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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 01/27/2011

Tunisia's revolution and Egypt's protests should give Obama pause

By Jennifer Rubin

As I wrote yesterday, Tunisia has lit a fire in Egypt. Secular protesters mounted an impressive showing of strength. Stephen McInerney of the Project on Middle East Democracy told me yesterday that the government used hoses and rubber bullets because it dared not "kill Egyptians in the street." (There have been, nevertheless, as many as six deaths reported.)



Elliott Abrams writes for the Council on Foreign Relations sees two ramifications from the Egyptian demonstrations. The first concerns the presidential succession:




Gamal is gone: Gamal Mubarak, once almost universally regarded as Egypt's next president, will not attain that position. The continuing demonstrations against the Mubarak regime, the complaints about 30 years of Mubarak rule, make it impossible that the son should succeed the father.

He also sees a myth debunked. "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not central: Arab affairs reflect the internal crises of Arab countries and regimes and are not built around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."


What will the Obama team learn from this? Perhaps it will understand, if not acknowledge, that its coziness with dictators has been unwise. And maybe more sober heads will admit that Obama's obsession with the Middle East peace process was equally misguided. If the administration can attend to the Middle East "democracy deficit," as Abrams calls it, we might be able to turn failure into success. The alternative is to side with the aging Sunni despots who are headed for the grave and the ash heap of history.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 27, 2011; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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Comments

Secular governments around the world are now being threatened by religious fanatics. Protesters are not asking for more freedom but less of it. The riots in the ME are directed against secular leadership, a Saudi or Iranian style government will quiet them.

Posted by: morristhewise | January 27, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Hillarious. Elliot Abrams, the poster child of neo-con Israel first/ Israel only foreign policy, now pretends as if it only Obama who has been supporting these brutal American sponsored dictators.

Then of course as usual he pivots to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and pretends that there is nothing wrong with the great Israeli land grab.

Neo cons and people like Jennifer Rubin have been the biggest supporters of Arab dictators. Funny to see how they now pretend otherwise.

Posted by: mx11 | January 27, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Elliott Abrams again? Oy vey!

Posted by: MsJS | January 27, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

morristhewise what do you about what those Arabs protesting ? nothing, people want freedom, freedom to speak, freedom to work and bring food to their families, freedom to put a roof on top of their families, they want to have opportunity, dream, future, none of that exist in those countries.
in every society Muslim or non Muslim, those so called Secular governments are corrupt government, they are dictators supported by the West from US to france.
you need to learn little bit more about their situation before you say that they want less freedom

Posted by: tqmek1 | January 27, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The West in general and the US in particular has always backed the dictatorships in the Arab world .France with its legacy of freedom and liberty went so far as to offer help to smash the Tunisian intifada .the US voiced its hypocritical support for the Tunisian people only when facts are changing on ground .people in the west get interested only when it comes to Darfur ,Lebanon or else protests in the Tehran .Islamism is just a symptom of a deep crisis in our societies: cultural ,social and economical it is not a real alternative that could stand in an open and democratic society.but it is a lame excuse for the west to continue supporting dictatorship.Protesters in Tunisia or Egypt hold no Islamic slogans they are longing for social justice ,democracy and equal opportunities .is that too much?

Posted by: medbobo | January 27, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The West in general and the US in particular has always backed the dictatorships in the Arab world .France with its legacy of freedom and liberty went so far as to offer help to smash the Tunisian intifada .the US voiced its hypocritical support for the Tunisian people only when facts are changing on ground .people in the west get interested only when it comes to Darfur ,Lebanon or else protests in the Tehran .Islamism is just a symptom of a deep crisis in our societies: cultural ,social and economical it is not a real alternative that could stand in an open and democratic society.but it is a lame excuse for the west to continue supporting dictatorship.Protesters in Tunisia or Egypt hold no Islamic slogans they are longing for social justice ,democracy and equal opportunities .is that too much?

Posted by: medbobo | January 27, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Re: "Perhaps it [Obama's team] will understand, if not acknowledge, that its coziness with dictators has been unwise/"

Really? Is that your consistent advice? Will Republicans now support cutting arms shipments to the Saudi dictators? And all the other dictators Rubin's right has supported over the decades?

Posted by: Poster3 | January 27, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

These are exciting times for the Middle East. I think Obama is the right person to be in office at this moment. I hope they can learn the lessons of being on the wrong side of the Iranian revolution and the lasting problems that has caused us. It strikes me that the current uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia are similarly amorphous but that in the absence of strong intervention by the West, radical elements in the Muslim Brotherhood stand a good chance of gaining a strong foothold. There is a good outcome to this unrest. The trick is finding it and encouraging it.

Posted by: willows1 | January 27, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Yeah but Obama is Dumber than you think, he is no differant than Dictator is not no President or leader he is a speaker an his words have fallen flat. No one can be convinced otherwise.

Posted by: JWTX | January 27, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

We should all be worried about what is happening in Egypt and Lebanon. With this administration which is clueless about how to handle foreign affairs we just have to sideline it and anyone who believes in prayer might want to consider doing just that.

Posted by: mlbduffy | January 27, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

There are no Middle East Democracies, Israel included.

Posted by: ratl | January 27, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse


Soetoro ignores any threats to democracy or those that protest against oppression.

Posted by: ChangeWhat | January 27, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer, I wish I could be as sanguine as you are about the imminent downfall of Mubarak. I agree we should be allying ourselves with secular Democratic forces, but will they carry the day or end up being shot by the religious zealots, as they were in Iran? I'm afraid I would have to bet on the Muslim Brotherhood to prevail over disorganized democrats. I hope our State Department and CIA are on the job, but I sense they're clueless.

Posted by: eoniii | January 27, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

mlbduffy says:

"With this administration which is clueless about how to handle foreign affairs"

Really, lets see, we used a computer virus to shut down Irans nuclear site, stayed out of Tunisia and let that settle down without any money or our troops. Compared to the GOP who has placed the following dictators in place:

Daniel Ortega- Reagan
Sadaam Hussein- Propped up by the Reagan admin
Iran- Reagan sold them weapons, this even though they held our citizens hostage for over 444 days.

And dont forget good ole Dubya holding hands with the Saudi King prince just months after his subjects killed 3000 of our citizens.

Posted by: rharring | January 27, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

mx11 wrote "Hillarious. Elliot Abrams, the poster child of neo-con Israel first/ Israel only foreign policy, now pretends as if it only Obama who has been supporting these brutal American sponsored dictators.

Then of course as usual he pivots to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and pretends that there is nothing wrong with the great Israeli land grab.

Neo cons and people like Jennifer Rubin have been the biggest supporters of Arab dictators. Funny to see how they now pretend otherwise."

========================================

GREAT POST!! I could not have said it any better. Thank you.

Posted by: Freethotlib | January 27, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

For what I hear from Egypt, the protesters are secular, at least in dress. The women had uncovered hair, and the Islamic Party was not organizing the protests, though they did support them. There are other forces in the Middle East other than the dictators and the Islamic Radicals.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | January 27, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the neos are afraid that a transformation of the Middle East will occur: (1) on Obama's watch; and (2) as a result of the Wikileaks bogeymen. Pass the popcorn while they, much like this publication does, stew in their increasing irrelevancy.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | January 27, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The American and European governments have expensive and extensive intelligence and diplomatic agencies monitoring the Middle East, the UN has any number of agencies working on the ground throughout the Middle East and yet none of these well financed and powerful groups saw these upheavals coming. However they all wasted millions of manhours, dollars, ink and paper, and media time assuring anyone who would listen that the only dilemma in the Middle East was that pesky Israel and it's land grabs. Indeed, just today the State Department publicly announced that the Palestinian Israeli peace negotiations was it's top priority, this while Egypt is burning and that most important American Arab ally is facing the possibility of governmental overthrow.
The suggestion that the Obama administration or the pro Arab State Department can learn anything is obviously absurd. For them Israel is the one and only problem and everybody else in the Middle East is just fine.

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 27, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Shock and awe did not work. Twitter and Facebook did.

Masses of Arabs are looking past the sectarianism and becoming global citizens. Traditional geopolitics is evaporating at a phenominal pace.

Posted by: MHawke | January 27, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Democracy will never exist in middle east
because neither the tora or the quran will
allow it.All democracies are based on christian roots.so let them go at it and
kill each other and we will sit back and have adiet coke

Posted by: cra777 | January 27, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Democracy will never exist in middle east
because neither the tora or the quran will
allow it.All democracies are based on christian roots.so let them go at it and
kill each other and we will sit back and have adiet coke

Posted by: cra777 | January 27, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

All democracies are based on christian roots

Like Ancient Athens/the Roman Republic

Posted by: rcaruth | January 27, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

More neo-con drivel. Rubin is a shill and hack.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 27, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.... " What will the Obama team learn from this? Perhaps it will understand, if not acknowledge, that its coziness with dictators has been unwise."

Let's see..... and George Bush, Bill Clinton, Sr Bush and Reagan all shunned Mubarak and cut off aid ?

You know, I've been reading your posts and I have to say that you are a partisan hack - not only can you not see the other side o f the argument, but you appear to deliberately ignore facts to support your argument, repeatedly.

It's perfectly acceptable to put forward your viewpoint, but at least acknowledge that there may be facts/issues which may not fall in line with your thinking.

Compared to your columns, even redstate.com or nationalreview.com, (I know this sounds unbelievable) sound more coherent, logical, well thought out and lack the juvenile cheerleading that your columns indulge in.

I'm all for presenting different views and much as I disagree with say Will or Krauthammer, I wouldn't want them out of WaPo. However, the quality and quantity of Jennifer's rants is such that the editorial board of WaPo or whoever manages these blogs need to ensure that this mindless trash ceases to get put on this website.

Posted by: Gaithersburg1 | January 27, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

How ludicrous. Why would any reporter bother to quote Mr. Abrams' blog post wherein he does little more than make some pithy, unsubstantiated claims? Gamal Mubarak's likelihood to succeed his father Hosni Mubarak as President of Egypt seems to have little to do with the current street protests. If a couple of days of street rioting could ensure dynastic change, then shouldn't it have happened in Iran? Myanmar? Even Ukraine's orange revolution has sputtered and died. Repressive governments have many tools and drawing conclusions on day 2-3 of unrest is a fool's errand. Posting drivel like this and then suggesting that Obama should learn a lesson from it is pathetic.

Posted by: obeah | January 27, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Hosni Mubarak opposed George Bush's vision of democracy in the M.E. because he feared this day would come. Will Democracy sweep the Middle East? just like W hoped for with his invasion of Iraq? I didn't think so at the time... but maybe this could happen... just maybe.

Mubarak said that Iraq needed a strong, but fair man to lead it... someone like himself, not a Democracy.... He's basically saying that ordinary Arabs cannot behave and only respect authority and the threat of severe punishment. But now it looks like the people have had enough, let's hope things get better though, and not worse.

Posted by: Spyware | January 27, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Rubin should be careful what she asks for. The US has walked a fine line when dealing with dictators in the Middle East, allowing them to divert the attention of their citizens by whipping up anti-Israel feeling that crosses way over the line into the grossest form of anti-Semitism, while quietly doing nothing to actually change Israeli policy. But a democratic Middle East, with a public no less hostile to Israel than before? Whaddaya wanna bet Netanyahu is hoping Mubarak calls in the army?

Posted by: dissentingwren | January 27, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA-HILLARY STILL BACKING MUBARAK? WHY?
Egypt and its Mubarak Government is the root cause of the middle-east crisis. This big nation has worked every time against the interest of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. It is a beggar nation, lives on American and Saudi's donation. People are very poor and live under constant fear of the police force. Corruption is at the highest level. If Mubarak fails, American interest and Israeli supremacy will be challenged by the so many small democratic nations around it. America wants to save Israel at any cost and only for Israel America will never support any democratic government in that part of the world.

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | January 27, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA-HILLARY STILL BACKING MUBARAK? WHY?
Egypt and its Mubarak Government is the root cause of the middle-east crisis. This big nation has worked every time against the interest of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. It is a beggar nation, lives on American and Saudi's donation. People are very poor and live under constant fear of the police force. Corruption is at the highest level. If Mubarak fails, American interest and Israeli supremacy will be challenged by the so many small democratic nations around it. America wants to save Israel at any cost and only for Israel America will never support any democratic government in that part of the world.

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | January 27, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Comrade Bush and Comrade Cheney's backing of the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran (which they gave Iraq to), Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, etc is most of why this is happening.

Let Freedom REIGN!

If you don't like Democracy, move back to Russia - we won't miss you, neocons.

Posted by: WillSeattle | January 27, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Gaithersburg1

(1)You know, I've been reading your posts and I have to say that you are a partisan hack - not only can you not see the other side o f the argument, but you appear to deliberately ignore facts to support your argument, repeatedly.

She doesn't appear to;she factually does. Understand that this is Neo-Con propaganda,with no difference in regards to balance or factuality,from the Trotksyite Propaganda from which the NeoCons evolved. There is no emotional/intellectual difference between a Neocon like Jennifer and a Trotskyite,both want to impose,by force,their distorted,Utopian opinions on both Liberals and old schoolconservatives in the US. Whether it is Jennifer's Exceptionalism,or Kristol's Revolutionary Utopianism,(then he became an exceptionalist Revolutionary Utopianist,and was followed by three generations of copycats,the latest incarnation,being Jennifer.)
The only point of offering comments here is to debate with each other,Jennifer,being a pure propagandist,wants nothing to do with debate. And that is Cohen's point,like Goebbels,the Neocons are propagandists/totalitarians.
NeoCons are nothing like old school conservatives. The NCs cheered privately when Buckley died,while mourning him publically.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 27, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Is this April Fools Day? A right wing Republican like Rubin attacking a Democrat for supporting autocrats? That is the whole basis of Repulican foreign policy since the Cold War and beyond. What a joke. Whenever President Carter talked of human rights this right wing yahoos would atack him saying it was not in the US interest (ie business interest) to uppset friendly dictators. The Bush family's best friends in the world is the corrupt, repressive, Wahhabi regime in Saudi Arabia. The whole gulf war was to protect these thugs.

Rubin you are a joke.

Posted by: droolingbroder | January 27, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Elliott Abrams again? Oy vey!

----

Wasn't he the guy who got off on a technicality during Iran-Contra?

Posted by: sr31 | January 27, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

the Israel-Palestinian Conflict has always been a distraction dictators in the region have relied upon (once for rivalries between Arab nationalist regimes, now to focus Islamist factions on external issues rather than internal national issues), but to say that means it isn't central to the problems, or to use this to say "Gamal is gone" is quite a stretch. There is too much uncertainty and Mubarak has a lot of power at his disposal.

Is this the beginning of an Orange Revolution, or a Tienanmen Square? If it is the latter, but we jump too strong hoping it is the former, we and Israel alike could end up in a world of hurt at the end of the day.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 27, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama has consistently spoken for more democracy while remembering that we have multiple national interests and we have to deal with those who hold power - as has every other US president since WWII. The charge that his administration is cozy with dictators is both simplistic and spiteful partisanship.

But only a simple mind could morph the idea that the issues raised in the Arab world by Israel sets up an either/or situation subsuming the internal problems of Arab countries. It IS possible that both are central problems in our relations with the states of the Middle East.

And I'd appreciate it it Abrams and Rubin (it sounds like a comedy team) tell us how they propose Obama deal with the "democracy deficit". Invading Egypt, perhaps? Or just follow in the subsequent footsteps of Bush, to speak loudly but carry a little stick?

Posted by: j3hess | January 27, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"Democracy will never exist in middle east
because neither the tora or the quran will
allow it.All democracies are based on christian roots.so let them go at it and
kill each other and we will sit back and have adiet coke"

Then please explain India (Hindu - the world's largest democracy) or Indonesia (Muslim - the world's second largest democracy), or the process of selection of Caliphs in the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates (Oligarchic for sure, but electoral among them).

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 27, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Let's consider. Why am I not surprised that Jennifer Rubin relies for "expertise" on Elliott Abrams?

Posted by: jimsteinberg1 | January 27, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I am no middle east expert but even I know this is hogwash. How can Jennifer Rubin get paid to write this? Read The Looming Tower, Jennifer, if you want to learn why Egyptian stability is important. Bone up on a little history about Mr Elliott Abrams, too, one more in a long line of utterly discredited neo-cons. Everyone wants to see democracy and peace in the middle east, but the Israeli/Palestinian conflict most certainly is central, and the result of any political upheaval in Egypt should give us all pause for thought. We certainly know that Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden are paying attention.

Posted by: gposner | January 27, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The US governments and some European governments has always supported dictators and helped them torture their citizens.They also tortured prisoners specially outside their territories. After all that they dare to speak of human rights and values.It is disgusting

Posted by: mansour112 | January 27, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The US governments and some European governments has always supported dictators and helped them torture their citizens.They also tortured prisoners specially outside their territories. After all that they dare to speak of human rights and values.It is disgusting

Posted by: mansour112 | January 27, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The US governments and some European governments has always supported dictators and helped them torture their citizens.They also tortured prisoners specially outside their territories. After all that they dare to speak of human rights and values.It is disgusting

Posted by: mansour112 | January 27, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

The other thing she fails to mention is the only organized political entity outside of Mubarak's administration pushing for democratic reforms is the Muslim Brotherhood - because Mubarak has been unable to completely crush them unlike liberal groups (hiding behind Mosques and threatening to make Mubarak look un-Islamic helps them there while liberal democrats and communuists were fair game to round up and eliminate) and because they know in a fair election in Egypt, they win.

Is control of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood a better alternative in her eyes than Mubarak?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 27, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

the reason egyptians are upset are-

1-they live in a police state where citizens can literally be snatched off the street without question and beaten up (something ive seen with my own eyes on MANY occasions)

2-the rampant inequality between the elites and the general population. cairo is the kind of city where you can see a porsche 911 next to a shoeless kid on a donkey cart. or a harley davidson dealership with an old toothless woman sitting outside selling vegetables for pennies.

mubarak is gross, american policy makers have seen this coming for a long time. lets just hope el baradei is really the right man to reform egypt. oh, and throw out intelligence chief omar suleiman! he has too much blood on his hands

Posted by: stupiditytries | January 27, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Obama thinks it just COULDN'T happen HERE, because Americans LOVE him!

What with all the economic misery caused by his dereliction of duty, and all...what's NOT to love about Mr. Obama?

Posted by: wcmillionairre | January 27, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Why does this newspaper publish caricatures of the columnist next to the article?

Perhaps they feel the article will have more intellectual viability if it were written by a cartoon character...

Posted by: wcmillionairre | January 27, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Wrong side of the Iranian Revolution? Out-of-power Henry Kissinger was about the only American advocating backing the Shah or even letting him in for cancer treatment. Can't anybody else remember Laraine Newman in those SNL skits during the Shah's last weeks in Iran? Pres. JC's first act was to offer the Ayatollah a big loan only to get smacked in the face and watch our embassy overthrown. No easy answers -- but no freedom without order. Where is the left on the Green Revolution? Only consistently knee-jerkedly anti-neo-con.

Posted by: aardunza | January 27, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Egypt needs term limits for their leader - so did Tunisia. Rising food prices and political repression are favorable factors for term limits - aka revolution.

We are in desperate need for term limits with our own Congress. They are dragging us into poverty and more political repression.

Posted by: alance | January 27, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

What's going on in Egypt may very well be
Obama's version of Carter's Iran hostage debacle. It's funny how history repeat itself. Sooner or latter the entire
middle-east region will go up in flames, and the current event is just the beginning. The question is can BHO handle it? I doubt.

Posted by: Red_mass | January 27, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Let's see how many Republican presidents have we had over the past thirty-years versus Democratics and their policies of aiding dictators? So, now it is President Obama's fault for EGYPT after only twenty-five months in office? Gimmme a break!

Posted by: october30 | January 27, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: morristhewise | January 27, 2011 11:24 AM

"Secular governments around the world are now being threatened by religious fanatics. Protesters are not asking for more freedom but less of it. The riots in the ME are directed against secular leadership, a Saudi or Iranian style government will quiet them."

The protesters are all directed at dictators and tyrants, who reject democracy and freedoms. You';re not concerned about freedom, you're just bitter that the people are stating up to American puppet dictators.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Israel is the only problem in the Arab
world. When Iran destroys it Arabs will
live in everlasting happiness.

Posted by: sonnbarb | January 27, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 27, 2011 1:29 PM
“The American and European governments have expensive and extensive intelligence and diplomatic agencies...yet none of these well financed and powerful groups saw these upheavals coming.”

They may not have seen them coming, but they knew they were inevitable. None of these developments negates the effect of the Israeli/Palestine Conflict. In fact, one of the Palestine Papers quotes Admiral Mullen admitting that the I/P conflict is costing American lives:

Notes from a June 16, 2009 meeting quotes chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as saying that Admiral Mullen told Mahmoud Abbas:

“You're the most important person in the Middle East. Arabs and Muslims have only one thing on their mind: Palestine. So, we want to help you establish a Palestinian state... I have 230,000 troops in Iraq & Afghanistan and I am bringing back 10 each week draped in American flags or in wheelchairs. This is painful for America. Because I want to bring them back home, a Palestinian state is a cardinal interest of the USA. Washington today is different from Washington yesterday”

Perhaps you should tell Mullen how he's NOT bringing back 10 Americans per week in account of Israel?

Far from being separate to the I/P conflict, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley admitted during an interview that the value of Egypt's role in the ME (from Washington's perspective), has been to play nice with Israel. In other words, Mebarak's hold on power has been maintained by Washingtons support, which was provided because of his pro Israeli position.

Israel is not the one and only problem, it is the biggest one by far.

You may now return your head into the sand.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | January 27, 2011 1:11 PM
“I'm afraid I would have to bet on the Muslim Brotherhood to prevail over disorganized democrats. I hope our State Department and CIA are on the job, but I sense they're clueless.”

There is nothing the State Department and CIA can do at this stage. But to allay your concerns, even just a little, what is the worst thing that could happen if the Muslim Brotherhood to prevail? Do you live in Egypt, or any part of the Middle East? Do you think Egypt is going to attack the US? Are your concern Israeli centric?

What is it you most fear about these development?

BTW eoniii. I appreciated the respectful tone of your reply to me in the other thread.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, that's just dumb. Mullen was flattering and cajoling Abbas because a Palestine-Israel deal was the new President Obama's top priority. Mullen was just the emissary.

The outreach failed, though, for two reasons: The PA is too weak to survive giving up the mythical "right to return" or to recognize a "Jewish state"; and Obama poisoned the well with his demand that Israel stop building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem which earlier Palestinian negotiators had conceded would remain part of Israel after any peace settlement. In the event, Israel froze new construction and was eager to negotiate a deal, but the Palies, as is their wont, walked away.

Posted by: eoniii | January 27, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 27, 2011 3:04 PM
“the Israel-Palestinian Conflict has always been a distraction dictators in the region have relied upon”

On the contrary. Dictators have relied on British and US support, which they received in return for playing nice with Israel.

“There is too much uncertainty and Mubarak has a lot of power at his disposal.”

Whatever power he has can only serve to postpone the innevitable.

“Is this the beginning of an Orange Revolution, or a Tienanmen Square?”

The Orange Revolution was a made for TV sideshow, conceived in Washington, whci iexplains why it fell apart at the seams so quickly.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

wcmillionairre wrote: Mr. Obama thinks it just COULDN'T happen HERE, because Americans LOVE him!

What with all the economic misery caused by his dereliction of duty, and all...what's NOT to love about Mr. Obama?

-----------------------------------

We American love our country and the letter of the law. Treason is not what we are about.

Posted by: elbuzz1 | January 27, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

While it may be good to espouse the protesting of a less than stellar ruling elite in the Middle East, it may be too early to predict that the results will be welcome by the 'Free World'. We may well regret the alternative.

Posted by: les3carmen | January 27, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Eoniii,

Your argument really doesn't hold water.

Whether or not Mullen was just the emissary or otherwise is beside the point – his account was identical to Patreaus', and I would guess that he'd have a fairly grounded understanding as to the affect of the IP conflict to US interests.

How anyone could deny the fact that the IP conflict is central to the tensions in the ME si truly remarkable. After all, the same people who hang on to every word uttered by Bin Laden suddenly see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil when it comes to OBL's 1996 Fatwa, which explicitly mentions Israel.

Personally, I'm of the position that US troops should not be in the Middle East anyway.

“The outreach failed, though, for two reasons: The PA is too weak to survive giving up the mythical "right to return" or to recognize a "Jewish state"”

False. The PA is too weak to deliver it, which is why the PA gave up on it almost entirely. As for recognizing a "Jewish state", no state in the world has been asked to do so, so whether the PA does or not is just a red herring.

Interestingly, what the papers also reveal is that the so called Olmert offer was a complete sham.

“ Obama poisoned the well with his demand that Israel stop building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem which earlier Palestinian negotiators had conceded would remain part of Israel after any peace settlement.”

Sorry, but that's just rubbish. There was never a peace settlement, so the augment that Israel and Palestinian negotiators had somehow gotten the job half done and already agreed on what would remain part of Israel is simply ridiculous. After all Israel accepted the Clinton Parameters at Taba, and yet had violated those completely, so to suggest that the Palestinians have already accepted any terms is pure fantasy.

“In the event, Israel froze new construction and was eager to negotiate a deal, but the Palies, as is their wont, walked away.”

False. Israel continued construction in East Jerusalem (in violation of all prior agreements and the Clinton Parameters) and in any case, the moratorium was nothing more than an offer to stop stealing land for the time being, but a guarantee that it would continue, regardless of talks.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | January 27, 2011 1:11 PM
“I'm afraid I would have to bet on the Muslim Brotherhood to prevail over disorganized democrats. I hope our State Department and CIA are on the job, but I sense they're clueless.”

There is nothing the State Department and CIA can do at this stage. But to allay your concerns, even just a little, what is the worst thing that could happen if the Muslim Brotherhood to prevail? Do you live in Egypt, or any part of the Middle East? Do you think Egypt is going to attack the US? Are your concern Israeli centric?

What is it you most fear about these development?

Posted by: Shingo1
------------
The rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood would be a catastrophe akin to the mullahs' takeover of Iran. As the largest, most important Arab country, Egypt could make our war against Sunni terror and the states that harbor and nurture it virtually impossible. What good would winning in Iraq and Afghanistan do us if we acquire a new Islamist enemy in Egypt? Whatever failings Mubarak has, he's at least an ally.

I'm an admirer and supporter of Israel, but my loyalty is to America. Israel has the same interest in containing fanatical Islam as we do. Having peace between Egypt and Israel for thirty some-odd years has been a great advantage to the region and to the world. Before that the two nations had fought four wars since 1948. No one with a modicum of humanity could want another war between Egypt and Israel.

I think we should be trying to get the Egyptian army, the real power in the country, to align with the pro-democratic protesters, maybe fronted by El Baradei, and then declare martial law and order national elections. They would need to do whatever is necessary to keep the Muslim Brotherhood from seizing power or winning an election.

Posted by: eoniii | January 27, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | January 27, 2011 1:11 PM
“I'm afraid I would have to bet on the Muslim Brotherhood to prevail over disorganized democrats. I hope our State Department and CIA are on the job, but I sense they're clueless.”

There is nothing the State Department and CIA can do at this stage. But to allay your concerns, even just a little, what is the worst thing that could happen if the Muslim Brotherhood to prevail? Do you live in Egypt, or any part of the Middle East? Do you think Egypt is going to attack the US? Are your concern Israeli centric?

What is it you most fear about these development?

Posted by: Shingo1
------------
The rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood would be a catastrophe akin to the mullahs' takeover of Iran. As the largest, most important Arab country, Egypt could make our war against Sunni terror and the states that harbor and nurture it virtually impossible. What good would winning in Iraq and Afghanistan do us if we acquire a new Islamist enemy in Egypt? Whatever failings Mubarak has, he's at least an ally.

I'm an admirer and supporter of Israel, but my loyalty is to America. Israel has the same interest in containing fanatical Islam as we do. Having peace between Egypt and Israel for thirty some-odd years has been a great advantage to the region and to the world. Before that the two nations had fought four wars since 1948. No one with a modicum of humanity could want another war between Egypt and Israel.

I think we should be trying to get the Egyptian army, the real power in the country, to align with the pro-democratic protesters, maybe fronted by El Baradei, and then declare martial law and order national elections. They would need to do whatever is necessary to keep the Muslim Brotherhood from seizing power or winning an election.

Posted by: eoniii | January 27, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

" Democracy" in an muslim country means ONE MAN,ONE VOTE, ONE TIME. Once the Islamists are in charge, that's the end of the discussion and the beginning of another Taliban. Obama is going to screw this up badly. Just watch.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 27, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

" Democracy" in an muslim country means ONE MAN,ONE VOTE, ONE TIME. Once the Islamists are in charge, that's the end of the discussion and the beginning of another Taliban. Obama is going to screw this up badly. Just watch.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 27, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

" Democracy" in an muslim country means ONE MAN,ONE VOTE, ONE TIME. Once the Islamists are in charge, that's the end of the discussion and the beginning of another Taliban. Obama is going to screw this up badly. Just watch.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 27, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

"Democracy" in a muslim country : lets see Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh....oh wait the poster above is one of the "Israel only" crowd.....

Posted by: mx11 | January 27, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

You mean Obama has failed to reform all the middle eastern governments in the two years he has been in office? Shocked, I am Shocked...

Posted by: underhill | January 27, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Wait i thought Bush brought us freedom in the Middle East....Oh! never mind....

Posted by: mx11 | January 27, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

What has been so catastrophic about the mullahs' takeover of Iran? A couple of Americans were taken hostage and returned in one piece.

We removed a popular leader because he wanted to put his country's interests before ours and replaced him with a murderous dictator. The problem was that we never go over Iran saying enough to our perpetual meddling in their affairs.

If that wasn't enough, we then supported Saddam in a decade long war against them, blew up an airliner and 296 passengers in Iranian air space and have been punishing them ever since, yet you ask why they hate us?
We could have peace with Iran if we wanted. The rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood would be a catastrophe to our empire not our security.
“Egypt could make our war against Sunni terror and the states that harbor and nurture it virtually impossible.”

It is our very support for such dictators that fuels that terror. Did you not read Bin Laden''s '96 Fatwa? Mohammed Atta and Zawahiri are Egyptian are they not? Take away the cause of the anger in the Arab world and your terror problems will evaporate.

“What good would winning in Iraq and Afghanistan do us if we acquire a new Islamist enemy in Egypt? Whatever failings Mubarak has, he's at least an ally.”

Good question, but wasn't that always inevitable. The Mubarak dictatorship was always going to collapse at some point, because dictatorships are unsustainable.

Of course, if we hadn't bee so foolish as to invade Iraq in the first place, it wouldn't be such an issue. Ironically, our aims in Iraq and Afghanistan really not on Egypt but on Iran's cooperation. Yes you heard it, Iran is the state that is helping us in both regions, not Egypt.

“Having peace between Egypt and Israel for thirty some-odd years has been a great advantage to the region and to the world. Before that the two nations had fought four wars since 1948. No one with a modicum of humanity could want another war between Egypt and Israel.”

What this proves is that there is no peace without justice. The peace was bought and paid for by Washington, but only temporary. After the 1967 war, Egypt tried a number of times to resolve the conflict with Israel, but Washington (under Kissinger) said no every time. This is another case of our meddling in the ME and how it makes matters worse.

“...maybe fronted by El Baradei, and then declare martial law and order national elections.”

You have to be out of your mind. have you learned nothing? Do you honestly believe that killing Egyptians in the streets, incarcerating them and putting the cork back into the champagne bottle will ring about democracy?

Who rules Egypt is for the Egyptians to decide not us. It's time you started questioning your faith in American supremacy and dominance. Those days are over.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: carlbatey | January 27, 2011 6:49 PM

" Democracy" in an muslim country means ONE MAN,ONE VOTE, ONE TIME."

Yeah, because if they vote the wrong way, we tend to drop bombs on them.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 7:29 PM | Report abuse

The troubles faced by Muslims have to do with Unitary Executives, such as we used to have. They result in Police States, great inequalities in wealth and power, and social instability.

I think Obama and the United States would have an easier time if they did not have to get the continuous carping from those who left us the disasters which we face today, ourselves.

But I guess this special forum for the right-wingers isn't the place to discuss it.

Posted by: gkam | January 27, 2011 7:30 PM | Report abuse

"What has been so catastrophic about the mullahs' takeover of Iran? A couple of Americans were taken hostage and returned in one piece."

Shingo, you can't be serious. A couple of hostages? Tell that to the 54 hostages from the US embassy held captive for 444 days and the families of the eight servicemen killed in the aborted rescue attempt. Returned in one piece? Tell that to the family of William Buckley, who was tortured to death. Have you forgotten the bombing of our Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans? How about all the Americans killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan by IEDs and EFPs manufactured in Iran? How about Iran's support of terrorism around the world? I feel like I'm losing IQ points arguing about something so obvious, and I don't have any to spare.

Posted by: eoniii | January 27, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

eoniii,

While the hostages went through an ordeal, they all returned alive. In the scheme of things (ie. close 1 million killed in the Iraq/ Iran war), it's pretty insignificant.

"Tell that to the family of William Buckley, who was tortured to death."

Tragic but nothing to do with Iran. Given the macabre activities the CIA were pulling off in the region, it was hardly unexpected.

"Have you forgotten the bombing of our Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans?"

No I haven't. Another case of US troops being stationed in a foreign country, when they had no business being there. Regan was smart enough to realize it was a mistake to send them.

Perhaps Washington should have though twice before ordering the USS New Jersey to shell the hills of Southern Lebanon.

That was Hezbollah BTW, not Iran.

“How about all the Americans killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan by IEDs and EFPs manufactured in Iran?”

How about you get real and realize these were primitive devices made in Iraq, not Iran? Perhaps you forgot about the large cache of IED's Patreaus seized n Karballah, which included 512 IED's. He claimed they were all from Iran, ordered weapons specialists to look at the and organize a press conference to show them to the media. When the weapons team concluded NONE were from Iran, he called off the presser.

Inf act, it turns out that less than 1% of weapons seized in Iraq can be traced back to Iran.

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44720

Ironically, over 190,000 US-provided guns found their way onto the black market in Iraq, simply disappearing from inventory after lax US and Iraqi accounting.

How about Iran's support of terrorism around the world? I feel like I'm losing IQ points arguing about something so obvious, and I don't have any to spare.

“How about Iran's support of terrorism around the world? “

What terrorism would that be eoniii? I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I am curious to see what you believe to be terrorism and what you believe to be Iranian supported.

Of course, I didn't see you complaining on this blog when Jennifer endorsed the US sponsored bombings and assassinations in Tehran.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, don't know much about history, yadayada, what a wonderful world it would be--but I'll still vote for Henry the K's analyses over Chris Hitchen's any day for no better reason than that he's a much better writer. Good ole Ted Koppel at least got that much right!

Posted by: aardunza | January 27, 2011 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Are you FARKING KIDDING? You phrase this as somehow President Obama has gone out of his way to cuddle up with dicatators. Engaging foriegn leaders is not somehow getting cozy with them.

If you want to look at "cozy with dictators" -- how about we look at bushie boy and his lovefest with Mushareff? Or how about reagans love affair with Saddam Heussien, and all manner of South and Central American strongmen.Or what about Nixon and Pinochet? Or Ike and the Shah? You cannot be serious in thinking President Obama has a warm fuzzy with Egypt in the way that thes eformer president's did with brutal dictators. And you cannot seriously think that his foreign policy position toward Egypt is anything less than the product of more than 60 years of dealing with Egypt through the prism of the COld War and Israeli real politik, coupled with the US having supported Mubarek since the presidency of ---once again -- ronnie reagan. The American who truned a blind eye to the brutality of Mubarek while helping him establish his reign of terror.

Posted by: John1263 | January 27, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

What ought to give Obama, and all of the other clueless cols up on Capital Hill, pause is that those riots WILL be happening here if they don't do something about the employment situation... You know, the economy that the rest of us actually care about? With the looming avalanche of public employee layoffs coming, the games the government has been playing with the real unemployment numbers just won't cut it any more. Roughly 25% of our work force is without jobs, outsourcing is accelerating, and we are flooded with guest workers. And, with more than five million US hi-tech workers unemployed, that utter garbage about "education" and competitiveness simply won't fly. All hell is about to break loose RIGHT HERE. Neither party can afford to ignore the mess they created with their global economy folly any longer. Fix it!

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 27, 2011 9:51 PM | Report abuse

What ought to give Obama, and all of the other clueless cols up on Capital Hill, pause is that those riots WILL be happening here if they don't do something about the employment situation... You know, the economy that the rest of us actually care about? With the looming avalanche of public employee layoffs coming, the games the government has been playing with the real unemployment numbers just won't cut it any more. Roughly 25% of our work force is without jobs, outsourcing is accelerating, and we are flooded with guest workers. And, with more than five million US hi-tech workers unemployed, that utter garbage about "education" and competitiveness simply won't fly. All hell is about to break loose RIGHT HERE. Neither party can afford to ignore the mess they created with their global economy folly any longer. Fix it!

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 27, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 27, 2011 9:51 PM

"What ought to give Obama, and all of the other clueless cols up on Capital Hill, pause is that those riots WILL be happening here if they don't do something about the employment situation... You know, the economy that the rest of us actually care about?"

Please don't bother Jennifer with your concern for trivial matters like domestic issues in America MiBrooks.

There are wars to fight and new wars to be started. Unemployment can surely wait.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 27, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Shingo1 - like most ordinary American's I could care less about what happens in Egypt, or Lebanon or Iran or Iraq or China or India. In fact, I truly hope that India and Pakistan go at it with nuclear weapons. I'll stand back and applaud if Mumbai and all of those India tech centers are turned into dead wastelands. At least they won't be coming here to take our jobs any more and you can't outsource jobs to dead people. That is my sentiment in spades for China, too. I wish them the worst so long as our government sends them our jobs. The best bet would be fr all f our foreign policy "initiatives" to turn to ashes, get the US kicked out of every country. At least those clowns in Washington would be forced to pay attention to the mess they have created here.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 28, 2011 12:26 AM | Report abuse

The US and its allies have supported despots in the Middle East for more than a generation in order to ensure the flow of oil and stifle Islamist thought. This has included every Democratic and Republican president that America has had in that time. It’s absurd to say that there is any daylight between George W. Bush’s approach to human rights and democracy in the region and Obama’s; this week’s slight change in tone notwithstanding.

None of the so-called pundits seem to be interested in talking about the Muslim Brotherhood sitting on the sidelines so far in Egypt. Do you really think that a potential democratic transition government will not include the largest opposition group? Do you really think that if the “people” take over that they will continue unchanged the Faustian deal of helping Israel oppress Gaza for a couple of billion annually? Do you think Egyptian border guards will continue to slaughter Africans seeking to sneak into Israel (at their behest) who just want to work for bread to feed their families?

In case you missed it, the NYT did a series on the Middle East three-years ago called “Generation Faithful,” and the high rate of strong Islamic faith on the part of Egyptian male youth was one of the best articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/world/middleeast/17youth.html

Posted by: faithfulservant3 | January 28, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what the George II Administration's contingency plans were to handle anything like the current situation in Egypt and whether they would have worked as well as their plans to ensure security after the fall of Saddam in Iraq, or as well as Elliot Abram's plans for Nicaragua which resulted in the recent election of his nemesis Danny Ortega. Waiting . . . Waiting . . .

Thankfully there are serious voices in both major U.S. political parties who may contribute to any future discussion of what we should do given the current situation in the Middle East. The frantically tortured attempts of Elliot Abrams and Jennifer Rubin to use a truly monumental and perilous international development to polish the foetid and stinking stool that is their and their boss's foreign policy legacy show that they are not among those voices.

Posted by: ex-Virginian4 | February 2, 2011 1:45 AM | Report abuse

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