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30 January 2011


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"One Jewish protestor, Matan Kaminer, said that demonstrators "need to learn from the Egyptian people how to rise up. Maybe that way our struggle will succeed"

He's talking about the liberation of Jaffa in Israel.


If Mubarak exiles to Tel Aviv, things will be very interesting.


"He is a dangerous, seductive man who reasons like a Cartesian and believes like Al-Ghazali."

I'm tempted to ask: "What's not to like?"

Ghanouchi was at the center of an interesting 'debate' that started with Robin Wright and her Tunisian interlocutor Mohammed Elhachmi Hamdi, who served as Wright’s interpreter for her interview with al-Ghannouchi, later published in one of her well-intentioned but idiotic books. In a companion piece to hers, entitled Islam and Liberal Democracy: The Limits Of The Western Model, Hamdi writes: “There is no chance for a constructive dialogue among cultures and civilizations as long as those who dominate public discourse in the West continue to see themselves as the upholders of political and moral standards for the entire world”. Indeed.
Few critics would disagree with the spirit of this sentence, but how many would agree with it when the culture and civilization referred to is the non-secular Islamic world? Hamdi critiques Wright by saying: “Wright is mostly interested in Muslims who, in effect, speak her mind back to her in terms that she finds familiar, and who reassure her of the supremacy of her own Western values”.

Hamdi continues:

"A secular government might coerce obedience, but Muslims will not abandon their belief that state affairs should be supervised by the just teachings of the holy law. This is not to recommend autocracy, but to say that Islam should be the main frame of reference for the constitution and laws of predominantly Muslim countries. Even in the United States and Europe, there are supreme values that are embodied in the constitutions and the laws of those lands. Islam has been playing this role for the last 1,400 years, mostly for the good of Muslims, and there is no need to replace it with a set of Western values...Islamic teachings condemn tyranny and corruption: these teachings always have been, are now, and always will be a beacon and a refuge for those oppressed by unjust rulers or invaders."
Secularism exalts freedom, while Islamic law emphasizes justice, however infrequently it may have been observed.


Liberal Islam, assuming such a thing is possible, does not sound like a very scary concept.


It seems El Baradei will speak soon at Tahir Square:



The split screen, by the way, technique Al Jazeera is using is interesting. It shows the official Egyptian TV occasionally. The revolution won't be televised.

Patrick Lang


not tahir. Tahrir. It means "liberation" pl

Patrick Lang


true until you consider jr786's comment below. pl

frank durkee

A decent sense of realism would lead ont to believe that any and all groups, those formed now and those to come, will want as level a playing field as can be obtained from those who defermine the field, the military of egypt. Equallly any group excluded can continue to claim the mantle of freedom and open elections. If such groups are put down by force you simply have a new face to the old problem. Given the dificulties of building sufficient economic development to create decent employmenr futures for the younger demographic one can question whether or not there is a Liberal {English sense of the word},secular, and democratic way of succeding. Equally so for an autocratic attempt, There may in fact not be a soloution to the problem that is not autocratic {religious, military, what ever}.
Given the global recission, the rise in oil prices, and the number of countries with the kind of employment realities as Egypt and others perhaps we are just seeing the beginning of a kind of unraveling of many nation states and therefore the international order based on the realities of the recent past.
If "..the times they are a changing.." indeed then we can see how it is to live in the reality of the old Chinese cuurse "..may you live in interesting times..".

As always my deep thnks for this blog and the perceptions that are contained here.


"I would say that judgments in the Obama Administration and the punditry are solidifying in the dorection of advocating a managed transition to democratic election with the sponsorship and protection of the Egyptian armed forces."


Here is my question. How does one have a democratic transition and protect the Egyptian military, if that democratic transition puts in an Islamic regime or a regime not friendly ( I will not use allied) to the US?

William R. Cumming

Hoping for the best but expecting the worse and what would that be MB takeover?



All in all, a favorable biography.

Clifford Kiracofe

Yes the issue, for now, is an orderly transition. Then, we will have to deal with whatever follows.

What follows may or may not be to the liking of our foreign policy elite which sees the Middle East through Israeli eyes.

From the videos I have seen so far, what has been on the street is a range of frustrated and angry middle class persons in Western attire. We have not yet seen a half million or a million in the streets which would signal something of a different order. Still less have we seen even a tiny percentage on the streets clad in galabias. But a point has been made, clearly.

The frenzied media has been unable to present any coherent analysis aside from breathless admiration of the Mob and "democracy."

And again, we pulled the plug on the Shah and just how was the transition handled??? Big foreign policy "success", right? Remember all the fawning reporters in Paris at the feet of Khomeini?

Or, how about that "agrarian reformer" in Cuba the New York Times ran front page stories praising? Don't remember that? Or the New York Times stories by Walter Duranty praising Stalin's Sovietized Russia?


Thanks, Colonel, Tahrir, I realized, I should look it up.



What are your thoughts on a El Baradei Administration?


The problem faced by everyone is teasing apart Egypt's domestic policy and foreign policy.


The US and Europe want Egypt's domestic policy (or at least they say they do) to more closely resemble their own. Foreign policy? A thin dime can not be fit between them.

Egypt has been bought very, very cheaply until now. The price is about to go up, way up.


So writing "Suleiman looks like the U.S./Israeli prime selection as new dictator until something better can be arranged - or not.", as I did, is deranged leftists.

But when my suggestion that OS is the U.S. selection is deranged, isn't writing "One can be sure that the lines of communication between the Pentagon and the Egyptian General Staff are wide open. The installation of respected (within the military) figures like the new VP and PM bodes well for the future ... " confirming exactly what I said? OS is respected by the military, esp the U.S. military. Street cred in Egypt? Maybe as prime torturer.

"Deranged leftist"? No Pat, I am neither deranged not a leftist. I am more on the right on some issues than you are.

And I have not and will never call you an "imperialist" as someone suggested. I understand that you are a nationalist.

Medicine Man

The media strategy used by the White House in this is interesting. Obama seems to present the sentiment and Clinton presents the administration's intentions. Is this typical of a presidency?


Robert Fisk:

In the pantomime world of Mubarak himself – and of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Washington – the man who still claims to be president of Egypt swore in the most preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to soften the fury of the protesters – Omar Suleiman, Egypt's chief negotiator with Israel and his senior intelligence officer, a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit. How this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is beyond imagination. When I told the demonstrators on the tank around me the news of Suleiman's appointment, they burst into laughter.


Rashid al Ghannoushi and Hizb al Nahda are part of the Tunisian spectrum so are is the communist Hama Hammami...all have a role to play in a pluralistic democracy.

A worthwhile editorial in Le Monde: who is afraid now?



I think the Western line is now clear. Our preference is for as little change as possible in Egypt, just enough to get people off the streets.

The Israeli press in one article called the events in Egypt a "street revolution". I get the distinct impression that the demonstrators are about to be demonised in the Western media. That will be followed by military control measures to clear the streets, probably bloody and successful.

The wild card is now Mubarak. Will he go quietly at our behest?

robt willmann

Big Al Jazeera has been trying to locate Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal in London, England, but without success; the report did make the interesting claim that Gamal has a British passport.

In the Fox News article referenced in the main post above, a couple of quotes are from Hillary Clinton, speaking for the Obama administration, and if we apply them to Iraq in 2003, we see that--

... quick movement in that direction [an orderly transition] is needed to avoid "some takeover that would lead not to democracy, but to oppression and the end of aspirations of the Egyptian [Iraqi] people."

"We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought-out plan that will bring about a democratic, participatory government," she said.

Yes, indeed .... in Iraq: electricity, clean water, medical services, and infrastructure decimated; at least 4.5 million refugees inside the country and out; an untold number dead, maimed, and crippled; massive pollution by depleted uranium; and so on. But not forgetting Afghanistan and now Pakistan.

Since today is Sunday, we might look to the Good Book, wherein it is written in the Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 7, beginning at the first verse--

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye."

Patrick Lang


their laughter will not be a factor. pl

Patrick Lang


A passing phenomenon if it ever happens. pl


“There is no chance for a constructive dialogue among cultures and civilizations as long as those who dominate public discourse in the West continue to see themselves as the upholders of political and moral standards for the entire world”.

It is certainly very difficult if we say that everything ought to conform (in a religious commandment way) to certain norms.

If instead we approach it as - how do we build a workable system that scales to large populations and the complexity of today's societies? - then e.g., freedom emerges as a pragmatic principle that is a precondition for justice; and any Islamic system must have it just as much as any Western society must have it.

Patrick Lang


Not a nationalist, perhaps a patriot of a sad embittered sort. pl


"Rashid Ghanoushi, the Islamist politican who has been in exile since Bourguiba sent him there. He is a dangerous, seductive man who reasons like a Cartesian and believes like Al-Ghazali"

I've not read the latter's texts but if wiki is anywhere near accurate then this would mean Ghanoushi believes the philosophical foundations of Western civilization corrupt Islamic faith? Very bad indeed. The neocons hoped for 'clash of civilizations' might be here sooner than they think.

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