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Weekend Egypt In Chaos Open Thread

eygpt_street.jpg


Well this isn't good: Gangs free militants, foreigners try to flee Egypt

Anyway, this seemed like a rather natural time for a comment section debate on the current protests in Eygpt; whether Hosni Mubarak's 30-year regine as President will come to an end; the Eygptian military role in the situation; and how who all this will affect the U.S.


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Comments (46)

I'm old enough to remember ... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

I'm old enough to remember when Castro was [fleetingly] hailed as a hero here in the US for overthrowing Batista. Then, of course, we have the more recent, more analogous Ayatollah Khomeini overthrowing the Shah. Neither one of those turned out well. I am distinctly pessimistic about this turning out well, especially with the Muslim Brotherhood waiting to fill the vacuum. Should the MB and/or its sympathizers fill the vacuum, this revolution, too, will be bad for the Egyptians themselves, and the US and Israel specifically, and the world generally.
One question - is there a pro-democracy, non-fanatical islamist theocracy group poised to take over, or are we left with the MB?

Didn't you mean HO... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:


Didn't you mean HOW it might affect the US, Kevin?

That aside, even though Mubarak is an SOB, he has been willing to work with the US, likely due to the yearly cash infusion.--aka bribe. In addition, Egypt has had an observed treaty with Israel for some time. It'd be fine if these conditions persisted.

If you look closely at the protests, note the signage. Professionally done, which indicates prior planning, and I'd bet these protests and Sudan, Yemen, etc, are tied together.

All things considered, perhaps it would be best if Mubarak stayed put, or had a successor who follows his thinking, AT THIS POINT IN TIME. The MB is a bad group to gain ascendancy, or influence events. Don't care if they claim to have changed their ways, that is bull on it's face.

I'm sure that other posters can expound on this brief comment, more knowledgeably than I.

the Muslim Brotherhood is (... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

the Muslim Brotherhood is (a) organized (b) ruthless and (c) ready!! Any vacuum will be filled by them.

Upon coming to power they will quickly translate Egypt into an Islamic State, increase the persecution of Christians, and begin trashing the treaty with Israel.

The odds of this ending well are effectively zero.

Well, this is encouraging [... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

Well, this is encouraging [with the caveat that Castro assured the US that he wasn't a Communist], although I'm afraid that the general populace may be radically different from those who will assume power after Mubarak: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4021125,00.html
"Israeli reports of 'friendly atmosphere' in Cairo
Tour guide Amos Abidov visits Egypt with 30 students, says no plan to come home early. 'We go to restaurants, take taxis, sit in cafes'
***
How is the atmosphere? Do you feel secure?
"The attitude towards us as Israelis and tourist is very friendly. Actually, they're overly nice compared to my previous visits in Egypt. The Egyptians want to explain themselves, to tell everyone about their struggle. They speak Arabic over here so it's easy to communicate with them. On Friday we went right past the demonstrations on our way back from the pyramids, and people helped us get though the crowd."

It's going to be very inter... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

It's going to be very interesting to see who 'comes out on top'.

Given the past history of the region. Don't color me optimistic.

Asking if there's a "pro-de... (Below threshold)
Lgbpop:

Asking if there's a "pro-democracy, non-fanatical Islamist (sic) theocracy group" shows how completely the Muslim propaganda machine has lulled Westerners into a false sense of hope. That description is self-contradictory. No theocracy can be in favor of a competing form of government, whether democracy or a republic.

When we in the West are ready to believe what the Muslims tell each other about their plans and goals, we will then be prepared to meet the challenge head-on. Until then, as long as we are stupid enough or willing enough to believe what they tell US - we get what we deserve.

The Muslim Brotherhood supp... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

The Muslim Brotherhood supports ElBaradei.

I find that interesting, seeing as ElBaradei is Egypt's version of Barry Obama. An ineffectual 'educated' snob, with no track record of success.

The Brotherhood will use him to seize power, then just as quickly eliminate him.

Unfortunately, this reminds... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Unfortunately, this reminds of the same exact situation that brought down the Shah of Iran in 1979 and the rise of the Islamic revolution there. My biggest fear is that we end up with some radical Islamic state in Egypt out of this, skyrocketing oil prices and threatening the peace with Israel. Israel citizens once paid 23% of their taxes for the military mainly because of the state of war between the two countries. That's now down to less than 8%.

One problem is a successful revolution in Egypt could lead to a domino effect of more revolutions in the region, much like the collapse of Eastern European Communism, but with uncertain results that could some terrible Islamic dictators to power. I think of the Cuban revolution in 1959, first viewed by some as reform, but it quickly turned into a nightmare for the U.S. to contend with that nearly brought the U.S. and Soviets to war in 1962.

The U.S. and the MidEast certainly don't need a few more Islamic revolutions in the area. Oil prices are up $4 a barrel just on the news of tensions. With a real revolution there, prices will peak way up there before settling in at a new higher level somewhere.

"That aside, even though Mu... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"That aside, even though Mubarak is an SOB, he has been willing to work with the US, likely due to the yearly cash infusion.--aka bribe. In addition, Egypt has had an observed treaty with Israel for some time. It'd be fine if these conditions persisted."

Ya, I definitely disagree with this logic, which is what lead us here in the first place. Although I can see WHY people make this argument to a certain extent, even if I ultimately disagree. The dictators in the ME are a serious part of the problem. I definitely do not think that they should be viewed as solutions...they just help maintain the staus quo (often through force), and only put off the inevitable. Autocratic regimes are a plague in the ME, and there is no way we should support them. Too idealistic? Maybe.

Anyway, since I usually catch flak for posting too much here, I posted a longer response on my own site, here.

"One problem is a successfu... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"One problem is a successful revolution in Egypt could lead to a domino effect of more revolutions in the region, much like the collapse of Eastern European Communism, but with uncertain results that could some terrible Islamic dictators to power."

The problem, Paul, is that we have NO IDEA where things are heading. And comparing what is happening now in Egypt to the histories of Iran and other ME nations might be useful in SOME ways, but completely off the mark in others.

So it goes. It's all up in the air. Certainly, as others have pointed out, this will have its effects on the US. It remains to be seen whether these effects are positive or negative.

Ryan A -Re positiv... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ryan A -

Re positive/negative effects - if an islamic dictator DOES come to power, the people will, by their previous action, still know what to do. I could be wrong, but I think Iraq was a lit fuse showing how governments could be done in the ME, and the strong-men type governments have been hoping the people wouldn't get the idea that THEY should have the same.

And that fuse has just about burned down to some very interesting 'powder'.

JLawson,"...and th... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

JLawson,

"...and the strong-men type governments have been hoping the people wouldn't get the idea that THEY should have the same."

Agreed. Exactly. This kind of thing is a big problem for a lot of autocrats out there.

So if Jimmy Carter is remem... (Below threshold)
John S:

So if Jimmy Carter is remembered by history as the president who "lost" Iran, will Obama be remembered as the president who lost Egypt... and Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudia Arabia? I tell you Obama is Jimmy Carter on steriods, and soon we'll long for 1979 and the good old days.

Since it too late to go to... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Since it too late to go to Tunisia, most of you seem very upset at that successful revolution I think many of the commentators here, would love to go to Egypt to a demonstrate in favor of Mubarak and his family who has looted forty billion dollars from his country. Furthermore he has not allowed political parties or independent judges, tortured thousands, not lifted martial law for thirty years, put in jail anyone who mocks their dear leader, and all with a thirty perecent unemployment rate. In addition. for good measure Murabak has ehanced the role of the Muslim Brotherhood just enough that he could maintain his keptocracy and strong hold of all levers in the state including the not so secret police while allowing suppresion of the Coptic Christians.

Conservatives love talking about or lecturing the Arab world about the lack of democratic values- I can hear Jay repeating Israel is the only democracy in the Middle east but when the proverbial..hits the fan....you reject everything about self -determintaion, and have but one lens- fanatical Islamists are behind every rock and the US must maintain its hegemony/ empire in that part of the world.

Despite the images, even t... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Despite the images, even the photgraph by Kevin. I don't think most of you have no idea how liberal Egypt is, but not politically free .. topless beaches, heavy consumption of alcohol; 90% of the people have cell phones, free universities .You see more women in burkas in the UK. The difference beween Baghdad and Cairo is night and day.


The young men and women in the streets, they are a generation that never knew anybody but President Mubarak since they were born. It's a new generation, a generation of Facebook, Twitter, and now the Internet, where it's a small world and everything is known. That generation grew up thinking -- what is freedom, what is democracy, and they thought why not us?

Q: Could you discuss a little more the role of the Internet and social media in all of this?

A: I think if the Internet, Twitter or Facebook did not exist, we would have another 30 years of Mubarak.


"Q: Could you discuss a lit... (Below threshold)
914:

"Q: Could you discuss a little more the role of the Internet and social media in all of this?

A: I think if the Internet, Twitter or Facebook did not exist, we would have another 30 years of Mubarak."


Right. That is the powerful driving force that will push the thugs out. Hopefully in other regimes as well.

Including, of course, that ... (Below threshold)

Including, of course, that the Egyptians already have and will soon also have exactly the "government" they deserve, history repeats its every (1979) detail. Right down to the treasonous boob presently pretending to what passes as "presidency."

To say that there are more ... (Below threshold)
Lgbpop:

To say that there are more burkha-clad women in the UK than in Egypt is more of a slam on the UK, since the way I figure that garment went out of style 1000 years ago.

"Conservatives love talking about or lecturing the Arab world about the lack of democratic values..." This is nonsense. The only two Americans I've seen telling Egyptians what they should be doing the last few days are Obama and Clinton - and they are hardly paragons of self-determination when their policies HERE remove peoples' abilities to do and think for themselves without government interference. Projection is becoming old and transparent. Let's stop insulting our intelligence, OK?

Brian Richard Allen,<... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Brian Richard Allen,

"Including, of course, that the Egyptians already have and will soon also have exactly the "government" they deserve..."

What, exactly, is THAT supposed to mean? What makes you say that the Egyptian people deserve to live under an authoritarian regime?

Ryan asks what, exactly, is... (Below threshold)

Ryan asks what, exactly, is THAT supposed to mean?

"That" being my assertion the Egyptians -- and the rest of Mohammedanism's cultists -- have the governments they all deserve.

And that their systemically corrupt governments are but the extension and/or the replication of themselves, whose actions and activities and day-to-day lives see the world in terms of sexual slavery and of tribalism, religious intolerance, psychopathological paranoia and hesperophobia, of fascistic totalitarianism absolutely incompatible with and/or assimilable into modern, successful, capitalist democratic nationhood.

Which is why, a hundred years after the onset of modern waste treatment science, most Middle East cities reek of raw sewage. A century after Judeo-Christin/Western/Human Civilization discovered microbes and disease, the water in every place like Cairo is undrinkable. And is why, decades after Judeo-Christin/Western/Human Civilization acquired the knowledge to treat infectious disease, millions in the Middle East suffer and die from maladies long forgotten in the West.

And is why a hundred and twelve years after he published his "The River Wars, that well known anglo-American, Winston Leonard Spencer Jerome Churchill's, words still ring true:

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!

"Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property (either as a child, a wife, or a concubine) must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science (the science against which it had vainly struggled) the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the
civilization of ancient Rome."

I don't have enough informa... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

I don't have enough information to make a full decision on things, and I've been sick for the last several days. But I do have the following thoughts:

1. TANKS - what kind of idiot sends battle tanks to protests and riots? Tanks are designed and built for heavy warfare, to blow holes into enemies, cause chaos and generally cause death and destruction. They don't work well to calm unrest or control crowds. The presence of tanks in civilian situations signals over-reaction and panic on the part of military leadership;

2. SURPRISE - Why didn't the U.S. see this coming? OK, granted our diplomats are often the pawns of politics, but even so, we have resources from business people and academics in Egypt who would have warned about public unrest before such a revolt blew up. That the events went this way without warning indicates to me that the normal 'suspects' were not the instigators, that this may in fact be a genuine grassroots movement, which we should respect as both valid and potent.

3. COURTESY - another thing that sets this protest apart, is the surprising restraint by the protesters. Americans have not been targeted, nor the West in general, nor even the government structure per se, but the focus has remained on Mubarek and his political party; the situation suggests to me the likelihood of a coalition by smaller political parties with some degree of military backing. If so, the question comes down to whether the players will continue to cooperate after one of them comes to power in name. At the very least, it appears that the forces at work want to protect relationships with Western governments and businesses.

4. SCALE - There has been a lot of action in Cairo and some major Egyptian cities, but the total number of protestors may in fact be far smaller than first believed. In the age of flash mobs and YouTube orchestration, this may be a case of a coup being managed through carefully-directed incidents and the appearance of broad public support where in fact the numbers may be smaller than they appear. The logistics needed to support a few key uprisings would be much easier to maintain than a genuine national revolt, especially considering that Egypt depends on central control far more than most Western-style governments do. This does not remove the validity of the protests, but it may reflect a new operational paradigm, allowing a relatively minor demographic to leverage its influence into a national movement. This would explain the sudden appearance of the revolt, the cohesive message it has sent, and the restraint from using violence even where this could advance opportunity.

Well, that's enough speculation for now. I need better medicine and better facts ...

LgBpop, yes, you are right,... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

LgBpop, yes, you are right, not only conservatives but liberals such as Obama in his 2009 Cairo speech did the same lecture their hosts on the need for democracy in the Arab world. Indeed Arabs must get tired of West lecturing them about their failures to achieve democracy, while at the same time through money and arms helping to prop up their kleptocrat dictators who oppress them. Obama:

No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
With all due respect, Brian... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

With all due respect, Brian, it looks like your theories need a bit of work. Especially if you're going to treat a text written in 1899 as if that tells us everything we need to know about the people and the current events we are seeing in Egypt today. Keep in mind the fact that Churchill was writing during a time when his nation was involved in colonial warfare with many groups in this region. His "observations" could be construed as a bit biased, especially considering the fact that the British Colonial Government generally had some fairly misinformed and heavily biased views about many populations in North Africa. And the Brits were, after all, looking to conquer them.

"And that their systemically corrupt governments are but the extension and/or the replication of themselves, whose actions and activities and day-to-day lives see the world in terms of sexual slavery and of tribalism, religious intolerance, psychopathological paranoia and hesperophobia, of fascistic totalitarianism absolutely incompatible with and/or assimilable into modern, successful, capitalist democratic nationhood."

Wow. Talk about sweeping generalizations. Do you really believe this?

If you're interested in actually reading up on some of the histories of the region, here's a few good suggestions:

http://anthropologyworks.com/?p=3774

If you don't have access to academic databases, or a local library, then there are also lots of books written by historians, political scientists, economists, and anthropologists that can bring you up to date on what has happened in the last 112 years. It's out there if you're willing to look.

A bit condescending, ryan. ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

A bit condescending, ryan. You could have just linked to a concise and germane quote that supported your position, but some folks can't resist the chance to insult the other side's intelligence, it seems.

From where I sit, it seems a bit arrogant for anyone who does not live and work in the region to presume themselves an expert. Then again, certain aspects of behavior and culture also present themselves enough times and with enough, hmm, force of moment, to create lasting impressions that certainly seem valid to the casual observer. Our discussion therefore, if nothing else offers a sense of the community perception. Or at least a significant representative sample of western opinion.

ryan a - I've done a little... (Below threshold)

ryan a - I've done a little more than simply read a little about the Islamic world and having spent two thirds of my adult life abroad, have lived an aggregate 30+ years among South-East Asia, North Africa, Arabia, the Gulf States, Iraq, Jordan, Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. I read and write and speak Arabic. With an Iraqi accent when in the Gulf and with an Egyptian accent when in Egypt, Sudan and across North Africa, read and write and speak Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia well and get by in Urdu.

And notwithstanding I've indeed generalized, I've also ignored the effect the Arab world's comparatively tiny educated elite has on its averages (something the America haters never do when they're wildly exaggerating India's and China's "wealth" relative to America's) -- and stand by my "sweeping generalizations."

"A bit condescending, ryan.... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"A bit condescending, ryan. You could have just linked to a concise and germane quote that supported your position, but some folks can't resist the chance to insult the other side's intelligence, it seems."

Oh, get off your little high horse DJ. Are you serious? I disagreed with the guy because he uses an overstated quote from 1899 to support his argument. And I provided reasons WHY I disagree. Honestly, considering the ways in which many people on this site interact with others when they disagree, I think your reply is pretty ridiculous. Funny how you guys are willing to put up with all sorts of nonsense when twelve people pile up on one person in another thread, but you get all sensitive when someone provides a reasonable counter argument here. It's not like I'm calling the guy names, MR Drummond.

Also, do you REALLY think that the 1899 Churchill quote provides an accurate assessment of the situation? I don't, and there are a number of reasons why.

"From where I sit, it seems a bit arrogant for anyone who does not live and work in the region to presume themselves an expert."

Right. That argument. If we don't live there, then we can't have a valid opinion on the matter. Are you willing to extend your logic to all cases, or just this one? Also, you don't have to be a self-proclaimed "expert" to disagree with someone. In this case, Brian presented an argument that I completely disagree with. Overall, I am not sure why you felt the need to step in and display your enlightened authority on the matter. But thanks for your efforts. I am sure you mean well.

ryan a - I've done... (Below threshold)
ryan a:
ryan a - I've done a little more than simply read a little about the Islamic world and having spent two thirds of my adult life abroad, have lived an aggregate 30+ years among South-East Asia, North Africa, Arabia, the Gulf States, Iraq, Jordan, Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. I read and write and speak Arabic. With an Iraqi accent when in the Gulf and with an Egyptian accent when in Egypt, Sudan and across North Africa, read and write and speak Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia well and get by in Urdu.

Well, that makes your sweeping claims about millions of people, all based upon a late 19th century text, all the more surprising. Pretty interesting that you have this much worldly experience, yet resort to such an argument. You certainly have your opinions, and I can respect that. To each his own, I suppose. I still disagree with your claims, which you certainly have not supported with anything other than your opinion and a questionably relevant quote.

So what are your favorite books about ME history and politics?

And notwithstanding I've indeed generalized, I've also ignored the effect the Arab world's comparatively tiny educated elite has on its averages (something the America haters never do when they're wildly exaggerating India's and China's "wealth" relative to America's) -- and stand by my "sweeping generalizations."

So what does this mean? That you are going to stick by your views no matter what? Well, there's no use debating then. I am by no means an expert on the ME, but I have read enough to recognize an overstated, unsubstantiated argument when I see one.

Really, ryan? I noticed yo... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Really, ryan? I noticed you ignored my first post. Too hard to attack? I also noticed you have been focusing on the hominem and not on the arguendo. Sure, quoting Churchill is a bit moldy, but Brian's point was that his perspective is still salient, which is damning if you take the time to think it through.

Your bittersnipe response, to Brian and to me, indicates you did not bother to do so.

While I have not traveled to as many places as others may claim, I can honsetly say I have seen the world at large, and at least in a general sense can speak from personal observation about distinctions between different continents and cultures. The Near-East or Middle East, as it is now called, has the unfortunate but accurate impugnation of decay and corruption about it, with some refreshing exceptions to be sure, but without a doubt a place in need of repair and reform pretty much across the board.

Oh, and to your smirk-in-pr... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Oh, and to your smirk-in-print regarding my 'high and mighty' opinion, I have the same right as anyone to address posts, opinions, and contentions. I do not pretend my opinion is superior to anyone else's simply because I like my own, but neither am I obligated - ever - to be silent when I feel moved to make comment or venture a thought.

If you wish to respond to my thoughts and comments, please do so. But when you attack the person and ignore the observations, do not be surprised if I rebuke you for your churl.

Mr Drummond,"Reall... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Mr Drummond,

"Really, ryan? I noticed you ignored my first post. Too hard to attack?"

Too hard to attack? What on earth are you talking about? I saw your post and read through it and there wasn't really anything that you wrote that I find all that disagreeable. Besides, your comment seemed to be more about providing some reactions and thoughts rather than an argument per se.

Actually, I am kind of surprised, considering what you wrote about this being a "genuine grassroots movement, which we should respect as both valid and potent" that you are coming out in support of Brian's argument. Recap: he is basically arguing that the people in Egypt have the government they "deserve". Do you agree with that?

"I also noticed you have been focusing on the hominem and not on the arguendo."

Oh really? Where? When? Make no mistake about it, DJ, this about his argument, period. Brian made the claim that these people deserve the government they have, and then he used ONE 112 year old source for his character assessment of a few million people. I am vehemently disagreeing with his argument. I find it ridiculously ironic that you are coming out in support of this argument:

"That" being my assertion the Egyptians -- and the rest of Mohammedanism's cultists -- have the governments they all deserve.

And that their systemically corrupt governments are but the extension and/or the replication of themselves, whose actions and activities and day-to-day lives see the world in terms of sexual slavery and of tribalism, religious intolerance, psychopathological paranoia and hesperophobia, of fascistic totalitarianism absolutely incompatible with and/or assimilable into modern, successful, capitalist democratic nationhood.

Is that where your chips lie, DJ? I'd love to hear YOUR defense of that one.

"Sure, quoting Churchill is a bit moldy, but Brian's point was that his perspective is still salient, which is damning if you take the time to think it through."

Moldiness has nothing to do with it. Historical documents have their value, but they also require analysis and contextualization. They don't speak any exact truths, and always have to be taken with a grain of salt. I have read my fair share of colonial histories, and Churchill's assessment of the peoples of Northern Africa is certainly skewed (for numerous reasons), and was written in a particular political context (during a time of heavy conflict between many north African groups and the British).

Churchill's testimonies and opinions, while interesting, certainly DO NOT tell us everything we need to know about Muslims OR the supposed character of people in Egypt. The quote provided is a good example of colonial rhetoric that served to justify the rampant violence, intervention, and conflict wrought at the hands of the British. Sorry--it's an atrocious use of history to make unsubstantiated claims about the present using such a document as "evidence". Do you want to keep "thinking through" this, DJ? Because I am certainly game.

"Your bittersnipe response, to Brian and to me, indicates you did not bother to do so."

Well, it appears that you were wrong about that now, weren't you?

"The Near-East or Middle East, as it is now called, has the unfortunate but accurate impugnation of decay and corruption about it, with some refreshing exceptions to be sure, but without a doubt a place in need of repair and reform pretty much across the board."

Ok. But you're already pulling away from the argument that Brian made. In fact, I don't really think that you agree with his contentions. But I could be wrong. There is indeed plenty of corruption, poverty, violence, social inequality throughout the Middle East. Brian chalks all of this up to the character of the people themselves, arguing, basically, that they get what they deserve. All the while, he ignores about a century of history, warfare, collusion, intervention, and global politicking that have shaped the conditions we are seeing today. His argument, IMO, is lacking in rigor and depth--at best.

Overall, I am still not all that clear about what YOU are trying to argue/prove with your interventions. You seemed peeved about my supposedly "condescending" remarks, yet you happily dismissed earlier comments that basically claim that people who are living under brutal, authoritarian, repressive regimes are getting their just due. Maybe it's time to rethink things, eh DJ?

My my my, we can tell who h... (Below threshold)
Lgbpop:

My my my, we can tell who hasn't been to the Middle East just by how authoritatively he denies the realities of the region. Well done Ryan....however, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; but Damascus isn't fêted, it's fetid. Going beyond the showcase areas of virtually any Middle Eastern city reveals the remarkable freedom from scientific and medical progress that region enjoys. I've been there often enough to know my last visit there was my last visit there.

DJ,"Oh, and to you... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

DJ,

"Oh, and to your smirk-in-print regarding my 'high and mighty' opinion, I have the same right as anyone to address posts, opinions, and contentions."

Of course you do. I never said otherwise. But when you jump in and start making paternalistic little comments like this:

"You could have just linked to a concise and germane quote that supported your position, but some folks can't resist the chance to insult the other side's intelligence, it seems."

...don't expect a warm reception. You're out of line here, not me. I stuck to the argument at hand and provided reasons WHY I disagreed. For some reason you felt the need to start making claims that I supposedly "can't resist the chance to insult the other side's intelligence," when in fact I was presenting my counter argument. That's what this site is for, right? To discuss, debate, and disagree? Or are we all supposed to happily toe the line that you feel is proper and acceptable?

I wasn't calling the guy names, since that's not my game. In fact, go read through my posts on this site for the last several years and you'll figure that out pretty quickly. Did my disagreement with Brian's repugnant claim show? Probably. Did I start attacking him as a person? No, I did not. Why? Because, even though I strongly disagree with him, I can still separate the person from the argument. He made the specific claim that 112 years of history is irrelevant, and I provided a set of readings and sources that suggest otherwise.

"I do not pretend my opinion is superior to anyone else's simply because I like my own, but neither am I obligated - ever - to be silent when I feel moved to make comment or venture a thought."

Of course you should speak your mind. Please don't try to put words in my mouth and pretend that I said otherwise. In fact, I asked you what you think about the issue.

"If you wish to respond to my thoughts and comments, please do so. But when you attack the person and ignore the observations, do not be surprised if I rebuke you for your churl."

Rebuke me for my "churl"? Haha. Interesting phrase there, DJ. When did I "attack the person"? Are you reading the same comments section that I am? I certainly did not ignore his argument, since that was EXACTLY what I was countering.

lgbpop,"My my my, ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

lgbpop,

"My my my, we can tell who hasn't been to the Middle East just by how authoritatively he denies the realities of the region."

What "realities" am I denying, pop?

"Going beyond the showcase areas of virtually any Middle Eastern city reveals the remarkable freedom from scientific and medical progress that region enjoys."

Ok. So how do you explain the rampant poverty, corruption, lack of political freedom, and repression in the region? Do you think that the "character" of the people explains everything as Brian seems to? Or could it be possible that the decades or war and autocratic regimes are a crucial part of the problem? Are you making the old "culture of poverty" argument, or what?

"I've been there often enough to know my last visit there was my last visit there."

Ok, so are you arguing that this is a factor of some basic trait of the people themselves, or the social and political conditions? What's your argument?

I said it was my last visit... (Below threshold)
Lgbpop:

I said it was my last visit because it was my last visit. I prefer more sanitary and civilized conditions, to be quite unpolitically correct. Their religion is the opiate of their masses, and as such they have no cares about this life and have no ambition to improve themselves in any fashion. They mouth insipid arguments about how Judaism is at fault for what their Muslim beliefs have reduced them to. The rampant corruption is Arabs taking advantage of fellow Arabs, using the West as the bogeyman. Arafat was a master of that, but not the only one.

Frankly, I couldn't care what did cause it - but I am darn sure I didn't and I feel no guilt at all for what Arabs do to fellow Arabs any more than they care about us. Obviously, you do for some reason. That's your failing, not mine. So, take your accusatory questions and aim them elsewhere because I am not the cause of their problems. You really need to stop thinking so irrationally.

"Ok, so are you arguing that this is a factor of some basic trait of the people themselves, or the social and political conditions? What's your argument?"

I was making no argument. I made a statement. Take it at face value.

pop,"I said it was... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

pop,

"I said it was my last visit because it was my last visit. I prefer more sanitary and civilized conditions, to be quite unpolitically correct."

Well, you certainly have your opinions.

"Their religion is the opiate of their masses, and as such they have no cares about this life and have no ambition to improve themselves in any fashion."

All of them? So you're saying that NOBODY in the Middle East cares about their life, and has no desire to improve the conditions they live in? You sound pretty sure of yourself. Did you conduct some sort of survey?

"The rampant corruption is Arabs taking advantage of fellow Arabs, using the West as the bogeyman. Arafat was a master of that, but not the only one."

So, in your view, that explains everything? While I agree with you that there is certainly plenty of internal corruption, I'd also argue that there are lots of other important factors that have led to the current situation. In fact, there is not single factor that explains everything.

"Frankly, I couldn't care what did cause it - but I am darn sure I didn't..."

Uh, nobody ever suggested you did. So you openly admit that you aren't really interested in the ACTUAL cause, you're just here to express your opinions regardless of the truth?

"...and I feel no guilt at all for what Arabs do to fellow Arabs any more than they care about us."

Why should you feel guilty? Who ever said you should? Where is this coming from?

"Obviously, you do for some reason. That's your failing, not mine."

OBVIOUSLY I do what? Feel guilt? Where do you get this crap from? Are you just making stuff up now?

"So, take your accusatory questions and aim them elsewhere because I am not the cause of their problems. You really need to stop thinking so irrationally."

Who ever said YOU were the cause of their problems? Seriously, I don't get where this is coming from.

"I was making no argument. I made a statement. Take it at face value."

Ok. So it's your opinion, and you're not really willing to discuss it any further. I can understand that. But keep this in mind. Next time you jump in and express your opinion, be ready to back it up when someone calls you out. That's pretty much the name of the game.

PS: you still haven't answered my question about what "realities" I am supposedly denying.

Got busy at work last night... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Got busy at work last night. I see ryan got busy in paranoia here. Dude, there are many fine decaffeinated brands on the market, give one of them a try and see if your perspective on the world doesn't relax just a bit.

More to the point, instead of trying to intimidate and shout down people, you might want to stop and give their perspective a fair hearing. At one point, mid-rant, you implied that some of my initial points made sense. Thank you for that. Given that you are willing to grant me some sense of rational thought, consider then that I can also find valid points in other posts. Brian's citation of Churchill was to the point that there is a spirit of rigid ideology to political Islam, which both poisons the culture and corrodes the social structure through practice of Sharia in a way which prevents innovation, common sense, and the public weal.

It's a trite expression, but Egypt is very much at a crossroads. As a military ally of the U.S., and a political anchor as well as social figurehead for the region, the stakes are high indeed. Handled properly, the transition from the present condition to the resolution, whatever is reached, may be to the general welfare, but if any of a number of points are mishandled, things can go very badly indeed. Lebanon is perhaps the best example, another secular success which collapsed under civil strife and which has never been the same. No one in 1970 would have ever believed Lebanon would fall into the sectarian chaos whhc struck it down, and from which it has yet to recover.

"Got busy at work last nigh... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"Got busy at work last night. I see ryan got busy in paranoia here."

Right. Very impressive, DJ. Do you feel better now? If you think this is somehow interesting or offensive, just give it up. Cut the BS.

"Dude, there are many fine decaffeinated brands on the market, give one of them a try and see if your perspective on the world doesn't relax just a bit."

What specific claims or points do you disagree with, Drummond? Where do you think my argument is too rigid? Feel free to be specific.

"More to the point, instead of trying to intimidate and shout down people, you might want to stop and give their perspective a fair hearing."

Who am I "shouting down"? How am I intimidating anyone? By posting comments? By telling people that I disagree with them? Trust me, I do take the time to think things through. Yes, some of my comments get a bit wordy (not unlike your posts around here), but please point out where I have attempted to silence people. Again, not my game.

"At one point, mid-rant, you implied that some of my initial points made sense. Thank you for that."

Ah, so it's a rant, eh? Just FYI, DJ, I never took issue with anything you wrote until you felt the need to intervene with my disagreement with Brian, which was fairly uncalled for (especially considering what the guy is arguing). In fact, I never said a word about anything you wrote. I didn't even address you. Why? Because I did indeed read your first comment and pretty much agreed with the general positions you were putting forth. Still do. Hence, no need to start a fight where one didn't exist.

But, for some reason, you felt the need to make an issue--and only god knows why. You asserted the idea that I didn't address your post because it was "too difficult"? Got an ego issue there, DJ? I still have no idea why you're on here defending Brian's basic argument about the Egyptian people getting their just due. His argument is complete BS. I still find it horribly ironic that you dismiss what he said offhand and are all hell bent on lecturing me about the niceties of blog comments sections. I still think you might consider rethinking your position. I mean, did you READ what the guy wrote?

"Given that you are willing to grant me some sense of rational thought, consider then that I can also find valid points in other posts. Brian's citation of Churchill was to the point that there is a spirit of rigid ideology to political Islam, which both poisons the culture and corrodes the social structure through practice of Sharia in a way which prevents innovation, common sense, and the public weal."

Sure, I've read enough of your work here, and I think you make some good arguments. I even think that your first comment here raises some good, thoughtful points. Your sudden need to support Brian's argument, however, makes absolutely no sense.

Trust me, I get the point Brian was trying to make by using the Churchill quote--and I think it was pretty poor argumentation all said and done, especially considering what he was trying to prove. Brian used that quote to support his argument that people are getting their just due. So in 1899 Churchill writes that Islam has a rigid, highly ideological component. Churchill also makes all sorts of other questionable remarks and observations which need to be understood in a particular colonial context, and not simply taken as gospel. So it goes with historical documents. My argument: the supposed rigid ideological structure of Islam (or some factions of Islam), especially as explained by Churchill in 1899, certainly DO NOT explain the entire situation in Egypt or the surrounding ME, let alone justify Brian's primary assertion. No way. His assertion about millions of people in the ME is patently false, and he hasn't provided any counter argument otherwise. Not even close.

"It's a trite expression, but Egypt is very much at a crossroads. As a military ally of the U.S., and a political anchor as well as social figurehead for the region, the stakes are high indeed."

Agreed. The stakes are definitely high.

"Handled properly, the transition from the present condition to the resolution, whatever is reached, may be to the general welfare, but if any of a number of points are mishandled, things can go very badly indeed."

Agreed, once again. This can go a number of ways, and could either be a positive change or end up going from bad to worse. Hard to tell at this point.

"Lebanon is perhaps the best example, another secular success which collapsed under civil strife and which has never been the same. No one in 1970 would have ever believed Lebanon would fall into the sectarian chaos whhc struck it down, and from which it has yet to recover."

Lebanon is one historical example we can look to, and so is Iran. The histories of Turkey might be interesting to consider as well. Overall, a lot remains to be seen. In conclusion, as I have already said, I tend to agree with many of your assessments. Maybe we disagree with the details, maybe not.

Ultimately, I still think you misinterpreted SOMETHING along the way, because I am not sure what has you all worked up. I am not sure why you are defending Brian's argument--especially considering the fact that his sweeping generalizations actually don't jive with a lot of what you have said. You have already pointed out that there is a possibility for change, and Brian is arguing that the region is rightly destined to live under repressive conditions BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THE PEOPLE DESERVE.

If you still think that I am not giving Brian a fair shake, and want to continue making your little accusations about etiquette and such, so be it. I have taken plenty of time to think through what he is saying, and that dog don't hunt.

** sigh **I suppos... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

** sigh **

I suppose it's a bit late to suggest, ryan, that sometimes 'less is more'.

That a concise statement is better than a broadside, especially an emotional one?

Or are you just looking for reasons to be upset?

Seriously, if I wanted to be lectured by a wanna-be diva, I'd just go tune in 'The View'.

In sum, we seem to agree on substance for the most part, but there's too much glare in your tone, ryan. I'm not 'worked up' as you claim, but I do think you seem a bit over-wrought.

DJ, God grief. Wh... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

DJ,

God grief. What a complete and utter cop-out on your part. Nice job dodging every substantive point I raised. You managed to completely evade all of the specific questions I asked while ironically resorting to more ad hominem BS. You might think you're being witty, but I'm not impressed.

"I suppose it's a bit late to suggest, ryan, that sometimes 'less is more'."

Evasive and off point.

"That a concise statement is better than a broadside, especially an emotional one?"

Evasive, once again. Stick to the questions and issues at hand. Spare me advice about the merits of brevity. The last post was long because I addressed you point by point.

"Or are you just looking for reasons to be upset?"

Once again, off point and irrelevant. But nice try.

"Seriously, if I wanted to be lectured by a wanna-be diva, I'd just go tune in 'The View'."

Yet another attempt to use ad hominem BS to shift the argument away from the issue at hand. Not working out all that well for you, DJ. Try to stick to the issues, if possible.

"In sum, we seem to agree on substance for the most part..."

We agree about the basic substance of your first post, and completely disagree, apparently, about Brian's argument--and you have yet to explain what your issue was there. You did address the Churchill quote, but your argument was a bit flimsy.

"...but there's too much glare in your tone, ryan."

So there's too much "glare" in my tone for you to actually address the questions I asked you? Is this a tactic you use often to dodge issues?

"I'm not 'worked up' as you claim, but I do think you seem a bit over-wrought."

Glad to hear you're not worked up. What makes you say that I seem "over-wrought"? The fact that I respond to questions and challenges without resorting to name calling? Then color me "over-wrought," pal.

Look DJ, you misread the situation and jumped the gun when you decided to intervene with the discussion I was having with Brian. Just admit it and move on. Shit happens. Or, you can keep playing little evasive games and dodging all of the issues. And if you think that your ad hominem nonsense is in any way effective, well, it's not.

Nice talking with you too, ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Nice talking with you too, ryan.

(sheesh)

Look DJ,If you are... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Look DJ,

If you are going to jump into the fray, by all means. I have read enough of your work on this site to know that you are certainly adept at expressing your ideas and opinions. But stick to the arguments at hand. I don't have much patience for folks who dismiss arguments and points in favor of petty ad hominem nonsense, which for some reason you felt was necessary in this case. It's not offensive, DJ, it's a waste of time. If you have a point, I am by all means willing and ready to listen respectfully. Even if I strongly disagree. And when you do decide to jump in and argue on behalf of someone else, it might be a good idea to think about the primary argument that you are coming out in support of. Details certainly do matter.

Cheers,

RA

I'm going to try one more t... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

I'm going to try one more time to treat you as an adult, ryan.

First off, do yourself a favor and read through your posts here. The 'all caps' statements, the way you went off on Brian, me, Lgbpop ... good gracious, if you were not going on a rant, you'd be well off your gourd if you ever did start one. I was trying to use humor to suggest that you were overpowering your argument with an excess of emotion and over-sensitivity.

People disagree, even when they get along. Imagine that. As I said earlier, I found part of Brian's post wrong and part right, and commented on the part I found apt. You missed my point or ignored it, which ended up the same thing for practical purposes, but then you began demanding I answer you on your terms, admit I was wrong and you were right, et cetera ... and yet you don't see the reason for the 'diva' comment.

Geez, it's a waste of time trying to get you to think, maybe ... but as a hint, demanding other people say what you want to read, pretend you are perfect in your own style and presence, well son, in your own words 'that dog won't hunt'.


"I'm going to try one more ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"I'm going to try one more time to treat you as an adult, ryan."

More of the same. Ok, you can't stop any time now. Just stick to making your points.

"First off, do yourself a favor and read through your posts here. The 'all caps' statements, the way you went off on Brian, me, Lgbpop ... good gracious, if you were not going on a rant, you'd be well off your gourd if you ever did start one."

Calling it a "rant" dismisses the content of the argument. The caps were used to emphasize words, much in the same way that you use bold font or italics--sometimes I use caps b/c they do not require html brackets. Nice try though.

Brian made an assertion, and I challenged it, strongly. And I stuck to the arguments at hand, period. You're calling it a rant because you either disagree with me, or don't have a counter argument. Plenty of people around here post long comments, especially as debates/arguments develop. So give up the whole "rant" bit argue against content rather than making superficial quips.

"People disagree, even when they get along. Imagine that."

Spare me the lecture on decorum. You're the one who chimed in with the persistent ad hominem nonsense.

"As I said earlier, I found part of Brian's post wrong and part right, and commented on the part I found apt."

You never once addressed the part that you disagreed with, and you know it. And that was the main part that I disagreed with, strongly. That was the whole point of my argument, DJ.

"You missed my point or ignored it, which ended up the same thing for practical purposes, but then you began demanding I answer you on your terms, admit I was wrong and you were right, et cetera ... and yet you don't see the reason for the 'diva' comment."

DJ, I didn't ignore your point--I addressed the point you did make (about Churchill) directly. Period. You made no other point. And, since you jumped in to defend Brian's spurious argument so eagerly, I challenged you to defend it. You did everything you could to dodge and avoid that challenge. All you had to say, ultimately, was that you didn't agree with that statement or that you were not interested in debating it. Done.

"Geez, it's a waste of time trying to get you to think, maybe ... but as a hint, demanding other people say what you want to read, pretend you are perfect in your own style and presence, well son, in your own words 'that dog won't hunt'."

I see, now I can't think for myself. Seriously, it would do you a lot of good if you dropped this paternalistic bit. Look, you made assertions, and I challenged them directly. You evaded the issues, and that's about it. If you don't want to debate or discuss issues, that's your prerogative. But don't play a bunch of games. I am by no means perfect--far from it. But I do know a false argument when I see one. And I am certainly not afraid to say something when I do.

Typo:Should read: ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Typo:

Should read: "Ok, you CAN stop any time now."

** sigh **You just... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

** sigh **

You just love that opinion of yours, ryan. So much that you pay no freaking attention to what else has to say.

Good luck with that.

Don't bother with a response, you're just repeating the same spit and whine now. And as of now, I am done with this thread. You wanna go on with your show, you're officially talking to yourself now.

/waste of time... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

/waste of time




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