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Ill Winds From The East

Things are getting very, very nervous around the Muslim world. And that should have any sane person worried.

In Egypt, the people are rioting against the government, headed by the "democratically-elected" President Mubarak. Mubarak, who's consistently won re-election with the high side of 80% of the vote over the past 30 years -- which is pretty much a guaranteed indicator of rigged elections. Mubarak, make no mistake, is a dictator (sorry, Vice President Biden) -- but he's one of the less offensive ones, not really causing troubles for his neighbors. Well, after 30 years, things are getting a bit warm for him (reports are that he's sent his family out of the country for their safety), and he could be in serious trouble.

In Tunisia, riots drove the sitting government from power, and the opposition is trying to pull things together.

In Lebanon, the terrorist group Hezbollah has tightened its grip on the government. They just appointed the new Prime Minister. Najib Mikati isn't a Hezbollah member, and doesn't have much history as an ally of theirs, but he still owes his job to them. Further, he only hold that job (and his life) at their sufferance. So he isn't likely to stand up to them.

Sudan is on the verge of splitting in two.

There are riots in Jordan against their king and his government.

How any or all of these will play out, it's hard to tell. An independent southern Sudan could serve as a refuge for the victims of Muslim persecution -- as long as it's supported by other nations. Should Mubarak fall, the most powerful force is the militant, terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is now far better armed than at any time in its past, and is gearing up to start yet another war with Israel. And Tunisia? Who the hell knows?

I'm not a great expert on the region, but I don't recall any time when a Muslim/Arab government has been toppled from within and has not been replaced with a more militant, hard-line, aggressive, anti-Western regime. And the standard outside enemies used to keep the masses in line are the United States and Israel.

Israel, which just happens to sit between Lebanon and Egypt.

As noted, Hezbollah is getting ready to attack Israel again. And the Muslim Brotherhood -- which is the best positioned to gain from the turmoil in Egypt -- has very strong ties with Hezbollah and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

I have to say that I really can't put much of this blame on President Obama. Yeah, he hasn't been the most effective in dealing with the Middle East, and there are a lot of things he could have done differently (meaning better), but there isn't a hell of a lot he could have done. No one was overly interested in enforcing the UN Security Resolutions that called for bolstering the legitimate government of Lebanon and disarming Hezbollah.

On the other hand, he's certainly avoided trying to curtail the aggressions of Syria and Iran, who have had pretty much a free hand in Lebanon. And I can't think of anything that anyone could have done to help avoid the current turmoil in Egypt.

About the only thing I think we can do is to quietly inform the powers that emerge in each nation that they better play nice with their neighbors, and not get frisky outside their own borders. Sadly, President Bush had a hell of a lot more credibility when making such warnings than does President Obama.



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Comments (72)

Worst thing a foreign gover... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Worst thing a foreign government or leader can hear is Barry telling them "No worries, I've got your back".

Part of the problem in the ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Part of the problem in the Middle East is that the United States has over the past several decades made alliances of convenience with dictators and autocrats of various stripres ... which puts us in a ticklish position now.

JT: "Hezbollah is gettin... (Below threshold)
PBunyan:

JT: "Hezbollah is getting ready to attack Israel again...I have to say that I really can't put much of this blame on President Obama"

I can blame him a lot. He has time and again demonstrated that he is a weak, feckless, subervient (what with all the bowing) leader which is nothing but encouraging to, practically cheerleading for, Hezbollah. And of course he's on record as saying he'll "stand with the muslims" so why wouldn't they attack Isreal? They know they don't have to fear the U.S. with Comrade Barack at the helm.

Hell, Obama and the radical muslims actually share at least some (if not most) goals.

They share names too.... (Below threshold)
914:

They share names too.

I blame Obama mightily for ... (Below threshold)

I blame Obama mightily for failing to show (at minimum rhetorical) support to the Iranian Green Movement in mid to late 2009. Imagine how the landscape might be different today if that brave and courageous movement's aspirations had been attained. But Barry was too busy unwinding his appeasement foreign policy .... Come to think of it, the appeasement foreign policy emboldens the NGO rioters today. Yeah, I lay a lot of this at Barry's feet as a matter of fact.


http://libertyatstake.blogspot.com
"Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

We are headed for a world w... (Below threshold)
jim m:

We are headed for a world war with islamic fascism. I'm not at all certain that the left wants us to win one if and when it happens.

Ill Winds From The East<... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Ill Winds From The East

At least Jay was the first poster to comment on the revoultion that is taking place in th Middle East but really Ill Winds From The East

That is the summation of what is ocurring in Egypt... for conservatives. Revolution for "a more secular state, no censorship, real democracy and social justice" are considered ill winds! Things are getting very, very nervous around the Muslim world that should have any sane person worried.

Figures where your allegiance is when the moment of truth comes. Aren't you the friends of the people protesting and in some cases dying for their freedom? Of course not! Long live brutal dictators and their death squads, with unctous support from wizbang.

More topics the LSM will tr... (Below threshold)
Hank:

More topics the LSM will try to avoid.

And where's Hillary been?

Steve, please. Dictatorship... (Below threshold)

Steve, please. Dictatorships are bad. Are you saying that ANYTHING that replaces them is better? How was Iran under the Shah vs. under Khomeini?

The Muslim Brotherhood is the direct ancestor of Hamas, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah, among others. And they are the most likely to take power if Mubarak falls.

J.

The Muslim Brotherhood does... (Below threshold)
Tim:

The Muslim Brotherhood doesn't sound too secular to me.

Nor does Hezbollah. You kn... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Nor does Hezbollah. You know, the "Party of God"?

"Part of the problem in the... (Below threshold)

"Part of the problem in the Middle East is that the United States has over the past several decades made alliances of convenience with dictators and autocrats..."

Like there were a lot of alternatives to chose from?

I don't think so Jay. I kno... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I don't think so Jay. I know you don't care for Juan Cole, who was predicting this or Robert Fisk. Still, the right wing has completely misread the situation.

And one of the problems has been created by the regime itself; it has systematically got rid of anyone with charisma, thrown them out of the country, politically emasculating any real opposition by imprisoning many of them. The Americans and the EU are telling the regime to listen to the people – but who are these people, who are their leaders? This is not an Islamic uprising – though it could become one – but, save for the usual talk of Muslim Brotherhood participation in the demonstrations, it is just one mass of Egyptians stifled by decades of failure and humiliation.

But all the Americans seem able to offer Mubarak is a suggestion of reforms – something Egyptians have heard many times before. It's not the first time that violence has come to Egypt's streets, of course. In 1977, there were mass food riots – I was in Cairo at the time and there were many angry, starving people – but the Sadat government managed to control the people by lowering food prices and by imprisonment and torture. There have been police mutinies before – one ruthlessly suppressed by Mubarak himself. But this is something new.

Interestingly, there seems no animosity towards foreigners. Many journalists have been protected by the crowds and – despite America's lamentable support for the Middle East's dictators – there has not so far been a single US flag burned. That shows you what's new. Perhaps a people have grown up – only to discover that their ageing government are all children.


Sooooo, Steve is cool with ... (Below threshold)
John:

Sooooo, Steve is cool with taking out dictators? Does that include Sadaam? Seems a little more domestic support of the Iraq deal might have put a little bit more pressure the dictators and bad actors that tend to dominate that part of the world, maybe even enbolden some of those pesky protesters that long for freedom.

"Like there were a lot of a... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"Like there were a lot of alternatives to chose from?"

I see your point. There are often some real world, pragmatic decisions that have to be made. But to me it makes sense to side with democratic movements--no matter how small--rather than authoritarian regimes. These "convenient" alliances always seem to come back to haunt us...sooner or later. James H raises a really important point, IMO. Definitely worth thinking about.

It'll be interesting to see how the US reacts to some of these events (Tunisia, Egypt, etc).

When you call for moderate ... (Below threshold)
Roy:

When you call for moderate Muslims to purge their ranks of the vile and evil, you shouldn't be surprised when they take your advice.

If we'd have put a fork in ... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

If we'd have put a fork in Iran years ago the whole area would be more stable.

Who wants to bet Iran's behind all this unrest? We know they're links to the Hezbo's.

A radicalized Middle East with Iran pulling the puppet strings and possessing nukes while the US won't/can't do a thing about it. An absolute nightmare scenario.

Why doesn't Ole' sputnikala... (Below threshold)
914:

Why doesn't Ole' sputnikalaus hold a beer summitt with Mubarak, Ahctungjihad and the head of Hamas freedom to drag Women by the hair brigade?

He would earn that Noble retroactively.

ryan,I s... (Below threshold)
Kenny:

ryan,

I see your point. There are often some real world, pragmatic decisions that have to be made. But to me it makes sense to side with democratic movements--no matter how small--rather than authoritarian regimes. These "convenient" alliances always seem to come back to haunt us...sooner or later.

It is too bad that you, James H, and the rest of the progressives didn't support the democratic movement in Iran in 2009.

I wonder why that was?

I know! *slaps forehead* BarryO can do no wrong!

Steve, please cite a succes... (Below threshold)

Steve, please cite a successful popular uprising in the Muslim world that did NOT end in an Islamist regime.

Off the top of my head, I can cite Iran, Afghanistan (post-Soviet), and Gaza...

J.

Jay Tea,Come on, w... (Below threshold)
howcome:

Jay Tea,

Come on, we all know it's the Republicans fault or something. Just ask Steve.

The fundamentalist Islamist... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

The fundamentalist Islamists not so popular have been on the sidelines in Tunisa and Egypt, they have missed the boat and everyone recogniszes that these countries will never go back.

Jay, the most moderate of poster here was always for Bush going in to shake things up with the military in the Middle East at much expense and blodshed, but when there is chance a real indigenous democratic revolution from the bottom up-the unemployment rates are horrendous in these countries with enormous nepotism and corruption and very little political freedoms- but Jay who is now cautious, sides with the government, and calls these 'ill winds' and places the post under the tag 'war on terror'.

There has been a real paradigm shift recently, you would think that those who were always championing Bush`s 'spread of freedom' in the Middle East, would be heartened, but on the contrary, those same people are now grinding their teeth at the protesters who want the end of a octogenarian dictatorship enforced by a brutal police.

Kenny,"It is too b... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Kenny,

"It is too bad that you, James H, and the rest of the progressives didn't support the democratic movement in Iran in 2009."

What are you talking about? Obviously you have NO IDEA what I think, so just stop making stupid assumptions. If you can muster an argument or a thoughtful comment, by all means. But if this is all you have--save it. I'm not really interested in empty partisan chatter.

"I know! *slaps forehead* BarryO can do no wrong!"

Ha! What nonsense. I love it when people make up arguments and positions that *they think* others are making, and then attempt lame, bleating rebuttals. Nothing like fighting straw men you made up yourself, eh Kenny? Nice try though.

Like there were a ... (Below threshold)
James H:
Like there were a lot of alternatives to chose from?

Didn't say there were/are. Just that these alliances put us in a difficult place now.

"It'll be interesting to se... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"It'll be interesting to see how the US reacts to some of these events (Tunisia, Egypt, etc)."

Iran, Venezuela, Honduras ...not too good a reaction by Obama so far. And these were incidents that were more isolated and could be dealt with more one-on-one.
Now that much of the mid-east seems on fire, it's a stickier situation. Not much confidence that Obama will handle this well.

Jay by comparison, Tunisia ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay by comparison, Tunisia and Egypt have fairly strong civil societies. They will be able to thrive. Don't paint all the Middle east countries with same brush. There is much, much better chance of having "non- fundamentalist democracy" in Egypt, than in Iraq, where we were at such pains to set up.

Jay Tea,"Steve, pl... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay Tea,

"Steve, please cite a successful popular uprising in the Muslim world that did NOT end in an Islamist regime."

Look, I understand the point you are making. And certainly there is a lot going on here--Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, etc. A lot is up in the air, and many people are wondering how things will play out.

People in Tunisia and Egypt are basically rising up against authoritarian regimes...which is what the US has supposedly been pushing for in the ME (ie democracy). Steve brings up a good point about our foreign policy in the ME. Worth thinking about if you ask me.

The prevalence of military and/or autocratic regimes throughout the ME are definitely part of the problem, that's for sure. And as James H points out, some of our tepid alliances with certain political leaders don't always work out so well in the long run. Overall, it's important to realize that autocratic regimes (like Iran) do not always tell us everything we need to know about the populations who live under their rule. As for Egypt and Tunisia, and whether or not this is about democracy, that remains to be seen.

But to me it makes... (Below threshold)
James H:
But to me it makes sense to side with democratic movements--no matter how small--rather than authoritarian regimes

Disagree. There are times when US national interests align with those of an autocrat, and times when they do not. US interests, not democratic ideals, need to be US foreign policy's guiding principle.

I'll let the rest of you fi... (Below threshold)
John S:

I'll let the rest of you find some way to blame Bush for this. Meanwhile, I'm off to fill up my car before it's too late. Seems like a Middle East in flames is a great excuse to jack up up the price of gas overnight. (That's one conspiracy that you can count on.)

Less Nessman:"Now ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Less Nessman:

"Now that much of the mid-east seems on fire, it's a stickier situation. Not much confidence that Obama will handle this well."

Yep. Good point. This is definitely a stickier situation as you say. So far Clinton's response has been pretty, well, on the fence. She didn't really say all that much besides "can't we all just get along," if you ask me. She encouraged everyone to avoid violence, meanwhile tanks are rolling along the streets in Cairo.

The Obama administration i... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

The Obama administration i.e, Hillary Clinton natturally, is still tone deaf, and bewildered.

In an interview with CNN before his return, ElBaradei criticised comments by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who had described the Egyptian government as stable and "looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people".

"I was stunned to hear secretary Clinton saying the Egyptian government is stable. And I ask myself: at what price is stability? Is it on the basis of 29 years of martial law? Is it on the basis of 30 years of [an] ossified regime? Is it on the basis of rigged elections? That's not stability, that's living on borrowed time," said ElBarade


Looking for ways to respond.. a euphemisim for beating the heads of the protesters and trying to shut down the internet. How do octogenarian dictators normally respond?

James H,"US intere... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

James H,

"US interests, not democratic ideals, need to be US foreign policy's guiding principle."

Hmmm, interesting. I understand why you're saying this...but I don't really buy the argument, all things considered. Not in the long term.

When you talk about interests, are you talking short term or long term interests? Sounds like short term thinking to me, especially since these associations and alliances often come back to haunt us. Our "interests" with Iran in the 1960s and 1970s, which lead to the support of the Shah, certainly didn't pan out all that well, did they?

Also, what happened to the ideals about spreading democracy and liberty? Is that mere political rhetoric? Are we for democracy only when it suits our interests?

Hmmm, interesting.... (Below threshold)
James H:
Hmmm, interesting. I understand why you're saying this...but I don't really buy the argument, all things considered. Not in the long term.

You have to balance the long term and short term, of course. Which is why alliances with distasteful regimes should preferably be short-term, not long-term.

Also, what happened to the ideals about spreading democracy and liberty? Is that mere political rhetoric? Are we for democracy only when it suits our interests?

Yes, and yes. The problem with "spreading democracy and liberty" is that it can lead the United States to meddle with other nations' internal politics, or obligate the nation in ways that are inimical to short-term and long-term interests.

In Iraq, for example, I favored cutting a deal with Saddam because I believed an invasion to be counter to US interests ... and because Saddam might have been a useful counter to Iranian influence. Not to mention that we could have possibly locked in some deals on oil.

And, quite frankly, there are times when we have to cut deals with autocracies (China, Russia) simply because they are large players in the international system.

I used to believe in the bits about spreading democracy and so forth, but after the last two decades, I've concluded that the United States is better off with Kissinger's realpolitik.

Muslim Brotherhood + Mohamm... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Muslim Brotherhood + Mohammed ElBaradei = an Egypt that will in all likelihood be a LOT more religiously dictatorial and aggressive.

Coupled with the turmoil in the other countries mentioned and you have "interesting times" in the region.

Meh, its going to be a fun show.
I'd highly recommend an unlimited supply of popcorn.

That is the sum... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

That is the summation of what is ocurring in Egypt... for conservatives. Revolution for "a more secular state, no censorship, real democracy and social justice" are considered ill winds!

Stop saying "social justice." It's a communist slogan. There's only "justice" and "injustice." No need or use for a qualifier.

So in your take, the Muslim Brotherhood is agitating for a more secular state, with more democracy? Whoa. Your streak is unbroken.

but when there is chance a real indigenous democratic revolution from the bottom up-the unemployment rates are horrendous in these countries with enormous nepotism and corruption and very little political freedoms-

Oh, so now you support the Tea Party? Great!

Also, what happ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Also, what happened to the ideals about spreading democracy and liberty?

First, we're not spread democracy in Egypt. People in Egypt are agitating for a regime change. The question, which has escaped liberals' attention, is change to what kind of regime? A parliamentary or presidential democracy? Or a hard-nosed theocracy, a la Iran 1980? Do bear in mind that Gaza has democratic elections too, in which they routinely elect ... terrorists. Democracy, without more, isn't necessarily a good thing.

James H,"You have ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

James H,

"You have to balance the long term and short term, of course. Which is why alliances with distasteful regimes should preferably be short-term, not long-term."

Again, I understand where you are coming from. But sometimes this is akin to simply putting out fires that will ignite much worse about a decade later. Supporting the Shah of Iran, or Somoza in Nicaragua, may have served some short term interests, but helped fuel even worse situations in the long run. Iran being the worst possible result of years of repression and autocratic rule.

"Yes, and yes. The problem with "spreading democracy and liberty" is that it can lead the United States to meddle with other nations' internal politics, or obligate the nation in ways that are inimical to short-term and long-term interests."

Well, I would still argue that siding with democratic movements would probably be a better long-term strategy...even with certain short-term complications. We have practiced this policy of convenient alliances for decades, and eventually the lid blows off...and these populations associate the US with the repressive regime. Not really a good plan, IMO.

"And, quite frankly, there are times when we have to cut deals with autocracies (China, Russia) simply because they are large players in the international system."

Yes. Indeed. And this is the pragmatic, realpolitik side of the equation. However, there are times when it makes sense to stand by certain supposed principles. No?

"I used to believe in the bits about spreading democracy and so forth, but after the last two decades, I've concluded that the United States is better off with Kissinger's realpolitik."

Interesting. So, if our political leaders made that argument that it would be imperative for "US interests" to move away from a democratic republic here in the US, what would you have to say about that??? When have we taken the compromise too far? When does this kind of thinking make our supposed ideals little more than a farce or political theater?

ryan a. I'm afraid so so m... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

ryan a. I'm afraid so so much blather..After one hundred bleating posts about supporting moderates and speading democracy, in the middle east, Jay was the only one who had the courage of the wizbang team of posters, to put his head, belately above the parapet when the time came even, if to support the wrong side of history. I have not heard any GOP politician say anthing about Tunisia or Egypt either. The United States only really supports one democratic revolution on and on... one that safely occurred over 234 years ago in the US. I suppose there was morale support for the fall the Eastern bloc countries, but i imagine we were hedging our bets, then as well.

Jay,"First, we're ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay,

"First, we're not spread democracy in Egypt. People in Egypt are agitating for a regime change."

Yes, I understand that. I was referring to some of the popular political rhetoric of BOTH Bush and Obama about democracy, etc.

"The question, which has escaped liberals' attention, is change to what kind of regime? A parliamentary or presidential democracy? Or a hard-nosed theocracy, a la Iran 1980?"

Exactly. That IS the question. And it certainly has not escaped my attention--that's why I wrote that a lot "remains to be seen." Jay Tea seems to be arguing that the winds of change are clearly ominous--meaning that some actual democratic change is not possible. As for Egypt and Tunisia? Maybe there is a chance for some actual democratic reform, maybe not. I can definitely understand why people have some serious doubts and reservations.

"Do bear in mind that Gaza has democratic elections too, in which they routinely elect ... terrorists. Democracy, without more, isn't necessarily a good thing."

Agreed. It can go many ways...hence democracy. And that's part of the problem: when people start doing what they want, others may or may not like the results. And, as you point out, things can certainly get worse, depending on the nature of the movement.

Interesting. So, i... (Below threshold)
James H:
Interesting. So, if our political leaders made that argument that it would be imperative for "US interests" to move away from a democratic republic here in the US, what would you have to say about that??? When have we taken the compromise too far? When does this kind of thinking make our supposed ideals little more than a farce or political theater?

Your query is irrelevant. This discussion regards foreign affairs. Your question applies to domestic affairs.

37 and 38Ne... (Below threshold)
914:

37 and 38


Never met a subject they were not experts on. And on,and on...

"Your query is irrelevant. ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"Your query is irrelevant. This discussion regards foreign affairs. Your question applies to domestic affairs."

You missed the point. My question is about the limits of your logical and "realpolitik". Of course, siding with an autocrat in the name of "our interest" makes short term sense to some...but if you bring that logic back home people obviously will not support such thinking. That sort of logic only works with "others," specifically people who we don't really identify with.

Of course, nobody in the US would in their right mind support anti-democratic logic. But, for some reason, they will accept that sort of thinking when it applies to others and keeps world oil prices down. Hmmm.

914:"Never met a s... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

914:

"Never met a subject they were not experts on. And on,and on..."

Really? What's your problem? Can't think of anything else to add so you have to resort to whiny little comments like that?

By they way, I am by no means an "expert" on this; I happen to be interested in paying attention to and learning about what is happening in the world around me. That's about it. Do you have a problem with that?

If all you are interested in is posting one-liners about Obama and Palin, don't let me stop you. But don't give me shit for being interested in these discussions.

So, if our political lea... (Below threshold)
jim m:

So, if our political leaders made that argument that it would be imperative for "US interests" to move away from a democratic republic here in the US, what would you have to say about that???

The left has already answered that question with statements dreaming of being a dictatorship for a day or wishing we were more like China. The left is nto and has never been interested in freedom. Freedom allows for people to do things that the left does not agree with. The left is interested in being free to impose their will on others. Any other freedom is not of interest to them.

I'm just marveling at the incredible tone deafness of our leadership, where Hillary says that Egypt is not unstable and Biden says that Mubarek is not a dictator. These idiots shouldn't be incharge of a broom closet much less a government

jim m,"I'm just ma... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

jim m,

"I'm just marveling at the incredible tone deafness of our leadership, where Hillary says that Egypt is not unstable and Biden says that Mubarek is not a dictator."

Exactly-they seem to be avoiding any strong statements until they know which way the political winds will blow. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Hey jim m, that's democracy... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Hey jim m, that's democracy, 'our useful cowardly idiots are better than your useful cowardly idiots' and the one thing they are all afraid of is real democracy in other autocratic countries. It is difficult to predict as we have found out, election results. So much easier to deal with strong men presidents for life, in other countries, with rigged elections and they normally can be simply be bought.

Obama at the state of the Union the other night, "Tonight, (the operative word) let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people" after for years, supporting their dictator Ben Ali, a kleptocrat and his rigged elections.

Obama's short hand two days later, Obama: "let us be vague ..we may stand with the people of Egypt, if they defeat Mubarak and his family, until then, we stand with Mubarak, the strong man, with rigged elections, against the legitimate democratic aspirations of his people."

We may gain nothing, but lose nothing, that is our political strategy.

History repeats itself; the... (Below threshold)
RPL:

History repeats itself; the first time it's a tragedy, the second time as a farce. This reminds me (imperfectly) of Carter and the Shah. The good thing was that Reagan came out of it. We'll see how this plays out.

Dear Israel:Be rea... (Below threshold)
Trump:

Dear Israel:

Be ready.

Don't hesitate to do what you have to do to survive........because Obama won't do a thing to help.

All options on the table, if you get my drift, eh?

Love,

Your Friend.

From where I sit, there are... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

From where I sit, there are several problems to consider:

1. Once again, the official U.S. position is one of reaction and poor preparation. You'd expect the Ambassador to have a better sense of the public mood, and to have clued D.C. in so the American plan would be proactive. Now, whatever is said or done will appear weak and late.

2. Peaceful protests should be allowed anywhere, but when a regime supresses dissent and protests turn violent, as is happening here, the historical model is that the vacuum often provides opportunity for hard-line theocrats and ideologues, which would be very bad to Egypt, the region, and U.S. interests, but we may not have much say in the matter.

3. The President of the United States has a great deal of influence, and the right word from Obama could do a lot to direct a peacful resolution to the crisis. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has demonstrated a singular inability to handle stress and propose palatable solutions to all parties in such situations.

The Won bows out of respect... (Below threshold)
Keef Over-man:

The Won bows out of respect for his heritage.

Steve, cut the shit. I'm ti... (Below threshold)

Steve, cut the shit. I'm tired of it.

At NO POINT did I express support for either side of what's going donw in Egypt, just tremendous concern that the Muslim Brotherhood or some other Islamist faction might end up in charge. I'm worried as hell, and intensely interested in seeing how this plays out, but at NO POINT did I express an opinion.

I should know. I've been expressing my opinions for some time now. I don't need you making up shit and saying it's my opinion.

This might get a lot of people annoyed, but I read the comments from James H and ryan a, whom I normally do NOT agree with, and they are making the most sense here. There has to be a balance between idealism and pragmatism, and US interests should come first for us.

J.

Okay Jay, i may be pulling ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Okay Jay, i may be pulling your leg a bit. I'll give you credit for at least taking an interest in the subject.

As for as Murabak being a genuine friend of the west, I'd prefer to take my luck with what emerges. It surely will be more humane than the government and leaders they have now. Egypt is the largest moderat Arab country in the world and it has been a police state for the last three decades. Here is one example, just a few days ago, of Murabak's respect and friendship for the West.

On New Year's day, more than 20 people were killed in an attack on a church in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, one year after six Copts and a Muslim policeman were gunned down in a Christmas attack..

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has fiercely rejected Western calls for the protection of Egypt's Christian minority as an interference in domestic affairs.

"I say to those, some from friendly countries, who call for the protection of Copts of Egypt, I say to them that the time for foreign protection and tutelage is gone, and will not return.

"We will not accept any pressure or interference in Egypt's affairs," he said in a speech on Sunday to mark Police Day.

No more foreign tutelage! O'kay got you, Mubarak. Biden ,do you hear that? He doesn't need any Americans making apologies for him or Hillary on her Wikleaks apology damage control tour. I gusess that is over now. A week is sure a long time in politics.


steve, i would not be so su... (Below threshold)
ke_future:

steve, i would not be so sure that whatever comes after mubarak "would surely be better". have you taken a look at what's right next door in gaza? or what's in iran, syria, hezbollah in lebanon. there is *no* guarantee that anything that comes after is better than what is there now.

we should be working to support an outcome that leads to something better, not just sitting back and hoping, which seems to be obama's general approach to foreign policy. which is not surprising considering his whole background is domestic politics and activism.

I have never been to Cairo,... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I have never been to Cairo,(with it's reputation for being 'contemporary') but it is my belief it is much more liberal, than people generally believe and especially the government agencies and of course, their notorious police and security forces.

US reported 'routine' police brutality in Egypt, WikiLeaks cables show "Torture widely used against criminals, Islamist detainees, opposition activists and bloggers, embassy cables suggest"


As bloggers, we should be showing some solidarity. It seems to me it is no-brainer which side the west should support-you just have to see the video of the demos to notice the difference in dress between, Tehran, Baghdad and Cairo. If we don't support these protests what the hell are we doing in the Middle East.just siding with tyrants-great? Conservatives are always talking about what the founding fathers would have done?

From our perspective, there... (Below threshold)
James H:

From our perspective, there are a lot of trade-offs from the US perspective. Among them is that when people vote in the Middle East, there's a very good chance the winner will be an Islamist party ... something that is the polar opposite of the corrupt, but secular autocrats in power in a number of these countries.

"At NO POINT did I express ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"At NO POINT did I express support for either side of what's going donw in Egypt, just tremendous concern that the Muslim Brotherhood or some other Islamist faction might end up in charge. I'm worried as hell, and intensely interested in seeing how this plays out..."

That's a pretty reasonable worry, especially considering the reaction of the Egyptian govt. As someone already pointed out above, when govts react with violent repression, thing can go bad real quick. So the actual content of the movement of "the people" remains to be seen. Who knows what will come of this? Pretty tough to predict (understatement). It could be a force for democratic change...or more violence. It all depends.

As for as Murabak being ... (Below threshold)

As for as Murabak being a genuine friend of the west, I'd prefer to take my luck with what emerges. It surely will be more humane than the government and leaders they have now.

Steve, that's a keeper.

And if I may repeat myself: Afghanistan, Gaza, Iran...

J.

Their wide-spread anger, is... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Their wide-spread anger, is not directed at the west, far from it, but it will, if they find that the USA is intimidatiing the will of the people, by protecting a tyrant. I can't stress enough again Cario is much different from Gaza or Baghdad and that didn't seem to deter the USA in plunging in the latter- it should have-. New's flash.

Mubarak dismisses government

Embattled leader says he will name a new government on Saturday

Ultimately in Egypt, the power lies with the president," he said.

We are about to find out.

James H,"Among the... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

James H,

"Among them is that when people vote in the Middle East, there's a very good chance the winner will be an Islamist party ... something that is the polar opposite of the corrupt, but secular autocrats in power in a number of these countries."

That's definitely one of the biggest issues at stake. Democracy can be pretty unwieldy and unpredictable.

Steve,

"As for as Murabak being a genuine friend of the west, I'd prefer to take my luck with what emerges. It surely will be more humane than the government and leaders they have now."

I'll second that--although hopefully what comes next is more humane. As usual, I remain cautiously skeptical about this. Can't get too much worse than the police state they have had for the past three decades.

"Mubarak dismisses governme... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"Mubarak dismisses government."

He's definitely in trouble. When a dictator starts talking about poverty, human rights, and reforms, you know he's on the run.

Classic how he said that his "reforms" are what have allowed these people to organize and protest! Ya, that's why they're tearing his posters down. Out of sheer gratitude.

Quite frankly, I'm clad I'm... (Below threshold)
James H:

Quite frankly, I'm clad I'm not in Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama's shoes right now. Mubarak is a repressive autocrat, but he's also backed the US repeatedly over the years, and he's been helpful in his dealings with Israel.

So, do we provide support for the Mubarak regime or do we provide support for the democratic protesters? In the medium to long term, there is no certainty that this democratic revolution would succeed, and if Mubarak stays in power, he would likely resent the hell out of US attempts to meddle in his country's internal affairs. (His likely words, not mine).

Solution, IMO: Personal phone calls from Biden and Hillary to Mubarak, advising him behind the scenes that he should make more than token gestures to the opposition. Perhaps on the scale of setting up a democratic framework to take his place when he retires from the presidency in a few years.

Incidentally, if you want a model Muslim country, look to Turkey. It's had some issues over the years, but it's probably the best example in the Middle East of a thorougly secular state that has managed to maintain a democratic character. (Didn't say a good example, just the best available.)

I agree that Egypt is a tou... (Below threshold)
ke_future:

I agree that Egypt is a tough situation for anybody to deal with. I'm just not willing to automatically assume that whatever comes next is necessarily better. Egypt has a long history of unrest from Islamic activists (the muslim brotherhood). And if there is one thing that history has shown us, it is that Islamic governments are not friends of individual freedoms and liberty.

I initially wasn't too worr... (Below threshold)

I initially wasn't too worried about this uprising. But then as it has played out, it looks more and more like Egypt is under pressure by the Muslim radicals. I hope cooler head prevail The last thing we need is another country to join the Axis of Evil

Mubarak is finished. His ad... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Mubarak is finished. His address that, the state e moi, was pathetic. The national Egyptian chorus "down with Mubarak", does not mean down with his cabinet and give the President more power. I would be booking a flight to Paris or New York if I were him if the internatinal airport is still open Sunday. He is 82 after all, and his son is disliked even more. The US witrh the the delusions of grandeur are backing a losing horse, if it thinks Mubarak's promise of 'minor reforms ' are a way out. I haven't seen even a minimal protest in favor of Mubarak. For someone whose party swept the Parliamentary elections, last year that is not very encouraging. The curtain has been lifted on the wizard. Saturday's protests will be even bigger, not that their was much rest on muslim's sabbath, Friday.

Jay Tea: back in November... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay Tea: back in November, 2005 'George W Bush and history'.

Much has been made about the "pretext" of our invasion of Iraq. I'm not going to go into that here, but I'm simply going to discuss it in the context of the greater war. The Arab world has stagnated for far too long, a motley collection of monarchies, tyrannies, and other forms of dictatorships, eagerly exporting terrorism and unrest and death around the world, fueled by Islamist radicalism and the great good fortune of sitting atop a huge percentage of the world's oil. It was a status quo that had stood for far too long, and needed to be shaken up -- but no one had had the right combination of nerve and vision to attempt anything radical enough to succeed.

Until Bush

The question remains, though -- will this hold? Will Bush's efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq actually continue to send reverberations of freedom throughout the world, shaking tyrants and dictators out of their sinecures and letting loose the tide of freedom?


Now over five years later, in the world's largest Arab country, when genuine protesters are pouring through the streets- shouting "freedom, freedom freedom, down with Murabak " disobeying the imans who said not to go out in ths streets, Jay gets very skittish, shaken or a little nauseous calling these ill winds from the East and , any sane man should be worried because these are ringing and tumultous calls of freedom coming from the Egyptians themselves, not at the end of a bayonet in a trillion dollar plus bloody war. What did Jay expect in ther Arab world "the tide of freedom to look like" his words, five years ago. This is practically a tsunami that is engulfing the Arab world now -you would think Jay should be pleased? On the contrary...

Steve -- WTF?You'r... (Below threshold)

Steve -- WTF?

You're acting like you "caught" me at some grand hypocrisy. Your whole "gotcha game" here is based on the presumption that I'm saying that what's happening in Egypt is terrible and we should do all we can to keep Mubarak in power.

Which I haven't. All I've said that is that what is going down there is very nerve-wracking, and could be very, very bad.

Quite frankly, you're sounding a hell of a lot like Bruce Henry -- who kept harping on my initial, erroneous theory that the Tucson shooting was the work of Mexican drug cartels a week after the shooting. Never mind that I retracted that theory within hours of first offering it.

There is no contradiction in what I wrote five years ago and my concerns today. I'd be more comfortable if this had developed while the reputation of the US was more forceful and formidable, and things would be a bit more manageable (like the surrender of Libya's WMD program), but it's being done at a time when respect for the US (as in, "dictators get nervous at the thought of the US deciding to treat them like Saddam") was higher instead of the contempt and scorn Obama has fostered.

So knock off the gotcha game, Steve. It simply doesn't apply here, and I used to think you were better than that.

J.

Jay I'm egging you on becau... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay I'm egging you on because most everyone has completely misread what is occurring. This has been a real paradigm shift. It began two weeks ago in Tunisia. Wizbang completely ignored that revolution but it was hard to miss the one in Egypt,(but they may have if you weren't a poster).Mine was the only comment two weeks ago, that the Tunisian revolution was potentially more important than the Khomeni revolution. I'm sure you thought my 'head was up my ass'.

Jay, to be fair Bush pushed Murabak harder on democracy than Obama-good for him-. It is difficult balancing act propping up dictators and calling for democracy at the same time. Some might call it realpolitic others hypocrisy. Obama has lost some influence in not anticipating the changes in the Middle East and in trying to be so judicious to Murabak. He is a brutal dictator after all.

I have seen no 'Allahu Akbbar' or 'down with the USA banners. All of the MSM commentators have been completely missed this, this is the polar opposite of the Iranian revoution. The Islamists and the mullahs are very worried of the domino effect as well. Depending on the country, they soon could be in the dustbin of history... where Murabak will be.

The Arab countries have 25% to 50% youth unemployment rates. including university graduates-Egypt has free universities- This revolution is going to be infinitely more influential than an American invasion..which changed one country perhaps two at terrible cost.

Steve, the aforementioned B... (Below threshold)

Steve, the aforementioned Bruce Henry is noted for bitching whenever I make predictions. He doesn't grasp that I do so very carefully, when I believe I have doped out a situation. I'm not always right, but I always have my reasons and I alsways spell them out.

Here, I'm not making any predictions. That's because I don't believe I know what is going on, and won't speculate on what's going to happen. But as noted, "popular uprisings" in the Muslim world tend to end up as Islamist, anti-Western tyrannies, so I'm quite nervous.

You're running way out on a limb, Steve, in saying that this will end well. I hope to hell you're right.

But you're being an asshole because I won't run out on that limb with you. The Muslim Brotherhood is way too powerful a dynamic in this equation to just blithely write off, and their history and policies are decidedly Islamist-leaning.

J.

You are right, that will be... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

You are right, that will be the key. But I don't think all these demonstrating youthful Egyptians going to universities, using facebook, listening to western music, wearing jeans, have too much truck with the fundamentalists. They seemed to have disappeared. Good riddance!

"So knock off the gotcha ga... (Below threshold)
thefixah:

"So knock off the gotcha game, Steve. It simply doesn't apply here, and I used to think you were better than that."

Actually, it applies perfectly. You're just sore because your ass has been so thoroughly nailed to the wall.

Just man up and admit you were for "reverberations of freedom" before you were against it.

And you've never had anything but contempt for Steve or any other liberal, except your boyfriend James H. So save the BS.

Oh, fix... you seem strange... (Below threshold)

Oh, fix... you seem strangely familiar. I'll have to see if I can recall you better later.

Like I said, I hope Steve's right. But it's way, way too early to see how this plays out. The Muslim Brotherhood is a very potent force in Egypt, and they could win out. The energies of the youths won't matter much against the open brutality of Islamists.

And the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed for years, so they're very good at laying low. As the saying goes, absence of proof is in no way proof of absence.

There is absolutely nothing contradictory between my piece above and the one Steve brought up. As I said, I hope Steve's right, but he's way more optimistic than can be justified at this point.

And as far as my attitudes towards the liberals who come around here... I've personally sponsored two for posting privileges (one of whom took us up on it for a while), I always felt a bit of sympathy for Steve for having to share blog-space with a renowned sociopath, and am developing a growing respect for ryan a.

What I have contempt for are dipshits and assholes -- of which you certainly seem to qualify as.

J.

The US support of Dictators... (Below threshold)

The US support of Dictators has always been a problem for US policy. We want the stability they provide but at the cost of our values. Have we learned nothing from what happened in Iran in the 70's.




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