Solid account of Egypt's still-developing political transformation and how it has related to the United States.
Gardner (History/Rutgers Univ.; The Long Road to Baghdad: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy from the 1970s to the Present, 2010, etc.) has written extensively on the history of the Middle East, especially the time since World War II. Here he brings that experience to bear on the recent developments in Egypt and elsewhere in the region—a series of uprisings dubbed the “Arab Spring.” The author examines the international exigencies that have bound proponents of national independence and self-determination in the aftermath of the war, and he situates the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in the context of the paradoxes that American policies placed on the country since the end of the war. Gardner addresses many historical and political threads, including the consequences of the collapse of the British Empire and its replacement by the U.S., which had different priorities during the Cold War, when promotion of radical Islam as a movement against communism was affected also by the need to cooperate with the British over military bases and strategy. For Egypt, this translated into a choice between leading the Arab world, or simply remaining a somewhat inconsequential Nile River Valley country. The author also looks at deeper concerns regarding the transformation of a region whose politics have been based, especially since 1947, on three differing and conflicted allies of the U.S.: Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Gardner ably pursues strategy and context as sources of political constraint and tension, providing a useful overview of Egypt’s dealings with the U.S. Pair with Steven A. Cook’s The Struggle for Egypt (2011), which provides greater detail on the variegated inputs at the local level.