I just kept asking myself what is it exactly that you wanted to say in your last post. It seemed to me that your points were: Nasser is bad- Israel is a victim- Eisenhower was wrong- I forgot the 1948 war- Amin Al Hussein was a Nazi- the 1973 war ended with Egypt’s defeated,etc.
The problem here is that you seem to be entangled in polemics rather than trying to really understand the evolution of the military rule in Egypt since 1952. You chose ” Egypt 1952-2011” to call your contribution to the debate in this site. While this explains why I did not go back to 1948, the issue was Egypt, not Israeli- Egyptian relations in the period you chose.
(Editor's note, I asked Dr. Baram to address the two upheavals. pl)
I do not have any respect to polemics when we try to figure out how history was made in a specific period. Understanding this as best as we could will enable us to understand the evolution not only of the role played by the military in that period and the current one, but also the factors that led to the current situation in Egypt and those which play out right now and will shape its future.
Nasser is not my champion. He is part of the recent history of Egypt. I wrote in a previous post. “In almost all the cases where the military ruled in the region, they achieved certain degrees of development. In Egypt, the slogan in mid-50’s was to build one school every two days. That was more or less done. In the beginning of the 60’s it was “1000 factories”. Literacy was at its highest in record. Kids used to receive a healthy free meal in schools. The Aswan dam was built. Hospitals were clean and free.
But all this occurred without “democracy”. In fact, a horrifying police state was being built behind the smoke of “national victories”. East German and Soviet experts in internal security were invited to design this whole structure. But Nasser did not allow that to stop him from arresting all Egyptian communists, hanging the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and banning any political activity except his own.”
The quantitative explanation of the difference between Nasser and Mubark number of years in power misses the point again. It is not 18 years of Nasser verses 30 years of Mubarak. Sadat ruled for 11 years and no one followed his coffin in the streets of Cairo. Nasser’s coffin was followed by 5 millions Egyptians. Nobody paid them to do that. May be those stupid Egyptians saw in Nasser a father’s figure as you say? But why did not they see in Sadat or Mubarak a father figure as well? You always miss the point, sir. The combination of brutal oppression and “social achievement” that go parallel to popular aspiration to a certain degree is the way tyrants remain in power for long. They cannot rule for long only with the stick or through hate objects. But why do you drag me to repeat the obvious?.
Let us get back to a study by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress as part of the Country Studies/Area Handbook Series sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Army between 1986 and 1998. It says:
“On the eve of the 1952 Revolution, ownership of land was heavily concentrated in a few hands, more so than in the twenty preceding years. About 0.1 percent of owners possessed one-fifth of the land and 0.4 percent controlled one-third, in contrast to the 95 percent of small owners with only 35 percent of the land. In addition, 44 percent of all rural inhabitants were landless. Egypt as a whole was experiencing political instability, which was manifested in the countryside in the growing insecurity of property and in peasant resistance and demand for land. Although several land reform bills were presented to the Egyptian parliament, for a variety of reasons none passed.
The task of mending conditions in the countryside thus passed to the new regime, which in 1952 initiated a phased land reform program that targeted the property of the upper class of landowners, dubbed "feudalists" by the government, for distribution. The 1952 land reform law limited individual ownerships to 200 feddans. The beneficiaries were to be tenants, estate workers, and the poorest villagers. The law also fixed rents, set tenancy duration at a minimum of three years, and established a minimum wage.
The 1952 law was followed by others in 1961 and 1969 that aimed at deepening the reform and further reducing the maximum size of landownership. The ceiling was reduced to 100 feddans in 1961 and to 50 in 1969. The land reform was implemented with a reasonable measure of success, perhaps because its aim was somewhat modest. More than 700,000 feddans were distributed (864,500 feddans according to official statistics), or about 12 percent to 14 percent of the cultivated area, and more than 341,000 families, primarily tenants who presumably were more skillful at farming than other workers, received land. The pyramid of landownership was truncated at the top and widened at the base: whereas large holdings were not entirely eliminated, the share of those owning fifty feddans or more dropped to 15 percent, and 95 percent of owners came to control 52 percent of the land instead of the 35 percent they had owned before the reform”.
Again, The same series states in another part :
The Free Officers dramatically expanded educational opportunities. They pledged to provide free education for all citizens and abolished all fees for public schools. They doubled the Ministry of Education's budget in one decade; government spending on education grew from less than 3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1952-53 to more than 5 percent by 1978. Expenditures on school construction increased 1,000 percent between 1952 and 1976, and the total number of primary schools doubled to 10,000. By the mid-1970s, the educational budget represented more than 25 percent of the government's total current budget expenses. Since the mid-1970s, however, the government has virtually abandoned the country's earlier educational goals. Consequently, public investment in new educational infrastructure has declined in relation to total educational expenditures; about 85 percent of the Ministry of Education's budget has been designated for salaries.
From academic year 1953-54 through 1965-66, overall enrollments more than doubled. They almost doubled again from 1965-66 through 1975-76. Since 1975 primary-school enrollments have continued to grow at an average of 4.1 percent annually, and intermediate school (grades seven through nine) at an average of 6.9 percent annually. The proportion of the population with some secondary education more than doubled between 1960 and 1976; the number of people with some university education nearly tripled. Women made great educational gains: the percentage of women with preuniversity education grew more than 300 percent while women with university education grew more than 600 percent. By academic year 1985-86, about 84 percent of the primary- school-age population (more than 6 million of the 7.2 million children between the ages of seven and twelve) were enrolled in primary school. Less than 30 percent of eligible youth, however, attended intermediate and secondary schools. Because as many as 16 percent of Egyptian children were receiving no education in the 1980s, the literacy rate lagged behind the expansion in enrollments; in 1990 only 45 percent of the population could read and write.
Those guys who wrote this research were not Nasserists, and certainly they did not consider Nasser their “champion”.
Then you go through a feverish defense of Israel. I am not defending Egypt here or attacking Israel. This is the job of propagandists. I have to resist now the temptation to respond to your tale of the Arabs being responsible for the suffering of the refugees, Eisenhower’s mistake, the 1948 war, Saddam Hussein, Amin Al Hussieny, and even your narrative of the 1967 and 1973 wars and all the rest. The problem I am facing as I write is that this will indeed need a lot of space. I will get back to every single bit of it in other posts. But for now, the focus should return to the main point of debate: the military rule of Egypt and the future of this great country.
All you have to say concerning this issue is that you “pray” that the current junta will not turn into a Nasserist solution. You can pray as much as you want, but for me I believe that the historical and social context is what shows us the probabilities of what may or may not happen. Would it be Islamic rule? This will depend on many factors that I tried to deal with based on the history of Egypt in the 40’s. No body tried to distract the debate then away from dealing with this issue. Please do not try to find an angle that proves that Israel was right in the 40’sbecause it did not support the Wafd party or any other reason you will find.
We may very well see a substantial rise in the MB’s influence. But this is not the end of the story. Please get back to the 40’s in Egypt with a cool head that is not only possessed with proving Israel right. In fact, I have just witnessed a meeting held in a village where young people were preparing to confront the MB’s in the next Parliamentary elections. I was surprised to hear them debate the issue of whether the MB’s slogan “Islam is the Solution” is the proper way to go and bluntly say that this is nonsense and empty of any real content. No one interfered with the debate including myself. I am confident that the only way to defeat the MB’s, the Arab Socialists, the communists and the rest of precooked solutions is to debate their dogmas and show that life is green, dogmas are not.
It is a process. And it maybe long and difficult. But I do not know of any other way to defeat these dogmas short of repeating again the experience of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak which silenced everyone except their cronies. That experience has just been terminated by the people of Egypt. The fact that this dictatorship was unsustainable negates any logic of repeating it. Furthermore, the MB’s expanded greatly during Sadat and Mubarak. Oppression only covers things. It does not create stability.