Paul Jacob

What do recent events in Egypt and in North Dakota have in common? Maybe very little, except a brazen tendency to evade reality.

The assaults on American embassies in Cairo, Egypt, and Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans (and largely unreported, eight Libyans, too) including the U.S. ambassador, occurred on the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Mysteriously, the story didn’t make the front page of either the New York Times or the Washington Post.

But Scott Wilson’s analysis of the story did hit the front page, in yesterday’s Post: “As Arab world evolves, U.S. pursues uneasy alignments.” We are quickly informed of “President Obama’s attempts to forge relationships with new regimes across the Arab world,” that “Obama has worked to ensure” these nations “will be supporters of the United States as they endure difficult transitions from autocracies to self-government,” and that the president is “a foreign policy pragmatist.”

The 28-paragraph coverage delves into whether Egypt can be counted on as a U.S. ally, noting that this week, after the embassy attack, President Obama said he would not call Egypt an ally. The report quotes numerous experts, but nowhere in the story is the reader informed that the U.S. State Department flatly and officially contradicted and corrected Mr. Obama. Yes, oh dear yes, Egypt is indeed an ally.

But Wilson’s most striking disconnect from reality? His mention of “more than $70 billion in U.S. aid since 1948” coupled with his surprise that, nonetheless, Egyptians “remain angry over American support for Israel and for autocrats like the ousted Mubarak.”

First, U.S. aid to Egypt was not divvied up with a check cut to every one of the 80 million Egyptians; it was handed to Mr. Mubarak to assist his autocratic aspirations. And that it certainly did for the 30 years of Mubarak’s tyrannical rule — under emergency powers suspending any notion of democracy, including the arrest and imprisonment of his political opponents and detractors. “We” did that, or at least, “we” helped.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.