Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

Cook examines developments in the Middle East and their resonance in Washington.

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Meet the New Boss

by Steven A. Cook
September 17, 2012

Shite Muslim supporters of the Imamia Student Organization (ISO) shout slogans as they burn a U.S. flag during an anti-American demonstration in Peshawar (Fayaz Aziz/Courtesy Reuters).


This article was originally published here on on Friday, September 14, 2012

The attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, this Sept. 11 echoed the worst moments of American impotence in the Middle East. They not only evoked memories of Iranian revolutionaries storming the U.S. Embassy in Tehran almost 33 years ago, but their occurrence on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington further reminded Americans of the deep roots of anti-American rage in the Arab world.

As a result of that terrible Tuesday morning 11 years ago, Americans have spent a decade deeply intertwined in the affairs of the Arab and Muslim worlds. After watching Egyptians tear the Star and Stripes to shreds and Libyans carry Ambassador Christopher Stevens’s dead body, they can be forgiven for believing it is now time to come home. How much has the United States invested in Egypt over the last three decades? Was not Benghazi saved in large part because of the bravery and skills of U.S. Air Force pilots? These are the questions Americans are now asking themselves. The U.S. public can be naive about the world, but they are not fools. They understand when they may no longer be welcome.

Still, it was Vice President Joe Biden who thundered, “Don’t bet against the American people” on the third night of the Democratic National Convention, a sentiment with which virtually all Republicans would reflexively agree.

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  • Posted by Rebecca Moulds

    The statement below by Mr. Cook just about says it all:

    ” . . .Americans consistently fail to recognize that Arabs have their own politics and have the ability to calculate their own interests independently of what Washington demands.”

    It’s about time the US stops interfering in the politics of other countries while at the same time, giving aid to those countries, especially in the Middle East. It’s the same old story: The altruistic USA gives aid to these countries; then there is a rebellion; then we give arms to the rebels . .then our Embassies and their employees are targeted and we scratch our heads and ask “Why do they hate us?” While living in Egypt I could see for myself the incongruity of many of the actions of the US. It’s time to wake up and put our energies and resources into our country, where it is desperately needed.

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