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29 January 2011


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Clifford Kiracofe

1. "So thorough-going has been the witch-hunt that AIPAC and its attack dogs have conducted over the past 25 years against anyone with real Middle East expertise that the U.S. government now contains no-one at the higher (or even mid-career) levels of policymaking who has any in-depth understanding of the region or of the aspirations of its people."

Helena Cobban makes a crucial point in this commentary. Those with Middle East expertise who are not politically correct (see through Israeli eyes) are vetted out of the US government one way or the other.

We all saw the Chas. Freeman case early in the Obama Adminsitration. That was a signal to the US bureaucracy to toe the pro-Israel policy line.

Read Cobban's full text.

2. One can argue that with either a "nationalist" military coup or an "Islamist" influenced government, Egypt will "look East" and move toward China and away from the US.

This thought may be dawning on the Israelis and the US "pro-Israel Lobby" by now. No US leash for Egypt any more.

It seems to me, and I am not a regional specialist, that the genie is rather out of the bottle.

Patrick Lang


So far, what is visible is a half-assed desire to pull Arab governments down in the HOPE that something better emerges. Better being defined as more amenable to Obama's natural inclination toward "community" improvement through jawboning and pressure. What do you think the Saudis think of his clear predilection for "new" governments?

Behind this "policy" on his part lurks the frustration of a group of Americans who have tried to cause the Arab governments to make peace with Israel. They have tried for twenty years. Many of them are now as old as Husni Mubarak. they are impatient. They are among Obama's major supporters. I used to travel with them to visit all the heads of state in the region including Husni Mubarak. They have given up. The long forseen economic disaster of most ME countries has now presented an opportunity. BTW, there are a number of Muslim Arab very rich men who are members of this group. pl



I believe you are correct. Yet conservative American politicians have opposed most if not all types of birth control for decades. I think they will continue to do so solely for the votes it gains them in the US. Even basic sex education is not treated seriously. One need look no further than Sarah Palin's family.

Patrick Lang

Ken Hoop

You can hardly be more of a non-interventionist than I. My attitude is the product of 50 years of experience.

As for "b," every development in current history is greeted by our Teutonic friend with a judgment that this is the product of malevolent, selfish, imperialist US policy. Is that not deranged? The US helped re-create his country and then defended it for 50 years. I am sure that in his view that was for selfish imperialist US reasons as well. Is that not deranged as well?

In business after I left government my company of employment built a factory in Cairo to participate in the re-building of the Alexandria sewer system. the system was re-built with USAID money. We waded through the morass of traditional Egyptian statism and graft grubbing by the bureaucracy, but the fact is that Egypt in that time was growing economically spectacularly. There were a lot of new rich idiots throwing their money around but the basic fact was that economic growth could not keep up with population growth.

I am a "soft imperialist?" You are as big a fool as "b." pl

Patrick Lang


I am Catholic. I support my church's opposition to abortion as a form of infanticide, but there are many forms of birth control. Egypt needs to be creative in this matter and to overcome the cultural impulse of agricultural societies toward large families. Someone wrote here that Egyptian girls should be "educated." i think you should check your facts on that. The Egyptian government puts a lot of effort into educating girls. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

" desire to pull Arab governments down in the HOPE that something better emerges."

1. Yes, this is a mental problem afflicting our foreign policy elite and it applies not just to Arab governments.

We pulled the plug on the Shah of Iran, the Huyser Mission was mentioned on a threat recently; there were other elements such as coordination with the UK and etc. Granted the Shah was ill, out of touch, and surrounded by a totally corrupt clique of sycophants. Some would argue there could have been better policy for a transition to something other than the present regime.

We pulled the plug on Marcos. [I heard an amazing story about a US Ambassador there who was so forward as to ask Marcos for money as his personal finances were unsettled.]

We pulled the plug on General Romero in El Salvador and on Somoza in Nicaragua and look what that brought in the 1980s.

We pull the plug on a lot of folks and usually the covers story is "democracy" and "human rights."

2. Oh, the Saudis? Anyone recall a certain piece in August 8, 2002
in the oh so Neocon New York Sun? Try this:

"The idea of separating the Saudi tyranny from the oil rich fields that make up what is called the Eastern Province is one of the most important to come into focus in the wake of the attacks of September 11, which were perpetrated mainly by Saudi nationals. It was the subject of a much remarked upon editorial page article published in The New York Sun during its first week. It was floated in a nowfamous editorial that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on October 30, 2001. And an editorial called "Bluffing Bush," issued in the April 25 number of the Sun, remarked that "in strategic circles outside of the administration in Washington, consideration is starting to be given to the idea of breaking up Saudi Arabia by throwing support to the indigenous population of its oil-rich Eastern Province, which has been ruled by the Saudi royals for years.""

So in August 2002 which war was it that was underway?


In response to the Colonel's suggestion that I check out the facts, I post the facts and they support my position. I confirm that the Egyptian government has put a lot of effort into educating girls, but more is needed.

A comparison between the educational rate of Egyptian women has increased since 2000 and the birth rate has declined. Generally, fetrility rates decline as women become better educated.




Of particular note is the very low rate of female economic activity, ie employment outside of the home.

Compare Egypt with the statistics for Tunsia that has a significantly higher female educational rate and a 2.1 fertility rate, an essentially stable population. It seems that Egypt's population would, likely, stabilize.


It seems to me that women's education is the very best way to control population and to increase living standards and avoid the difficult moral issues of the Chinese methods.

As I said, the new government of Egypt needs to have a strong policy to educate women.


"I as a Buchananite non-interventionist,believe "b" should restrain from labelling Mr. Lang a soft imperialist and Mr. Lang should refrain from labelling "b" "deranged."

As someone who thinks Buchanan a waste of time and his sister, one tree short of a hammock. Isolationism is not what we are or should be about. Though I very much disagree with how we operate our foreign policy. However, I also agree with the Colonel. But I would add "foxtrotting" deranged...



Another area there seems to be some unhappiness -- Jordan.

Jordanians rally against corruption and poverty

What do you see regarding this?


aha, a theoretical framework

"Kuran has applied these observations to a range of contexts. He has used the theory developed in Private Truths, Public Lies to explain why major political revolutions catch us by surprise, how ethnic tensions can feed on themselves, why India’s caste system has been a powerful social force for millennia, and why minor risks sometimes generate mass hysteria.[4]

[edit]Unanticipated Revolutions
The fall of East European communism in 1989 came as a massive surprise. Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1978-79 stunned the CIA, the KGB, the Shah of Iran that it toppled, and even the Ayatollah Khomeini, whom it catapulted to power. The Russian Revolution of 1917 stunned Lenin, the deposed Romanovs, and foreign diplomats stationed in St. Petersburg. No one foresaw the French Revolution of 1789, not even the rioters who brought it about. In each of these cases, a massive shift in political power occurred when long-submerged sentiments burst to the surface, with public opposition to the incumbent regime feeding on itself. Preference falsification explains why the incumbent regime appeared stable almost until the eve of its collapse."



Interesting insights...



Clifford Kiracofe, I finally got around to reading your 'Dark Crusade', and I want to thank you for writing it. It's a valuable resource.

Moving on. The European influence in Egypt is very great, very deep. The Nile delta used to be the breadbasket of the Roman Empire, Egypt was a Christian nation prior to the Muslim invasion, etc.

I think, intellectually, many Egyptians say they will turn East, but culturally and economically, its not so easy. Egypt is a Mediterranean country.

I don't think military rule has been good for Egypt. Since '52 there has been a stall on true democracy, which is necessary for the economic questions to rise, in all of their finery, to issues of public dispute.

Analyzing how Iran has dealt with the lifting of gas subsidies should be a public and political issue in Egypt.


Democracy! Got to love it!

Jordan's opposition: Arabs will topple tyrants


Egypt protests: America's secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising

document in question


Are we taking bets on Suleiman?
I would bet the street won't accept him.
Their mood is a clean sweep is needed.
However he may be forced on them as a compromise.
Depends on how long the street can last.

The Twisted Genius

My first thought this morning upon reading Colonel Lang's very favorable comments on Suleiman was that this will not satisy the Egyptian "masses" at this stage of the game. The day's events bears this out. Although the appointment makes perfect sense as a path to transition, the popular reaction seems to be that Mubarak is just trying to stay in power. The crowd despises him and will not settle for anything short of "Mubarak out!" I doubt the crowd is thinking much beyond this one simple goal. The sooner he leaves, the sooner this will move to the next stage of transition. The longer he stays, the uglier the crowds will get and the messier the transition will be. I have no idea if Mubarak saw this appointment as a means to stay in power or that he realizes that he will probably be flying to Riyadh soon.

Since 2004, Egyptian hackers commonly used the term "f**kingMubarak (in English) as an ultimate slur much the same way as Russian hackers use the term mudak. That was the most vivid indicator of the depth of hatred for Mubarak that I saw.

John Robb made an interesting observation today about looting as counterinsurgency::

"There have been a growing number of reports of looters/thugs conducting smash and grabs across Cairo. Interestingly, there's also a growing number of reports that when these thugs are caught, they have police/interior ministry identification on them. "

different clue

One of our evening-shift pharmacists is from Egypt and still has friends and family there. He was telling two of the evening shift technicians about what he was hearing was happening there as best as he could tell. His parents are safe from all the activity in a Red Sea coastal resort town.

He told us that Mubarak is releasing criminals from prisons all over Egypt and they are robbing, looting, stealing, etc. Neighborhood men are forming neighborhood watch and protections groups with guns, bats, sticks etc. to try and keep neighborhoods safe.

I found that a surprising thing to hear so I asked whether he thought Mubarak was doing it out of political spite; basically as a way to say "if you thought things were bad lets see how you like life without the security I gave you" ? He said he thought Mubarak was doing it to cause chaos in many places and cause people to have to think about protecting themselves and their neighborhoods instead of coming out to marches and demonstrations.
I don't know what to make of that, but that is what he told us.

William R. Cumming

Seeing now in Egypt why Chinese decided to give up geriatric leaders.

Clifford Kiracofe


Glad you found my book helpful.

A "Look East" policy would not imply losing a Mediterranean connection. It would diversify diplomatic and military options.

For example:
"For Egypt, its strategic location with immediate access to three continents means China not only regards it as an important trading partner in its own right and across the Arab World, but also as a stop-over and conduit for many more lucrative opportunities north in the Mediterranean, and also further south in deepest of Africa from mining, road construction to the continent’s fastest-growing sector: telecommunications.

According to data supplied by the Chinese Embassy in Cairo, bilateral trade volume between the two nations reached $5.86 billion last year – a drop of 7 percent due to the economic downturn. That said, Egypt’s exports to China actually grew by an astonishing 75.4 percent, amounting to $750 million.

As recently as June this year, Egypt’s President Mubarak hailed the ‘deep and strategic’ relationship with the Asian giant, and stressed the importance of closer co-operation in all sectors during talks with high-level officials from the ruling Communist central committee."

Whatever regime follows Mubarak's, the China relationship will be there to develop and deepen.


I've spent some time in Egypt, mainly Cairo, the past two years and while I don't perceive any abnormal religiosity I do feel that the economic injustice that the average person feels has become intolerable. A short anecdote.
Last year I took my wife and daughter with me to Cairo; I was attending a conference at AUC. My wife loves the place and for 9 days she and my daughter re-visited dozens of places; I contracted with a good taxi driver to act as chauffeur. Anyway, comes the day to leave and I had spread out on the bed about 12 different piles of money. I explained to my curious daughter that they were the baksheesh I'd pay when we ran the gauntlet from the hotel lobby to the taxi. She helped me remember each of the recipients: the tea guy, the 'wa rahmatullah' guy', the guy who sits near the desk, etc., each one with some characteristic to help me remember.
I went through each of them on the way out and was just about to get in the taxi when the blue-uniformed soldier from the antiquities protection came running up to me, dragging his rifle by the barrel. He said "It's ok to give to me, too!" Which I did.

I've been thinking about that the past few days, the sheer, sad lack of dignity in the whole thing, I mean. My feeling was that this charming, funny and cultivated people are sick of living on baksheesh and wasta.

Clifford Kiracofe

1. It has become fashionable to compare Tunisia and Egypt in the breathless media caught up in the "democracy" frenzy.

Tunisian bazaaris, however, support the transition government and are opposed to the "hard core protesters" the Western media seems to favor for shock and entertainment value.

"Shopkeepers said they were satisfied with a government reshuffle announced on Thursday, which replaced 12 ministers linked to ousted president Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali but retained Mohamed Ghannouchi as prime minister.

Armed with wooden sticks, knives and stones, shopkeepers fought back against a small group of hardcore protesters who tried to storm the capital's tree-lined Bourguiba Avenue, scene of dozens of protests during Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution."

"We want stability. We have a transitional government now... We are against chaos. These people want everything to change in a day," Ahmed Oueslati, who owns a nearby haberdashery shop."

So just who are the "hardcore protesters"?

2. Reports from Egypt indicate that the MB is working WITH the military, at the moment.

A news item I saw covering average citizens in the street demonstrating the other day quoted one: "I am a Christian, but I am an Egyptian first." I found this interesting.

The issue of identity and its relationship to politics in Egypt will be interesting to follow: Egyptian, "Arab," "Islamic".

3. As Europe has its own very powerful "pro-Israel" lobby operating at the national and at the EU level, it will be quite interesting to see how they deal with this "Mediterranean" country in their back yard.


The New Yorker (Jan 29)
Posted by Jane Mayer

"One of the “new” names being mentioned as a possible alternative to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, is actually not so new to anyone who has followed the American policy of renditions for terror suspects. After dissolving his cabinet yesterday, Mubarak appointed Suleiman vice-president, and according to many commentators he is poised to be a potential successor, and an alternative to Mubarak’s son and intended heir until now, Gamal Mubarak. Suleiman is a well-known quantity in Washington. Suave, sophisticated, and fluent in English, he has served for years as the main conduit between the United States and Mubarak. While he has a reputation for loyalty and effectiveness, he also carries some controversial baggage from the standpoint of those looking for a clean slate on human rights. As I described in my book “The Dark Side,” since 1993 Suleiman has headed the feared Egyptian general intelligence service. In that capacity, he was the C.I.A.’s point man in Egypt for renditions—the covert program in which the C.I.A. snatched terror suspects from around the world and returned them to Egypt and elsewhere for interrogation, often under brutal circumstances. ..."

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/01/who-is-omar-suleiman.html#ixzz1CWHOuNd6


More on the Confeds for the Khedive

unclear from article if he was Napolean's Cavalry Commander's Kellerman natural son.

little known fact: he engineered pedestal of Statute of Liberty.


the founder of modern Egypt & the Albanian dynasty which ended with Farouk
He proved that the fellahin Egyptian soldiers could best the finest Ottoman troops.


So Mubarak is planning on exile in Tel Aviv? Interesting. I'm sure this one is going down well among the Egyptian population. Exile to Tel Aviv since Saudi rejects Mubarak, and since Israel has caused such animosity towards itself in general [and Mubarak has been quiet as a church mouse towards Israel's carnage in Gaza, guess this is Mubarak's reward from Tel Aviv -- Israeli safe haven for Mubarak].

Patrick Lang

There were as many Union men as Confederates, Stone for example. pl

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