In 1970, I traveled to Egypt as part of a delegation representing the United States at the funeral of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Back then, Egypt was closely aligned with the Soviet Union. When we arrived in Cairo, it seemed that everywhere one looked there was evidence of the Soviet presence – Soviet tanks, missiles, and troops.
During the visit, we were scheduled to meet with Anwar Sadat. No one in our delegation was sure what to expect, given the uneasy relations between our two countries at the time. To our surprise, Sadat told us that he, in fact, had respect for the US. The reason? As a young military officer, he had visited our country and had had an excellent experience.
And, indeed, within two years of taking power, Sadat expelled the Soviets from Egypt and began to build a friendship with the US that, despite challenges and periodic differences, has proven important and valuable ever since.
I mention the importance of these military-to-military relationships because the US in this new century is undergoing a significant transformation of its military arrangements and partnerships around the globe – necessary adjustments based on the new realities, and new threats, that have emerged since the end of the Cold War.