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27 January 2011

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charlie

one big difference: no ayotollah khomeni.

Another: no oil.

An unfriendly Islamic government in Egypt: is that so bad, for anyone except Isreal?

Patrick Lang

charlie

Good. Enjoy! pl

mo

Colonel,
I think there is a parallel but there are stark differences.

In Iran the Islamic Revolutionaries had the upper hand in numbers, in zeal and had a large following. Because they had not taken part in the "politics" of Iran they remained "mythical" in the public consciousness. And finally, they had a fantastically iconic figure in Khomeini.

These elements are mostly missing in Egypt. There is no passionate fervor for the MB though they have good support. They have no iconic leader to wow the crowds and they have been around and public for a long time. Mostly, unlike their Iranian brethren they have an example in Iran (or Saudi if they like) of what can happen if the theologians are allowed to fully dominate the political sector.

R Whitman

Assuming a major change in Egypt in the very near future, what is the best outcome for the US??

DanM

Col.,

What do you think the US should be doing? Rush vast sums to Egypt so it can increase food subsidies? Four-square public support for Mubarak (i don't think that would make a difference)? Getting together in back rooms with officers/NDP pols to arrange a "soft coup" that might mollify the crowds?

I understand the thrust of your concern, but the "what to do part" stumps me.

ex-PFC Chuck

I wonder how well Netanyahu and friends are sleeping these days?

Eric Dönges

Prognosis: We Americans will fail once again to do what we might to achieve the best outcome from OUR point of view. pl

Wouldn't it be best to let the Egyptians choose their own government, and then deal with that government like any other ? Interference will only cause resentment for decades to come.

Patrick Lang

Eric Donges

Yes, that was a good policy to follow with so many memorable governments around the world. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Yes, caution and prudence are needed. This is a volatile situation which could get considerably more volatile.

One might generalize and say Mubarak is disliked by the masses. His son, a potential "successor", is disliked still more. Then there is the problem with the health of Gen. Omar Suleiman, another potential "successor."

The MB does have a large support base and has been around for 80 years. My sense is that there have always been factions within it from the older "conservative" types to the younger more "radical" types. Who knows?

Does the present regime really control the situation in Middle Egypt? In Upper Egypt? Or are those MB territory?

What if we see 100,000 or 500,000 in the streets? Are some MB militants in the streets already?

It seems to me not unreasonable that Egypt could take a turn away from the "West" and toward China. Domestic politics could shift away from the current "conservative" regime toward a more activist Islamist regime. This would require some shifting in the military and among elites but necessity makes strange bedfellows.

Egypt does not need US money and it does not need US weapons. Budgets can be rearranged and weapons can be bought from China, Ukraine, Belorus, Russia and whomever.

The Israelis could calculate this is good for them as it will make the US still more of a "strategic ally."

jonst

Parallels yes. Significant differences however. Mostly on the home front I believe Col. with Carter and Vance you had, pious, moralistic, committed, butt in skis. Though Vance's was tempered a bit compared to Carter. But who in the world was not, compared to Carter?

And there was, I believe, a lot more 'activist' attention paid to the situation in Iran than the situation in, well, anywhere really, but in Egypt today.

We have real cynics now Col, in power in America. They will ask, how will it play in helping me raise money? And they will conclude, I suggest, it won't help them, pushing for change in Egypt, to raise money from certain long standing donors.

This is where Clinton's cynicism, bordering on nihilism, might be useful.Obama on the other hand...will spend part of his time running to get in front of the parade, and then just as quickly, rush to get behind it. And then back and forth again. Until he settles somewhere in the mushy middle.

My take anyway. Our self absorption with games and American Idol and such, and our profound ignorance and indifference, might prevent your worst fears from coming true this time Col.

Or am I too cynical? I think not.

kao_hsien_chih

mo,

I am not so sure if the popular perception matters quite so much.

If there is a real popular revolution that successfully topples the regime in Egypt, there will be a scramble for power among those left standing. The advantage falls to those who can organize and mobilize the best and quickest, and organized religious movements in general tend to be good at that sort of thing. While I don't doubt MB is not all that popular among the Egyptians, I suspect they have enough numbers to make their organizational advantage pay off.

Once they seize the advantage, the popular perception might be valuable, or not...but that's too far down the road, I think. One imagines that they can make some choices (opening up the Rafah crossing would be an obvious one) that could buy a good measure of popular support in the short term, at least.

Patrick Lang

jonst

"Our self absorption with games and American Idol and such, and our profound ignorance and indifference,"

The people who deal with foreign policy in this country do not watch "American Idol." pl

Patrick Lang

kao, etc.

It really is not a question of the MB. It is a question of sentiment in the masses. pl

jonst

You are correct Col. But Col, I would argue, the people who 'do not watch American Idol' have their already formidable power increased when their desires align themselves with the 'people', particularly the youth, and with pop culture. Something similar, I would argue, occurred in the Balkans Wars in the 90s.

It is hard to prove this objectively, but I would argue that there was a lot more attention paid, in pop culture, to the Iranian Revolt, than there has been, so far, to the ME these past few weeks. Social media notwithstanding.

WILL

from Kao: "The advantage falls to those who can organize and mobilize the best and quickest"

...

"The Armed Forces of Egypt are the largest on the African continent and one of the largest in the world (ranked 10th)"
...
The Armed Forces enjoy considerable power and independence within the Egyptian state, reporting only to the president.[7] They are also influential in business, engaging in road and housing construction, consumer goods and resort management."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_Armed_Forces

dh

From my experience of Middle Eastern peoples I think it has a lot to do with dignity. Not to say Egyptians want to reinstate the Pharoahs or restore the Caliphate but somebody like Nasser might be acceptable.

different clue

Is there a best way for America to do nothing at all
in such a way as to be least-blamed for whatever the outcome will be?

As more countries move from desperate population/resource imbalance to terminal population/resource imbalance; more populations will seek relief in rebellions and uprisings. The little I google-found about Tunisia makes it look like it has a viable population/resource balance future if they can find a stable balance. But what relief will Egyptians and especially Yemenis (for example) find through rebellion? Won't they still face the same brutal resource constraints?

Andrew

The people who deal with foreign policy in this country do not watch "American Idol." pl

No, they're all watching GOD TV and Pam Geller.

Patrick D

Col.,

I too would like to know what you think the U.S. is to do to achieve the best outcome from its point of view.

If you could, also be specific about what vital U.S. interests are in play with regard to Egypt.

Patrick D

Phil Giraldi

The real US interest is to have a stable regime in Cairo that is not openly hostile. Egypt has little else to offer either strategically or regionally. Its relationship with Israel should not be a US interest and if Egypt were suddenly to cease accommodating Israeli needs it might actually nudge Tel Aviv into doing something constructive.

Mubarak going will certainly have unintended consequences and many of them will be bad, but it is equally bad to continue to prop up regimes like his that are doomed to fall eventually, leading to an Iran situation. The army has to be the moderating force behind any new government, I suspect. My Egyptian friends predict that any break down in authority will lead to a massacre of the Copts.

Simon

Any similarities between Iran and Egypt are purely superficial though there is no doubt they will be used by the neo-cons to justify propping up Mubarak instead of learning the correct lessons from the blowback of supporting violent dictators.

One way or the other, tomorrow, next week, next year, there will be successful revolutions in Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, etc. The U.S. has a chance here to push out Mubarak and his cronies and help these young people peacefully form real democracies. It is also an opportunity to make sure the Muslim Brotherhood and any other radical elements are sidelined in the new democracy.

It is called "winning friends instead of creating even more new enemies." These young people would be grateful and appreciative of the U.S.'s support. They may not like Israel, but they are far less likely to take steps against Israel if the U.S. if there proving financial support and encouragement making them see that they have a bright future.

J

ex-PFC Chuck,

What's needed is a pea the size of Grenada that can then be stuffed under Bibi and his supporters mattresses to make sure they go without any sleep.

CK

Sometimes it really isn't about the USA or what the USA wants or who the USA is currently paying. Sometimes the local outweights the internationally ethereal.
Hungry, pissed off people have a clarity of vision and a target rich environment to enjoy.
What to do? Benign neglect.
Let them have their spasms and kick out or not kick out their owners. If necessary the "winners" can be co-opted just as they always have been.
Noticed the price of food rising here in the states quite precipitously. Maybe a bit of vision directed within the shores ( I know ... so boring ) now might be profitable.

Patrick Lang

ck

No. It is ALWAYS about the USA if you are an American. Anything else is just grad school BS. pl

Patrick Lang

Simon

OK. Where is it that you are in college or teaching in one? pl

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