The US State Department’s Position on Egypt

I must note that per the New York Times, the memo appears to have gone out that Mubrak no longer has US support, but that is a very long way from saying that the US is in favor of uncontrolled outcomes, despite the sudden adoption of “pro democracy” spin:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition to meet the democratic and economic needs of the people” in Egypt, stopping short of asking its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to resign, but laying the groundwork for his departure.
Related

Mrs. Clinton, making a round of Sunday talk shows, said Mr. Mubarak’s future was up to the Egyptian people. But she said on “State of the Union” on CNN that the United States stood “ready to help with the kind of transition that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.”

Speaking more bluntly than administration officials have so far, Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Mubarak’s appointment of a vice president was only the “bare beginning” of a process that must include a government dialogue with the protesters and “free, fair, and credible” elections, scheduled for September.

I’d love to have overheard the call with Netanyahu.

This little piece strikes me as a tad closer to the truth:

Given the fact that our little policy of backing dictators that are willing to bend to our interests has just backfired in a rather serious way, one might think a fundamental reassessment might be in order. As former CIA director Emile Nakhleh writes in the Financial Times:

The possible toppling of the regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, following unprecedented street protests, will be as dramatic for US policy as the removal of the Shah of Iran over three decades ago. US policymakers were caught just as off guard in 1978 as they were last week. The question of “who lost Iran” that bedevilled US policy and intelligence leaders must now be crackling again in the air as those sitting in Washington watch Cairo burn. They were not prepared for the chaos following the Shah’s collapse, and they are not prepared for what may follow Mr Mubarak today…

The problems that faced the US since the ayatollahs took power in Iran could quickly be repeated in post-Mubarak Egypt. When Tunisia’s dictator was ousted three weeks ago, Washington and other western capitals did not believe the scenario could be replicated in Egypt, for the same tired arguments: the state is too strong, the security services are in full control, and the army is loyal to the ruler. A variant of this argument says that secular elites, frightened of Islamists, would not rise up against a fellow “secular” regime. Or even more condescendingly: the Egyptian people are apathetic and afraid….

Failure to anticipate the intensity, size and persistence of these anti-Mubarak protests show that US policymakers have ignored the social and economic realities. They have been lulled by a pro-stability narrative that has been spun out by Mr Mubarak and other Arab autocrats. Unfortunately for Cairo and Washington, the street is saying the game is up.

Before I left the US government four years ago, my colleagues and I on numerous occasions briefed policymakers on Egypt’s dire economic and social conditions. If those conditions were not addressed, we argued, the “Arab street” would boil over. We said the tipping point would occur when different segments of the population – notably secular and religious – coalesced against the regime. Yet when our policymakers expressed concern to Mr Mubarak and other autocrats, they were told: “Don’t worry about it, we have it under control.” No longer fighting foreign wars, their militaries and security services were trained against their peoples.

So the uprising was not a “whocouldanode”; the powers that be were warned, but changing course no doubt looked inconvenient and costly. And while Nakhleh is hopeful that Obama will live up to his promises of a “new beginning” in Cairo, those of us who have seen his “change” bait and switch at close range know better.

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36 comments

  1. Foppe

    The drivel Hillary is spouting is nauseating even without the subtitles that link some of the euphemisms to their practical consequences. She doesn’t say a word that can be construed as actual support for a democratic movement – just that they realize they’ll probably have to accept a regime change in the near future.

    1. DownSouth

      Hillary’s actions remind me of something from Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil In the discussion of whether the killing of Jews had gone against Eichmann’s conscience, Arendt relates the following:

      In the letter to Field Marshal von Kluge, quoted above, Goerdeler once appealed to Kluge’s “voice of conscience.” But all he meant was that even a general must understand that “to continue the war with no chance for victory was an obvious crime.”

      In his book The Moral Dimension Amitai Etzioni asserts that people “have both an absolute and an expedient morality.”

      What Hillary, just like the Nazi commanders, dishes out in spades is “expedient morality.”

      1. Francois T

        Speaking of Hillary, here’s a rather non-amusing tidbit she spewed yesterday during a press conference. When asked about the US position toward a probable government of transition (and after having dispensed with the “but it’s an hypothetical question”) she said that the wish was for a real democracy, and not the kind of elections “they had in Iran 2 years ago”.

        Hillary…tickle me!

        Yes! The elections in Iran were fraudulent. We knew that. What she forgot to mention is the results of the last Egyptian election where the Muslim Brotherhood was “able” to lose all the seats they had in Parliament. No one believe these elections wee fair, yet, Hillary took a GOOJF card on that one.

        Spell P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C.

        1. Crazy Horse

          Selective memory is a wonderful thing. Here in the USA we have “free” elections like the one in Jeb Bush’s Florida that allowed little bush to ascend to the Presidency. We send Jimmy Carter to banana republics to certify the validity of elections by evaluating exit polls, meanwhile using electronic voting machines that any teenage hacker (even the Republican national committee ones) can alter with a simple keystroke–. Four years later in Ohio an election in which the official results and election polls were miles apart sealed the deal for his second term.

  2. Carrick

    Although worth a chuckle, the video is just unhelpful cynicism. I spent all day watch AlJazeera English, being inspired and intrigued by the prospect of a democratic and just wave sweeping the M.E.

    But I think the State Dept’s caution is warranted. I also think the average spectator’s lack of appreciation for the nuanced delicate diplomacy needed here, is nauseating. The U.S. has to manage an out of touch autocrat, consider Israel (with all its baggage, politics and meddling), walk a tight rope between appearing supportive of protestors and not interfering, while position itself to be a near future mediator between the current govt and whoever may step in. To top it off, the U.S. has to consider its reputation with our other uncomfortable allies (Pakistan anyone?) Who wants to see a botched response result in an emboldened islamic govt movement in Egypt, and unrest in Pakistan at the same time their Generals decide the U.S. is a fair weather friend.

    I really want Egypt to become a democracy, and I don’t care if they stop ‘buying’ our weaponry or spend a few decades sour on the U.S. But a society marching doesn’t mean we’ll get that. The delicate dance that happens in the next couple weeks/months will decide what kind of world the Middle East is going to look like. It may feel great and be “right” for the U.S. to draw a line in the sand, but it may not help us or the protestors.

    Totally want to see it happen, just like the protestors. Doesn’t mean we’ll get it.

    People keep saying the U.S. shold come out with strong support for the protestors.

    1. attempter

      Yes, things get very complicated for organized crime systems when their victims start fighting back in sufficient numbers that the gangsters can’t just disappear them.

      When the whole agenda is to destroy democracy and plunder the productive people, the dance does tend to get delicate sometimes.

      One of the consolations of supporting democracy and not being a liar and a thief is that one doesn’t get caught up in such artificially generated complexities.

      1. Walter Westcot

        This kind of conversation requires some disclosure on ethnic bias.

        I’ll go first.

        I think everybody who says we need a ‘nuanced’ view of delicate diplomacy – [Carrick and leroguetradeur] have more than a passing interest in Zionism.

        Neocons pose as ‘just us Americans’ – when they most certainly are NOT.

        A bit of disclosure goes a long way when judging the pedigree of these exchanges. America is occupied territory, and Israel’s agents are everywhere.

        I am NOT J+wish.

        next?

        uh, next?

        1. DownSouth

          Are George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Barak Obama, by far the most powerful neocons to emerge on the American stage, Jewish?

          And you seem to be suggesting that Jews are disproportionately neocon. Do you have any empirical data to back that up? This poll found that “Even on the eve of the war, fewer American Jews than other Americans were supportive of the prospect of going to war with Iraq.” That would indicate that Jews are disproportionately not neocon.

          Furthermore, the sophistries articulated by Carrick and leroguetradeur have been around long before the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948 or the word “Zionist” entered the popular lexicon. The blueprint was formulated by Napoleon and published in the Description de l’Égypte in twenty-three enormous volumes between 1809 and 1828. As Edward W. Said explained in Orientalism:

          To restore a region from its present barbarism to its former classical greatness; to instruct (for its own benefit) the Orient in the ways of the modern West; to subordinate or underplay military power in order to aggrandize the project of glorious knowledge acquired in the process of political domination of the Orient; to formulate the Orient, to give it shape, identity, definition with full recognition of its place in memory, its importance to imperial strategy, and its “natural” role as an appendage to Europe;…to make out of every observable detail a generalization and out of every generalization an immutable law about the Oriental nature, temperament, mentality, custom, or type; and, above all, to transmute living reality into the stuff of texts, to possess (or think one possesses) actuality mainly because nothing in the Orient seems to resist one’s powers; these are the feature of Orientalist projection entirely realized in the Description de l’Égypte, itself enabled and reinforced by Naploeons’s wholly Orientalist engulfment of Egypt by the instruments of Western knowledge and power.

          […]

          Moreover, the sheer power of having described the Orient in modern Occidental terms lifts the Orient from the realms of silent obscurity where it has lain neglected (except for the inchoate murmurings of a vast but undefined sense of its own past) into the clarity of modern European science.

    2. DownSouth

      Carrick said: “I also think the average spectator’s lack of appreciation for the nuanced delicate diplomacy needed here, is nauseating.”

      What is this? The invasion of the neocons?

      Carrick’s comment comes out of the same playbook as this one by leroguetradeur on this thread, where leroguetradeur proclaims:

      The comments as usual consist mainly of amateur anarchists who seem to know nothing about politics, government or the Middle East…

      Andrew J. Bacevich, writing in The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War, has this to say about this rhetorical style crafted by Norman Podhoretz whereby the “neoconservative version of truth” is “typically portrayed as self-evident and beyond dispute”:

      Fervor, certainty, and contempt for those on the other side…became marks of honor.

      So after denouncing anyone who doesn’t march in lockstep with them as being totally ignorant and benighted, Carrick and leroguetradeur set about citing all the same old hackneyed neocon talking points, the same old talking points that we’ve heard ad nauseam.

      As to Carrick’s grave concern about “unrest in Pakistan,” he might want to consider honoring Pakistan’s sovereignty by stopping the US drone attacks on innocent civilians there. These attacks are radicalizing the people of Pakistan, as it thoroughly documented in this video documentary.

      Oh, but I forget. Neocons don’t live in this world. They “create their own reality.”

    3. Adam

      Yves, your commentary is fresh air in a room full of mouth-breathers. Thank you.

      Carrick,

      You say, “I also think the average spectator’s lack of appreciation for the nuanced delicate diplomacy needed here, is nauseating”

      The Egyptian people won’t wait for “delicate diplomacy”. 82 million of them, waiting for 30 years. Throw out the thugs.

  3. Richard Kline

    Barack Obama just at the moment finds himself in the same badly fitting, slightly charred suit Mikhail Gorbachev had on in 1989. Mubarak is doomed; the protestors include absolutely everyone in the country except the Presidential guard, and have all of the momentum; clearly no one on the ground is going to give an order to fire on the people. So: sweeping change, which the US has no ability to steer (nor should it). It might be nice to make some conciliatory statements to try to retain a relationship with Egypt’s military from the US point of view. However, the US still has a whole _further_ network of servile quisling autocrats on our tab wholly despised by their entire peoples, as well as a few odious dictators _not_ on our tab in exactly the same position (Sudan and Syria standing in for Serbia and Romania back in the day). The US government can only keep the still extant quislings in place by backing them publicly and 110%,. Should the US hob and nob with the popular revolutionaries in Egypt the remaining quislings would very likely panic, and turn to sure-to-fail machine gun repression or political openings to bring in elements and positions hostile to the US as the only options which might keep said quislings in power.

    This is why we here pathetic ‘change everything so long as you change nothing meaningful’ gabbling out of Barack’s mouth, while his foreign minister floats toy balloons of ‘we think well of these little people’ which can be used to show later, after the change comes, that ‘we were really with you all along.’ It’s a fatuous and sterile kabuki show, which only displays in blinding black and white the the US stands for absolutely _nothing_ beyond expecting our colossal ass to be kissed at the end of the day. Nothing Barack and Hilary say will have any more impact on the situation than what Gorbachev had to say in 1989: it isn’t our country, it isn’t our revolution, and since we’re not going to shoot we have nothing else we’re prepared to offer that’s relevant. That’s because we have backed the odious oppressors here who are being cast off by their societies absolutely all the way. Those billions we’ve shipped Egypt: to arm, train and pay those Gestapo police who are so despised, vendor subsidies to the higher-ups to buy US grain with the consequence that Egyptian farmers are beggared, and buy-in’s on all those ‘privatized’ public concerns where some of the few well-paying jobs for the masses are cut, and the salaries of the remainder shaved. Our government has nothing to offer the people of Egypt except a shut mouth, though a sincere apology for funding their oppression would be very much in order.

    And pace Nakhleh, but the Fall of the Pharaoh is a much, much bigger even for US policy than the Fall of the Shah ever was or could be. The US was originally invested in Iran far more as a component of rivalry with Russia than for reason of Iran in and of itself. Yes, Iran had a democratic movement which we overtly helped overthrow and brutally crush; Iran also had a sizable socialist movement, and several generations of contacts with Russia. In 1979, the US barely even had functioning diplomatic relationships with most Arab states, and no substantial military establishment. After the fall of the Shah, a comprehensive program of outbidding Russia for the support of the Arab caudillos was pushed, substantially for reason of squeezing Russia out of the region since we looked bad getting tossed out of Iran and there was fear ‘Russia would lock up the region.’ So since that time, the US has made numerous direct ties to the odious regimes in the area, and directly moved substantial military forces there. Pre-1979, the engagement or disengagement with a given nation in the Near East and SW Asia was not of great import, but now having drawn a line around these places and declared them ‘our satellites’ our prestige really IS on the line. Not our security mind you: there is not now nor has there ever been a national security threat _to the UIS_ in the Near East or SW Asia. There was a threat to Europe and Japan’s oil supplies, which we meant and mean to control so as to continue to control them. There was a threat to Israel which the US has managed in an astounding way to become a subject nation to. But there is not national security threat for the US here. Since we’ve trained and armed the Gestapos of _all_ these wretched little men but a few holdouts, and stuffed their militaries full of our second-tier weapon systems, we’ve put our prestige fully on the line there now, however.

    —And no state is more crucial to that police-state hegemonic system than Egypt. None: this is the big one, the keystone. Our entire program of running quislings to boss the ‘ragheads’ for us depends utterly on Egypt taking the lead. From the geographic standpoint, from the population standpoint, from the standpoint of Egypt’s external engagement independent of the US already, and from the standpoint of a safe haven for democratic reformers still struggling in other benighted countries nearby, our presumed strategic position collapses without control of Egypt. This is entirely independent of the question of radical Islam, but there is a further level there too, if one entirely of our own making. Political Islam _began in Egypt_, and has always had its strongest following there. That was under the British, and the secular nationalists were busy repressing engaged believers there before the US had any significant presence or involvement. (It was Nasser who hung Sayyed Qutb, for example.) Political Islamists only really became hostile to the US after 1979 when the US backed _without reservation and indeed with gusto_ all the quisling regimes of the Near East we could bully into taking our money. Osama bin Laden personally had almost nothing to do with attacking the US, but Ayman al-Zawahiri most certainly did: he and his surviving radicals had been driven out of Egypt, and looked to attack the US both in revenge and as the only means of ever making a breakthrough of their own in Egypt subsequently.

    Will Egypt become a hotbed of political Islam? Personally I doubt it. What I think is certain is that the present US policy of ‘kill ’em anywhere’ is a dead letter once Egypt has an autonomous government again, because hotbed or not it will be a haven of 80m people who’s government is likely to be very unwilling to winkle them out for the US given past experience.

    A truly popular government in Egypt renders untenable US strategy of a generation in the area, and is a total gamechanger for Israel, regardless of what exact policy is pursued by Egypt. The further spread of popular reform is certain, with further erosion of self-hating, occupier-favoring, quisling regimes such as remain extant. I fully expect the US to regroup and try everything in its power to pursue counter-revolution, in Egypt and elsewhere. I don’t want to see that, it’s just that this is likely on past precedent. The end result will not favor us, but we have the potential to cause extreme suffering in the 5-20 year range if that is the policy settled on, and as a first hypothesis that is what I expect. So my counsel to those pushing change in the Near East, for what it’s worth in the present very fluid moment, is: consolidate as quickly as possible, and forge ties outside the US web immediately. Turkey, France, and Germany beckon, but if the US threatens don’t be slow or shy in holding out your hand to those whom we feel are our larger competitors. The US is _never_ going to mean you well in this generation, not until facts on the ground consolidate, and it’s clear that the old game is over and done. I don’t think I need to give that advice, because those there know it better than I do.

    The American public needs to understand that we are bad for the health of those in the Near East given our track record, so if they’re standoffish and ‘uncooperative’ that should be neither surprising not taken as provocative. We owe those living there a huge apology for condescending to them, funding their oppressors, and in multiple instances invading their countries ourselves. Short of that, we have nothing constructive to offer.

    1. Externality

      Your policies make sense. How do you suggest implementing them when the foreign policy establishment and large elements of both parties are controlled by Israel-firsters? Anyone in DC who tries to do what is best for the Egyptian (or American) people, and not the State of Israel, will be subjected to widespread charges of antisemitism, “blood libels,” “ignoring the next Hitler,” etc.

      According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, it only took “a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals” to get the US embroiled in the Iraq war. How many neo-cons will it take to convince “Serious People” in DC that the US needs to fight Egypt? As we saw with President Clinton’s war against Serbia, even a decision by Congress and the UN not to authorize the use of force is not enough to stop a war that the “Serious People” want other people’s children to fight.

      From Haaretz:

      In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history. They believe that the right political idea entails a fusion of morality and force, human rights and grit. The philosophical underpinnings of the Washington neoconservatives are the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Edmund Burke. They also admire Winston Churchill and the policy pursued by Ronald Reagan. They tend to read reality in terms of the failure of the 1930s (Munich) versus the success of the 1980s (the fall of the Berlin Wall).

      Are they wrong? Have they committed an act of folly in leading Washington to Baghdad? They don’t think so. They continue to cling to their belief. They are still pretending that everything is more or less fine. That things will work out. Occasionally, though, they seem to break out in a cold sweat. This is no longer an academic exercise, one of them says, we are responsible for what is happening. The ideas we put forward are now affecting the lives of millions of people. So there are moments when you’re scared. You say, Hell, we came to help, but maybe we made a mistake.

      4. Thomas Friedman

      [..]

      Some things are true even if George Bush believes them, [Thomas] Friedman says with a smile. And after September 11, it’s impossible to tell Bush to drop it, ignore it. There was a certain basic justice in the overall American feeling that told the Arab world: we left you alone for a long time, you played with matches and in the end we were burned. So we’re not going to leave you alone any longer.

      (emphasis added)
      http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/white-man-s-burden-1.14110

      1. DownSouth

        If I were looking for someone to blame the Iraq war on, Dick Cheney and Ronald Rumsfeld would be at the top of my list. And neither one of them is Jewish.

        The rise of Rumsfeld and Cheney as powerful political figures coincided with the rise of the neocon press and “intellectuals.” From the outset, the neocon project had no more resolute and vigorous advocate than Norman Podhoretz, who began banging the neocon war drums beginning in the 1970s. But by 1975 Rumsfeld was already Secretary of Defense. And by 1978 Cheney was White House Chief of Staff. And both were avowed neocons well before being appointed to these positions.

        Did the Jews cast some strange neocon spell on Cheney and Rumsfeld that causing an uncontrollable urge to do battle with Iraq?

        When I hear things like that I am reminded of this passage from Christoph Zuschlag’s “An ‘Educational Exhibition’: The Precursors of Entartete Kunst and Its Individual Venues”:

        The irrational polemics against “Jewish-Bolshevist” art (one of the most widely used slogans to characterize “degenerate” art) were a distillation of that National Socialist view of the world that discovered the workings of “international Judaism” everywhere it looked: “The 1918 Revolution was Jewish, as was the whole of the Weimar Republic; Jewish, too, was Marxism and the Soviet ‘dictatorship of blood,’ and so too, of course, was the international investment capital; the political parties of the left were ‘a mercenary force in the pay of the Jews,’ and, finally, democracy, parliament, the majority, and the League of Nations were Jewish.”

        1. Walter Westcot

          thou dost protest too much

          Please don’t blow smoke up our gentile behinds

          —the hand behind the Cheney Rumsfeld Curtain WAS Jewish.

          1. DownSouth

            Walter Westcot said: “Please don’t blow smoke up our gentile behinds”

            Oh, I don’t think I need to. Someone else seems to already be doing a pretty good job of that.

        2. Externality

          Par for the course: criticize Israel or the neo-cons, get compared to the Nazis.

          DownSouth said:
          If I were looking for someone to blame the Iraq war on, Dick Cheney and Ronald Rumsfeld would be at the top of my list.

          Cheney and Rumsfeld, while fellow travelers of the neo-con movement, were merely the hired help. If Al Gore had become president, his VP would have been neo-con and Iraq war advocate Joseph Lieberman.

          The fingerprints of the neo-cons were all over Clinton’s war on Serbia, cruise missile attack on Sudan’s Al-Shifa pharmaceutical complex, and two major attacks on Iraq. Just as with the 2003 Iraq War, the neo-cons used inflammatory comparisons to Nazi Germany (“Milosevic/Saddam/Al-Bashir the next Hitler”), false allegations regarding WMDs, denigration of international law and institutions, and savage personal attacks on opponents to get the wars that they wanted.

          Just as with the 2003 Iraq War, the Clinton-era neo-cons exhibited a sociopathic indifference to the aftermath of the Clinton-era attacks they helped cause. The Al-Shifa attack, based on false accusations of nerve agent production, caused, according to international experts, “several tens of thousands” of Sudanese to die from preventable and treatable diseases. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Shifa The Iraq sanctions and bombardments killed “half a million” Iraqi children. When asked about it, Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright stated that “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeline_albright#60_Minutes_interview
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Iraq_(December_1998)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Iraq_(September_1996)

          After Rumsfeld and Cheney left power in 2006 and 2009, respectively, the neo-cons simply went back to work pushing for sanctions against and war with Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, and anyone else who the believed could endanger Israel. Even under Obama, the neo-cons still have substantial influence in the media, White House, State Department, and think-tank/military/industrial complex. In some ways, the neo-cons have had more success under Obama than they did with Bush. Even Bush refused to massively escalate the war in Afghanistan, randomly bombard Pakistan, publicly announce that the president and his (unidentified) designees can kill American citizens without any legal process whatsoever, and further escalate the national security state.

          1. gepay

            It is not true that Zionists – neocons – Jews – run the US or the world. It is true that in comparison with their numbers, they are vast over represented in the halls of power and finance. I think it can also be said that the Israeli state is the 2nd most terrorist organization in the world behind the United States only because they are so much smaller in size. That said, in numbers, they are just another sliver of the macroparasites making life hell on Earth for the billion(s) of poor people. Hypocritical believers of every major religion are represented in the elites who do own most of the wealth. I am sure that in numbers there are more so-called Christians among the families that comprise the various aristocracies. In Central and South America they attend Catholic masses and in the US and England they are mostly protestants. The world is a big place and the macroparasites living on the body of humanity number in the hundreds of millions. Technology has made the pie much bigger so there are layers and layers these days – not just the royal familes and attendant lords and ladies. They are still around, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands is the major stockholder in ‘Royal’ Dutch Shell. Bill Gates has married and taken up philanthropy so I imagine he was welcomed. Pablo Escobar was rich enough but somehow didn’t make the grade.

            “For in every city these two opposite parties [people vs aristocracy] are to be found, arising from the desire of the populace to avoid oppression of the great, and the desire of the great to command and oppress the people….For when the nobility see that they are unable to resist the people, they unite in exalting one of their number and creating him prince, so as to be able to carry out their own designs under the shadow of his authority.” (Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. IX)

            It will be interesting to see who ends up running Egypt.

          2. DownSouth

            Does neoconservative = Jewish?

            The neoconservatives would surely have us believe so. The well-known neoconservative David Brooks wrote that “con is short for ‘conservative’ and neo is short for ‘Jewish’.”

            The Israeli counter-terrorism expert Barry Rubin claims that “’neo-conservative’ is a codeword for Jewish.”

            And Haaretz, from the quote you cite, certainly seems to be promoting the neocon party line.

            The reason for this should be obvious. If neoconservative = Jewish, then anyone who criticizes neconservatism is also criticizing being Jewish. Thus the critics of neoconservatives can be branded as anti-Semitic.

            How a political doctrine can be the equivalent of an ethnic group is beyond me. The notion is patently nonsensical. It’s like saying Fascist = German, or Bolshevik = Jewish. The Nazis were especially fond of this latter formulation.

            But there’s a whole other group that buys into the neoconservative = Jewish formulation. And this group is not neoconservative, but its polar opposite. This group has concocted a conspiracy theory purporting to explain how American foreign policy has been captured by a sinister and hitherto little-known cabal. A small band of neoconservative (read, Jewish) defense intellectuals has taken advantage of 9/11 to put their ideas over on Bush and Obama. Thus empowered, this neoconservative conspiracy has fomented war with Iraq in the service of Israel’s Likud government. These conspiracy theorists hail from both extremes of the political spectrum, and include such notables as Patrick J. Buchanan and Eric Alterman.

            But the conspiracy theorists live in just as much of a fantasy world as do the neocons. To believe in the conspiracy theory, one has to believe that prominent non-Jewish neocons like George Bush, Barak Obama, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are just bit players. So Richard Perle has more political power than Barak Obama, William Kristol more than Dick Cheney, Charles Krauthammer more than Donald Rumsfeld, and Douglas Feith more than George Bush.

          3. DownSouth

            I would just add one thing that has always perplexed me, and that is how the conspiracy theorists are always, almost as if by a kneejerk reaction, blasted as racists, but the David Brooks, Barry Rubins and Haretzes of the world never are.

  4. mitchw

    It’s helpful to look to Riyadh. The Saudi’s can see who would be next if Mubarek falls, so they are likely sending him BILLIONS of petrodollars. This money will be used try to bribe the Egyptian people, a kind of long overdue redistribution of the Arabs’ wealth. Does anyone think our measly 1.5B annually means anything compared to a Saudi ruling family defending their own ramparts?

  5. Max424

    When oil consumption and production lines cross on a chart, bad things happen. Every time.

    Egypt was inevitable. Egypt is doomed. Next up on the cavalcade of failed petro-states: Mexico. You think things are bad there already? Um…no. Mexico’s real problems are just beginning.

    1. DownSouth

      Max424,

      The people of Mexico have suffered immensely under the heel of neoliberalism, just like the people of Egypt have as this story in The Guardian explains.

      The impact of neoliberalism on the rank and file of Mexico is documented in this paper as well as this one.

      I had breakfast a couple of days ago with a friend who keeps his thumb very much on the political pulse here in Mexico. He thinks you might see a situation in Mexico in 2012 very similar to what is going on in Egypt now. He does not think the U.S.-backed derechista (rightist) regime here in Mexico can survive another election cycle. In 2012, he predicts, the Mexican people will no longer sit still for the flagrant election fraud that has kept the U.S. puppet regimes in power for so long. President Calderon’s “War on Drugs,” which comes out of the same playbook as Obama’s “War on Terror,” has been an absolute catastrophe. People want changes in the underlying social and economic situation. The neoliberal policies of the ruling elite have created a vacuum which criminal organizations have rushed in to fill. The solution to this is for the government to represent the people, thus depriving the criminal mafias of their socio-economic base of support, without which they cannot survive.

      Furthermore, he said that if the U.S. oligarchy is so incompetent that it can’t even keep Mexico under its heel, this signals the end of the era of U.S. neo-imperialism.

      1. Externality

        You are assuming that the War on Drugs, as implemented in Mexico, is only about drugs. It is not.

        During the Clinton administration, the American people made it clear that they did not want to help Mexico suppress the low-level insurgencies being waged against its government by peasants, poor urbanites, and other victims of neo-liberal trade and currency policies. Mexican groups such as the Zapatistas caught the popular imagination in the US and Americans were stunned to see US-made Humvees and combat aircraft being used to against Mexican peasants. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapatista_Army_of_National_Liberation
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiapas_conflict

        Later, the Clinton and Bush (43) administrations sought to undermine the insurgencies by encouraging mass legal and illegal immigration to the US. It is no accident that young Mexican men of military age, often from the Mayan, non-Spanish, speaking areas of Mexico, suddenly began coming to the US. (These areas also had much higher TFRs than the rest of Mexico or US Hispanics, creating a growing population rendered obsolete by NAFTA and “currency reform.”) By depleting the Zapatista’s recruiting pool, mass immigration helped undermine the Zapatistas. Since the 2008 crash, American can not absorb, financially or socially, the costs associated with continued mass immigration from the poorer areas of Mexico. Tensions between African-Americans and recent Hispanic immigrants, for example, have increased and occasionally erupted into violence. Thus came the WoD.

        Faced with popular pressure to limit immigration of unskilled labor from Mexico, and the unpopularity of openly fighting Mexican insurgents, the Wall Street, DC and Mexico City elites decided to greatly escalate the Mexican WoD and label, for public consumption, anyone who opposes the neo-liberal regime in Mexico a drug-trafficker. (Opponents of friendly regimes are always given a simplistic label that conflates them with the threat de jour. During the Cold War, rebellious peasants in Latin America were always linked to the USSR; during the War on Terror, Muslim groups that annoy US allies are linked to Al Qaeda, Iran, or some other boogieman.) American military aid to and Special Forces in Mexico are necessary, we are told to protect the Mexican and American people from drugs. Now violent incidents and mass killings (on all sides) can be sold to the American people as necessary to protect American children against drugs.

        1. DownSouth

          Externality said: “You are assuming that the War on Drugs, as implemented in Mexico, is only about drugs.”

          I assumed no such thing.

          I said “President Calderon’s ‘War on Drugs’…comes out of the same playbook as Obama’s ‘War on Terror’.” It’s the politics of fear on both sides of the Rio Grande. Obama has his nurturing enemy in Osama bin Laden, and Calderon has a similar symbiotic relationship with Chapo Guzman.

          President Bill Clinton proclaimed that “protecting our people, our territory, our way of life” are the objectives of U.S. national security policy, goals that are to be advanced “through engagement and enlargement”—-NAFTA and drug control were listed as two key elements of such “engagement and enlargement.”

          “U.S. National Security is a global strategic doctrine, relative to maintaining economic, political and military supremacy in its zone of influence” is how Mexican politilogue Adolfo Aguilar Zinser defines these same policies.

          As the U.S.’s Mexican “sphere of influence” has deepened, every challenge to U.S. hegemony—-from guerilla movements to free capital flows to the deregulation of banking and finance to a reluctance to privatize a national petroleum corporation to the trafficking of drugs—-is evaluated by Washington as a possible threat to its own “national security.” Mexico, by the sheer weight of propinquity, presents the greatest threat to the “national security” of its northern neighbor. Oil, drugs, banking and finance, immigration, and subversion are all issues that heighten U.S. paranoia.

          1. skippy

            The only thing that resits gravity is money…eh…it flows uphill and then becomes the well spring of corrupt ideology , not much has chnaged in the coarse of humanity (= oxymoron for sharing).

            Skippy…in a full house, you share or contribute to chaos, take your pick humanity.

  6. voislav

    I think that administration is playing for time here. They know that Mubarak is not viable anymore but they’ve been caught with their pants down without a plan B. Now they need to maneuver things a bit so the “right” people end up in power. I think that they will try to push Mohamed ElBaradei through as the new leader. His quick appearance on the scene and media reporting surrounding him in North America are highly suggestive of someone supported by the administration. The protests are likely to continue for a few more days after which the government will announce “free and democratic” elections and Mubarak will retire with a golden handshake and immunity from prosecution. His family will be able to retain their business interests and his son is likely to resurface as a political candidate in a few years. We’ve seen this scenario play out many times in Eastern Europe over the years (colour revolutions), the only difference here is that the onset of “change” was spontaneous.

  7. Hugh

    Events in Egypt caught Washington, and both parties, flat-footed. They can’t exactly cheer on the dictator, but they aren’t enthused either with the prospect of change (away from their tame dictator) or with democratic forces which tend to be less predictable and more anti-American (for some reason they hold it against us that we backed their dictator for 30 years). I think the hope for chaos in the streets leading to a military coup to restore public order is fading. Right now, they are temporizing. They have no plan, and as voislav says, they are probably waiting to see what generals and oligarchs emerge that they can do business with.

  8. LeeAnne

    As Hillary sternly lectures, suggesting demonstrators are responsible for ‘violence’ in a ‘when did you stop beating your wife (see security police) kind of way, while peaceful demonstrators were burying their dead, killed by security police, and praying for the survival of hospitalized family members and friends, Muburak brazenly strengthens security police control.

    Her image belies the position she holds; absolutely no diplomacy or statesman-like qualities. More like a hag dominatrix devoid of sympathy let alone empathy for people.

  9. Conscience of a conservative

    I know this will cause a bad reaction from the Left. That is not my intent here. But seeing what is going on in Egypt and the support of dictators, must make one rethink whether George Bush’s “freedom agenda” was the right call.

    1. nanute

      Where can I read about this freedom agenda? I think it is right up there with the ownership society agenda.

  10. deeringothamnus

    Talk Radio has been promoting fear that this will be another Iran, and that the Egyptian revolution is driven by an unholy alliance of communists and islamic terrorists. It is plain to see that whoever this monkey works for is afraid Americans will take a cue. Egyptians are complaining about their kleptocracy and the integration of tycoons with their government. So should we. Is Obama nuts, to put Immelt into a prominent position. It only makes it appear as if our own kleptocrats are circling the wagons, which is fine, as it will be plain to see who is to blame during the next inevitable financial crisis. Americans won’t like standing in line to trade a chit for a rotten cabbage. That is what default looks like. Next time, threats and black mail won’t work, and Americans will not be denied the retribution and redistribution of ill gotten gains that beneficially happens from an economic crash. Many of us have little stake in the system and want to see it go.

  11. Kraken

    For me a real game changer could be
    Elbaradei. Because he has stood up
    to the western powers, and because
    he has a great intellect, he might
    just have enough credibility to garner
    enough support to pull this thing off.
    I believe that Arabs just might rally around
    this man.

  12. Scott Oof

    Posted by Michael J. Smith on Monday January 31, 2011

    Pitiful helpless giant

    “Thus the immortal Dick Nixon, back in April 1970 – oh, I remember it as if it were yesterday:

    If, when the chips are down, the world’s most powerful nation, the United States of America, acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.

    Totalitarianism and anarchy! There speaks a man of vision.

    Old Dick must be spinning like a uranium centrifuge, out in his Underground White House in Yorba Linda. One of the most remarkable and wonderful things about the Egyptian uprising – a conjuncture full of wonderful and remarkable things – is the apparently empty-handed bystandership of the global hegemon. All the usual blustering gangsters in Washington, from Obie Himself down through Hillary and even into the yapping ranks of congressional Wilmers…

    … are acting and speaking as though butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. A strange spirit of modesty and restraint has taken up residence in their heads. They’re all like, wait and see, democracy is a good thing, on the one hand on the other hand….

    Maybe they’ve got something frightful up their collective sleeve. But actually, I doubt it. What can they do? Nuke the place? Send the Marines?

    Events in Egypt, I think, resoundingly confirm the More Of Us Than Them principle. Pulling Egypt into “our” orbit was perhaps the greatest foreign-policy achievement of the Imperium in my lifetime; and now the God-Emperor and the Gorgon Medusa and all the soup-hounds have to stand by, inconspicuously wringing their hands and trying to keep the dismay from their faces, as the jewel in the Mideast crown rolls inexorably toward what is, from their point of view, a sewer grate.

    It’s amazing how flimsy a thing Empires really are seen to be, when lit from the right angle – how deeply they depend, like Oz the Great And Terrible, upon the manipulation of perceptions; and how rapidly thirty or forty million perceivers can suddenly agree to view matters in a different way.”

    http://stopmebeforeivoteagain.org/2011/01/pitiful_helpless_giant.html#comments

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