Jimmy Carter has become a caricature of Western colonialist from a century ago.
We'll recall Great Britain in 1922 offering formal independence constrained by a British prerogative to intervene in issues that it considered important.
When at last the combined forces of the occupying army and the Interior Ministry were able to quell months of strikes and protests, the British were compelled to reconsider their position towards Egypt. The eventual outcome of that process was the unilateral decision in March 1922 to grant Egypt a qualified independence. Although the country would be governed thereafter as a constitutional monarchy, the British retained the right to intervene in any matters seen to affect the security of imperial communications, the interests and safety of foreigners on Egyptian soil, the threat of foreign invasion, or the status of Egypt's relationship with the Sudan.Western colonialism has always also had another aspect. Westerners presented their control over others' affairs as temporary, eventually to end, and as beneficial to the colonized. Despite the rhetoric, they actually ruled to favor their own perceived interests. But this rule was rhetorically in anticipation of later full sovereignty sometime in the indeterminate future.
British rhetoric constantly proclaimed that Britain's great colonial mission was to gradually bestow enlightened English traditions of parliamentary democracy and responsible government on "backward" colonial people.This is exactly what Juan Cole evokes when he predicts that the military will retain power to the benefit of religious minorities and women. (A 'prediction' that the government he votes for can actively encourage, as Carter does here.) The same military that disenfranchised the entire country in favor of the United States for the last 30 years is presented, of course dishonestly, hopefully as the guardians of democracy.
Recently, Egypt's pro-US military dictatorship has committed at least to the New York Times that it will continue to control foreign policy in matters of interest to the United States.
The new majority is likely to increase the difficulty of sustaining the United States’ close military and political partnership with post-Mubarak Egypt, though the military has said it plans to maintain a monopoly over many aspects of foreign affairs.Jimmy Carter, who is liberal compared to most Americans and Westerners, has publicly expressed support for Egypt's military's efforts to retain the power necessary to keep its promise to US news organizations.
" 'Full civilian control' is a little excessive, I think"also
"I don’t think it is going to be detrimental for the military to retain some special status."and
“If the civilian leadership decided to give the SCAF immunity from prosecution, say, for the death of the people in Tahrir Square over the last few months, I would have no objection to that,” Mr. Carter said. Protecting the military budget from full civilian scrutiny might be another point where civilian political leaders could compromise, he said.So Carter believes full civilian control is both unlikely and excessive - excessive defined in English as "going beyond the usual, necessary, or proper limit or degree". But it turns out, possibly in the same interview but reported by the Jerusalem Post instead of the New York Times, that while Carter believes full civilian control is excessive for the forseeable future, he wants to send a clear message to the pro-US military dictatorship that in some indeterminate future, beyond June or this year, he would favor full Egyptian civilian control of its military like Carter's own country has had for centuries:
"I think to have an abrupt change in the totality of the military authority at the end of June or this year is more than we can expect," Carter told Reuters in an interview.In the future for Egypt, whenever that time comes? (Another "prediction", this from a former US president about the behavior of an institution that has followed US directions for the last three decades.)
"A clear message has to go out that in the future for Egypt, whenever that time comes, there will be complete civilian control over all aspects of the government affairs and the military will play its role under the direction of an elected president and an elected parliament."
"My guess is that the military would like to retain as much control as possible for as long as possible, still accepting the results of the revolution and the election," he said.
So for now, the backwards natives of Egypt should have their foreign policy controlled by the US. For now, according to Carter it would be excessive to Egyptians to control their own foreign policy instead of the military on behalf of the US as it promised the New York Times. But in some glorious future, according to Carter, "whenever it comes" Egypt will be ready to assert full civilian control over its military.
Under Barack Obama, just as much as under George Bush, Ronald Reagan or Carter himself, the United States' great colonial mission is to gradually bestow enlightened American traditions of democracy and responsible government on "backward" colonial people. But until then, unless the people of Egypt (hopefully) thwart its plans, the US will set Egypt's foreign policy.