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Posted at 11:18 AM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Obama should just shut up on Egypt

By Richard Cohen

When it comes to crises like the one in Egypt, the trouble with the White House is structural. It has a briefing room. (So does State.) When you have such a room, the pressure is to have a briefing. That means saying something -- almost anything in the present case -- when prudence, history and the gods of mythology cry out for silence. The Obama administration ought to just shut up.

The latest from the White House, as reported in The Post, is a reassessment of its relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. In principle, there's nothing wrong with that. The U.S. ought to talk to almost anyone about anything. This is called smart diplomacy.

But now is not the time to make nice to the Brotherhood, not just because it might take any overture as a sign of weakness, but because it is sure to laugh. After generations of supporting Hosni Mubarak, not even the dimmest of Islamic radicals is going to think America suddenly has had a change of heart. At the very least, the U.S. ought to be consistent. Our enemies would respect us for it and our friends, should there any left, would appreciate it. To paraphrase the old Hillary Clinton, if we cannot stand by our man -- and we may not be able or want to -- then we at least ought to shut up.

At the moment, whatever talking that needs to be done ought to be limited to the enunciation of broad American principles -- democracy, freedom of speech, minority rights and others. We are who we are and we ought to be proud of it. On a more detailed level, the American military ought to talk to the Egyptian military. Theirs is an old and durable relationship. If a latter-day Tiananmen Square is going to be avoided, then it is the American military that can be influential. Soldiers understand one another.

At times, though, though, the Obama administration seems in such a rush to validate that meaningless cliché about "getting ahead of history," that it seems to have learned nothing from it. It somehow thinks that by telling Mubarak it is time to go that the Egyptian masses, who had lived under the gun for over 30 years, will suddenly forgive and forget that America has been Mubarak's partner, that it has supported him in his unpopular and loathsome peace with Israel, that it has given him guns and bullets, that it has welcomed him to the White House and that it has sent radical Islamists to his country so that they could be tortured, a regional specialty. What is Obama thinking?

The fact is that history cannot be undone or instantly changed. The fact further is that the Muslim Brotherhood is not going to swoon for the U.S. of A. because Obama has nudged Mubarak to leave. The Brotherhood is a vast organization of pious men who are ideological committed to an Islamic state. They loath America and what it stands for. They do not want low-cut jeans and two-piece bathing suits and hip hop music and movies about teenage sex. They want none of that, all of which we have in abundance.

Why the administration and the president himself has to say anything is beyond me. The crisis in Egypt will play out one way or the other without our statements or actions. We can have very little real influence on what is now going on. This is history in the making, and history is vast, a leviathan of forces that cannot be contained. It's best to just get out of the way and, in the process, just shut up.

By Richard Cohen  | February 3, 2011; 11:18 AM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
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Comments

I am sure Obama would love to not have to take a stand in one direction or the other and just let the Egyptians work it out themselves. but He is not being allowed to by most of the country and the world. Several Congressmen and major political players have put out calls to Obama to state the US position in one direction or another. Even a slight delay in an "official position statement" brings crys of "obviously Obama doesn't care, he hasn't said anything" or "Obviously the president is with the crooked goverenment- he hasn't come out for the people " or vice versa. Even other natiopns are demanding we stand here or there. Unfortunately the option of "its not our contry to run, let them do it them selves" is not really an option for any US leader.

Posted by: schnauzer21 | February 3, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The author says "At the moment, whatever talking that needs to be done ought to be limited to the enunciation of broad American principles -- democracy, freedom of speech, minority rights and others. We are who we are and we ought to be proud of it." However, on the same face he admits that the US has been "supporting" Mubarak for generations. How he can square that fact with his lofty view of American principles is beyond me. It sounds as though the author (in addition to the president) could benefit from being more consistent. I think the US should not be silent. It should be apologizing profusely for supporting dictators in the middle east and elsehwere, and offering reparations to whatever governments emerge from free democratic elections. Then it could be said that the US is acting consistently with the lofty principles enunciated by this author.

Posted by: drainey32798 | February 3, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I find the coarseness of your language concerning our President completely unacceptable. If you have something intelligent to state you shouldn't require such cheap tricks to try to entice your partisan readership into reading your drivel.

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

Well you have to give him a pass, all he does with repsect to governance is on the job training, on our dime and at our risk. He has never governed, he was however a block watch captain or community organizer, you know, where most start then move to mayor and governor maybe, but obama is black (partly) and wrote a book ,so that jumps him years ahead of experienced people as being qualified via real world experience in these matters. So cut him some slack, he, like, like all of his actions, are a great experiment. Although most have failed (all actually) at some point one of his actions will work. Just keep tossing stuff out there, see what sticks.
GoBama

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

Now...only if your friends on the far right would listen to this advice! Let the people of Egypt decide what type of government they want..if they want an Islamic government..then so be it. We in the US need to remember that our revolution was fought for the right to self determine (first and foremost)...not just for democratic republic. The one value we should be exporting more than any other value is that same basic right to self determination...

Posted by: chefra | February 3, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Cohen, I guess you have got it absolutely wrong. It's not about any brotherhood or any religious/political ideology. It's all about democracy and rights of human beings. That's what USA is supporting. While you are right in saying that history cannot be undone easily, you should also know that bearing around historical ego, grudges or enmity has never proved beneficial to any country or race. All religious and political conflicts in the world have their roots of the exact inability of "getting ahead of history". History, almost the most of it, is a collection of mistakes made by humanity - it is something to take lessons from, not to carry around as a supplier of grudges and enmity.

Posted by: subhrajit | February 3, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

All to often a marriage of covenience eventually comes to haunt you. The US and many other western countries have supported politicians of sinister motives as a matter of necessity. As in the case of Egypt where the dictatorial government has been in place for 30 years, HAS THE US MANAGED SOME POLITICAL GAIN WORTH THE COMPROMISE OF ITS PRINCIPLES? This is what we all know as conditioning and the more the US maintains that justification for turning a blind eye the more it becomes policy and the more it becomes the norm forsaking the very principles the country was founded on.

Posted by: raytay90 | February 3, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen:

How can you advocate watching it "play out"? It is this kind of thinking that jeopardizes humanity. We are not in the dark ages, we should always be advocates of fair treatment. Political pressures are dynamic and so too our leaders must be.

Good job on telling the POTUS to "can it" publicly.

Posted by: myinbox | February 3, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

The problem with freedom of the press is that it is structural. It has bloggers. When you have such a blogger, the pressure is to write something -- almost anything in the present case -- when prudence, history and the gods of mythology cry out for silence. The Cohen caricature ought to just shut up.

The latest from the Post, as reported in the Post, is a reassessment of The White House. In principle, there's nothing wrong with that. The paper ought to talk to almost anyone about anything. This is called smart journalism.

But now is not the time to make nice to the readership, not just because it might take any overture as a sign of weakness, but because it is sure to laugh. After generations of supporting Republican administration, not even the dimmest of their readers is going to think the old rag suddenly has had a change of heart. At the very least, the dirty rag ought to be consistent. Our enemies would respect us for it and our friends, should there any left, would appreciate it. To paraphrase the old and getting older Cohen, if we cannot stand by our principles -- and we may not be able or want to -- then we at least ought to shut up.

Posted by: frenchofficial | February 3, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Totally disagree.

The Egyptian demonstrators have been begging for leadership from Washington. Despite China's new economic power, it is still the US they look to -- not the UN, or the EU, but the US -- for leadership and support at a time like this.

We need to speak out, carefully, but forcefully. And while Obama was right to be circumspect initially, the government thuggery of the past 24 hours requires a stronger public response.

Posted by: Meridian1 | February 3, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

chefra ... your notions of "self determination" are very idealistic. The people that will determine the future of Egypt are the ones with the guns and power. If you think these people will have an election and follow 'the will of the people' you are in a fantasy. What if Egypt "self-determines" their next leader like Germany "self-determined" Hitler? What if the largest Arab country in the world falls into fundamentalist Islam and goes to war with Israel? Is that good for anyone?

Posted by: look2jesus | February 3, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

If the president had remained silent, Mr. Cohen would be apoplectic. Cohen stands in great danger of appearing to join the lunatic ranks of the supercilious Frank Gaffney, the goofy Glenn Beck and others who are falsely exaggerating the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt to stir up fear among Americans, a deplorable tactic in any event and especially inappropriate during the current crisis. Please shut up, Mr. Cohen.

Posted by: Southernwriter | February 3, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Yep, Cohen gives us the hardline AIPAC screed as usual. Forgot the dual loyalty. This guys got single loyalty, Israel and Israel only.

Posted by: Jerusalimight | February 3, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Telling the President of the United States to "Shut up" is disrespectful and not what I like to hear from a supposedly reputable journalist. Maybe Richard Cohen should just "Shut up." (I'm not a reputable journalist so I can say that)

Posted by: Doing | February 3, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

You should take your own advice and shut up. In the midst of a crisis we need to speak with one voice. Since you were so hot to trot in supporting Bush invading Iraq you could at least support Obama in supporting democracy in Egypt.

Posted by: steventryon1 | February 3, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"When it comes to crises like the one in Egypt, the trouble with the White House is structural. It has a briefing room. (So does State.) When you have such a room, the pressure is to have a briefing. That means saying something -- almost anything in the present case -- when prudence, history and the gods of mythology cry out for silence. The Obama administration ought to just shut up"

By this same analogy alone Richard Cohen, you have a news room? (So does the President.) "When you have such a room, the pressure is to have...? That means saying something--almost anything in the present case--"
Who hears silence? Pastor Sativ

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

The [right wing] pundits and everyone but the president and the secretary of state should just shut up including you. This is way above your pay grade and you are not elected to have a public opinion on foreign matters, free press or not.

Posted by: rene31 | February 3, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

We have a tendency to support dictators and throw them to the dogs when it is useful,the whole middle east has been a sparking point only because of oil,,,a fast turn to electric cars and other things like LED lights may reduce our dependence ,,,we should get in the dialogue or we could just be isolationists and stop all aid to everyone in the world, allies or not and let the bricks fall where ever they may in the middle east

Posted by: williampoirier | February 3, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

The [right wing] pundits and everyone but the president and the secretary of state should just shut up including you. This is way above your pay grade and you are not elected to have an opinion in the name of the US on foreign matters, free press or not.

Posted by: rene31 | February 3, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

The US policy in the Middle East must take into account the US interest in the region but the author of this article is clearly siding with the interest of Israel only which can sometimes conflict with the US interest. It is in the US interest to open dialogue and discussion with all parties and opposition in Egypt and support the inspiration of the young people that are demanding freedom.

Posted by: sammurf59 | February 3, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

look2jesus - you should stop pretending to know things you don't really know. How do you know that Egypt won't have free democratic elections that respresent the majority? Of course you're right that there is a possibility Egypt will elect the next Hitler (or that someone like that will take power undemocratically). Just like there was a possibility that that would happen in our elections after the revolutionary war against Britain. Do you think that Egyptions are somehow less equipped to govern themselves than we were in the late 1700's? Are they any less human than we are?

Posted by: drainey32798 | February 3, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

You are absolutly correct!
America can't win in this fight.

Obama is too dam'nd dumb to make things better if it were possible. So is Hillary!

I believe that Obama is a closet Muslim and in his heart really wan'ts to hurt America!

Look at his record Vis a Vis Muslim Problems!

Posted by: Rkrkar | February 3, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

We have seen what it takes to overthrow an Arab dictator and implement some form of democracy in the middle east. I wish people would learn that lesson before berating the US over supporting Mubarak. Some people live in the Ivory tower of a world where we don't have to care what happens anywhere else - just be like Jimmy Carter and moralize everything from afar - it will all work out in the end right? let Iran go nuclear, let radical Islam run unchecked, who are we to judge?

Posted by: look2jesus | February 3, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering how many former presidents the Washington Post and its columnists have announced in a headline "should just shut up" about a given issue.

Posted by: dorndiego | February 3, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The author says "At the moment, whatever talking that needs to be done ought to be limited to the enunciation of broad American principles -- democracy, freedom of speech, minority rights and others. We are who we are and we ought to be proud of it."

However, on the same face he admits that the US has been "supporting" Mubarak for generations. How he can square that fact with his lofty view of American principles is beyond me. It sounds as though the author (in addition to the president) could benefit from being more consistent. I think the US should not be silent. It should be apologizing profusely for supporting dictators in the middle east and elsehwere, and offering reparations to whatever governments emerge from free democratic elections. Then it could be said that the US is acting consistently with the lofty principles enunciated by this author.

Posted by: drainey32798 | February 3, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Once again, Mr. Cohen, you begin this fear-mongering about the Muslim Brotherhood. The protesters wants Mubarak to step down and then want to have a free and fair election; something that has been absent in Egyptian politics for the past 30 years. Your fears of the Muslim Brotherhood taking over Egyptian politics and turning a deaf ear to the United States are completely unfounded. I have been watching Al-Jazeera English and BBC News during this uprising and not once has either of these reputable sources mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood's wanting to make a power grab.

It seems that so-called "realists" are really just worried about the brown tinge of Egyptian skin and their calling God "Allah". I wonder, Mr. Cohen, would your reaction would be so scared if these were white Christians fighting for democracy?

Posted by: tohara1 | February 3, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The burdens on President Obama have intensified during the Egypt crisis. One web site focused on the current situation and long term needs is -

www.PrayToGodForOBAMA.com

Twitter - www.Twitter.com/PrayersForOBAMA

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

one would hope that the world is smart enough to realize that 1 person does not convey the feelings of millions,that said He said his piece,(Which he was pushed into doing)now it should just be left alone.Egypt will survive regardless what the USA thinks,the only reason we have any right to say anything is because THE USA taxpayers help to financially support Egypt.

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

drainey32798 ... "Do you think that Egyptions are somehow less equipped to govern themselves than we were in the late 1700's? Are they any less human than we are?" ... They are not less human than we are, they are every bit as human and that's the problem! I think they are less equipped. But I hope that you are right and I am wrong. But your post does underscore what a miracle the birth of our country actually was ... thank you.

Posted by: look2jesus | February 3, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

drainey32798 ... "Do you think that Egyptions are somehow less equipped to govern themselves than we were in the late 1700's? Are they any less human than we are?" ... They are not less human than we are, they are every bit as human and that's the problem! I think they are less equipped. But I hope that you are right and I am wrong. But your post does underscore what a miracle the birth of our country actually was ... thank you.

Posted by: look2jesus | February 3, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

You said, "Why the administration and the president himself has to say anything is beyond me." I would certainly agree. Maybe you're the one who should "shut up."

Posted by: LK4541 | February 3, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Obama & Clinton have flipped and flopped all over the place with this. Their ultimate calls for Mubarak to step down immediately are insane. Any peaceful transition cannot be made on the fickle whims of mobs. A call to public order and an orderly transition is about all Obama should have said with an added affirmation to aid Egypt financially and spiritually through the transition period. But as a narcissist who believes we are the center of the universe and therefore the sole cause of egypt's woes he simply cannot do this. Like Carter before him, who's kindred far Left point of view he shares, he believes we must atone for our perceived sins publicly. We must therefore act as if Mubarak is a criminal instead of the steadfast ally he has been and embrace our enemies. With Obama & Clinton our credibility has been lost. And the Egyptian people as a whole, who Obama claims to identify with, lose even more.

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

Your comment raises what for me is an interesting question: what has the Russian government been saying officially about what has taken place in Egypt ?

Posted by: rbe1 | February 3, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Dear "Leader of the Free World"

Please don't lead.

Yours Truly

Richard Cohen
Jerusalem Post

Posted by: notthatdum | February 3, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Hosni Mubarak is not an American creation. The balance of power in Egypt remains unclear. All Americans who claim to speak for the Egyptians are suspect. The United States did not put Mubarak in power. Neither will we determine the outcome of the current struggle. But America should try to work with whatever governing structure emerges from the conflict. It is better to avoid picking favorites in that process. But Mubarak does appear to be on his way out. Some American effort to encourage his exit and minimize any violence associated with it does not appear unreasonable.

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

From the mouths of Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly to Richard Cohen's keyboard to the WaPo editorial page. Really not a strange pairing where Israel is concerned, however tangentally.

Watch out kids, if you don't eat your peas the Muslim Brotherhood will get you!

Posted by: Lazarus40 | February 3, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Just to clear the record a bit, the U.S. has been making overtures to the Muslim Brotherhood for a while now. We recognized that they were likely to become a political force in the country. Look at the article that Cohen linked to in his post: U.S. officials have had back-channel communications with the group since the 1990s. In fact, once they gained some seats in the Egyptian parliament in 2005, the U.S. "held several meetings with representatives of the group, including at the U.S. embassy in Cairo." So it is not as though this crisis is the first time we have tried to talk to them. But this certainly has made talking to the Muslim Brotherhood more important...

So a lot of Cohen's post is based on false premises -- those being that it is all of a sudden a rush to finally talk to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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

There is no evidence to suggest that the Brotherhood is a benevolent organization - but plenty to suggest that they are radicals who masquerade as moderates.

We should beware.

An interesting question is why did Obama not speak out more forcefully during the 2009 Iranian uprising? We know that was about Democracy - and protest against a brutal Islamic regime.

But I don't remember him saying much.

Why the difference?

Posted by: thinker16 | February 3, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Why am I not surprised at Cohen's critique? Mr. Cohen, this is about American interest FIRST!

Posted by: october30 | February 3, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

thinker16, I think you have to keep in mind that for many people in the Middle East, the United States is not seen as a positive force. This may be especially true in Iran. If Obama was less forthcoming on the protests there, it might have been because he didn't want to label one side as the "American" side and have them suffer for it.

Mr. Cohen, it is blatantly disrespectful to tell people to "shut up." It is not acceptable behavior among small children, much less from an adult to an elected representative of his nation. Even if you actually believe Obama should not take a stand on the events in Egypt, you should be able to express yourself in a respectful and adult manner. Of course, such a belief would be staggeringly out of step with reality. Obama has already been accused of not taking a strong enough position on this issue. In view of the violence happening in Tahrir square right now, it is hard to see how anyone who believes in human rights could support Mubarak's presidency.

Posted by: msliam | February 3, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Mr. Cohen.

This is a decision by the people of Egypt on how they want to be ruled. It's not our place to do anything but what you mention, re-iterate our values, and (I would add) denounce the violence and bloodshed.

If we truly believe that power comes from the people to the government, not the other way around, we should stay out of it. If we study interventionism in history, we would realize we should stay out.

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

The US administration comments on protests in Iran, in China and in most other places. Why not on Egypt ?

As the leading democratic country in the world the US has a duty to speak out for freedom and democracy and to encourage those who wish to throw off the chains of oppression. Americans should passionately support the Egyptians in their hour of need.

Posted by: brendan_holleran | February 3, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

TO: Thinker16
President Obama did not speak out about Iranian demonstrators because when presidents encourage revolt people die. We can influence events in Egypt to a peaceful resolution, but in Iran the only thing we could have done was to cause more bloodshed and not be there to help.

Posted by: october30 | February 3, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Not sure who came up with the headline "Obama should just shut up on Egypt" but it is tacky; unprofessional and asinine; however, typical of WaPo headlines.

As other posters noted Cohen should "SHUT UP"!!!

Posted by: rlj1 | February 3, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

No, Mr.Cohen, Obama and the USA should not simply look the other way.

We, obviously, have been morally wrong in supporting Mubarak all these years, and by failure to admit that wrong and failure to support the Egyptian Revolt we are guilty of the old dictum, "Two wrongs don't make a right".

As Freedom lovers ourselves we are MORALLY obligated to support the Egyptian's bid for FREEDOM!

Posted by: lufrank1 | February 3, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Yes!

President Obama is well-intentioned, but has been pretty consistently inept on difficult foreign policy issues. It is not surprising that this ineptness is taken for weakness.

Mubarak clearly did not listen to him and is making a desperate effort to stay in power despite a pledge to leave.

There seems to be little we can do other than let events take their course and hope we can pick up the pieces.

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

You are absolutly correct!
America can't win in this fight.

Obama is too dam'nd dumb to make things better if it were possible. So is Hillary!

I believe that Obama is a closet Muslim and in his heart really wan'ts to hurt America!

Look at his record Vis a Vis Muslim Problems!

Posted by: Rkrkar | February 3, 2011 12:35 PM
===========================================
Further proof that you need Medication, STRONG Medication!! No President, Republican or Democrat has that kind of sway with people IN THE MIDDLE OF A REVOLUTION!! You and those of your ilk really need to knock it off as if the President can wave a wand and all will be Sweetness and Light!! Get over yourself!!

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

I agree, Obama should stop telling Mubarak or anybody in Egypt what they should do. Yes, people in Egypt want democracy and it is their job to get it, not our job to give it to them, or even try to.

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

This is not the first time the US policy of relying on bribable thugs to support our interests has bitten us in the buttocks, and will probably not be the last.

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

Sheesh Richard, what side of the bed did you get up from? I'm sure the President has information you don't.

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

"User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. " Cohen, by definition, is profanity and therefore should be removed from this site.

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

Obama & Clinton have flipped and flopped all over the place with this. Their ultimate calls for Mubarak to step down immediately are insane. Any peaceful transition cannot be made on the fickle whims of mobs. A call to public order and an orderly transition is about all Obama should have said with an added affirmation to aid Egypt financially and spiritually through the transition period. But as a narcissist who believes we are the center of the universe and therefore the sole cause of egypt's woes he simply cannot do this. Like Carter before him, who's kindred far Left point of view he shares, he believes we must atone for our perceived sins publicly. We must therefore act as if Mubarak is a criminal instead of the steadfast ally he has been and embrace our enemies. With Obama & Clinton our credibility has been lost. And the Egyptian people as a whole, who Obama claims to identify with, lose even more.

Posted by: robbyleenyc | February 3, 2011 12:54 PM
==========================================
Why don't you send your resume to the White House, since you seem to have it all figured out?

Posted by: Angryman | February 3, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

President Obama is the elected leader of the United States of America,,,and whether you like it or not, considered the leader of the FREE world. You think the leader of the free world should shut up and get out of the way in a fight for democracy??

You've lost your mind.

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

President Obama is the elected leader of the United States of America,,,and whether you like it or not, considered the leader of the FREE world. You think the leader of the free world should shut up and get out of the way in a fight for democracy??

You've lost your mind.

Posted by: AnnsThought | February 3, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Cohen, what did you think when you read an article in your paper by Soros? Suggesting the muslim brotherhood take over Egypt!?! You have spent all this time bashing everyone while you support the Soros puppet, Obama. Why your paper gives creditability to this awful man is beyond me. Why you give any press to Obama is also beyond me. Why not do some investigating and find out what exactly is going on. I have suggested before that you do this. Perhaps now you can start. Win a Pulitzer Prize, for Heaven's sake!

Posted by: annnort | February 3, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, your bigotry is showing.

Posted by: Itzajob | February 3, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Why you give any press to Obama is also beyond me.

===========================================
Hmmmmm, now why would a news paper columnist give THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES any press? WOW!! Are you SERIOUS?

Posted by: Angryman | February 3, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

supervnknown, you removed your brains with your false teeth last evening, and erred in replacing them in correct order. For once, Mr. Cohen tells it like it is.

Posted by: nmg3rln | February 3, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Soros spends too much time drinking his meals from brown paper bags to be considered credible.

Posted by: nmg3rln | February 3, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I've always particularly disliked Cohen and Krauthammer, zionist propogandists, Cohen the worst, pretending to be American

and with his fetid personal life.

But he's kind of fun to read now; he's around the bend increasingly, BESIDE himself since the PC regarding Israel left after the Madoff days...

and since Americans have caught on and increasingly detest such. Oh Boy.

Today he is weally mad. Jest a pleasure.

Posted by: whistling | February 3, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Agree, there is nothing the US can do. It is beyond our control.

This will probably go "One Man, One Vote, One Time". The thing the reasonable educated protesters don't realize is that if they have a free election, it will be controlled by the large majority of poor uneducated Egyptians. They will vote Muslim Brotherhood, who will then impose one-party rule. There will be future elections, but all candidates will have to be radical Muslim Brotherhood candidates.

I hope I am wrong, and Egypt will become a true open democracy. History shows that when huge numbers of poor people vote, they vote the way their priests/clerics tell them to vote in church/mosque. That leads to one party religious rule.

Posted by: MissouriBoy | February 3, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

There you go - repeating your lies that Muslims hate us because our women wear scampy clothes. Muslims don't loath America because of our way of life - they loath us because we bomb and strafe them, and because we fund their dictators' jails and buy the teargas cannisters that foul their air. Have you ever talked to a muslim?

Israel is doomed, Cohen. Not because it's Jewish - but because it's thugish. Obama has been spit in the face by the Zionist, so why should he care?

Posted by: roger27 | February 3, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

The President's persona, that of a college professor, just doesn't seem to inspire raging Egyptians or Mubarak to make nice.

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | February 3, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Cohen, are you deliberately or stupidly wrong?

The polls (NYTIMES MONDAY) regarding
Egypt positive feelings toward the us are:

2007 (Under BUsh)

Positive 19
Negative 73

After Obama's election

Positive 40
Negative 48


After Obama's SPEECH in CAIRO

Positive 45
Negative 19

As for the Muslim Brotherhood, may they win and prosper.

AND MAY THEY LIBERATE GAZA AND FREE THE WEST BANK from APARTHEID Israel

and push the savage Israelis back up behind their ugly wall. You want justice?

HOW the world world would cheer.
And maybe you'd shut up...

PS The elected American president with new 53% favorable polls coming out should be silenced by you? His briefings dictated by you?

Posted by: whistling | February 3, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

One difference between Cohen and Obama is that Obama is seeking advice from the best-informed experts available, while Cohen apparently consults mainly with the oracle in his bathroom mirror.

Now, who would be better advised to shut up?

It's not that Obama is being terrible verbose. I saw an amusing video segment the other day - what Obama said on Egypt in 18 words took a French spokesman over 170.

The people of the US, of Egypt, of the world, expect to hear the president state his position. Cohen believes himself wiser than them all.

Posted by: j3hess | February 3, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Interestingly many of the "Founding Fathers" supported the French revolution. Haven't times changed? Now U.S. leaders and the rabble right support dictators, oops, I meant authoritarian rulers. What was that quote by Jean Kirkpatrick again?

Posted by: sr31 | February 3, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Cohen is brought to you by AIPAC - America's Pro-Israel lobby.

The US much choose between supporting the concept of democracy it gloats about so much and continuing to prop up this dictator-on-a-leash to appease Israel.

Posted by: areyousaying | February 3, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Schnauzer21... So we now refer to the president as 'He' with a capital 'H' like God? He's not, you know.

Posted by: MMDavis1 | February 3, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

The main problem with US foreign policy, especially with respect to the Middle East, is that it runs contrary to accepted principles. Not to mention the stated aims of said policies and broad principles of American society.

It may be in the short-term interest to prop up brutal, dictatorial regimes like those of Mubarak and Saddam, but in the long-term, it ends up costing us significantly more.

This is also the case with Israel, but vested interests within Israeli society thrive on continuous hostilities with Arab neighbours. A more balanced Mid-East policy will, in the long-term, not only significantly aid US interests, it will also help the Israeli cause. However, this will come at the cost of the aforementioned interests within Israel.

Posted by: mekhapes | February 3, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

"Why the administration and the president himself has to say anything is beyond me."

Isn't it obvious? I agree with other columnists who posit that Obama is simply trying to show that he is providing leadership in an attempt to reverse his poor performance and image in the foreign affairs arena. Ain't gonna work.

Posted by: colion | February 3, 2011 10:16 PM | Report abuse

The Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S and his entire Embassy in this country need to have their credentials negated by our government IMMEDIATELY. These employees and appointees of the criminal dictator of Egypt need to leave our country and Obama need to immediately freeze all assets of Egypt here and freeze all aid to Egypt TODAY! Obama, by his failure to condemn Mubarek, is just as bad as this criminal.

I call for each and every American citizen with any kind of honor or sense of right to demand your elected officials FORCE President Obama to cease ALL support for Mubarek and his criminal regime. Protest and rally in the streets, do literally whatever is necessary to help and support the democracy starved people of Egypt NOW!

Posted by: rrowleyarizona | February 4, 2011 12:33 AM | Report abuse

You should just Shut up! You don't care about our country, and you obviously don't care about the Egyptians who are demonstrating for freedom. You're just afraid the Egyptians might actually put together a functioning democracy that actually works. Then Israel won't be able to claim it is the only democracy in the Middle East. And then maybe the world will ask questions about Israel's human rights abuses and the fact that it is an apartheid state. It's so sad. Aren't you Jewish, and haven't your people been persecuted for hundreds of years? Shouldn't you be on the side of freedom?

Posted by: mmreay | February 4, 2011 1:00 AM | Report abuse

You should just Shut up! You don't care about our country, and you obviously don't care about the Egyptians who are demonstrating for freedom. You're just afraid the Egyptians might actually put together a functioning democracy that actually works. Then Israel won't be able to claim it is the only democracy in the Middle East. And then maybe the world will ask questions about Israel's human rights abuses and the fact that it is an apartheid state. It's so sad. Aren't you Jewish, and haven't your people been persecuted for hundreds of years? Shouldn't you be on the side of freedom?

Posted by: mmreay | February 4, 2011 1:02 AM | Report abuse

The general perception is that the US speaks and acts entirely out of self interest. Those seeking the US are probably merely attempting to ride the wave created by the struggling tired superpower.

Posted by: Worldpeace1 | February 4, 2011 5:01 AM | Report abuse

It's no coincidence that the collapse of the Middle East is happening with Obozzo in the WH. The terrorist's who are fueling these insurrections fully realize this ignorant coward we are stuck with for 2 more years as our president will not step in even if it means the collapse of an entire government(s). I'm sure someone will program this moron's teleprompter to tell us it was somehow Geo Bush's fault like every other failure he has heaped upon us. However, at some point, even the most ardent liberal realizes all roads lead back to Obozzo. The next time someone wants to espouse the attributes of affirmative action, Obozzo will be the example of proof to the contrary.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | February 4, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Cohen has a point. I mean, Neville Chamberlain talked to the Nazis and that turned-out OK, right? So, let Obama talk to the Muslim Brotherhood; I’m sure it will turn-out just as well.

Posted by: CogsUSA | February 4, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Liberals and conservatives don't have much to agree on, but it seems like we should be able to agree that an extreme Muslim government will mean lots of suffering for the people in Egypt and trouble for Israel and the West. Cohen gets it: why do his fellow libs have so much trouble?

Posted by: fraudbust2011 | February 4, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

The current situation in Egypt, and how Obama is handling it, shows the true ignorance of his ideas on how to handle the middle east.

Islamists DO NOT hate us because we support Isreal, and they WILL NOT like us any better if we support them! They hate us for the simple reason that we are not Islamists too!

We have a secular government, and that in and of itself is an affront to what they believe. The motto of the Muslin Brotherhood is "Islam is the answer!" - so, unless you are an Islamic state, you are the enemy.

So what will become of Obama's throwing US support behind the Brotherhood? They will say "Thank you very much for putting us in power - but now you must die!"!

Posted by: mmaschin | February 4, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"Loathsome peace with Israel"???? What in God's name kind of description is that?

Egypt's peace with Israel, along with Jordan's, has been one of the very few bright bright spots in the relentlessly dismal story of the Middle East over the past sixty years. If it is "loathsome," what would Mr. Cohen consider praisworthy? Jihad against Israel? Nuclear war with Israel?

That is one of the stupidest phrases to issue from anywhere near Washington DC in my lifetime.

Posted by: sdl701 | February 4, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

No, Mr. Cohan, I don't want Mr. Obama to "shut up". I want him to continue talking up a storm because when he does he usually says the wrong thing. It is revealing, startling and sometimes even, entertaining. His SOTU speech is a case in point. TV viewers as well as politicians in attendance waited with baited breath, to hear what solutions Mr. Obama had devised for our sputtering economy. Thirty minutes or more into his speech he finally acknowledged that there was a bit of a problem, but, with all of his "happy talk" and "sputnik moment" solutions, we were on our way to "winning the future". His "sputnik moment" solutions to this pesky economy problem? Infrastructure investments (you know the kind: redundant highway construction SPENDING that calls for your road (and mine) to be torn up for the umpteenth time),green technology (just don't plan on going uphill on a cold day with that electric car!) and more fearsome than the others...A Train. That should drive a stake through those innovative Chinese hearts. George Will wrote that the Democrats idea of innovation is to take an old idea and make it more expensive. The SOTU speech proved that. No, the more he talks, the more people, even liberals, concede that there is a vacancy in the White House. Ruth Marcus, considered by many to be a "sensible liberal" called Obama's SOTU speech
"...a disturbing vacuum of leadership".
So, lets keep Mr. Obama talking. I personally think he's a "nice guy", a gifted orator (his rhetoric was all the rage during the election), but, unfortunately for our country, not a leader.

Posted by: cybermom12 | February 4, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The powder puff American press (for lack of a better word) should also just 'shut up'. All they are good for is sensationalism and fear-mongering. There doesn't seem to be a decent journalist left in the US of A. Worse than Pravda now. No one who wants to learn anything even watches them now. Sold out to the highest bidder. Rank amateurs.

Posted by: 10emlet | February 4, 2011 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I would agree with everything you say except the part about the U.S. should stick to the broad themes of supporting democracy, etc. Those preaching themes are part of why we have lost so much credibility in the region and in the world--we preach but in the case of Egypt and Saudi Arabia we have no substantive follow through to our preaching and are simply realpolitik bedfellows. Enough preaching or back it up as I say in my latest blog posting "The Gospel According to Us" at charley-liberaldog.blogspot.com.

Posted by: lanikai64 | February 5, 2011 7:39 AM | Report abuse

How can the leader of the free world just shut up on Egyptians cry for democracy? On the contrary Obama should speak up and more loudly and strongly too so Mubarak understands clearly Egyptians cannot tolerate anymore his autocratic rule. The US remained silent to the murder of hundreds of civilians in Thailand. Is it to be the same in Egypt?

Posted by: stepmaverick | February 5, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Richard Cohen, it is you who should shut up, because the only country you care about is Israel, you should renounce the American citizenship, because you really can not be looking for American Interest

Posted by: tqmek1 | February 7, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

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