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Posted at 8:24 AM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Obama: Rushing to catch up with the revolution

By Jennifer Rubin

After days and days of dithering and an avalanche of criticism from a wide array of experts, the president came forth last night with a new statement on Egypt. But was it all that new? And, if not, why bother?

After a couple of introductory paragraphs assuring us he's been keeping up on events, he declared that "we oppose violence." Nothing new there. He and other senior officials have said it before.

Next up was a plain-wrap statement on human rights that omitted the word "democracy." He proclaimed: "[W]e stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information." We've also heard that before.

Then he reminds us of what he has said previously ("we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change"). The rest isn't particularly new either:

After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.

We already knew that Mubarak has been spoken to, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was filled with "transition" talk on all the Sunday talk shows.

One foreign expert suggested there might be some new sense of urgency here. Unfortunately, Obama didn't set a time frame, nor did he say that Mubarak's decision not to run for re-election was insufficient. All he gave was another ambiguous directive: "What is clear -- and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak -- is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now." Aaron David Miller, speaking to Politico's Josh Gerstein, agrees this isn't much of an improvement over what Obama has been saying for days: "The only new element was the word 'now' and that was finessed. This leaves the U.S. to some degree still at odds with and out of step with what the political opposition ... is demanding on the street."

Moreover, what does Obama's statement mean? Mubarak himself can claim there is a transition afoot since he won't be running again for president. Obama didn't do much to shove Mubarak off the stage, saying only, "Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests." Is the helping hand to Mubarak or to those insisting he depart immediately?

Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations told Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy,"Either the administration has some other strategy or they didn't realize that there's the potential for Mubarak to take the opportunity of the next few months to manipulate the political process to favor whomever he wants to follow him. I can't believe they thought this would satisfy the crowds." Perhaps Obama thought he'd satisfy Cook and the foreign policy gurus (from far left to ultra-conservative) who have been lambasting his performance.

Obama closed with a rather meaningless assurance: "We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt."

I asked a former Middle East hand if there was something new here. He replied, "Nothing." Why a nothing speech, then? He answered, "My interpretation is that this is an effort to claim credit. That's why he went immediately after Mubarak. They [the Obama advisers] know they muffed it and missed it and blew it -- so the empty remarks are an effort to establish a counter narrative."

In any other administration, you'd think such an assessment harsh. But remember, this is an administration that views Egypt's revolution as a PR problem. And Obama isn't winning the PR game on this one, not domestically and certainly not internationally. I think the Middle East hand nailed it: The Obama team, after assuring us it didn't much care about the outcome in Egypt, is now, in the vaguest possible terms, trying to say that it was instrumental all along. Except it wasn't. And it still isn't doing anything to force Mubarak off the stage. If Obama really wanted a speedy transition and really heard the Egyptian people, wouldn't he have cut off aid?

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 2, 2011; 8:24 AM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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Next: Obama should follow the governors -- the Democrats, too

Comments

What if the Freedom and Democracy Agenda that Jennifer and the other neocons seem to have for Eqypt results in a government led by the Muslim Brotherhood?

Posted by: Inagua1 | February 2, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Your call to cut off aid to Egypt is an irresponsible knee jerk reaction typical of the overly simplistic viewpoints of today's politically polarized right-wing faction. Egypt seems to have this situation well in hand. Let's not cut off aid and directly cause the deaths of thousands of people depending on that aid. The same people who are driving the change in Egypt. The same change 30 years of American meddling was unable to accomplish. Jennfier, stand down.

Posted by: TimFulmer | February 2, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Obama's speech was banality piled on top of banality. And then he runs away from the podium, obviously scared of answering questions without his teleprompter. . .

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 2, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Considering how paranoid the Arab masses are about US interference in their countries - justifiably so - I can't imagine why greater US involvement in deciding the outcome would be helpful.

The Rubin-Kristol-Wolfowitz-Pearle view probably is that the US just ought to invade every Arab country and impose its own rule. So many words, why does she dither, and not come right out and say it?

Posted by: jiji1 | February 2, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Mubarak has successfully been in power in a very volatile and dangerous country for almost as long as Obama has been alive.
During that time Mubarak has guided his nation through some very difficult and explosive periods while for Obama's entire political life all Obams has done is vote present and manipulate the passage, with a Democrat majority, of a health care bill.
Hosni Mubarak has managed to successfully navigate the dangerous areas of Islamic fundamentalism, Arab nationalism, Middle Eastern anti American and anti Israel hatred, and still managed to provide for most of Egypt's masses.
In other words, Hosni Mubarak has made very few mistakes in the past 30 years, and seems to have learned from all of them.
Thus for Mubarak to outmaneuver Barak Obama and Obama's incompetent and inexperienced foreign policy team would come as no surprise at all.
As for his political opposition, they have always been weak, disorganized, and at odds with each other and no challenge to Mubarak at all.
Of course that leaves the Moslem Brotherhood, Al Quaida and the other radical terrorist groups who would destroy Egypt and the Middle East if they could overthrow Mubarak.
Mubarak has successfully confronted them as well.
Mubarak could very likely survive this crisis as well, and for America and Israel's sake, this would be the best outcome.

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 2, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"Let's not cut off aid and directly cause the deaths of thousands of people depending on that aid."

Are you kidding me? Most of that aid goes to the Egyptian military.

Posted by: grabowcp | February 2, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

'"Let's not cut off aid and directly cause the deaths of thousands of people depending on that aid."

Are you kidding me? Most of that aid goes to the Egyptian military.'

Egyptian soldiers eat too, don't they?

Posted by: adam62 | February 2, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

This is typical of Jennifer's columns. She'll complain about something the administration is doing, grant anonymity to one of her sources to agree with her criticism, and then offer a solution to her complaint that will likely make the problem worse.

Posted by: mustangs79 | February 2, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Let the Egyptians hash it out amongst themselves. We just need to decide what we consider acts of war against ourselves, and whom we consider to be our allies, against whom acts of war are also such against us. And once we decide, we need to broadcast our decision unequivocally.

Posted by: adam62 | February 2, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Beniyar, your post is so much more realistic than Jennifer's. The mindless push by neo-cons and liberal toward "democracy" is maddening in its recklessness. You don't get a democracy by overthrowing a dictator in a nation that has no civil society at all. You get another dictator. If that dictator comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest, best organized opposition, the Mubarak years -- awful as they were by western standards -- will be remembered as a golden age.

The main insight of conservatism is that change can make things much worse. Our revolution succeeded because the colonies had over a century to develop local democratic institutions, the foundational influence of Enlightenment political philosophers and British constitutional tradition, and an amazing group of Founders. Egypt has none of those. Their revolution is far more likely to go the way of the French, Russian and Iranian revolutions, where the pro-democracy leaders were soon killed by the totalitarians. The conditions for parliamentary democracy do not exist in Egypt.

Events in Egypt will probably devolve into a death struggle between the army and the Brotherhood. And that's best case. Worst case is the army collapses. We had better hope that the army holds together, restores order, suppresses the Islamofascists, finds a way to broaden popular support, and perhaps allows the development of democratic institutions. It's for certain that the Brotherhood would only crush democracy and human rights.

Our main interest in Egypt is not in furthering some nebulous, unrealistic fantasy of democracy but in keeping the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over.

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Umm actually no Jennifer, you're almost totally alone in your criticism, you and the Abrams group. Boehner, McConnell, Bolton Ledeen, etc are all against you.

Plus, as you wrote yesterday, you have Wolfowitz on your side. If ever there was a "canary in a coal mine" for choosing the wrong thing to do, that's it!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 2, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Also Jen, I noticed that after finally finding an Egyptian (perhaps by accident) who co-authored one of your cited posts yesterday; you're back to your previous regimen of using American Jews exclusively as your experts on Egypt.

Do you think maybe you could at least find an Israeli who agrees with you?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 2, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

All right Jen, I've been deferential to the predicament the Administration finds itself in but it appears Barry has officially jumped the shark. Reports are all about the land that they are welcoming the participation of the MB boys in the government and appear willing to work with them. Now, while policy and words are very difficult to formulate in this case, the very least the Administration should be doing is remaining publicly neutral and privately making it clear to the Army kids in Egypt that the absolute imperative of minimizing to the greatest extent possible (preferably eliminating but that may not be realistic) of the MB in any future government and indicating the very careful inverse correlation of the flow of American goodies and such involvement.

Posted by: cavalier4 | February 2, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

cavalier:

You are aware that these are Egyptian people, the Egyptian military, and the Egyptian government aren't you? I mean even if Jennifer doesn't know any Egyptians, surely you realize that we're not calling the shots, don't you?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 2, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

We have limited influence but enormous interests, i.e. that jihadist terrorists not gain a state sponsor. We must use our influence wisely.

The Obama administration is signaling that it would accept a role for the Muslim Brotherhood in a new government. How can a conspiratorial jihadist group participate in an Egyptian government without seriously compromising our War on Terror? Our strategy must be to defeat the Brotherhood, not to welcome them. Obama risks becoming another Carter.

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

This is the same ideological garbage that got 100,000 Iraqis, 4000 Americans killed and only God knows how many wounded and maimed Iraqis and 25,000 Americans and cost us $1 Trillon. And that's only the cost up to today. How many more in the future are we responsible for?

Self serving blathering to make points here at home. Safe and sound 8000 miles away while it costs others their lives when we interfere. I might have some respect if anyone of these people were standing in a square in Cairo. But safe and sound on a computer on the other side of the world? Cowards all but brave with other peoples lives.

Posted by: kchses1 | February 2, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

@johnmarshall

I've been the very embodiment of cautious circumpspection on this issues and have been very restrained in my critique of Administration. I have been so for a number of reasons, one of which is the obvious fact that absolutely no one has the decisive voice in this situation and the greater or lesser involvement of various parties can have entirely unpredictable and as likely as not negative effects.

The one things that is clear is that the greater the involvement of the MB in any future government of Egypt the worse for the United States, the stability of the region and incidentally but quite crucially for the freedom, economic opportunity and human rights of the Egyptian people. Again the United States cannot have a decisive voice on this issue and indeed by publicly weighing in against the Brotherhood may, in fact strengthen a position (a scenario quite different from the one in Iran in 2009). Neither does the Egyptian Army appear to have anything like the final say.

Still, neither the U.S. nor the Egyptian Army is entirely powerless in the matter and the greater the likelyhood of damage to the relationship between the two the greater the the likelyhood that the later will at least try its best to marginalize the Brotherhood to the greatest extent possible. To the extent the U.S. remains privately neutral on this issues or, indeed - as now appears to be the case - openly welcoming of MB involvement the less sense it makes for the Egyptian military to even try to marginalize the MB with very negative reprecussions for the Good Guys.

Posted by: cavalier4 | February 2, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Don't pay attention to what the experts say about the Muslim Brotherhood. Just read this sermon by their supreme leader. Try to find differences with the rhetoric of OBL and Zawahiri. There really aren't any. Excerpts:

"According to the Islamic shari'a that Allah [has bequeathed] to mankind, the status of the Muslims, compared to that of the infidel nations that arrogantly [disdain] his shari'a, is measured in a kind of scale, in which, when one side is in a state of superiority, the other is in a state of inferiority...

"Many Arab and Muslim regimes have not managed to build up their peoples, due to their weakness and their dependence [on the West], and in many cases they have begun to work against the interests of the [Muslim] nation... "

"Today the Muslims desperately need a mentality of honor and means of power [that will enable them] to confront global Zionism. [This movement] knows nothing but the language of force, so [the Muslims] must meet iron with iron, and winds with [even more powerful] storms. They crucially need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life."

"The Soviet Union fell dramatically, but the factors that will lead to the collapse of the U.S. are much more powerful than those that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire – for a nation that does not champion moral and human values cannot lead humanity, and its wealth will not avail it once Allah has had His say, as happened with [powerful] nations in the past. The U.S. is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise..."

There is no possibility of these anti-democratic fanatics participating peacefully in a parliamentary democracy except as a short-term tactic. Here is the sermon.
http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4650.htm

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 2, 2011 9:50 AM

"Mubarak could very likely survive this crisis as well, and for America and Israel's sake, this would be the best outcome."

This message has been brought to you by the Likud party.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: adam62 | February 2, 2011 10:46 AM 

"We just need to decide what we consider acts of war against ourselves, and whom we consider to be our allies, against whom acts of war are also such against us. And once we decide, we need to broadcast our decision unequivocally."

It sounds like you're looking for an excuse to go to war.

How about we mind our own business and let Egyptians deal with it?

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: adam62 | February 2, 2011 10:12 AM

"Egyptian soldiers eat too, don't they?"

They can;t east bullets and tanks Adam.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 12:40 PM
“We have limited influence but enormous interests, i.e. that jihadist terrorists not gain a state sponsor. We must use our influence wisely.”

It already has. The US government is Bin Laden’s indispensible ally.

“The Obama administration is signaling that it would accept a role for the Muslim Brotherhood in a new government. How can a conspiratorial jihadist group participate in an Egyptian government without seriously compromising our War on Terror?”

The War on Terror has always been a farce, and a sideshow. How can you have a war on terror when you are backing terrorist groups like the MEK and Jundula?

“ Our strategy must be to defeat the Brotherhood, not to welcome them. Obama risks becoming another Carter.”

You just can’t bring yourself to accept that this is not about you can you eonii? Forget what the Egyptians want. All that matters is that your fears as allayed.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

cavalier:

Your last post was circumspect than your first.

My points are these:

-Presuming our goal was indeed to exclude the MB from future governments, it seems that we don't really have a way to do that, and as you noted, our open opposition to them might be helpful to them

- so many are presuming that the headlines are the real world, when of course many nations are working like mad behind the scenes to insure that their interests are protected.

It's a very murky dark pool right now, and we won't know what actually happened this last week for quite a few years I suspect.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 2, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: cavalier4 | February 2, 2011 1:28 PM

“To the extent the U.S. remains privately neutral on this issues or, indeed - as now appears to be the case - openly welcoming of MB involvement the less sense it makes for the Egyptian military to even try to marginalize the MB with very negative reprecussions for the Good Guys.”

If the US can hold hands with a violent dictator for 30 years, then maybe it’s time the US grew up and stopped dictating to other states and dealt with them as equal partners. As you suggested, marginalizing the MB, which is the largest party in Egypt is a losing strategy. Opening channels of communication with them is the only option.

As they say, armies cross borders where trade does not.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The Egyptian crisis will be resolved by force, as always happens in the Arab world. There are no sympathetic parties here, except for a few ineffectual pro-democracy protesters. The serious players are the anti-government thugs (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood) and the pro-government thugs (i.e. the hated police and security forces). Jihadists versus reactionaries.

The army is watching from the sidelines as fighting and chaos destroys Egyptian society. The middle class will be relieved if the army eventually steps in to restore order, and so should we.

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

At the rate things are heading Sweden is well-advised to start a new award category(use up some of those windfall Abba-Steig Larson funds) with Obama as its first nominee, the IgNobel War Prize, under the corporate sponsorship of LOUCo (law of unintended consequences).

Posted by: aardunza | February 2, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 11:19 AM
“You don't get a democracy by overthrowing a dictator in a nation that has no civil society at all.”
So based on your extensive travels to Egypt, you’ve established that Egypt is not a civil society?
The Egyptians have endured a dictator for 30 years They are not going to settle for another.

“The main insight of conservatism is that change can make things much worse.”

The main insight of any thinking person is that change is inevitable. This was always on the cards. Everyone know that one day, the house of cards would come tumbling down. What we had in Egypt was unsustainable.
“Our revolution succeeded because the colonies had over a century to develop local democratic institutions, the foundational influence of Enlightenment political philosophers and British constitutional tradition, and an amazing group of Founders. Egypt has none of those.”
How do you know that? The founders didn’t ride in on their horses one day and draft the bill of rights or the constitution, they emerged as a product of the revolution.
“Events in Egypt will probably devolve into a death struggle between the army and the Brotherhood. And that's best case.”
In other words, you would rather see bloodshed on the streets on Cairo than a democracy that doesn’t fir your prescription.
“We had better hope that the army holds together, restores order, suppresses the Islamofascists, finds a way to broaden popular support, and perhaps allows the development of democratic institutions.”

Yes eonii, Let’s hope the beatings will continue until moral improves.

“ It's for certain that the Brotherhood would only crush democracy and human rights.”

No that’s called a right wing talking point. The kind of garbage that we’ve been hearing from John (Bonkers) Bolton.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 3:14 PM
“The army is watching from the sidelines as fighting and chaos destroys Egyptian society. The middle class will be relieved if the army eventually steps in to restore order, and so should we.”

There is no end to your ignorance eonii.

The middle class are the ones protesting. Stop reading right wing blogs that fill your head with fluff.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, this will be decided by the people with guns. Cairo is a city of 18 million people that is dissolving into anarchy. Eventually the army will have to restore order. They have been smart to sit on the sidelines until such time as the public will welcome their intervention. They will then be seen as restoring order and essential services rather than putting down a popular revolution.

Americans are just spectators. Obama must be careful not to pretend to be a major player, as he foolishly did yesterday. We should do nothing to undermine the army or to aid the jihadist Brotherhood.

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

" Cairo is a city of 18 million people that is dissolving into anarchy. Eventually the army will have to restore order"

That's wishful thinking on your part eonii. The riots were started by Mubarak's thugs and most were resisted and subdued by the anti government ptoresters.

The army didn't get involved.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, Obama shouldn't encourage the pro-democracy students. They will just get killed by the thugs. There will not be a western-style parliamentary democracy that emerges from this. Another military strongman is far preferable to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose slogan is, "We love death more than you love live". Reminds me of the fascist slogan from the Spanish Civil War, "Long live death!" ("Viva la muerte!").

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

“Don't pay attention to what the experts say about the Muslim Brotherhood. Just read this sermon by their supreme leader.”

Seriously eonii,

You really are not doing yourself any favours with your hysteria and fearmongering. You sound like John Bolton.

Apart from the incendiary passage (which I'll come back, there is very little about this speech that is even controversial. Many are predicting that the US is on the verge of collapse, not just the Muslim Brotherhood.
He is right that many Arab and Muslim regimes have let their people down and that the worst offenders have sold out tot he West. Even you would agree with that.

He is right that the Muslims do need to consolidate power, unite and resist the repression and oppression they have suffered at the hands of the West/Zionism. Even you would agree with that.

Sacrifice comes in many forms, not just through dying, but hard work and forgoing short term gains. Of course, I appreciate you being alarmed by this firebrand rhetoric, but it's no different to the what John McCain's pastor, who said that the US was created by God to destroy Islam.

He is absolutely right that the collapse of the US will be more painful than that of the USSR, if indeed it happens. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

It stands to reason that a nation that does not champion moral and human values cannot lead humanity. What God fearing man would argue that wealth will not avail it once God has had His say? Like I said, many are predicting that the U.S. is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise.

The Muslim Brotherhood are not anti-democratic fanatics. They are best compared to Christian Democrats, who are committed to social reforms with a religious persuasion. If anything, they are regarded in Egypt as ineffectual and lacing in zeal and passion.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

"They crucially need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life."

So, Shingo, I guess what he is really advocating is forming parliamentary coalitions to pass legislation to build bike paths or something, not killing the infidels, driving them out of the ummah, and establishing a Caliphate. Definitely a man we can work with!

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

""We just need to decide what we consider acts of war against ourselves, and whom we consider to be our allies, against whom acts of war are also such against us. And once we decide, we need to broadcast our decision unequivocally."

It sounds like you're looking for an excuse to go to war.

How about we mind our own business and let Egyptians deal with it?"

Making it clear what we consider an act of war is more our business than anything else. I aso hope that, if the time comes, the Israelis make it crystal clear that a war started by an Islamic Egyptian regime will mean the loss of the Sinai, forever this time, plus the utter destruction of much of Egypt. The more clear things like this are in advance, the more likely we'll have peace. Of course I assume Egypt's crisis will be resolved internally--the job of outsiders is to clarify the international consequences of that resolution.

Posted by: adam62 | February 2, 2011 6:40 PM | Report abuse

"So, Shingo, I guess what he is really advocating is forming parliamentary coalitions to pass legislation to build bike paths or something, not killing the infidels, driving them out of the ummah, and establishing a Caliphate. Definitely a man we can work with!"

Relax eonii,

This speech was given last October, and relates specifically to the struggle to overthrow the Mubarak regime, when such a concept didn't appear remotely likely.

Since the, yes, the MB has stated very clearly that they want to form a parliamentary coalition.

If you are going to insist on using what members of the MB say, then you can't pick and choose the statements you want to believe and ignore.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

“Making it clear what we consider an act of war is more our business than anything else.”

Adam, it's time we got real and stopped playing world dictator. For a start, no one is taking us seriously anymore and secondly, we're broke and cannot afford any more wars. Egypt is on the other side of the planet, and does not share any borders with us. They have no chance of attacking the US. Going around and trying to for what could be interpreted as acts of war is just lunacy.

“I aso hope that, if the time comes, the Israelis make it crystal clear that a war started by an Islamic Egyptian regime will mean the loss of the Sinai, forever this time, plus the utter destruction of much of Egypt.”

And what do you hope the Egyptians make clear in return, as to what would happen in the event of a war started by Israel (which tends to be their raison d'etre)? Should Egypt make clear they will take back Gaza and seize the West Bank?

You guys are seriously nuts. You're so addicted to war and so conditioned to believe that war in the
answer to all problems that you can't even stop to think what the implications are of such crazy ideas.

“The more clear things like this are in advance, the more likely we'll have peace.”

Yeah sure. Peace through threats of war. That'll work...

“Of course I assume Egypt's crisis will be resolved internally--the job of outsiders is to clarify the international consequences of that resolution.”

Does that apply to Israel as well Adam, or is this going to be more of the same, where we only lay down the law to the Arabs and tell the Israelis they can do whatever they want?

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

"Yeah sure. Peace through threats of war. That'll work..."

Actually, Shingo, it's the only thing that does work against tyrants. When they stop fearing us, we're in trouble. It's sort of like being in a cage with tigers. Have you read much history?

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

"Actually, Shingo, it's the only thing that does work against tyrants. When they stop fearing us, we're in trouble."


Then maybe we need to apply that strategy to Israel. Being nice to them doesn't seem to work.

"Have you read much history?"

Yes I have. But far from using threats with tyrants, we tend to send them money and heap praise on them.

So your theory about being in a cage with tigers sounds good, but has no basis in reality.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, I don't feel threatened by Israel, but I do consider it likely that an Egypt ruled by the Moslem Brotherhood will become a world center for jihad, sponsoring terrorism as state policy, or at the very least tolerating training and propaganda on its territory--we should just make it clear that any attack with any official Egyptian support at any stage is a causus belli for us. I think we should hold any state that even calls for, or supports or endorses, violent jihad against us or our allies, responsible for all attacks (including the Saudis), but obviously we're a long way from that point. I just hope some of us can push things a bit more in that direction. It's actually an alternative to constant intervention in the affairs of others.

And naturally I assume that Egyptians will have their own aims if they go to war with Israel, and I doubt they'll be limited to the West Bank and Gaza. But if they want to announce in advance, that would be nice.

Posted by: adam62 | February 2, 2011 8:11 PM | Report abuse

"we should just make it clear that any attack with any official Egyptian support at any stage is a causus belli for us"

Isn't that stating the obvious, or are you suggesting that we would tolerate attacks from some countries?

Look, you're tough talk is fine and dandy, but the days where the US gets to lay down one set of rules for it's friends and another for it's enemies are over.

The reasons are simple:

1. We're broke and don't have the resources to police the world anymore

2. The hypocrisy and double standards are coming back to bite us in the ass.

If you insist on holding other states accountable endorsing violence against us or our allies, then we have to play by the same rules.

Would you accept Iran holding us responsible for attacks taking place in Iran, which have been carried out by US supported terrorist groups, and retaliating?

"And naturally I assume that Egyptians will have their own aims if they go to war with Israel"

Most likely it will be because Israel has attacked them first (under some phony pretext).

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 9:55 PM | Report abuse

The Egyptian Army a la Pakistan, owns businesses, mostly in the tourism and bread baking sectors.

I find it so absurd that so many people actually believe the pro-Mubarak forces were "paid thugs". Considering how many Egyptians are employed in the still over-staffed inefficient civil service, I have been wondering what took them so long to try to get a few hundred thousand 'out with Mubarak' protestors to go home and let the economy survive.

While I am saddened by the violence, especially against foreign journalists, I am not surprised. They are mostly making a mountain out of a molehill by amplifying a protest that is actually destroying Egypt.

Good thing Russian tourists are still arriving while everyone else leaves. A MB Egypt will certainly make Egypt a popular tourist destination again.

Watching PBS tonight, I felt sorry for the anchor who actually tried to get an opinion from the three talking heads about what the other 80+million Egyptians think.

Posted by: K2K2 | February 2, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Saw Huckabee on Fox. He's in Israel today. If you believe him, opinion there is nearly unanimous that losing Mubarak is a bad thing.

Well, like I said in an earlier post. You've gotta hand it to Jennifer for putting it all on the line by herself on this one. (of course she'll blame Obama no matter what if things turn bad, but let's not talk about that right now)

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 2, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Here's another interesting bit of analysis.

"There are very strong rumors coming out of sources close to the Saudi government suggesting that King Abd'allah, who is now in Morocco, has convinced President Mubarak to step down to avoid a possible bloodbath during anticipated massive demonstrations on Friday. Abd'allah has also reportedly offered Mubarak asylum in Saudi Arabia, but Mubarak has not yet accepted the offer."
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2011/02/friday-is-likely-to-be-the-day.html

And to make eonii's day:

"More from the State Department, with spokesman PJ Crowley suggesting that the US is reconciled to the Muslim Brotherhood being a part of whatever government replaces Mubarak’s regime. After urging the Muslim Brotherhood to respect democratic processes, Crowley acknowledged that its presence is “a fact of life in Egypt.” "


Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 11:17 PM | Report abuse

"And then he runs away from the podium, obviously scared of answering questions without his teleprompter. . ."

WashingtonDame is always right. For such a smart guy, Obama is the un-boy scout. Be Unprepared. Such a control freak, freaking(bugging) out at the uncontrolled. Why is this, Mork asks.

Posted by: aardunza | February 2, 2011 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Shingo, I've seen that. The administration is all but advocating for the MB. What exactly are the possible compromises between a jihadist organization calling for Sharia law, renewed war with Israel, and "death to America" and western civilization. It's a mark of our decadence that we lack the cultural confidence to even try to resist. Democratic forms have such totemic importance to neo-cons and liberals that they advocate them even when they will facilitate the rise to power of a totalitarian party, such as the MB, that loathes freedoms of speech, press, religion and assembly, the rule of law and independent courts, the equality of women, the toleration of homosexuality, multiple parties, and compromise. The MB believes that God has given us His law (Sharia), which countenances none of our infidel values and institutions, and that we must submit to God's rule or die. They've been quite open about this.

The groundwork for representative democracy has not been laid in Egypt. The MB, if given the chance, will muscle their way to power and never hold another free election. As in Iran, the Muslim clerisy will decide who can run for office and will reserve the important decision-making for themselves. The MB has long hated the 10+% of the Egyptian population who are Coptic Christians and can be depended upon to persecute them.

We should be urging the army to restore order, to start establishing the free institutions that make democracy possible, and to defeat the Islamist forces that want put Egypt back in the seventh century.

Posted by: eoniii | February 3, 2011 12:11 AM | Report abuse

No eonii,

The administration is not advocating for the MB. It is admitting it is powerless to stop it.

“What exactly are the possible compromises between a jihadist organization calling for Sharia law, renewed war with Israel, and "death to America" and western civilization.”
God knows where you come up with this garbage, but in case you hadn't notice,d there are people being massacred in Egypt by Mubarak thugs, and all you can obsess about in your little corner on America is, Sharia law in a country within a region of the world you have never even set foot in.

Seriously your self obsession borders on the revolting.

No it's not a mark of decadence that we lack the cultural confidence resist, it's out imperial over reach and the limits of us living beyond our means. Empire is a guaranteed path to bankruptcy and we are dealing with it.

It's farcical to hear you complain about freedoms of speech, press, religion and assembly, the rule of law and independent courts etc when the very regime who's collapse you are mourning violated those very rights You don't care about freedoms of speech or rule of low, you just pull there talking points out of your pocket when you want to beat a none US puppet over the head with them.

“The MB believes that God has given us His law (Sharia), which countenances none of our infidel values and institutions, and that we must submit to God's rule or die. They've been quite open about this.”

False. Nothing about that on their web site.

In any case, none of this is your business, it is the affairs and business of Egyptians and you have but one choice – deal with it.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 3, 2011 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Shingo, my point was that those rights don't exist, but they are essential to democracy. Egypt will need those freedoms, especially speech, press and assembly, to hold fair elections. It will also need democratic political parties. None of these yet exist.

Democracy requires a belief that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. Islam holds that all law comes from God. The strict form of Islam is incompatible with liberty and democracy.

In the Middle East there has long been a struggle between modernizers and religious fundamentalists. In Turkey Ataturk modernized by force, much as Peter the Great did in Russia a couple of hundred years earlier. Nasser and other Arab leaders like Saddam and Assad were inspired by the Nazis' national socialism, which suppressed religion or turned it to serve the state. They were modernizers in a barbaric way. But they weren't modernizers in preparing the ground for liberty and democracy, which they despised.

Mubarak has allowed the mosques to preach fundamentalism and anti-Semitism as an escape valve for the anger of the people. But the jihadists themselves have been ruthlessly suppressed. This has been one of Mubarak's main accomplishments, but we don't know how much popular support these atavists may have among the vast underclass. We do know the MB has cultivated support among the educated.

I saw graduation pictures of the leading university forty years ago and last year. Forty years ago, hardly any of the women covered their heads, but last year the majority did. With the culture apparently regressing, it's really important that the army play its role as a modernizing force.

Posted by: eoniii | February 3, 2011 1:21 AM | Report abuse

“Shingo, my point was that those rights don't exist, but they are essential to democracy. Egypt will need those freedoms, especially speech, press and assembly, to hold fair elections. It will also need democratic political parties. None of these yet exist.”

Aren't you putting he cart before the horse? You're arguing that Egypt can't be democratic because it's not democratic. Pretty asinine don't you think?

“Democracy requires a belief that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. Islam holds that all law comes from God. The strict form of Islam is incompatible with liberty and democracy.”

There's no contradiction. If the governed all agree that law comes from God, then Islam can coexist with Democracy. You're running around with your hair on fire about Islam when in fact there has been no religious component to any of these deonstrations, even when the MB got involved.

“In the Middle East there has long been a struggle between modernizers and religious fundamentalists.”

Just the other day you pointed to a pew poll in which 68% of believed there was no such struggle. You ralyl do like to cherry pick your arguments don't you?

“Mubarak has allowed the mosques to preach fundamentalism and anti-Semitism as an escape valve for the anger of the people.”

What do you know about what the mosques have been peaching? For crying out loud, John McCain's own pastor think the US was created to destroy Islam. Was his church suppressed?

Your hypocrisy is simply mind numbing,.

“I saw graduation pictures of the leading university forty years ago and last year. Forty years ago, hardly any of the women covered their heads, but last year the majority did.”

So what? If you;d ever travelled to the Mediterranean, you;ll find women everywhere covering their heads with scarves and none of them are Muslim. What is your pathological obsession with Islam? Did you get bashed by a Muslim when you were a child? Did one steal your bike or kill your puppy?

“With the culture apparently regressing, it's really important that the army play its role as a modernizing force.”

Yeah, just like Ataturk right?

And FYI. The US government has been in talks with the MB since 2005.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 3, 2011 1:47 AM | Report abuse

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