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Posted at 5:12 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Hopeless on Egypt

By Jennifer Rubin

Egypt isn't hopeless, but I fear this administration's approach is. After plenty of good advice over the weekend, a meeting today with outside experts (although the two ablest and most frank invitees could not attend) and appropriate calls for Obama to "seize the moment," the White House appears to have fallen back into nonsensical blather on Egypt and decided against exercising any real influence (such as it is).

Robert Gibbs hid behind a fog of words at the afternoon briefing. "It is not up to us to determine when the grievances of the Egyptian people have been met by the Egyptian government," he said. And on it went into timidity:

"I'm not going to get into a series of hypotheticals," Gibbs says when asked about a government transition. "There have to be meaningful negotiations with a broad cross-section of the Egyptian people, including opposition groups, that go to answering the very core of the freedoms the people desire."

Gibbs sidesteps another question about whether Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, should run in an election. "The United States government does not determine who is on the ballot," he says. "The question is whether those elections are going to be free and fair."

Gibbs is asked to define an "orderly transition" in Egypt, as specified by the White House. He says it's about "actions," not "appointments," and that there should be free elections and constitutional changes that allow for a "more open and democratic process."

I exchanged e-mails with an attendee at this morning's meeting. I asked, "Did you get the sense they realize they are behind the curve?" The attendee said yes. But perhaps that was just for show, in a vain attempt to clamp down on the storm of bipartisan criticism. Today, we see more of the same deer-in-the-headlights behavior from the administration.

Hosni Mubarak won't survive this revolution, but neither will Obama's standing in the region. He may be consumed with domestic issues and/or paralyzed by fear of embodying the left's "imperialist" bogeyman. But he is missing the point and the moment. All he need do is make clear that we, like the Egyptian people, have lost confidence in the aging dictator. Our aid should be suspended, we should call for free elections, and there should be no doubt as to whose side we are on. But that's not Obama's style, it seems. And so, we are now identified with a decrepit despot instead of with the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people. Some "Muslim Outreach,"huh?

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 31, 2011; 5:12 PM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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Comments

You know Mubarak won't survive? And nor will any of his supporters in a new Gov't? I guess it's easier to make predictions when you have no responsability on the line and no consequences if your wrong.

Ben Franklin, "Decisions other people have to make are usually obvious."

And BTW, nothing Gibbs said supported Ms. Rubin's conclusion. Don't know how she got from point A to point B except perhaps she was already standing at point B and anything that didn't assume Mubarak was already out of power and backing 100% the protestors (who by the way are who?) was therefore weak waffeling.

Posted by: kchses1 | January 31, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Gosh Jennifer, so you mean instead of treating the situation in a black and white manner which could have numerous untold, very negative consequences for both the Egyptian people and American foreign policy, the Administration is taking a more measured approach given how fluid the situation is at the moment. How very awful.

Posted by: mustangs79 | January 31, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer, at this stage our main, if not our only, concern must be to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from gaining power. This is not a Tiananmen Square, Prague Spring, or Berlin Wall moment where it's easy to tell the good guys from the bad.

How do we help the true democrats in Egypt while thwarting the Muslim Brotherhood who hate America and Israel, support terrorism, and want to impose Sharia law? These guys want a frigging Caliphate!

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

As someone who is not from the US, I have some sympathy for those who say that official US backing for the revolution would do more harm than good. One of Mubarak's main problems seems to be that he is seen as a US puppet. If the administration now comes out in favor of the democratic opposition, they might suffer from the same fate in the view of Egyptians who are still on the fence about the whole revolution. That might rather drive them into the arms of the Muslim Brotherhood than do any good in the long run for a democratic Egypt.

Posted by: felaberlin | January 31, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

@eonii

The MB will, of course bring no economic relief or political freedom to the people of Egypt. You are right that keeping them out of power is the principal interest of the US and, indeed, of the Egyptian people. How we can go about doing this and yet genuinely try to side with grievances of the latter poses a challenge with no easy resolution and we can be confident that going forward Obama will make a mess of it. To Jen's point the Admin is currently having a deer in the headlights moment its not clear what even a prudent, forceful and confident government would do.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 31, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jennifer . . .

. . . maybe our country should let their country decide how they want to be governed.

. . . you know . . . that 'people' thing.

Posted by: palmtree2001 | January 31, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, Jennifer. The Egyptians are just yearning for Americans to stick their big noses into their politics, just like the Iraqis were yearning for a Western military power to invade their country and tell them what to do. Yes, dear, you are so right. Now please drift back into your neoconservative dreamworld.....

Posted by: Ladyrantsalot | January 31, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Rubin is certain that the Administration is wrong in its approach to Egypt. Is she privy to information about what is actually being done diplomatically, or is she merely relying on the public statements being made? Oh, of course, it's image and form that matter, not substance, cf. George Bush's stirring statements touted by Mark Thiessen in HIS piece of right wing spin.

Posted by: Lamentations | January 31, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Our standing in the region was ruined by Bush's neocon foreign policy. Especially the unnecessary Iraq war.

Posted by: David77 | January 31, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Happy to see that we're all more or less on the same page!

For all that I might not know, I hope our team is making the necessary adjustments. But for what I know that I know, I can say that I'm happy to see the President not being an outright meddler, an international micromanager, nor a blatant political hypocrite.

Posted by: snapple1 | January 31, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Jennifer, even among your own people, the conservative movement, you're out on an island all by yourself on this one. Your zealotry is turning it into Gilligan's Island!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

The White House waits to take a position on things for now probably because Obama and those around him are looking for ways that their Chicago buddies can profit from what specifically is happening in Egypt and maybe set up some protection rackets of some sort or allow some corrupt strongmen over there to have time to make deals with the Chicago political mafia and exchange gifts with one another.
Are these lawyers who run the government able to ever do anything for a higher cause, for humanity?

Posted by: Exposer333 | January 31, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer, the simplistic naivete of your "analysis" is outweighed only by your overt hostility to all things Obama. You might as well stop pretending to be a pundit and instead just show up at Tea Party rallies with nasty placards; it would be more genuine of you.

Posted by: Mark90 | January 31, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of crapola. We've known for years that Mubarak was a despot. What the hell were your GOP heroes doing for the eight years under Bush besides continuing to send him piles of cash for the military and police forces that he used to suppress any dissent?

Twenty-twenty hindsight is great, isn't it? You're a real pain in the you-know-what, Rubin.

Posted by: st50taw | January 31, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

cavalier wrote:

"To Jen's point the Admin is currently having a deer in the headlights moment its not clear what even a prudent, forceful and confident government would do."

It would invade of course!

In fact, if democracy in Egypt happens and goes about as most of us expect, that's exactly what Jennifer will be proposing against a new Islamic government somewhere in the coming year.

She will conveniently forget she advocated their coming to power.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jenny your a HOPELESS Rebublican Right Wing critic of President Obama.

I'm sure whatever stance he took, or takes you'll have something negative to say.

As it stands now you don't know what the f*&ck your talking about!

Posted by: 72Redskins | January 31, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

It's daft for America that has a political system, news media, financed by money and power to preach to the benches.
I read that a mother in Florida shot her two teenage children to death, not an isolated case in America. Parents and boyfriends killing children has become an common occurence in America that only sparks a mention in the "scrawl" that is the delivery of news in America.
The reason we did not march when trillions were stolen from us is Americans have become quite passive.
Go forward Egypt but don't use America in 2011 as a beacon.

Posted by: JillCalifornia | January 31, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jenny (know it all) when U.S. Presidents' encourage...MANY PEOPLE DIE, Remember Hungary and Czechoslovakia?

Posted by: october30 | January 31, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

The administration literally has no idea what to do. The leadership factor of this administration is under that of the lackluster Bush, but better than Carter, but not by much.

Once Egypt is in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, there will nothing to worry about, right? The current track is towards and Iran, not a Turkey.

Posted by: thelaw1 | January 31, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

It appears that Obama and his team are more supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood than they are of the Tea Party.

Posted by: HawkSprings | January 31, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Our standing in the region was ruined by Bush's neocon foreign policy. Especially the unnecessary Iraq war.

Posted by: David77 | January 31, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
But President Obama did the middle east apology tour and received critical acclaim for a landmark speech restoring our name in the region. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for being elected, being not-Bush, and promising, but not keeping, to close Gitmo on a self imposed time line. What happened to that template? I guess blaming Bush is much easier than blaming Obama. So far the blaming Bush thing is getting rather old.

When we are weak our allies are weak, and bad factions are about to abuse the good intentions of the Egyptian people. Isn't that just peachy?

Posted by: thelaw1 | January 31, 2011 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Mark90 | January 31, 2011 6:19 PM

"You might as well stop pretending to be a pundit and instead just show up at Tea Party rallies with nasty placards; it would be more genuine of you."

Jennifer's practically made this blog into a GOP campaigning platform, so she's pretty much already taken your advice.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Relative to the this topic Rubin doesn't know her butt from a hole in the ground.

Posted by: russellglee | January 31, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope we don't stick our noses in Egypt's business. Our "influence" in the Middle East has sure been beneficial to everyone, hasn't it? Two high school students could concoct a better foreign policy than the warmongers in our government.

Posted by: ihave4ducks | January 31, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

What happens in Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian military and no one outside of that nation. Pick your whipping boy on the right or the left but they will not change the outcome.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 5:38 PM

"How do we help the true democrats in Egypt while thwarting the Muslim Brotherhood who hate America and Israel, support terrorism, and want to impose Sharia law? These guys want a frigging Caliphate!"

They want a Caliphate too? Wow, Saddam wanted a Caliphate, Iran wanted Caliphate Al Qaeda wants Caliphate.

You forgot to add the bit about how it's 1939 and they are all Hitler.

The one thing you haven;t stopped to consider, is whether the Muslim Brotherhood might also want democracy, but that wouldn't square with your concept of Islam would it?

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The United States is missing a golden opportunity to tilt on the right side of history; the people’s side. Odds are the more we open the society to other opinions and other values the lesser the chance of adopting the extremists’ perception.

Posted by: hatalla | January 31, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer wrote:

"All he need do is make clear that we, like the Egyptian people, have lost confidence in the aging dictator. Our aid should be suspended, we should call for free elections, and there should be no doubt as to whose side we are on."

Excellent advice Jennifer, but what is your advice to Netenyahu? He's not only imploring world leaders to go easy on Mubarak, but apparently sent out the message to all diplomats endorsing Mubarak and insisting that the West keep Mubarak in power.

Half the GOP are also taking this position. Mike Huckabee is in Israel denouncing the demonstrators. Any comment on these player Jennifer?

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

The best thing about the events in Egypt is not the forthcoming removal of Mubarak but the removal of Obama.

Posted by: ravitchn | January 31, 2011 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama is failing miserably on the international stage. He is weak, inexperienced, way out of his league and it shows.

It has been a week since the uprising began and he still has not taken a firm stance. It appears that his strategy is to wait and see how events turn out and then get on the side of the winner. Some leader.

Posted by: snowy2 | January 31, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Amazing. All the Obama apologists here today. Attacking a columnist for pointing out Obama's "Muslim outreach" is now irrelevant ? that a former president also supported Mubarak ?

Not one comment favorably mentions Obama's BOLD leadership, his vision, his unbending support for democracy and human rights.

Why ?

Because as a man-child of the Left, Obama is incapable of confronting evil. Incapable of openly supporting Western values. Incapable of challenging dictators.

Obama is NO Reagan. He is less of a presence even than the failed Jimmy Carter.

A sad and failed Presidency. Tragic.

Posted by: pvilso24 | January 31, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

This would be funny if it was not such a serious issue. If Obama supports "the people of Egypt" and calls for the resignation of Mubarak, the right says that Obama is in favor of a take over of Egypt by Muslim extremists. If Obama supports Mubarak, the right says that Obama is against democracy and self determination. It is all about American politics to the right.

Posted by: Jihm | January 31, 2011 7:44 PM | Report abuse

In the thought process of Jennifer, we go, OK, lets start with the fact that Obama is wrong. Whatever he does or does not do is wrong. So, it goes, keeping a low profile and letting the Egyptians work out their own situation is wrong. Much better for Obama to side with Mubarek, so I can say he is wrong for siding against Democracy, or, let him side with the uprising, so I can say he is wrong for siding in favor of what may become an Islamic theocracy.

All she knows is, Obama is wrong, dead wrong, and should have done the opposite of what he did, whatever it was.

Posted by: kamdog | January 31, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I hope we won't have to take to the streets to get rid of Obama.

Posted by: ravitchn | January 31, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Wow, things are moving fast, even here. It looks like Jennifer's comrades at the AEI are abandoning ship.

Danielle Pletka of American Enterprise Institute (who Jennifer has quotes as some kind of expert), now says that the U.S. should cut aid to Israel.

" And there are some lessons in what has happened in Egypt for our nation’s legislators:

• Rubber-stamping billion dollar aid programs year in and year out is irresponsible (yes, this also means Israel aid).
"

There you have it. Pletka agrees with Rand Paul!!!

Neoconservatism is imploding... I eagerly anticipate Jennifer's response.

http://blog.american.com/?p=25889

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 5:38 PM

"How do we help the true democrats in Egypt while thwarting the Muslim Brotherhood who hate America and Israel, support terrorism, and want to impose Sharia law? These guys want a frigging Caliphate!"

They want a Caliphate too? Wow, Saddam wanted a Caliphate, Iran wanted Caliphate Al Qaeda wants Caliphate.

You forgot to add the bit about how it's 1939 and they are all Hitler.

The one thing you haven;t stopped to consider, is whether the Muslim Brotherhood might also want democracy, but that wouldn't square with your concept of Islam would it?

Posted by: Shingo1
-------------------
Read about the MB. They haven't exactly hidden their light under a bushel. Since their founding, they have engaged in assassination, terrorism, an alliance with Hitler (there, I worked him in, legitimately), and attempted coups. Their ideology is published for all to see. Combining the worst of Salafism and Wahabism, it has spawned the entire modern jihadist movement from AQ to Hamas. They are taking a popular front approach for now that involves elections and lip service to human rights, but can be depended upon to pounce when the time is right.

Their approach seems to mirror Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan, who is gradually destroying the secular legacy of Kemal Ataturk. Erdogan once said, "Democracy is like a tram. When you get where you're going, you step off". Sharia and a Caliphate are where they're going. In their view human law is illegitimate because law (Sharia) comes from God. Egyptian public opinion is far more Islamacist than Turkey's, so the tram ride will be quicker.

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I am quite sure our behind the scenes response is far more direct. Essentially it is for the Egyptian Army to decide. Clearly though there will not be a peaceful resoulution with Mubarek remaining. What is crucial is negotiating a transition that include a caretaker gov followed by fair elections.

Their appears to be no real support for Mubarek, but there is also not an obvious leader or coalition. Hopefully they are getting organized.

Posted by: chucko2 | January 31, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen this anywhere else, but I would have to say that any timetable for withdrawal from either Iraq or Afghanistan is now completely dead.

Under the present circumstances, I doubt either government could last a month without US troops, add this to the issues for the 2012 election.

We will likely be in both places for a long, long time.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse

"Since their founding, they have engaged in assassination, terrorism, an alliance with Hitler"

The last of them being 56 years ago...Since then, they have engaged in no terrorism. There was never any alliance with Hitler.

"Their ideology is published for all to see. Combining the worst of Salafism and Wahabism, it has spawned the entire modern jihadist movement from AQ to Hamas."

In other words, you haven't read their wed site, you got all this from a right wing blog.

The popular front approach that they are using now is the same one they have stuck to for 30 years.

"Their approach seems to mirror Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan"

That's a good thing. Erdogan is a moderate who simply dscided that it was in Turkey's interests to have good relations with it's neighbors.


>> Erdogan once said, "Democracy is like a tram. When you get where you're going, you step off".

So you're a Daniel Pipes fan. That explains a lot about your paranoia and rampant Islamophobia.

That quote was never sourced, but it's laughable to hear an apologist for Mubarak complaining about an Arab leader disparaging democracy.

We have been hearing delusions about a Caliphate from conspiracy theorists at the AEI for decades, and never has any sign of one emerged. It's not a Caliphate that you fear, it's pan Arabism and Arab self determination.

"In their view human law is illegitimate because law (Sharia) comes from God."

Ben Gurion said the same thing about Jewish Law.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

John,

The Malki givernment doesn't have any use for US presence in Iraq. Thecondition laid down by Sadr for his endorsement of Malaki was the complete withdrawal of US troops.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: chucko2 | January 31, 2011 8:05 PM |

"Their appears to be no real support for Mubarek, but there is also not an obvious leader or coalition. Hopefully they are getting organized."

Of course there is, the Muslim Brotherhood and they are very well organized.

One third of the Egyptian parliament are members of the MB, and they have been there a long time.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Oh no. Kagan and Abrams couldn't make it. Who will speak for Israel?

Posted by: tblogg | January 31, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, you try hard, but you don't seem to have much grasp of history. Even Wikipedia's articles on the Muslim Brotherhood reflect the extreme violence and terrorist past of this organization, whose motto is:

“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Not much ambiguity there.

The founder of the MB, Hassan al Banna, wrote a fan letter to Hitler whose intelligence people enlisted Banna to establish a spy network. Banna promised Hitler that the MB would kill the British troops when the Nazis arrived in Cairo.

MB has always been violent. They participated in the coup they brought Nasser to power, and then tried to assassinate him to seize power themselves. Nasser then cracked down on them brutally. Sadat thought he could manage the MB as a counter-balance to the Nassarite communists, so he brought them back from exile. They denounced Sadat after his rapprochement with Israel and issued a fatwah for his assassination. While they soon murdered Sadat, their coup attempt failed. Mubarak has never given them an opening, though some of their members have run for Parliament as independents in recent years.

MB has adopted a more moderate public tone as a tactic, but their socialist version of Islamacism developed by Sayyid Qutb in his "Social Justice in Islam" has influenced several generations of jihadists including OBL and the Egyptian Zawahiri. Hamas is a direct offshoot of the MB and remains closely allied. That's why Mubarak has closed his border with Gaza. The Brotherhood has praised OBL as a "mujahid" and denied he's a terrorist. They support suicide bombing and are committed to the destruction of Israel (but so are you). Major Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadist, borrowed the MB's popular saying, "We love death more than you love life". I believe them.

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Seriously eoniii, do you not any sense of irony or hypocrisy? You have well and truly gone off the deep end, and dare I say, revealed that contrary to the claim your first concern is America, an Israeli firster.

Hassan al Banna's letter to Hitler and his desire to form an alliance is a verbatim representation of the Lehi gang's letter to Hitler to form an alliance to kick the British out of Palestine. Unlike the MB, the Stern and Irgun succeeded and went on to form political parties in Israel – one of which happens to be the ruling coalition.

That doesn't seem to bother you, but then again, they're not Muslim, which I suspect this is really what your beef is.

The MB has NOT always been violent. The most recent case you cited took place more than 30 years ago.

I know that inflammatory Islamic rhetoric sets your heart racing, but the passage that you quoted is anything but threatening if you read it in context.

I suspect that the line “Jihad is our way” is what got your attention, but the word “jihad” means struggle or resistance, as one would expect to hear from any opposition group. It's nothing that you wouldn't hear in any campaign speech.

It wasn't the MB edict that influenced OBL and Zawahiri. Zawahiri was a member, but he was radicalized when he was rounded up by the Egyptian secret police (after Sadat's assassination) and tortured. He then turned away from the MB and formed his own radical groups and eventually AQ. Bin Laden

The Brotherhood and not praised OBL, and has clearly disavowed Al Qaeda. They are NOT committed to the destruction of Israel, and I would challenge you to cite any statements to that effect.

“Major Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadist, borrowed the MB's popular saying”

You have got to be kidding. Who was it that said the Tree of Liberty has to be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants?

You clearly have no capacity for introspection or ability to consider anyone's perspective in this world other than the Hegemonic American one you've been sold.

And BTW. I would appreciate you retracing the allegation that I am committed to the destruction of Israel.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 10:26 PM | Report abuse

"Relative to the this topic Rubin doesn't know her butt from a hole in the ground"

hey russ gleeful to know at least you're a true blue american, not one of those transplanted britishers at the Corner or Paul Theroux with their "bum"

Poo who yahoo!

Posted by: aardunza | January 31, 2011 10:44 PM | Report abuse

shingo wrote:

"The Malki givernment doesn't have any use for US presence in Iraq. Thecondition laid down by Sadr for his endorsement of Malaki was the complete withdrawal of US troops."

Of course they don't want US troops. They're both Shiites. Once the US withdraws, the Sunnis are dead meat. The Shiites banned most Sunni candidates from the most recent election, which was what held up the formation of a government for a year.

You have a grasp of history so surely you know that Sunni and Shiite are under normal circumstances mortal enemies. The Shiites in Iraq will want to do to the Sunnis what the Sunnis did to them.

Civil war is inevitable between them when we leave. Only the timetable is in doubt.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

A simple perusal of the above blogs shows how divorced from reality the perception of the president is.


You have people from the same wing of the same party accusing Obama of taking exactly the opposite actions to support or thwart their individual side. He's keeping Mubarak in power, no he's hurting Mubarak, he's not on the side of the people but of the ruling elite, no he's really enjoying the rise of the MB etc.

It is a peculiarly American thing to believe that not only are we the center of our own universe, but of everyone else's too.

This is nothing new. We lost China. We lost Vietnam. We won Russia. We lost Iran. We won Iraq. The only thing that changes is the names of the prosecutors and defense attorney in the media.

It's a truly bizarre practice.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer, this is how isolated and alone you are. Even McConnell isn't on your side!

"House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who voiced support for the White House on Sunday, declined to expand upon those remarks on Monday.

"I don't have any criticism of President Obama or Secretary Clinton at this point," McConnell said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I mean, they know full well that we can't give the Egyptians advice about who their leadership is. That's beyond the reach of the United States. And I think we ought to speak as one voice during this crisis."

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Nice little conundrum you've put eonii into, Shingo1; did you mean retracing or retracting (probably the latter, but retracing will keep 'em busy for awhile...)

No, daren't argue, positively scary reading you guys' posts, but always a pleasure! :-)

Posted by: aardunza | January 31, 2011 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Moderation in all things, and moderation is the first to go...word jazz!

Posted by: aardunza | January 31, 2011 11:24 PM | Report abuse

"After plenty of good advice over the weekend, a meeting today with outside experts (although the two ablest and most frank invitees could not attend) and appropriate calls for Obama to "seize the moment,"

Hmmm the most notable thing absent from the meeting of "outside experts" on Egypt?
That's right, you guessed it . . . EGYPTIANS! Not only Egyptians were absent but Arabs and Muslims too!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 11:30 PM | Report abuse

in addition to johnmarshall's points, especially about the army, I want to point out that only about 100,000 of Egypt's more than EIGHTY MILLION citizens are demanding Mubarak abdicate.

I imagine the 80 million who are seeing double-digit daily inflation on a shrinking supply of foodstuffs and pertol, and no way to get cash from the bank, if they have an account, or those who are now losing their jobs as the tourism industry evaporates might not share Ms. Rubin's jump-to conclusion.

Does no one wonder who told 1.4 million police personnel to suddenly 'disappear'? Yes, a number of police stations were attacked and looted, but ALL of them?

For once, I think the public statements from the Obama administration are measured in either 1) a rapidly changing situation with too many unknowns, or 2) a somewhat orchestrated reaction that has the full private support of the US (and NATO).

I am surprised Ms. Rubin forgets what just happened to Lebanon, five years after their Cedar Revolution. I admit that I am glad the MB has no armed militia, unlike Hezbollah.

Thanks eonii, for correcting shingo - not that he will ever believe the truth, but some innocents may wander in and actually believe what he writes about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Kind of interesting that both Fatah/PA and Hamas have been more silent than Obama :)

Posted by: K2K2 | January 31, 2011 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, that's interesting about the Lehi gang, a small paramilitary Zionist group that tried to make a deal with Hitler in 1940 -- in exchange for his expelling Jews to Israel, they offered to drive out the British. Hitler ignored them. Interesting historical footnote but unrelated to the MB's actual collaboration with Hitler during WWII. At the same time, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the top Palestinian official, had a deal with Hitler to exterminate the Jews in the Holy Land following a Nazi victory.

The MB has been severely repressed in Egypt under Mubarak, but their Palestinian wing, Hamas, has been quite active in bombing and murdering. Gaza is probably a pretty good preview of what a MB state would be like.

Are you really using the "jihad is a metaphor for spiritual struggle" meme? Er, no. They mean killing their enemies.

“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” They're not referring to dying of old age here.

You say the MB is not committed to the destruction of Israel. They beg to differ. Just today:

"A leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt told the Arabic-language Iranian news network Al-Alam on Monday that he would like to see the Egyptian people prepare for war against Israel, according to the Hebrew-language business newspaper Calcalist.

Muhammad Ghannem reportedly told Al- Alam that the Suez Canal should be closed immediately, and that the flow of gas from Egypt to Israel should cease “in order to bring about the downfall of the Mubarak regime.” He added that “the people should be prepared for war against Israel,” saying the world should understand that “the Egyptian people are prepared for anything to get rid of this regime.” " He probably meant it metaphorically, you know, in the spiritual sense.

You counter my quote of Major Hasan of Fort Hood fame channeling MB's slogan, "We love death more than you love life", by quoting Thomas Jefferson. OK. Sure. Did you ever work for Pravda or the Daily Worker back in the day?

You've given the impression you want to see another Arab war against Israel and that you wouldn't be pulling for the Jews. If I'm wrong, maybe you will explain what your position actually is. I didn't intend to mischaracterize your opposition to Israel. If you believe Israel has a right to exist, please say so.

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: johnmarshall5446

"Of course they don't want US troops. They're both Shiites. Once the US withdraws, the Sunnis are dead meat."

Which contradicts your claim that the withdrawal of troops would lead to the collapse of the Malaki government.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 11:58 PM | Report abuse

No eonii the Lehi gang's overture to Htler was not an interesting historical footnote, it's a fundamental one. The fact that Hitler rebuffed their offer doesn't let them off the hook.

The Mufti, appointed by the British, was in exile in 1939 and had nothing to do with the Palestinians, who rejected his calls for Jihad against the British. Ironically, the Stern Hang and Irgun did in fact attack the British.

Hamas is not a wing of the MB. Yes they began as an offshoot when they were invited into Palestine by the Israeli government to offset the influence of the PLO. Whatever bombing and murdering Hamas have inflicted is but an order of magnitude less than Israel's efforts. No eonii, Gaza is not good preview of what a MB state would be like, unless you envision that Egypt will be subjected to blockade and a siege.

“Are you really using the "jihad is a metaphor for spiritual struggle" meme? Er, no. They mean killing their enemies.”

According to your extensive Quaranic studies I take it? Jihad means struggle or resistance. Like I said, they are an opposition political group that opposes a dictatorship. It's hardly incumbent upon them to be religious about it, much less strap on suicide vests.

“They're not referring to dying of old age here.”

Nor do Christians when they pray that they will go to heaven.

“You say the MB is not committed to the destruction of Israel. They beg to differ. Just today:”

You''re citing some nut job according to a Hebrew-language business newspaper? Who are you trying to kid? Do you hear half the rubbish spouted by Likud members? The Suez Canal is one of the largest income streams for Egypt. Not even the most rabbid Islamist would close it. Even Bin Laden has said that if AQ were to control any oil, that they would have to sell it to somebody – as he said, you can't drink the stuff.

At least admit you are a Zionist eonii. Nothing else would explain your hysteria about the demonstrations in Egypt. Even Israelis aren't remotely as hysterical as you;ve been the past few days.

The last thing I want to see is any war anywhere. And FYI. Israel is not “The Jews”. I don't believe any state has a right to exist (the very argument is ludicrous), and no state has ever made such a claim. Israel's existence is an undisputed reality which doesn't rely on me or anyone else to agree in order for that to continue.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 1, 2011 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Your little neocon mind just can't grasp anything unless it is anti-muslim.

Posted by: keb777 | February 1, 2011 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Shingo, I'm weary of your non sequiturs, evasions and false statements offered in rebuttal of my factual statements. I just hope you're smart enough to realize what you're doing. If that's the best you've got, so be it.

No, I'm not a Zionists. I don't think Presbyterians qualify. I do admire Israel in many ways, though their political class, if anything, is more rancid than our own. Yet they have a thriving, though fractious, democracy with individual liberty unknown elsewhere in the region.

I fear we are promoting democratic forms in the Muslim world that may not result in liberty. Freedom to observant Muslims does not mean individual autonomy guided by reason, as it did to Jefferson and Franklin, but rather submission to religious authority. If democracy is a "tram" to Sharia, as Erdogan implied, then why should we furnish the vehicle?

Your answer to whether Israel has a right to exist is evasive. Do you support Israel's continued existence?

Posted by: eoniii | February 1, 2011 12:52 AM | Report abuse

I made no false statements eonii, and your reluctance to cite them suggests you're only bluffing.

Zionism is a political movement not a religious one, so being Presbyterian doesn't stop you. For a non Zionist, you roll out talking points from the Likud web cite pretty effortlessly.

Israel is a democracy if one happens to be Jewish, but 20% of Israelis are not, and are 3rd (or 4th) class citizens.

"Freedom to observant Muslims does not mean individual autonomy guided by reason, as it did to Jefferson and Franklin, but rather submission to religious authority."

With all due respects, that is as ignorant as one could be. You really have not spent a great deal of time outside the US have you? While there are degrees of fundamentalism displayed in all religions, there is nothing unique to Islam that contradicts reason or rational thought.

"If democracy is a "tram" to Sharia, as Erdogan implied, then why should we furnish the vehicle?"

I am guessing eonii that you were an avid Bush supporter. Does that mean that you believe he was a dictator, seeing as he endorsed he idea of a dictatorship (so long as he was the dictator)?

You're arguing like a child.

No my answer as to whether Israel has a right to exist is not evasive. I told you already, I reject the very suggestion that any state has a right to exist. It is, to cite your own term, a non sequitur.

Yes, I support Israel's existence, though I do not support it's policies, it's occupation, it's racist policies, it's human rights violations and it's addiction to militarism.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 1, 2011 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Thank you eonii. You always state the truth so well.

It is no coincidence that http://www.submission.org/ is all about Islam.

Posted by: K2K2 | February 1, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

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