I just read an article claiming that Egypt, Kuwait, and Jordan — even Saudi Arabia and Palestine — are clients of the US. I’m not sure what this means.
In my work on Cold War Cities, I’ve argued that in the Cold War, client cities of either the US or the Soviets had four clearly identifiable characteristics:
- First, they engaged in a patron-client relationship with one of the two superpowers.
This affiliation involved the large-scale transfer of military or defense associated resources from patron to client. The most important resources included: 1) Funds allocated under the US Military Assistance Program (MAP); funds authorized under the US Foreign Assistance Act, but budgeted within the Defense Department; the Soviet counterpart to this funding, especially various forms of subsidies; and 2) military/arms sales and deliveries of excess weapons stocks by either superpower.
- Second, superpower military assets and resources became integrated into the economic, social, and political fabric of each city.
- Third, affected cities experienced visible changes in their built environment and infrastructure which could be traced back to the militaristic influence of their patron.
- Finally, and most importantly, the strategic and geopolitical value of the cities meant that they were critically important to the grand strategy of one or both superpowers.
I haven’t done the research so I don’t know if Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, or Palestine meet the above criteria.
But I do know that a Congressional Research Service Report dated February 1, 2011, says that the United States has provided Egypt with an annual average of $2 billion in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979.
For FY2011, the Obama Administration is seeking $1.552 billion in total assistance, the exact same amount as the previous fiscal year. The Administration’s request includes $1.3 billion in military assistance and $250 million in economic aid.
The military financing goes largely to fund the purchase of US military equipment. Among several large sales in the works (according to the Congressional Research Service) is a deal worth $1.7 billion to provide Egypt with with 24 advanced F-16 fighter aircraft, one of the largest arms-transfer agreements concluded with a developing nation in 2009.
Deals announced in 2010 include a potential sale of six Ch-47 Chinook helicopters and associated parts, a deal worth up to $308 million, and support and repair of Egypt’s frigates, which has a $210 million price tag.
In a recent interview on National Public Radio, Robert Springborg, a professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School, argued that one reason for the Egyptian military’s peaceful response to the recent turmoil was
the unique role it plays in the Egyptian economy. The military owns virtually every industry in the country.
Here’s a list of military involvement that he “rattled off the top of his head.”
. . . car assembly, we’re talking of clothing, we’re talking of construction of roads, highways, bridges. We’re talking of pots and pans, we’re talking of kitchen appliances. You know, if you buy an appliance there’s a good chance that it’s manufactured by the military. If you . . . don’t have natural gas piped into your house and you have to have a gas bottle, the gas bottle will have been manufactured by the military. Some of the foodstuffs that you will be eating will have been grown and/or processed by the military.
According to Springborg, when the peace treaty with Israel was signed, the military transformed itself from a fighting force to a hiring force. He goes on to say:
No one knows for sure how many resort hotels or other businesses in Egypt are run by the military, which controls somewhere between 5 and 40 percent of the nation’s economy . . . .
So, do these Arab countries, particularly Egypt show the characteristics required to be a client of the US? I haven’t done enough reading to know for sure. But it looks like Egypt — Cairo particularly — has a running start. What do you think?