Egypt: Echoes of Black September

Egypt: Echoes of Black September

The crackdown of the Egyptian military against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood is brutal and violates human rights norms. What is curious is that those expressing justified outrage over the actions taken by the Egyptian military are perfectly willing to accept the consequences of similar actions by various allied Arab regimes.

The monarchy in Saudi Arabia, for example, rules by fear and force. The Obama administration gave approval to a Saudi-backed crackdown against an Arab Spring uprising in Bahrain. And both Democrat and Republican administrations have backed Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy, which would disappear in a democratic election.

Jordan’s monarchy represents a minority ethnic group ruling over a majority Palestinian population. When, in September 1970, that population’s armed representatives, the Palestine Liberation Organization, decided to challenge the monarchy directly, King Hussein crushed the revolt–with quiet support from Israel, at American request.

“Black September” became a potent symbol for Palestinians as the PLO carried out revenge attacks around the world–including the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. In addition, the PLO relocated its forces to Lebanon, where it quickly became a force for instability, terror, and destruction.

Yet King Hussein preserved the most pro-American regime in the Arab world–one that not only has a free trade agreement with the U.S., but a somewhat freer (albeit less innovative) economy than Israel and a relatively warm peace treaty with Israel as well. Few would dispute that the status quo is better than PLO rule would have been.

The Nixon administration backed King Hussein because it had a clear idea of American strategic objectives. The Obama administration provides little but excuses. Even its concern for human rights is empty, and late. Russia, which is about to fill the vacuum Obama is creating, knows its interests well. Why is there no honest discussion of ours?