative examples for obvious metaphor abound.

What if Egypt, for domestic tranquility, ends the treaty and returns to a cold war against the Israelis? Well, to be honest, it's often been closer to a cold war than a peace anyway. Still. What if? What if they go to a hot war? Nasser did, for domestic benefit. Others have, and face it: Likud in Israel would like it, and probably keep them in power longer.

I suspect that the one sure way to make that happen is for the US to stop its military and financial support of Egypt, which I think is our second biggest foreign support client, after Israel. It would be bad if after all this, Israel and Egypt returned to war as France and Germany used to do with touching regularity. Seeing France and Germany get along today is still rather shocking given the history in the not so distant past. But the young today take it for granted. That's good, by the way.

The American Left - and I am more left than right - has yet to credit their nation with the Pax Americana, this annoying period of major peace in Europe in its seventh decade. I'm not forgetting the Balkan horrors of twenty years back, just saying that compared to major wars, that was a minor conflict. People forget that there were three big wars in the Balkans between 1900 and 1914, when the Great War began. There were big wars after the war to end all wars until 1939, when the Second World War began. After that, a major cooling down. The Cold War unintentionally worked, by any objective reasoning and death counts. Germany has reunited and is the biggest economy in Europe and is not showing much in the way of desire for more land. Italy and France and Spain and even Russia and Poland have all shed a ton of old school thought and reinvented their governments for a modern age, and one does not really worry about a major war in Europe. Anymore.

The reason is the expensive American bases there. If they had not been there, who knows what would have happened two decades back when Croatia and Serbia and the rest of Yugoslavia dissolved in violence. It could have gone bad and quick. Didn't.

What would happen if the US had military bases in Egypt as we do in Arabia, Oman, Israel, the Gulf states, Pakistan, and, of course, Afghanistan? It would require tax money and great expense and risk. But what if it prevented major wars as it most certainly has in Europe?

People with reason will say that Europe is too sophisticated and reasonable to go to war as it once did and, in any case, that was because they were then ruled by monarchs and not freely elected governments. True, and yet Republican France longed for war in 1914. For revenge.

Could the American left accept a large military posted overseas if it's very presence disallowed a number of potential and horrible wars on a continent typically full of them till we arrived in 1945 and did not leave. I understand the hypocrisies and violations and the uncomfortable knowledge that unpleasant and greedy people are getting richer. But if the Arab world was deprived of its traditional temper tantrum excuse - war against Israel - wouldn't that be more likely to force the desired result of an Islamic world attuned to the current century?