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I've read about a thousand comments here arguing that the U.S. must not side with the protestors. The Obama administration is right to "stay out of it," I keep hearing, as if the United States weren't by definition already entangled with a dictatorship it's been propping up for decades. If Obama can call on Mubarak to leave by the fall, he can call on him to leave by next week. The truth is that by not siding squarely with the protestors, the United States is strengthening the regime, and the protestors know this.

Nicholas Kristof, who used to live in Cairo, went back to speak to the protestors. Please RTWT.

These pro-democracy protesters say overwhelmingly that America is on the side of President Mubarak and not with them. They feel that way partly because American policy statements seem so nervous, so carefully calculated — and partly because these protesters were attacked with tear gas shells marked “made in U.S.A.”...

Everywhere I go, Egyptians insist to me that Americans shouldn’t perceive their movement as a threat. And I find it sad that Egyptians are lecturing Americans on the virtues of democracy.

“We need your support,” pleaded Dr. Mahmood Hussein, a physiology professor. “We need freedom.”

Our equivocation isn’t working. It’s increasingly clear that stability will come to Egypt only after Mr. Mubarak steps down. It’s in our interest, as well as Egypt’s, that he resign and leave the country. And we also owe it to the brave men and women of Tahrir Square — and to our own history and values — to make one thing very clear: We stand with the peaceful throngs pleading for democracy, not with those who menace them.

I keep hearing in these parts that it would be dangerous for the United States to side with the protestors. (When I'm not hearing that the American stance is irrelevant.) No one, though, can articulate what these dangers are. What horrible things might happen? People around the world by might die from shock at seeing the actions of the United States comport with its pro-liberty, pro-human rights rhetoric? Or Washington's decades-old foreign policy project of creating America-haters might take a hit?  

Another argument I often hear, including from the White House, is that the U.S. must not pick a leader for the Egyptians. (As Iranians, Afghans, and millions of other people around the globe chuckle sadly.) But by strengthening Mubarak's hand, the U.S. is helping to prevent Egyptians from picking their leader. The people of Egypt have spoken: they want Mubarak gone, and they want fair elections.

I support the idea that the United States should not interfere in the other countries' affairs. If the U.S. really wants to remain neutral on Egypt, it must cut off military aid to Egypt and Israel, renounce its interest in the Suez Canal, cease trying to control the world's oil supply, withdraw all troops from the Middle East, generally roll back its military and economic empire, and apologize to the Egyptian people. Until that pie-in-the sky point, the US remains deeply involved in Egypt and deeply complicit in Mubarak's crimes.

What we're witnessing in the streets of Egypt is a repudiation of American foreign policy, which for years has focused on narrow self-interest, usually at the expense of human rights (as if it weren't in the self-interest of the United States to support human rights). It's not surprising that the United States isn't seizing this opportunity to change course and support human rights, but it's depressing nonetheless, not least because a change of course could help change history.

Originally posted to david mizner on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:03 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I believe Mubarak is done (12+ / 0-)

      But the regime in some form could still retain power, and the longer the uncertainty drags out, the more likely the violence, which could well play into the hands of the regime.

      •  So, you answered your own question (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bronte17, subtropolis

        about what the danger is to the U.S. of siding with the protesters.  What if the protests don't work?  Now we have both the protesters upset with us and Mubarak upset with us.  What is "siding with," anyway?  We've already gotten Mubarak to make concessions.  Why should the U.S. do any more, or take actions that are against our short term interests?  Yes, human rights are in the U.S. national interest, but even thinking for one second about giving up rights to the Suez canal, or abandoning the cooperation of Egypt's intelligence agencies, as immoral as the uses to which the Bush administration put it, are not.

        I disagree that the protests are directed against U.S. foreign policy.  We support Mubarak because he supports what the U.S. is doing around the world.  Mubarak was always repressive, but that, by itself, does not make a government illegitimate.  Should past administrations have pressed Mubarak more on human rights?  Of course.  But with Obama we have (a) the Cairo speech, and (b) his getting an agreement for Mubarak not to seek reelection.  Cutting off aid (which has already been appropriated by Congress, incidentally) would result in little short term benefit to the U.S. and would put the new government in a weaker position.  Shouldn't we say to the democratic government that various aid slash bribes continue, provided the new government agrees to certain conditions?  If you believe, as I do, that the objections are essentially domestic, a strong statement that foreign and military aid is transferable would strengthen the hand of democratic movements.

        Note, as well, that the military, the main recipient of this aid is not backing Mubarak.  That cuts against the idea that the U.S. explicitly or implicitly taking sides against the protesters.

        "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

        by Loge on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:56:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Legitimacy (0+ / 0-)

          Mubarak was always repressive, but that, by itself, does not make a government illegitimate.

          The Lockian concept the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution are based on holds that government gains its legitimacy solely from the consent of the governed. Of course, people can support repression. But is that really your claim, that Mubarak has majority support? Really? So then, on what basis could he be considered legitimate at all?

          •  Legitimacy (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bronte17, subtropolis, MichaelNY

            in this context means the ability of a government to bind or represent the country as a matter of international law.  (Bind is perhaps apt.)  If democracy and consent were coextensive, there'd be more illegitimate and legitimate governments.  Does Mubarak's repression mean a future government could default on its debt?  The last time someone tried that was in the 1917 revolution.  

            Anyway, for these purposes, the lack of mass popular uprisings and the ability to provide even the most minimal of services is all it pretty much takes to be "legitimate" in this narrow sense.

            Lockean concepts are also normative, not descriptive.

            "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

            by Loge on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:56:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Must Read: What the President Just said (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Curt Matlock, subtropolis

        He said transition must begin "now."   Good enough for you?

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

        Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders.  Only the Egyptian people can do that.  What is clear -- and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak -- is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.

        Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties.  It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

        Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt.  And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.

        Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.

        To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear:  We hear your voices.  I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren.  And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.

        Link to full remarks

    •  I liked this part especially (11+ / 0-)

      Another argument I often hear, including from the White House, is that the U.S. must not pick a leader for the Egyptians. (As Iranians, Afghans, and millions of other people around the globe chuckle sadly.) But by strengthening Mubarak's hand, the U.S. is helping to prevent Egyptians from picking their leader. The people of Egypt have spoken: they want Mubarak gone, and they want fair elections.

      We can provide fair elections... that's the role the UN was supposed to fill, 60 years ago.

      Corporations have been enthroned and an ERA of corruption in high places will follow -- Lincoln. -9.38, -5.18

      by Nulwee on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:28:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The President's speech has rendered this diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis, Femlaw

      mute. He spoke to the needs, desires and right of the Egyptian people.

      He clearly stated that the process of transition, from authoritarian rule to democracy, must start now.

      Maybe you should delete this, since it is based on an utterly false premise?

      Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Albert Einstein

      by OIL GUY on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:47:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  don't get your undies in a bunch over optics (0+ / 0-)

      President Mubarak toes US line, but defiant tone throws White House

      On Monday, the White House called in experts to give advice on the way forward, including discussions on potential interim leaders, after being caught ill-prepared by events in Egypt.

      Among them was Joel Rubin, a former state department Egypt desk officer now with the National Security Network thinktank. He said that administration officials described a multilayered approach that included pushing a public message that the US is not attempting to decide who rules Egypt while making clear to Mubarak that there had to be substantial reforms.

      "There was a decision to get across the public message that ... they aren't playing the Bush administration game of deciding who runs which country in the Middle East," he said. "At the same time they also using unofficial, informal channels ... [to] get messages across that are pretty compelling, that there has to be a real serious transition to democracy, quickly."

      The adults are paying close attention and dealing with this with restraint for good reason. It should be obvious that the WH position is that Mubarak is finished. And we don't need to see images of Obama banging his shoe demanding any leader stand down.

      Besides, his latest remarks will be crystal clear to the military, which can step in at any time to remove Mubarak without concern that it will harm relations with the US.

  •  What part of "The PEOPLE must decide" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis

    says the administration is siding with Mubarak?  First we don't want the administration to meddle, now we WANT the President to meddle?

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:07:18 PM PST

    •  Did you read my diary (13+ / 0-)

      Knocked down all your strawmen preemptively.

      It's impossible to remain neutral.

      Listen to the people of Egypt.

      •  So...what do we do besides say he must go? (0+ / 0-)

        Invade?

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

        by zenbassoon on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:32:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's about it (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          claude, Marie, blueoasis, MichaelNY

          Plus working like hell with the U.N. to support a transition.

          To be clear, I don't think the U.S. position is the determinative factor here. But I'm an American, so. Plus it's a chance for the U.S. to finally, finally get on the right side of in the Middle East.

          •  So you advocate doing what Bush would do. (0+ / 0-)

            "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

            by zenbassoon on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:38:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I doubt (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Marie, blueoasis, MichaelNY

              Bush would've broken with Mubarak, even though his pro-human rights rhetoric on Egypt was generally much stronger than Obama's has been.

              •  You make (0+ / 0-)

                cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

                by Pete Rock on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:12:52 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  an ironic point Bush or Obama? (0+ / 0-)

                  which one has done more or less for the Egyptians?

                  The answer is they are indistinguishable.

                  The same reports come rolling back from the diplomats, the same corruption, the same partnership to enforce  the Gaza strip blockade, the ongoing arrest of democracy protestors (one poet got 3 years for a poem viewsed as disrespectful) and on and on.

                  Egypt maintains a blockade on supplies to Palestinians trying to rebuild while selling concrete to settlers adding to their land grabs.
                  And Mubarak is a "faithful ally".

                  Obama is doing the same thing he did for Bush, and Cheney,  protected them from war crimes trials.
                  Mubarak is their guy.  he keeps people in line and carries on the imperial strategy and governance.

                  Why would anyone believe he will step down in September  unless a stooge, a flunkey, a clone of Mubarik, approved of by the "bipartisan" Obama to do nothing to roil the security  state now in Egypt will be his successor.

                  To all the people including the thousands who were beaten and the 150 who have been short so far,

                  America heard you, now go home and allow the USA to choose by proxy what will be the next 30 years.

                  Mubarik never had a fair election for president or praliament in 30 years, why would he start in September?

                  This "deal" is like mandates for buying bloodsucking insurance, an utter sellout that the Democrats paid dearly for last November. Who the hell is Obama to rig this process? Is this the slly and artful way as opposed to Bush who simply went in  to Iraq grabbed Hussein and hanged him?

                  Because that's the only difference. style and cowboy crude vs. Harvard coolness and cunning.

                  cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

                  by Pete Rock on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:26:40 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Oh yes, of course... (6+ / 0-)

          Invade.  That's what people who are suggesting that the Obama Administration "really mean" when they talk about showing support for the popular democratic movement.  ROLLING EYES.

          What a crock of a stupid question.  Of course not.

          I am so tired of this ridiculous hyperbole that seems to pass as "reasoned debate" amongst reflexive defenders of this Administration.

        •  for starters, stop funding him n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, MrJayTee

          without the ants the rainforest dies

          by aliasalias on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:45:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Most of our funding (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            subtropolis

            goes to the military, which is not been all that pro-Mubarak.  They are really unhappy with the idea of Mubarak's son taking over.  The protesters might not like all that the U.S. has done in the past to strengthen Mubarak's regime, but that doesn't mean cutting him off now would even make a difference to his power or to the public's view of him (he's too far gone to salvage, and thus, anything we do to limit his power is too little too late), or even that the protesters would accept it if we did.  And if we do cut off aid and somehow Mubarak survives, where does that leave us.  We have people who already don't like the U.S. for supporting Mubarak in the past, and now Mubarak is extremely pissed at the fact that we fled from our part of the bargain at the first sign of trouble.

            The smartest thing to do is to make sure the U.S. is on the side that wins while working to reduce casualties as much as possible.  We monitor the situation closely, support democracy as much as possible, but don't do anything that can be seen as a promise of future action.  If the Egyptian people can keep this up, I'm happy to support the transition, but if it doesn't, there's nothing worse than saying we'll support an uprising and not following through.  Why do you think the Iraqi Shia hate us so much?  Bush I made a promise he couldn't or wouldn't deliver on after the first gulf war.

            You might argue that we already picked sides by not pressuring our contacts in the Egyptian armed services -- and the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian army was at the Pentagon when shit went down, so this is very close -- to support Mubarak.  The fact that Mubarak might not have the support of the military, which is kind of our military, is probably enough to get him at least to agree to step down.

            "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

            by Loge on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:08:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  It is a tone deaf statement if you really (4+ / 0-)

      want to know.  You hear throngs of people saying that Mubarak must "LEAVE" and you respond by saying, "The people must decide"...  Like you never heard them say that they wanted Mubarak to leave.  They've decided...

      The irony here is that I am much more neutral on the subject of what the Obama Administration should be saying - or maybe nuanced to the point where I don't think that there is a "good answer" either way - that it is a crap shoot that they will take in either direction - but I am not neutral about our leadership sounding tone deaf and being so obviously tentative - and I almost NEVER say this - they might be better off with "no comment" than espousing meaningless and tone deaf statements like. "The people must decide."

      And to David, the DoS is worrying about hurting other regional authoritarian dictator's and monarch's feelings.  I never understood why they were dumb enough to go to Egypt and say all that sh*t about democracy when it was pretty obvious that decades of American "diplomacy" would prevail if the Egyptian people took them up on their bet.

      •  but the administration already got (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bronte17

        Mubarak agree to not seek reelection.  So, now the only question is when he leaves, not whether he leaves, and under what terms and conditions.  

        Shouldn't the people not out in the streets also have a say?  Who should the leader be without an election?  Probably El-Baradei, but these are not easy questions.  Egypt is significantly large and "systematically important," as they say, the Tunisia model is probably not the way to go.  Anyway, we went from Mubarak is the legit leader on Friday, to his not seeking reelection by Tuesday, so I hardly think, and doubt the administration thinks, that a deal they make today won't change by the end of the week.

        "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

        by Loge on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:12:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Giving Mubarak until fall (0+ / 0-)

          gives the regime enough time to groom a replacement that isn't his son.  He's 82; there were rumors about who he was going to name as his replacement, and I doubt he was going to run anyway.

        •  no one is suggesting (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jcrit, Terra Mystica

          they not have elections. The question is whether those elections will take place when the country is still under the aegis of a dictator, or whether popular demands the dictator step down so as to open the way to elections that people can believe really be free and fair can take place.

      •  it's a bit more nuanced than that (0+ / 0-)

        They're signaling to the military that the US isn't about to intervene should Mubarak be removed forcefully. And, at the same time, throwing a bone to all the people who've been irrationally demanding that Obama butt into this.

        The WH has been in a huge bind since this began. All the moaning about their tepid response is unhelpful as there are very good reasons not to have been saying anything too overt. In the beginning there was the (i would have thought painfully obvious) fact that the demonstrations might have gone nowhere. Remember all those people in the streets of Tehran?¹ As events unfolded, yes, it started looking like this might develop into something big. But that's still not enough reason for POTUS to be banging his shoe and demanding anyone's ouster. That's the sort of crap we got from junior and it still leaves a bad taste.

        We'll never know for sure what messages were passed to the Egyptians, whether from Obama to Mubarak personally or at a diplomatic level. It's interesting that the Interior Ministry's troops withdrew, as it's now obvious it wasn't due to a change of heart about Mubarak. Whether related or not, plainly there's been a lot going on that we haven't been privy to.

        Best to let the Egyptians handle this and stay out of the way. Which is pretty much what Obama has been saying.

        ¹ In which, it may be recalled, pretty much everyone was pleading for the US to keep out of it.

         

  •  Twitter; Obama on msnbc? (4+ / 0-)

    BreakingNews Breaking News
    LIVE VIDEO: President Obama addresses events in Egypt http://on.msnbc.com/...
    3 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

    LIVE VIDEO: President Obama addresses events in Egypt

  •  Egypt just had an election, and Mubarak lost. (12+ / 0-)

    US should honor the results.  Pretty simple.

    "Dega dega dega dega. Break up the concrete..." The Pretenders

    by Terra Mystica on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:11:21 PM PST

  •  Jonathan (8+ / 0-)

    Schell:

    And the government of the United States? Missing in action. Inveighing against “violence on all sides,” it fails to choose between the people and their oppressor. The Obama administrations exhibits its overall signature flaw in caricature: it is embedded with (let’s say this straight: in bed with) the Powers That Be. Well-meaning, it begins by taking those powers—the commanding heights of the society—as given, immovable. Then it starts to bargain. (On healthcare it bargains with Big Pharma, on finance with Wall Street, on war with the top generals—above all, David Petraeus.) Then, when the Obama administration is duly handed its half- or quarter-loaf—the stripped-down healthcare plan; the eviscerated financial regulations; the soft date for withdrawal from Afghanistan bought with the surge in troop levels—it’s at the charity of these powers.

    In the present instance, the power with which the administration compromises is the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, a thirty-year ally of the United States, and the recipient of some $50 billion in aid in that period. Early last week, even as the crowds were battling the police throughout Egypt, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pronounced that the Mubarak government was “stable”—thus showing anew the remarkable ability of the human mind to block out the flaming reality before its eyes and replace it with the soothing falsehood it wants to see. Vice President Joe Biden continued in this vein with his declaration that he would “not call Mubarak a dictator.” More recently, Clinton, still on the fence, called for “an orderly transition” without asking for Mubarak to step aside. But surely, as Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and new-minted spokesperson for the revolution, was right when he responded, “It’s better for President Obama not to appear that he is the last one to say to President Mubarak, It’s time for you to go.”

  •  He said he's staying until the elections (5+ / 0-)

    in September and that he's not going to run for office again.  Not. good. enough.


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:23:55 PM PST

  •  What is dangerous is allowing Mubarak to (8+ / 0-)

    remain.  He's threatening the stability of the whole region and hundreds of thousands of lives.

    "Intolerance is something which belongs to the religions we have rejected." - J.J. Rousseau

    by James Allen on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:27:55 PM PST

  •  Will add to mothership /nt (3+ / 0-)

    "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" --King Jugurtha

    by LucyandByron on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:29:00 PM PST

  •  We can come down on the side of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, aliasalias, Terra Mystica

    Democracy in Egypt, including calling for Mubarak to step down, without stepping on the prerogatives of the Egyptian people.  Actively repudiating the policies that helped to create what Egyptians are fighting is not interfering.

    How can so many people bring themselves to be so deliberately dense about that?  

    Ultimately, though, once Mubarak is overthrown, the US government will have to involve itself in Egypt's business.  Unless our extensive commercial, intelligence, and security connections disappear, they will have to be reworked; they can be reworked in ways that support the Revolution or retard it.  The choices we make now will influence that reworking significantly.  

    It's naive to think the Egyptian people won't remember where we've stood for the last 30 years and where we stand now.

    If your issue is still Democrat vs. Republican, you've been punked by the Oligarchy.

    by MrJayTee on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:31:16 PM PST

  •  OK, sure, but, some facts of this case (7+ / 0-)
    1. The CIA has sent "prisoners" to be tortured in Egypt.
    1. Mubarak is there not because the US has anything to do with it, he is still there because he is well liked and respected by Egypt's Army commanders.
    1. This busines of thinking that a country like the US, with a less than stellar record with regards to democracy and democratic institutions must, somehow, "show the path" to foreign countries that are living internal conflicts is simply preposterous, IMHO.
  •  Well There Are Clearly Other Forces in the (5+ / 0-)

    equation than the people and Mubarak. Given Egypt's relationship to Israel alone, I'd be astonished for a US government to fully side with popular demonstrators as fast as the people want. I could see that fact alone imposing a major negotiation burden on events.

    I take your point that delay backing the people all the way supports Mubarak though.

    I'd also suspect that this scenario might be one the US government was ill prepared for. Sort of like the domestic need for a New New Deal.

    But we have sort of a history of foot dragging on siding with justice for the people.

    In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."  

    ML King Jr., "Beyond Vietnam."

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 03:42:51 PM PST

    •  I'm a strong critic of Israel's settlement (2+ / 0-)

      policy and its treatment of Gaza, but I do think the U.S. has an interest, as a broker of the Camp David Accords, to make sure that those agreements survive any transition of power.  

      The U.S. thru time definitely foot-dragged with Egypt's human rights concerns, but Clinton and Obama have been fairly nimble in responding to the situation here.  They've avoided any number of actions that could backfire while getting Egypt unavoidably on the path to democracy.  You cannot underestimate the change from debating whether he'd leave to when he'll leave. It was Mubarak who made the bet that he could last 8 more months -- the acceleration in protests I think has a lot to do with the administration's actions in bringing that concession about.  They got a major morale victory and can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:20:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis

    No one, though, can articulate what these dangers are. What horrible things might happen?

    I haven't been around that much, and in general I support the protestors, but I'd be pretty surprised if nobody has yet pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is the most powerful opposition movement in Egypt, and that Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian and second in command of al Qaeda, is the most prominent and famous member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The obvious worst case scenario, then, is that the Muslim Brotherhood takes over and Ayman al-Zawahiri is installed as the new President, al Qaeda is given free reign to operate throughout the country, and the Egyptian military invades Israel and/or Saudi Arabia.

    Not saying it's likely, but clearly there's some chance of that happening.

  •  I agree with Kristol completely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude

    And your diary is really good and well-written.

    I disagree with you on only one thing: The Suez Canal is an international shipping lane, not exclusively Egyptian waters. So, like all other seafaring nations, the US should, and indeed almost has to retain an interest in that canal. I may be misunderstanding you - in which case, please explain - but what's the alternative? Circumnavigating the Cape of Good Hope?

    By the way, whatever party or parties end up running Egypt after what we hope will be free and fair elections, I hope they don't decide to prevent Israeli ships from using the Suez Canal, because that would be an act of war. I am totally rooting for the Egyptian people, so I feel a bit bad about being a downer or even mentioning Israel, whose interests are no reason to back off from cheering the revolution, so I won't mention anything further about the possibility I outline above, which may - and I hope will - never come to pass again.

  •  Numbers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis

    The people of Egypt have spoken: they want Mubarak gone, and they want fair elections.

    While it is likely true that the majority of the people want Mubarak gone, it is by no means guaranteed. A lot of people would ask ... to be replaced with what?

    Many ordinary people do fear "chaos" and so are willing to put up with slower change. I lived through a democratic transition in a developing country and I was always surprised that when you talked to people in their homes they tended to be far more conservative than those on the street.

    What we have now, because there are no other options, is essentially an attempt at a kind of mob rule.

    We really don't know what percentage want Mubarak gone. I have watched the protests and I am pretty sure those demo numbers are inflated. I have been in 300,000 - 500,000 marches and they were a lot bigger than what I was seeing in Cairo today.

    Ultimately the US cautious approach is well taken. Mubarak has been an ally and to quickly dump him is not good for cooperation from other allies. Also with no leader to the opposition a fast collapse could generate a power vacuum, which could be very unstable.

    The best approach is to let Egyptians figure out what to do. It appears for now that the military is the true power broker, and somewhat at least respected by many on all sides.

    http://wikileaks.ch/ or http://213.251.145.96/

    by taonow on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:33:33 PM PST

  •  convince US/Israel that MuslimBro won't take over (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TakeMeOutOfMyMissouri

    Everywhere I go, Egyptians insist to me that Americans shouldn’t perceive their movement as a threat.

    My bet is that the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia (of all people!) are convinced that if Mubarak falls, then the Muslim Brotherhood will take over and turn Egypt into a fundamentalist theocracy and a base for attacks upon those countries.  Convincing Israel above all else that this is unthinkable to the Egyptians is what it will take to bring the US and Israel around.  Unfortunately, all three countries are far too paranoid and thus committed to maintaining "stability" to hear it.

    •  you know I hate to point this out (0+ / 0-)

      but Saudi Arabia already is a fundamentalist theocracy

      •  Saudi gov't extremely unpopular (0+ / 0-)

        Saudi Arabia is less of a country than the personal property of the House of Saud royal family.  They're corrupt, nepotistic, absolutist, "let them eat cake" oblivious, and above all viewed as instruments of the West who tolerate American defilement of Arab land.  The Saudi government is riding a tiger cultivating Wahabi Islam, because those same clerics believe much as Al Qaeda does: that Muslims and the world need to be ruled by clerics and/or the descendants of Mohammed (which the Saud are not) ... not to mention that anything of the West (including the lavish lifestyles enjoyed by the Saudi upper class) is evil.

  •  This is arrogance to deny the reality (0+ / 0-)

    The tanks the US supplied as the bulwark for the Egyptian army and the Mubarik mercenaries now roll around the square with graffitti and protestors on them. The graffiti reads "Mubarik must go!"  Go NOW, and Mubarik can't make them wash it off.

    Here you have a US President ignoring that his partner has just lost his legitimacy in total including where it counts, his guns and troops.

    And now the American people are being told the path is clear to have Mubark agree to Obama's suggestion to hang on 8 months and pick his own successor?

    No dice, we have seen how this game is played...."wait one year and gin up some bipartisanship and that 60 year overdue  HC reform will roll in serenely. Just trust me it will be robust and exciting!"

    Why should the Egyptians trust Obama's leadership on things that really matter to them any more than they trust Mubarik right about now? As far as BHO

    hell we don't trust him all that much because we know he is a politician, not a candidate for sainthood and he has Wall Street friends that count a lot more than the rest of us put together.

    cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

    by Pete Rock on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 04:47:42 PM PST

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