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11 February 2011


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Allen Thomson

> It seems that this prophecy was based on media reporting. He is the director of CIA? Why?

Because, except in some very limited cases, the US isn't very good(*) at HUMINT. Never has been, isn't now, shows little sign of getting better. There are things we do well, but that isn't one of them.

(*) "Isn't very good" is a polite way of saying "sucks."

William R. Cumming

Again predicting this event will resound enormously perhaps throughout the century!

We are about to find out the quality of the leadership in the Egyptian military and their hopes and dreams for the future of Egypt. One could argue from the facts known so far: First they are bought and paid for by the US. That I doubt. Second, that they are an incompetent military (much like Iraq?)! Again I doubt that. Third, that authoritarian outcome is the only possibility of the Mubarack resignation! Again I doubt that. Fourth, that the Egyptians just don't understand that there only role is to play tourist guide to the world's tourists. Again I disagree.
What I do see and perhaps hopelessly naive is Egypt becoming a key player in the 21st Century. I believe Professor Paul Kennedy identified in his book on the 21st Century written and published in the last century--Egypt as poised to do some amazing things and have amazing impact on world events this century.
Of course the item I place at the top of the list for Egypt is that while it seems a burden they are definitely not a petrocracy and have had to survive by their brains, not extractive industries. Unless of course you view milking the tourists as an extractive industry.

This is a huge huge event in my judgement and the INTEL failures demonstrated in the US should cause all to pause as another major revolution has presented itself without much warning. What kind of revolution it is remains to be seen.

Thanks much PL for helping guide US through the maze of the Arabic world. The politics of the Souk and the Bazaar may yet be important to WESTERN History.

Patrick Lang


May yet be? i thought you understood better. Just because we defeated the Iraqi military that does not mean they wereincompetent. another classic civilian mistake. pl


I'm sure you have seen many Corrosive changes since your days In Active Military and Intel Duties.
I grew up admiring Our various government Intelligence Services..and have always had a deep Respect for Our military Services..
The Current FUBARS you describe..add to My own dismay that developed during the 9/11 failures and follow up Actions..
LOATHING is a good Action word..Very Sad State of Affairs..
Wish you were back in the Saddle Sir..


Keeping up appearances, I calls it. We shouldn't judge Pannetta too harshly. The shop he "runs" really hasn't done much of worth in about a generation & lil' Leon's willingness to take on the assignment shows he's a good trooper, not necessarily a quick or selective study.

Can't say much about Clapper, never worked closely with his photo shop in the old days, but this isn't his first public "misspeak" since taking on the DNI-ship, is it? Makes the Negroponte era look even better.

William R. Cumming

PL! Certainly agree some Iraqi units were good and certainly many brave. Is there a good book describing the Iraqi efforts in their two wars with the US and its allies?

Norman Rogers

We have Clapper because no one wants that job. He is DNI by default.

What does that say about the patriotism of good men who refused the job? I know that it doesn't come with money, power, prestige or portfolio, but so do a lot of things. I'd really like to see a list of those who turned down the job.


It seems like a great disrespect for cultures that are different. Why cant' the professionals get past this bias?

"Just because we defeated the Iraqi military that does not mean they were incompetent." I certainly agree. While casualties were low didn't the Iraqi's put a significant number of the attack and transport helicopters of the 101st out of commission in the first couple days with old fashioned AAA? Hasn't that caused a significant amount of rethinking of the tactics?


Lead paragraph from Bloomberg:

"It took 18 days of pressure from Cairo protesters as the U.S. and the European Union called for change to end the 30-year presidency of Hosni Mubarak, who kept peace with Israel, battled Islamic militants and preserved American interests in the Middle East."

The person on the hot seat now is Barack Obama. Much as I see him as a lordotic excuse for a leader, he has very much facilitated what has happened in Egypt... IMHO.

I expect now that the attacks on him will crescendo to a new peak. Has he lost his constituency on the right?

James ben Goy

Panetta for sure & Clapper to a lesser degree perhaps were appointed to their respective positions because of the management philosophy which states management is management of people, in every situation. According to that theory, a lead typist will be just as competent a manager as an experienced field op who has worked his way up through the system and knows every nut & bolt. This ideological disease started in private industry, and is a mutation of the 'a salesman is a saleman,' virus. Based on my experience, in private & public employ, it fails primarily because upper management is usually never in place because of management ability, but more likely for arse-kissing skills. It also fails to recognize the fact that while agency managers require people skills, the cases those people work require much more and only like experience is a reliable guide to judging those skills and the choices made in their applications. A major benefit for employers is it allows them to promote otherwise unqualifed and inexperienced people over the often difficult, competent, and experienced employees on the short list, the ones like you, pl, who insist on telling it like it is.

Patrick Lang


IMO his stupid remark probably caused HB to dig in his heels. pl

Patrick Lang

James ben Goy

Who, me? pl


Col..I agree...Mubarak did not like being pushed around by Obama and the American Media..I think today..the Egyptian Army.Pretty much told him to go..They could no longer support him..The only other end result after today would have been all out Anarchy and I dont think the Army wanted to be in that Position..
Now the Real Intrigue begins..all ovr the Region..
One has to Anticipate that Mubarak may still be killed..and I will watch furhter Action and Moves by the Military and how it really Interacts with all the Factions..


Seems it wasn't just these two men.

US kept trying to "catch the falling knife" throughout the Egyptian uprisings and kept misjudging sentiment/getting it wrong.

Biden " Mubarak is our ally/friend," H.Clinton - "Sulieman is our friend," media trotting out El Barandei.

In the final analysis, Egypt went with none of the above! The Egyptian people seem quite happy with the military junta option.

Mike C


Think you're referring to the failed March 24, '03 attack on the Medina Division of the Republican Guard, carried out by the 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment. Rather than me trying to summarize, do a Google Book search for "On point: the United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom" and you can read about the whole thing. It's also covered in the book "Cobra II."


Mike C,

Thanks, I'll check them out.


I wouldn't blame Panetta too much. He was only off by twelve hours. And it seems that Mubarak faked everyone else out, too. The last roar of a lion...

I think that the Egyptian military were least amused of all. Mubarak was playing rope-a-dope with everyone, trickling out concessions and shifts of position. But he delivered too little, too late, could not get ahead of expectations, and could not assuage the demonstrators. If anything, Mubarak's strategy wound up solidifying his opposition and growing their numbers.

The US had a fine line to walk here, and was probably of several minds about the optimum outcome. Egypt and Mubarak have been faithful allies, providing valued support for decades. As much as we might prefer democracy and a more open government, there is a great possibility that this will not happen. Circumstances can more easily be worse, in the US view, than they might be better. It's also highly impolitic to publicly call for the toppling of your ally. And to not offer some support to Mubarak would not endear the US to other allies and leaders.

We'll know we have a real problem if our intelligence agencies and State Department have not considered devolution to military governance, and taken steps

Patrick Lang


I do. Panetta (the oaf)encouraged HM's intransigence. What steps would we take against the military? Are you also a neo-imperialist? pl

Charlie Wilson

Unless you are Izzy, American support is the kiss of death.


It seems you have other truck with Panetta than his announcement of Mubarak's departure too early. I don't know of that. I was just referring to his timing, as I said.

Could our intelligence agencies have had better information and analysis? Almost certainly. Public statements could certainly have been a bit better focused and coordinated among various branches and agencies - but that's not entirely the fault of intelligence.

Could the US have had a greater impact in shaping events and outcomes? Maybe. Perhaps this is the desired outcome, and all the dithering we've seen in public had a point. It may be that the US determined that Mubarak and his entire retinue were more obstacle than instrument, and circumstances will improve without him.

What we have been seeing in the media is only one part of the equation. I'm sure that there have been many private communications on various points between many governments and the Egyptians. What is said in public is not always what is said in private. And many different things may have been said in different ears, to the purpose of arranging the most opportune transfer of power.

I'm no imperialist of any stripe. I would like the Egyptian people to find their own, authentic democratic governance. And I would like that to happen at minimal cost in time and life to the Egyptians.

The coalition of protesters seem unable to form or hold a government at this time. The NDP was clearly reluctant to share power or implement a genuine process towards inclusiveness. It seems that this leaves the military or civil war. I'd rather neither. And at this point the protesters would likely be decimated by government adherents in ongoing battles and skirmishes, as they lack weapons, training and coordination.

While I'm not an imperialist, I realize that the US has interests in Egypt and the region. These are not contingent on my opinions. I have no objection to the US trying to advance its interests when they are not in conflict with the needs of local populations. I see value in things such as the Suez Canal remaining open and safe, in Egypt and Israel not being at war, with Egypt being able to operate its economy and welcome tourism dollars, with Egyptians being able to work, study, speak and live their lives in comfort and safety.

Why should we take steps against the military (I assume you refer to Egypt's)? They safeguarded the protesters during the demonstrations, saving hundreds of lives and worse outcomes. They received governing authority that was devolved to them by order of the President. They have not acted to repress the people or to preclude a move towards elections or reformation of the Constitution. Perhaps they will.

The US, as I'm sure you know, is not without tools to apply pressure or gift to Egypt's military. We might adjust our foreign and military aid - as has been broached publicly. Spare parts for equipment might be on back order for a while. We might adjust the training provided to the officer corps. We might convince Israel and Jordan to pay a bit more for the gas they get from Egypt. We might not publicize or act on certain things we might know about members of the military and their families. I hope that no one is considering any US ground intervention in the most populous Arab state.

As we push and pull, others may also see advantage and act. The Saudis, or even Iran, might want to fill some deficits. Egypt might open the gates into Gaza. The Israelis might decide that some of the Muslim Brotherhood would be less bothersome dead. From the standpoint of the US government and State Department, I'd think they'd prefer to have less of this in play, and more of it conforming with their notions of propriety. And we can rely on them to do something about that.


Mike C,

Thanks for the suggested reference:On point: the United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Already started to dig into it.

Mike C


Most welcome, happy to help.


Jon, with all due respect to Col. Lang, and while I defer to his wisdom, I suspect that America does indeed have tools to influence Egypt and other countries.

...However I suspect that the Colonels point would be that to employ those tools effectively requires a rational world view of what Americas interests really are, and that this is absent. That's what SST is about.

Patrick Lang


We have the tools, but not the wisdom. In Egypt you can see the recent results in our dithering and then decision to back revolution wherever it may occur or lead. pl

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