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Posted at 10:38 AM ET, 02/ 3/2011

What should Obama do next on Egypt?

By Adam Serwer

The scenes of government-backed goons attacking protesters in Cairo's Tahrir square yesterday have lead to a moment of convergence between hawks like Robert Kagan and more moderate experts like Marc Lynch that the Obama administration needs to act more forcefully in pushing Egpytian President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year term:

Yesterday's frenzy of regime-orchestrated mob violence shows clearly that Mubarak is not interested in following this advice, and like so many dictators before him intends to cling to power by any means necessary. By unleashing violence and refusing the demand for an immediate, meaningful transition, Mubarak has now violated two clear red lines laid down by the President. There must be consequences. It's time to meet escalation with escalation and lay out, in private and public, that the Egyptian military now faces a clear and painful choice: push Mubarak out now and begin a meaningful transition, or else face international isolation and a major rupture with the United States.

Yesterday Jonathan Chait wrote that if "Obama does not act soon it will be a black mark." As Lynch notes, it's important to understand that U.S. influence in Egypt is not unlimited and "magical democracy words" are not going to produce an ideal outcome.

The U.S. already has a dismal reputation in the Middle East. But at this point, the international consequences of Mubarak's survival for the United States seem significant. The image of a U.S.-backed dictator riding out the biggest popular uprising in recent memory through the thinly-veiled use of state violence could do even more damage to the U.S. reputation in a region that already has little love for America. A more forceful public break with the regime now might at least mitigate some of that damage.

Some commentators have drawn comparisons between the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 and the potential consequences of Mubarak leaving office. It's certainly fair to argue that if Mubarak goes, it's hard to know what comes next and if it'll be worse. But there a number of reasons the two don't compare. I've also always found it weird that the lesson of Iran begins with the U.S. failure to shore up a dictator, and not with the idea that suppression of democratic actors in favor of brutal autocrats can lead to even worse outcomes than the ones we're trying to avoid.

By Adam Serwer  | February 3, 2011; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security  
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Comments

I think Obama has done pretty well in this impossible balancing act. There are so many considerations and implications. He has been measured, and I think that's been appropriate. Also, conditions are changing so rapidly that it's hard to get ahead of the curve. I don't envy him having to handle this situation.

That said, I think he needs to step up the push now, and he needs to make a public statement on behalf of the journalists that are being harassed and intimidated. That cannot stand, and he needs to say so forcefully.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

As I said when this all began, Egypt will be Obama's downfall.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 3, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"A more forceful public break with the regime now might at least mitigate some of that damage."

And when Mubarak crushes the uprising as did the Iranians, and then Mubarak decides to back out of anything the U.S. supports because they feel betrayed, to include the Camp David accords overseen by Jimmy Carter, who apparently didn't accomplish anything, or something.

What then? Imho, this Pres needs to encourage transition to a new Govn't but a line can't be drawn in the sand. It's a delicate situation in the Mid East and unfortunately, the choices you have will both have their bad points but both choices must be evaluated.

A) Support protesters 100% and draw a line in the sand and possibly destablize the regions peace.

B) Support the regime and completely alienate the protesters further eroding confidence of the U.S.

C) Do as he's doing. Let Egypt figure this out on their own but let them know our position is to transition to a new Govn't and deal with the peoples needs.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 3, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I think the best channels for communicating with the Egyptians is military to military. The Egyptian military is very dependent on the US, and that is really where our leverage is. It's also the military that holds any credibility with the public, and so I don't see them squandering all that.

But I also fully expect that the next president of Egypt will be a military man. Change to a secular civilian authority would be an extreme difficult leap to make all at once.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Right Wing Nut Jobs must believe that President Obama has nine lives. So far they have claimed that at least seven distinct events, during his first two years in office, have each led to his downfall.

I am sure that by the fall of 2012 they will have counted at least 12 separate events, each of which they will have labeled as the event that caused Obama's downfall.

Now it is Egypt. Last week it was his birth certificate. I think they even claimed that he actually being elected President was going to be his political downfall.

You know that they have no Republican candidate that they have any real faith in, for 2012, when all they can do is keep hoping for something bad to happen to the country.

Why do Republicans Hate America?

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse


Obama to prove yet again to "skeptics" that he's Christian: The President is set to give what the White House calls a "deeply personal address" about his faith at today's National Prayer Breakfast, and no matter what he says, it won't do a thing to stop people from saying his public displays of faith have somehow been wanting.

Personal plea: Please let's stop calling these folks "skeptics," as if they've based their conclusions about Obama's faith on recognizably rational thought processes and can somehow be persuaded to change their minds.


__________________________


"recognizably rational thought processes"


Actually based on FACTS


Obama was raised a MUSLIM

Pure and simple, that is a fact.


Obama attended a HATE CHURCH guided by BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGY


That, Greg Sargent, is NOT CHRISTIANITY.


OK - you can stop with your ridiculous, silly attacks on the right which have ZERO basis in fact,


AND you are trying to establish a standard of "recognizably rational thought processes"


HOWEVER, one must point out to you GREG SARGENT that you RARELY BASE ANYTHING IN YOUR COLUMN ON "recognizably rational thought processes."

ONLY A FOOL would continue on and on the way you do.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | February 3, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

The Egptian Military Is The Regime.

BBC reported how the top military officers have all grown very wealthy under Mubarak. They have amassed almost all the wealth of the country.

If you want to know how Egypt is really run and controlled. All you have to do is look at how Burma is.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Ported from MP:

Here is what I see happening in Egypt:

Mubarak knows that he (and his son) can't be dictator any longer. Mubarak and his allies, including the United States, want Mubarak's new Vice President, Omar Suleiman, to take over. The thinking is to let some steam blow off then clamp down and have Suleiman impose "order" and "save" the country. You will know that the United States is displeased with Egypt's direction if and when we cut off foreign aid.

What if the end result is a DEMOCRATIC regime hostile to the United States and Israel? After all, that is the likely result of free and open elections. Will we, as usual, be all for free and fair elections only so long as our preferred choice wins? So far it seems to me the U.S. is hoping to maintain the Mubarak regime -- which is "friendly" to the United States and Israel -- and install Suleiman and try to make sure Suleiman triumphs over ElBaradei or any other independent Egyptian leader. I heard McCain saying repeatedly that ElBaradei is "not a friend" to the U.S. and McCain just had a private meeting with Obama. No doubt this will be cast as a effort to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from taking power.

We love democracy and free elections. Except when we don't like the winners of the elections. So we try to manipulate other countries to get our preferred candidates into power. Which is how we forever screw up our foreign policy. I hope it doesn't happen yet again in Egypt.

To the Egyptian People: If you want a democracy you better grab it right now.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

[Adam advocates: "A more forceful public break with the regime now"]

Reagan's "forceful" posture toward the Soviets was lampooned by Leftists-- even after Poland's liberation and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Bush's "forceful" approach to Saddam is still lampooned by Leftists-- even as Iraq's liberation and democratization unfold.

Who seriously thinks that Egyptian mob violence will diminish, or self-regulate, or respond to "soft power"? It is one thing to acknowledge that Obama can't determine (or dictate) the outcome of the changes coming to the Middle East-- quite another to act as though his aloof posturing will exert a "positive" shaping influence.

The Obamateur's inability to take a firm stance and stamp America's "brand" on this movement will be interpreted (correctly) by Iran, Syria and Libya as opportunity.

Under The Obamateur's watch, Lebanon's Cedar Revolution has already fallen to Hezbollah. It appears Egypt is now in danger of falling to Muslim Brotherhood-- while The Obamateur fiddles.

If The Obamateur wants to avoid Carter's mistakes in 1979 Iran, then he must show firm leadership. Amateur hour is over.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 3, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I love how everyone suddenly is an expert on Egypt. All I know about the place is that when the cops seemed to disappear a few days ago, nobody thought to check the donut shop.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 3, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"I love how everyone suddenly is an expert on Egypt."

Americans are finally learning geography.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

wbg: "What if the end result is a DEMOCRATIC regime hostile to the United States and Israel?"

The only people I see espousing and/or embracing this result as likely is the far right loony neo-cons.

That's not to say that it couldn't happen, but it seems pretty remote. The revolution is about economics, not religion. There has been no burning of the American flag or other outward signs of this being about us.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Also from MP:

"Obama eschews "aggressive, overbearing role" in Egypt"

Obama eschews aggressive, overbearing role in EVERYTHING

(couldn't resist)

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

"Fox viewers are finally learning geography."

Fixed it for ya.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 3, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

That new reform cabinet that Mubarak swore in, sure has gotten Mubarak's reform promises off to a very promising start.

Last night:

"Hosni Mubarak promised that he will leave office in September. Will he really leave, or could he be just pulling a Leno?" David Letterman

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the Republicans are changing the language in the bill that tried, among other things, to redefine rape. Remember though, it's still a bad bill for the reasons I outlined on the two previous threads.

Have a good day all, sorry to go off topic.

Good luck to the Egyptian people.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 3, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"There has been no burning of the American flag or other outward signs of this being about us"

bingo -- and it seems to be driving our narcissistic selves nuts. i has to be out us. just HAS to be.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 3, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I do not hate America, nor do I hold myself out as an expert on Egypt. Note that I am not answering Adam's question in that regard. It doesn't take a genius, however, to see uncanny similarities between now and Iran in 1979. Maybe the Republican nominee in 2012 will hold secret negotiations with Egyptians too. That being said, I have never before predicted Obama's downfall, nor do I think that would be bad for the country (any more so than Carter's downfall was bad).

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 3, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Experts on Egypt....While I agree that there are some here that are deep in deNile, I don't think that makes them experts.

President Obama has done what he can. Those who expect something else are smoking illicit substances. America can not tell another nation what to do. We can ask, we can suggest, we can bribe and we can withhold bribes but we can't make another nation do anything (see Israel under Bibi's regime). We have to deal the government that is on the ground. Thems the rules. If a government starts treating non-governmental entities as official, their embassy personnel are asked to leave the country and then we get nothing.

Posted by: kindness1 | February 3, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

wbg: "What if the end result is a DEMOCRATIC regime hostile to the United States and Israel?"

The only people I see espousing and/or embracing this result as likely is the far right loony neo-cons. That's not to say that it couldn't happen, but it seems pretty remote. The revolution is about economics, not religion. There has been no burning of the American flag or other outward signs of this being about us.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 11:26 AM | Report abuse

It is almost certain that any new Egyptian government will be less "friendly" to the United States (and Israel) than Mubarak. It appears to me that the U.S. is hoping to install Mubarak's new VP Suleiman and keep ElBaradei out. Suleiman is the head of Mubarak's intelligence service and he was intimately involved in the U.S. post-9/11 Torture/Rendition program. I doubt that the Egyptians will find Suleiman acceptable. They might accept ElBaradei as an honest broker and caretaker until free and fair elections are held. But if Suleiman takes over he will just lay the groundwork for rigging the elections to continue the Mubarak regime under another name.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

mike: ""Fox viewers are finally learning geography."

LOL. They are? Did you see the map that Fox used a couple days ago that has Iraq labeled as Egypt??

I'll try to find a link.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Apparenty The Right Wing Lapel Pin Patriots can not tell what is really happening, unless the American Flag is being burned.

This happened yesterday.
A gang of pro Mubarak thugs. surrounded ABC TV crew, and screamed into the Camera; "We Hate America" No flag was burned, so of course the phony lapel pin patriots did not get the message from Mubarak's goons.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

wbg: "It appears to me that the U.S. is hoping to install Mubarak's new VP Suleiman and keep ElBaradei out."

I haven't seen any evidence of this. You may be right, but I think we have been exceedingly careful to not "install" anyone.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"In his upcoming book, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld writes that President George W. Bush focused on a war with Iraq almost immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. “He asked that I take a look at the shape of our military plans on Iraq,” Rumsfeld writes. “He wanted the options to be ‘creative.’”

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

mike: Here ya go. Eypt has been relocated!


Fox News graphics department has shaky grasp of Mideast geography

http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200907270040

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Sue above. Military to military communication is the way to go now. We should let their military know that they need to oust Mubarak now and not let him stay in power any longer. I believe the Egyptian military feels that keeping Mubarak in place for awhile will provide breathing space leading to free elections in September. But the people are not going to go for that and the people will consider leaving Mubarak in power for even a short time a victory for Mubarak and a defeat for the people. So the military must now adjust instead of cracking down on protesters. Contrary to what some are saying, the Egyptian people have great respect for their military. It is the police they despise. The Egyptian military must disarm and disband the police, remove Mubarak from power, ask the people to return to normalcy, and establish a caretaker govt consisting of both military and civilian elements. Our military can let them know we fully support such efforts.

Where's the UN on all of this?

Posted by: sbj3 | February 3, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

wbg: "It appears to me that the U.S. is hoping to install Mubarak's new VP Suleiman and keep ElBaradei out."

I haven't seen any evidence of this. You may be right, but I think we have been exceedingly careful to not "install" anyone.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 11:41 AM
..........................

I think our government's hands may be tied, because of how much dirt Mubarak's regime might be able to expose about our years of using rendition to have Egypt do our torturing for us.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

kindness1, do you feel that the 13th Amendment should be optional?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 3, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

wbg: "I think our government's hands may be tied, because of how much dirt Mubarak's regime might be able to expose about our years of using rendition to have Egypt do our torturing for us."

True.

But remember, the Egyptian military is nearly completely dependent on us for their very existence. Without our $$ all these years, they would not have the 9th largest military in the world. They have a mighty fine Air Force thanks entirely to Uncle Sam. They would not really risk that, would they?

Not an ideal situation, but I think the ultimate leverage still resides on our side.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

@clawrence....

"As I said when this all began, Egypt will be Obama's downfall."

Do you seriously wonder why folks might not take you seriously..or why people might question the consistency of your morality.

Because looking at the entire body of your efforts..all your posts..there is a common thread..and it's not very pretty. I think most of the progressives and independents on this blog actually read your post...

"As I said when this all began, I HOPE Egypt will be Obama's downfall."

You are so consumed with Obama derangement syndrome that we not only do not take you to be an honest poster...we must question your patriotism. You are like a Jim Demented..so consumed with a hoped for "Obama's Waterloo" that you no longer care about your country, your fellow citizens, or YOUR President of the United States.

It's one thing to react to a proposed policy...but you can't wait for Obama to fail...you continually make predictions about Obama's failure...we get it Clawrence..you despise Obama so thoroughly that you're more concerned about his failure than the plight of Egyptian people some of who are literally martyrs for the cause.

I don't know what filled you with such hate clawrence, but the person it's harming the most is not Obama...IT'S YOU!!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 3, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"I haven't seen any evidence of this. You may be right, but I think we have been exceedingly careful to not "install" anyone."

Sue:

Well, obviously we don't want anyone to know and we certainly won't say it. So we are being exceedingly careful not to let anyone know that Suleiman is our guy. But all that I've read indicates that is exactly the case.

This isn't Iran, where the U.S. was an ineffectual outsider with no leverage. As I said earlier, we will know that the U.S. is unhappy with Egypt if we pull our aid money. (or Obama makes some bold statement). Until then, it is safe to assume that the U.S. is content with how things are playing out. If it looks like Suleiman won't become the leader then we'll see how the U.S. responds. But I smell a bag job.

Incidentally, I think it would be in America's best interest, and ultimately in Israel's best interest as well, if the Egyptians got a legitimate and independent interim leader immediately, instead of an American flunky. What is happening now is quite obviously unsustainable and vert likely to spiral out of control, probably leading to a Mubarak crackdown n the name of "stability" but with the real goal of installing Suleiman and extending the Mubarak regime.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Sue,

And there in lies the long term problem. The Egyptian government should be accountable to their own people, and not be in thrall to the American cash cow.

That always ends badly, and with a huge bang, instead of a soft landing. This would be a good time to leverage our cash influence to force the regime to form a unity interim government, as a prelude to a gradual preperation for to hold free and fair multi party elections.

We may never get a second chance, to win the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people who are yearning to breath free.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

i "As I said when this all began, I HOPE Egypt will be Obama's downfall."

That's how I read it.

I think Obama has done alright. Honestly, I don't think he should be aggressive on this. He should be on the side of Democracy, but it's Egypt's democracy and not ours. They have to figure this stuff out on their own.

It's a constantly changing situation and I think Obama has done well thus far. If Mubarak convinces the army to fire on the demonstrators, it's a whole new ballgame and Obama will have to adjust his stance at that point.

I don't think the right wing bumper sticker approach is the right way to approach this. For once it is a good thing to react to the events rather than try to get in front of these events. It's their country. We need to remember that.

Posted by: Alex3 | February 3, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"I think our government's hands may be tied, because of how much dirt Mubarak's regime might be able to expose about our years of using rendition to have Egypt do our torturing for us."

True. And I think that is one reason we want the Egyptian Intelligence Chief to take over, b/c he will keep our dirt hidden. But in reality that is only leverage to the extent Obama feels it is.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

All, new Jonathan Bernstein post on what's next for filibuster reform:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/the_next_step_in_senate_reform.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 3, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Pew Poll: By 59% to 27% Margin Egyptians Would Rather be Ruled by Islamic Fundamentalists Over Modernizers
http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/01/egypts-conflicting-views-democracy-and-religion

Meanwhile, The Obamateur is acknowledging that the hardline Muslim Brotherhood may play a role in Egypt’s transition from autocracy... IF it agrees to a peaceful, democratic process.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/02/AR2011020204691.html

*wicked smaht*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 3, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

It is time to interupt the self referential liberal insult a thon and add some insight from a conservative point of view. This is Daniel Pipes on NRO today:
"A military putsch? Islamists wish to repeat their success in Iran by exploiting popular unrest to take power. Tunisia’s experience bears close examination for a pattern that may be repeated elsewhere. The military leadership there apparently concluded that its strongman, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, had become too high-maintenance — especially with his wife’s family’s flamboyant corruption — to maintain in power, so it ousted him and, for good measure, put out an international arrest warrant for him and his family.

That done, nearly the entire remaining old guard remains in power, with the top military man, chief of staff Rachid Ammar, apparently having replaced Ben Ali as the country’s powerbroker. The old guard hopes that tweaking the system, granting more civil and political rights, will suffice for it to hold on to power. If this gambit succeeds, the seeming revolution of mid-January will end up as a mere coup d’état.

This scenario could be repeated elsewhere, especially in Egypt, where soldiers have dominated the government since 1952 and intend to maintain their power against the Muslim Brethren they have suppressed since 1954. Strongman Hosni Mubarak’s appointment of Omar Suleiman terminates the Mubarak family’s dynastic pretensions and raises the prospect of Mubarak resigning in favor of direct military rule."
This is one prediction from a person who certainly can find Egypt on a map.

Still I simply adore the liberals these days. After a calumny fest they have the nerve to demand that their opponents rise to a level of civility they are simply incapable of.

Why is it Suzie, that you use every opportunity to insult those with whom you disagree? Is being so disagreeable the only way you know of to show what you think is your "superior" intellect?

Same question for mikey.

this seems to be all you've got. If so, it is unimpressive at best. Anyone can hurl insults. It takes no special insight. For that you should be grateful, since insult is all you've got.


Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 3, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

That's right Clawrence. You listen carefully to RUkidding. Nothing could be better for your personal development than sage advice about civility from the rudest man I can remember.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 3, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with what Sue and Mike said at the beginning of the thread and also with SBJ's point agreeing with Sue about the military.

If I'm not mistaken their top military brass coincidentally happened to be in the U.S. for one of the annual joint training exercises when all of this broke out. It's obvious that there must be people in our Military who are on mutally respected professional relationship with their military and perhaps many even on a "first name" basis. For all we know they may have golfed together and shared some Scotch and cigars over a poker game.

"There has been no burning of the American flag or other outward signs of this being about us"

Agreed no outward signs of this being "about" us...but influenced by us? Maybe to some very small degree. While I saw no flag burning or disrespect of the West I did see signs that said.."Change we can believe in". Where did that come from?
Do we suspect that Obama's speech in Cairo, widely praised by those in the M.E., condemned by the righties here at home..just may have played some small part in the way the anti-Mubarak forces now view Americans. Think they may have viewed us differently during the days of the Bush Administration. Perhaps we would have seen signs that said, "Bring it on!" not "Change we can believe in"

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 3, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

skippy,

Go cool your heals in the Troll Hunter. I have no interest in your take on things, so don't waste you time addressing me, k?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

We have all failed, because Skippy is not impressed. Plumline might as well just shut down, because if we can not Please Skippy, then what's A Plumline for?

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

All, new thread, good post by Jonathan Bernstein:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/the_next_step_in_senate_reform.html

Posted by: sargegreg | February 3, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

[suekzoo1 whined: "I have no interest in your take on things, so don't waste you time addressing me"]

heh! so disinterested it types a response.

I accept that inability to rebut skip's post as demonstrating suekzoo1's intellectual bankruptcy.

Grade: F- (miserable failure)

*dismissed*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 3, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

wbg: "obviously we don't want anyone to know and we certainly won't say it. So we are being exceedingly careful not to let anyone know that Suleiman is our guy."

This is guessing on your part. I said earlier that I would not be surprised if the next president was from the military, but to go as far as saying Suleiman is our guy is a leap to far to make at this point, given that I think that all indications from the administration is for the president to be acceptable to the Egyptian people.

Don't overlook the fact that the military is revered by the public there. They are held in great esteem. How we see that from our perspective doesn't change that basic truth.

I know many of us out here see ElBaradei as they guy to save the day. But he does not have uniform (or even majority?) support among the public.

And even if he was elected, he would still have to balance the needs of the Egyptian military, which is dependent on us. If he wanted to part ways with the US, or even not be on as friendly terms, who does he turn to? Russia? China? Doubtful on both counts.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

in response to this:
==============
skippy,

Go cool your heals in the Troll Hunter. I have no interest in your take on things, so don't waste you time addressing me, k?

=========

By all means, place me in your troll hunter. That's fine.

But the fact remains your sneering insults are hardly in keeping with the liberals' recent calls for civility.

If insult is all you have, and that's how it appears today, you, my dear, are truly bereft.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 3, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Sue,

The biggest problem facing the reformers is that they have no national political party and organization in place. They need time to build up such a party, before contesting national elections. That is why I proposed an interim unity party to implement reforms and the establishment of multi-party Democratic institutions.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@wbgonne

"True. And I think that is one reason we want the Egyptian Intelligence Chief to take over, b/c he will keep our dirt hidden. But in reality that is only leverage to the extent Obama feels it is."

Are you referring to the "we" in your second sentence as the American "Establishment"?

Because honestly from my personal point of view I hope the Egyptian security chief spills EVERY LAST BEAN of intelligence about our "alleged" wrong doings, especially in the area of rendition.
I'm tired of living in a nation of cognitive dissonance. We espouse one set of values and then completely ignore them.

It's time we get off our hind legs and stand up with the courage of our convictions...not the paranoia of the neo cons!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 3, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Skippy,

Sue is not your "dear" or your "sweetie", you condescending chauvinist prick!

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Skippy,

Sue is not your "dear" or your "sweetie", you condescending chauvinist prick!

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Hear! Hear! Or perhaps for our conservative friends...AMEN!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 3, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Liam: "The biggest problem facing the reformers is that they have no national political party and organization in place."

Yeah, agree completely. And it's a damn shame that we did little over the last 30 years to assist in the development of civil institutions by using the leverage we have had. Hindsight, ya know?

That is another part of the reason why I think the next president will be from the military. They are THE established national organization.

And I do agree that Mubarak has to go sooner rather than later, and an interim caretaker government formed ahead of new elections. Who else may emerge, besides ElBaradei, to run is unknown. But I think we still have aces to play, if we play them carefully.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

wbg: "obviously we don't want anyone to know and we certainly won't say it. So we are being exceedingly careful not to let anyone know that Suleiman is our guy."

"This is guessing on your part."

True. But it is evidence-based guessing, which is about all we got to work with. I don't disagree with any of what you say re: Egypt or El Baradei but the history of the United States in matters like this is not unblemished. We nearly always put our thumb on the scale; we just can't help ourselves. Which is bad enough. Worse, though, is that we are almost invariably wrong when we pick sides in other countries. We will see what happens imminently.

P.S., I don't love ElBaradei but I think he is as close to an honest broker as Egypt can get for an interim leader until free and fair elections are held. If Suleiman takes over -- as I predict -- then Mubarak is still in power and he will probably rig the elections.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Rukidding,


The catch22 that America has placed itself in is; once word spreads to the opposition, that America has been in bed with their torturers, and has been turning a blind eye to it, they will not want to work with us, should they come to power.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Sir Walter Scott

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@wb and ruk: Can I assume you both realize that renditions to Egypt began under President Clinton? Such talk always reminds me of Gore's famous words, per Clinton Administration official Richard Clarke

"The first time I proposed a snatch, in 1993, the White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, demanded a meeting with the President to explain how it violated international law. Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: "Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_rendition_by_the_United_States

Posted by: sbj3 | February 3, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

ruk: "Because honestly from my personal point of view I hope the Egyptian security chief spills EVERY LAST BEAN of intelligence about our "alleged" wrong doings, especially in the area of rendition."

Oh, I hear this loud and clear. And I agree that it's time to pick up the rug and find that mountain of dirt.

BUT, it's unlikely. In fact, I'll say it won't happen without some extreme extenuating circumstances. Why? Because it will not build confidence or calm among the Egyptian people.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

sbj:

Mubarak has been our boy for 30 years. That is a lot of dirty American water under the bridge, GOP and Democrat.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

This isn’t about US... It's conceded to think that we even have any say. "Obama does not act soon it will be a black mark." As Lynch notes.. If we act, it will be a BIGGER black mark. Keep our nose out of other peoples business. There is an old saying that applies here. "let everyone think you're a fool, or open your mouth and remove all doubt". Prepare for all contingencies, and stay quiet. No advice WE give will be acceptable, nor should it be.

Posted by: thatavkguy | February 3, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"True. And I think that is one reason we want the Egyptian Intelligence Chief to take over, b/c he will keep our dirt hidden. But in reality that is only leverage to the extent Obama feels it is."

Are you referring to the "we" in your second sentence as the American "Establishment"?

Yup. As in most countries today, there is a grave breach between the American Establishment and The American People.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

SBJ I certainly accept your statement but I'm unclear as to your point. Perhaps you thought I was inferring the Bush Admin was the only one to ignore our values...nope I'm not really that big of a partisan...I readily concede the Dems have played just as rough as most R's...I must confess however it does seem like ole George "Bring it On" Bush and Rummy and Cheney seem to enjoy it more...but that's only in the realm of opinion and yes I know what they say about opinions..:-)

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 3, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Skippy,

Sue is not your "dear" or your "sweetie", you condescending chauvinist prick!

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

ruk: Hear! Hear! Or perhaps for our conservative friends...AMEN!
------------

Thanks, you guys! :o)

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"Pew Poll: By 59% to 27% Margin Egyptians Would Rather be Ruled by Islamic Fundamentalists Over Modernizers"

I wonder what the results would look like here in the US if the question were:

Would you Rather be Ruled by Conservative Christians Or Liberal Modernizers

More from the washington examiner link:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/01/egypts-conflicting-views-democracy-and-religion

"Pew found that 90 percent of Egyptians say they believe in freedom of religion. Pew also found that a majority of Egyptians think democracy, with protections of free speech and assembly, is "preferable to any other kind of government."

Posted by: mmyotis | February 3, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I thought HCR would be Obama's downfall?

Hard to keep all the downfalls straight these days.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 3, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

It appears that I've struck a nerve here. The liberals were well on thier way to an all day insult fest. All I did was point out that it doesn't take a towering intellect to hurl insults.

Here's a perfect example of what liberals here call "civility":

First insult
Americans are finally learning geography.

next insult:
Fox viewers are finally learning geography.

come now. It didn't take hours of thoughtful insight and years of experience to say those things. All it takes is a lack of respect for your fellows. I simply pointed this out.

As I said, I hit a nerve. If you are embarrassed by what you said, try thinking about the contempt for others that you display every day here. If you aren't embarrassed by what you said, then thank you for proving my point that liberalism requires one to forgo all sense of decency and shame.

further if you got past your faux self righteousness for even a second you'd realize that Daniel Pipes, certainly not an icon of the American left, essentially agrees with nasty boy Liam-still. This is proof of the old adage that even a blind squirrel will find some acorns.

the point is simple, a decent discussion is possible, but the insults are unnecessary.

Liam-still appears to be trying to fill the void left by Ethan. Funny, Ethan was angry and verbal about his anger. I don't recall him spreading lies about other commenters though.

and thanks Liam. It is nice to know that there is no room in your life for terms of endearment. That's hardly surprising. Oh, BTW about the last word you used: I have it, I'm glad. And I know how to use it.


Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 3, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

ruk: "I must confess however it does seem like ole George "Bring it On" Bush and Rummy and Cheney seem to enjoy it more."

What sets the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney cabal apart is that they made a way for us to start doing our own torture, and obtained "legal cover" for it. That does not excuse any Democrat from have used rendition by others, though.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

More evidence that Suleiman is our man:

"With a senior Egyptian official warning against foreign interference and reports of widespread arrests and attacks on journalists and human rights workers in Cairo Thursday, Egypt’s military regime increasingly brazenly behaved Thursday in a manner that echoed the brutal crackdown perpetrated by the Iranian regime after disputed June 2009 elections. The difference is that Egyptian officials' increasingly brazen behavior and and ominous blaming of foreign elements and the media for the past days’ anti-Mubarak streets protests were being leveled by a government that has been the second largest beneficiary of U.S. foreign and military aid the past thirty years, while Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic ties for the past thirty years.

Despite his long ties with the United States, Egyptian Vice President and intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman went on Egyptian state television Thursday to warn against foreign interference and to insist that Mubarak would not step down before September presidential elections. In a conciliatory note, however, Suleiman – who spoke with Hillary Clinton by phone Wednesday and met with Obama’s envoy Frank Wisner -- reiterated that neither Mubarak, nor his son and groomed successor Gamal Mubarak, planned to stand in those polls."

http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/0211/Egypt_govt_warns_against_foreign_interference_amid_crackdown.html?showall

We never learn.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

skipsailing28, thanks for posting that link to Daniel Pipes. I'm done with those who lie (even adding words to your post). Keep up the good fight.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 3, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@sue: Unless I am mistaken, Obama has issued an executive order that preserves the CIA's right to use renditions.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 3, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Suleiman came up through the military ranks, and then became Mubarak's chief of Intelligence, for the past thirteen years.

That means he ran all the torture chambers.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"Suleiman came up through the military ranks, and then became Mubarak's chief of Intelligence, for the past thirteen years. That means he ran all the torture chambers."

And Mubarak just appointed him VP last week. I don't think the Egyptian People will stand for it. And in the Muslim World they will know -- or believe anyway -- that the United States is behind another puppet regime. The United States will have put itself on the wrong side of history yet again.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Happy Chinese New Year to all.

2011 is The Year Of The Rabbit.

Here is a little trick I came up with, to avoid making mistakes.

I took my check book, this morning; and wrote in the date Year Of The Rabbit in several blank checks, to avoid making the mistake of still writing Year Of The Tiger, when I filled out the checks.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 3, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Same question for mikey.

this seems to be all you've got. If so, it is unimpressive at best. Anyone can hurl insults. It takes no special insight. For that you should be grateful, since insult is all you've got."

Insults is all I got?

My post is the third post in this blog entry. I don't see any insults in there. Maybe you can help me out. k? thnx.

Or maybe you're talking about how I was poking fun at Fox because of their error of putting Egypt where Iraq belongs.

That was a harmless joke poking fun at Fox.

Or maybe you would prefer I act like STRF and accuse people of being child molesters. Is that your idea of serious discussion?

I'm all ears.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 3, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Logically, the US should very vocally suspend all aid to Egypt and make a very public request that Mubarak step down.

The reality is that our policy is dictated by the needs of Israel; even the aid we give is a percentage of that to Israel. Therefore we shall do nothing!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 3, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

skip? You there?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 3, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Logically, the US should very vocally suspend all aid to Egypt and make a very public request that Mubarak step down. The reality is that our policy is dictated by the needs of Israel; even the aid we give is a percentage of that to Israel. Therefore we shall do nothing!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 3, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I think that is unfortunately true. Our goal is to ensure that an Israel-friendly leader rules Egypt. It is up to the Egyptian People to help themselves b/c the U.S. isn't going to. But the Egyptian People are probably about to get crushed just like the Iranian People. And nothing will change. And Arabs and Muslims will hate us ever more. Sad.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Josh Marshall has a really interesting post up about Israel. Worth taking a look at.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/02/hubris.php#more?ref=fpblg

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

All, my take on how the GOP has created a "repeal" monster that they are going to have a great deal of trouble taming:

http://wapo.st/gIPHOE

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 3, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

From Josh Marshall's piece:

"while Mubarak preserved the letter of the peace treaty with Israel, I'm not sure the status quo was really working for Israel's long-term security"

That is my point. And my fear is that the United States will perpetuate this state of affairs by orchestrating Mubarak-lite into power. As AMVienna just said: Obama should forcefully call upon Mubarak to immediately step down (forget the "start of an orderly transition of power") and the U.S. should suspend Egyptian aid until Mubarak does abdicate. There has been enough time to forge an interim government to plan elections. Let's get on with it before Egypt really unravels.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Is there a new policy in place here? I've been away for a few days....and the comment I just wrote got sent for review....

Are all comments being reviewed now, or am I in the doghouse for something? ;)

Posted by: elscott | February 3, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Suleiman: Mubarak is our father"

"Vice-president says those calling for president Mubarak to leave are not part of Egypt's culture."

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011231756869465.html

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

wbg,

I'd say Suleiman is playing a high stakes game of chicken. It's still not clear to me that he will win in the end. I'd say you were probably right if the only country in the ME with restless populations was Egypt, but that's not the case.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"I'd say you were probably right if the only country in the ME with restless populations was Egypt, but that's not the case."

Sue: I don't understand what you are saying there.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

@elscott

No you are not being singled out. :-)

I find this happens to me for two separate reasons. One is apparently simply a blog software screwup...I think it says "error moveable type" or something like that...if you get that you post was probably accepted and in fact that is why you are seeing an uptick in double posts. Whenever I get that one I open a new browsers check the thread and every time it had actually accepted my post even though it said it hadn't.

The 2nd reason is the weird "church lady" software that screens our posts. We were discussing abortion the other night and I learned that sp&rm is a no no on this blog.
If it says thanks but held for review or whatever that is probably the problem. Hit back on your browser and screen you post for any horrible word like sp$rm. :-)

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 3, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

elscott: Are all comments being reviewed now, or am I in the doghouse for something? ;)

Just a glitch one sometimes encounters. PL doesn't need no stinkin' moderator...we've got Troll Hunter Deluxe!

LOL

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

here ya go:
==================
"I love how everyone suddenly is an expert on Egypt."

Americans are finally learning geography.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 11:24 AM

"Fox viewers are finally learning geography."

Fixed it for ya.

Posted by: mikefromArlington
===========================
so Mike, are you saying that your insults are OK because your first post contained none? Is that it?

if you really had anything, why bother with insults? or is it that you can't help yourself?

I stand by my contention that liberals demand what they refuse to supply. It is part of the good old "do as we say, not as we do". Not to mention the contempt for others displayed here daily.

It is completely proper to hammer away at this. The Tucson episode demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the left will stop at nothing, including lies, to smear those that they hate. After being caught in this lying smear attempt, the response from Obama-san was a demand for civility. yeah right.

You folks go first. try going an entire thread without showing contempt for those with the unmitigated gall to disagree with you. I doubt you can do it. It might good practice though, lent looms large.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 3, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Later.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 3, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

wbg,

I think what Suleiman is saying in public is predictable, and should be expected. He is, after all, the VP. He isn't going to say anything contrary to Mubarak at this point. But it is a game of chicken with us and their other western allies, especially in light of what's going on in the neighborhood. We'll have to see what develops from here, region-wide. If sustained popular protests spring up in even a handful of the neighboring countries, the internal pressure on Mubarak and Suleiman will increase, not decrease. It would be much easier for the current regime to operate in the manner in which they obviously prefer if the protests in Egypt were the exception, and everyone else is able to contain their own uprisings.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 3, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, thanks ruk7 and sue -- haha -- yes, I think I may have been tapped on the knuckles by the church lady software. I quoted something that was said by a protestor in Egypt....and even though I thought I had adequately blanked out the objectionable part with asterisks, she must have caught me anyway. LOL

Posted by: elscott | February 3, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

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