This Real News Network interview with Hamid Dabashi discusses the drivers and ramifications of Mohammed Morsi’s usurpation of democratic checks on the president. Dabashi mentions a New York Times story:
The New York Times yesterday had a new article about the understanding that is emerging between Obama and Morsi so far as Gaza is concerned—and Obama has a deeply corrupting influence.
While that no doubt has some truth, I believe this is the story Dabashi was referring to, “Egyptian President and Obama Forge Link in Gaza Deal,” and I was struck by these passages:
Over the course of the next 25 minutes, he and President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt hashed through ways to end the latest eruption of violence, a conversation that would lead Mr. Obama to send Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the region. As he and Mr. Morsi talked, Mr. Obama felt they were making a connection. Three hours later, at 2:30 in the morning, they talked again….
Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology. Most important, Mr. Obama told aides that he considered Mr. Morsi a straight shooter who delivered on what he promised and did not promise what he could not deliver.
“The thing that appealed to the president was how practical the conversations were — here’s the state of play, here are the issues we’re concerned about,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “This was somebody focused on solving problems.”
Aieee. Morsi spent 8 years in the US, getting his PhD in materials science and then serving as an assistant professor. I’ve seen this again and again with Japanese in particular, but in general with foreign nationals working for US companies in overseas offices. Americans who haven’t worked in a foreign country tend not to recognize how easily they are seduced by nationals who are Americanized, and gravitate towards them over more talented but less bicultural professionals.
This section reads as if Morsi knew the stakes involved in getting Obama in his camp, and knew how to sell to an American, and Obama acts as if he didn’t recognize he was being sold. Put it another way: what 11 dimensional chess theory can you give me for this story being positive for Obama? Letting the media on to some sort of newly formed personal rapport with Morsi probably isn’t good for Morsi with ordinary Egyptians, although it may be a plus in terms of his standing with the military.
And as for how much things have changed in Egypt, I have my own teeny data point. The Egyptian ambassador’s permanent residence is in my building. Arab Spring came and went, and we still have the same ambassador. And trust me, he looked pretty glum for a man whose profession is to be unruffled when the demonstrations first broke out.
From Real News Network: