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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractEven though aid is a cornerstone of the Egyptian-American relationship, there is little research about economic aid's role in achieving US objectives, especially in producing policy alignment that would normalize Israel. Likewise, an under-studied derivative question is how the stipulation to maintain peace with Israel affected the (1) economic and structural processes of aligning Egypt with the American vision of `market-democracy' and (2) Egyptian critical assessments of the (non-military) effects associated with alignment into the American orbit? I argue that a reforming and democratizing narrative was used to transform Egypt into a stable "market-democracy" whose prosperity entailed pursuit of a "warm" peace. The transformation depended upon a dual strategy, combining the targeting of "natural allies" among a complicit elite as well as on privatization to align businesses, territories, civil organizations, and institutions or segments therein with American interests. The strategy's success in achieving alignment was also its weakness. Dependence on an autocratic elite for the implementation of reforms had the counter-effects of facilitating corruption and of reducing regime incentives to expand its constituencies of support beyond direct beneficiaries of the neoliberal privatizing changes. Instead of debate and engagement with opposing views to build new alliances, the strategy superseded and avoided sites of opposition. Therefore, contrary to the original aim of aid provision, the peace remained cold while its normalization dimensions became discursive triggers used as prisms with which to judge aid, the neoliberal reformist agenda, as well as normalization. The new partnerships provoked the production of competing conceptualizations of the proper relationship between the state and its citizens, conveyed in legal and constitutional re-definitions and re-distributions of rights and duties, as well as in divergent nationalist visions for Egypt's future. These competing ideas ranged between a nationalism that is globalizing, free-market, US- and regime-supported and another vision that is traditional, historically-informed, and socio-culturally-sensitive. Normalization's connection with aid had the counter-theoretical effect of reducing aid's ability to engender Gramscian hegemony. The US strategy of targeting allies and of privatization to effect normalization could not overcome extant socio-political forces whose discourses charged that aid produced anything but subordination (taba'iyya) - which differed significantly from promises of "peace, stability, and growth". Ultimately, even "reforming and democratizing" aid efforts could not disguise the subordinating effects of market and political alignment, and thus were not sufficient to elicit a new "common sense."
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Middle Eastern and North African Studies