Thursday, March 08, 2007

Frum & Perle: Fifteen

AETE, pps 50-52:

After the war, the United States pressed Britain and France to grant independence to their Arab colonies. In the Suez crisis of 1956, President Eisenhower broke with our French and British allies to side with Egypt. President John F. Kennedy, in his turn, forcefully supported the Algerian insurrection against France. But American anticolonialism did the United States little good with Arab opinion.

First, those U.S. decisions were done for many reasons, mostly of the realpolitik kind, and not at all for something so high-minded as anticolonalism. Second, Frum and Perle don't mention U.S. intervention in Iran against Mossadegh and in support of British interests. Third, note the characteristic self-pity in the final sentence: 'we try so hard, but they just aren't reasonable!'

Anyway, remember this because Frum and Perle don't:

Americans might repudiate the heavy-handed methods of the British and the French, but American power only too obviously supported the political order the British and French had created. [...] [F]rom the point of view of the people of the Middle East, the United States looked like the colonialists' successor.

Considering the source, this is almost generous. But don't worry, the rest of the book proceeds as if this point were never conceded.