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11 February 2011

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Cold War Zoomie

What's next?

I pick the absolute 180 degree opposite of whatever the gasbag, talking heads, "expert" concensus is that bubbles up in the mainstream media over the coming few days.

God knows they get it wrong every friggin time.

JimTicehurst

Thanks..Michael..
this was an Informative layout of Some Strategic events and Players around the Middle east..
Quite a Chess Game..
It Looks like Israel now has New problems and New Fronts to Consider...and is beginning to really feel surrounded..

Probably the Most Important Immediate Questions you bring up now are what happens with the Saudi's..Security of the Gulf..and The Looming Iran Problem..
Will the Saudi's back the Israeli desire to Attack Iran..? With or without US Support..consent..?
is that a Logical or Good Response Now..consequences..?
What is the Real status of Saudi Arabia and its people Internally..? What is the mood of the People there...? Whats the real attitude of the Military High Command in Saudi Arabia..?
could thwe Royal Familys be in Danger of Over throw..?
How active would thier Military Be..?
How willing would the saudis be to just Negotiate and Conduct "Business" If it looked like the mood of the entire Middle east Muslim Countrys shifted toward support of Iran..?
And What Happens if the United states is told to get out of The Region including Iraq..Afghanistan..and all Support facilitys..?
so many Bones to chew On..Hope we got some good Minds working on It..If Not..Its the Clapper Crapper for sure..
This Swamp is Full..and there's no way around it..

Medicine Man

Sobering. Thank you for these insights, Dr. Brenner.

Charles I

Its breath-taking, Monica Crowley of the WAPO is on McGlachlin on PBS, she just changed today's new's into Obama's failure in Iran's revolution of a couple years ago.

Let's hope the government is able to adapt to reality, and U.S interests whatever the punditocracy puts out the next while. Israel's a ability and inclination to stymie the mildest of anti-stasis U.S. diplomacy may be acute. Cast Lead II has been virtually promised, what of it now?

RAISER William

Great article. Helps to gain a perspective at this critical moment. Thanks.

JLCampos

It seems to me that religion is the tidal wave that is engulfing the "West" and will drown it.
Was there anything more telling than the Egyptians falling in prayer en masse while demonstrating against the government?
We know that those prayers were of the greatest importance because our propaganda media censored them out of existence while showing football like crowds making signs of victory.
Capitalism is by nature opposed to religion. After all the origins of capitalism are coeval with the destruction of monastic orders and confiscation of their properties and granting them to the aristocrats of the moment. Capitalism tolerates religion provided that it be private that is ineffectual. But overt religion, the masses surrounding the Kaaba in orderly rows is anathema.
The tide of religion is rising. Even in Europe the monastic orders are thriving and the same here.
After all what does the "West" offer that may satisfy the mind?
After seventy
years the Russian's people memory was alive and the cathedral of Christ Savior of Russia rebuilt.
No analysis can be complete or approximate to reality by disregarding the enormous power of the transcendent.We may oppose Islam in whatever way we can but ideas are never erased by police power. The religious idea like fungi transforms the dead wood into the fertile humus.

William R. Cumming

Okay far out prognostician based on my almost total ignorance of the ME and Arabia generally and Islam.
Here is my take based on certain facts that have been expressed by others but which I now adopt as my own.
1. The US is almost totally clueless in its foreign policy and foreign relations and counted on Mubarack and Egypt staying the same for another 100 years.
2. The Egyptian military is corrupt and incompetent and not qualified even to defend Egypt-not sure who would want it.
3. The amount of foreign assitance coming from the US and its allies is completely insufficient for Egyptian needs and to "buy" off Egypt from making political or foreign policy decisons adverse to Israel.
4. Saudi assistance to Egypt is inadquate if it expects Egypt to help protect the KINGDOM.
5.The tolls from the Suez Canal have NOT kept up with inflation in the ME.
6. Egypt is largely westernized in its culture but not its religion.
7. The demographic situation in Egypt is explosive.
8. Egypt cannot feed itself and must rely on foreign foodstocks and subsidies to do so.
9. Egypt relatively skillfully played the US for support and that is now looking to be not just inadquate but largely almost a joke.
10. USED to dealing with great powers, the Egyptian's will survey the horizon and ONLY China can be a big help to them. Expect this relationship to expand exponentially.

What does this listing mean? 1. Unless US triples assistance to Egypt US won't get time of day.
2. Unless western powers oppose it expect Suez revenues to be tripling.
3. Outright request to the KINGDOM for sharing of OIL Revenues.
4. Very very close relations with IRAQ post US withdrawal.
5. Very very close ties to TURKEY.
6. End of peace treaty with Israel and opening of GAZA borders and telling Israel --hey we have our own problems.
7. Once the military is out of power post elections--a big assumption--drastic reorganization of the Egyptian military with little interest in power projection except over its nearest neighbors.
8. The drastic decline in tourism because of security issues will be dealt with dramatically by the Egyptian military and Interior ministry.
9. Egypt will use its potential "nuclear" card to play itself into more international aid.
10. Egypt will create a formal Treaty with Iran and Turkey that will forestall any serious rivalry between Egypt and Iran and Turkey.

Okay there you have my wild eyed vision and hoping it draws some comments?

And thanks Professor Brenner for your thoughts.

PirateLaddie

How soon before our options in the region are further limited by the next phase of Operation Cast Lead? The Zionists need to reaffirm their control over US policy in the region while the Egyptian military is still focused on internal issues. Such an action would also tend to strengthen resistance to internal political change amongst the neighbors.

Just because things haven't worked out to their favor in the last few escapades would not discourage the truly insane.

R Whitman

With regard to Brenner's next to last paragraph, the US will probably do nothing. We will not modify our present policies and actions. We will then react poorly (there are no good reactions) to the next abrupt change in the Middle East. We do not know what that will be in spite of all the speculation on this blog and in the media in general, but it will be something none of us expect.

Sidney O. Smith III

Great analysis, reflects the best of academic world. Seems to arise from a realist-J Street point of view. Even better, it implies the author is open to the notion of leaving the Uris dream behind, walking through the door exiting Likud Zionism, and doing so on behalf of the American people. Can’t top that.

Interestingly, the article infers, without saying, that the US should demand that Israel return to the 67 borders or lose US support. All indications are that Israel will not return to the 67 borders. So it’s apartheid or post Zionism.

The fact that the author glosses over the need for Israel to return to the 67 borders (as well as announce no intention to take over the Dome of the Rock) may indicate a cognitive dissonance. But from such, creativity springs.

Vayoel Moshe is what a person may find when they exit the door leading away from Zionism, even if temporarily. The analytical assumptions that arise from Vayoel Moshe, increasingly, seem to serve the interest of all Americans, including the Jewish people. And, when doing so, if one takes a glance back at the Uris dream, one is tempted to say that Zionism did not have to turn out this way, but it is what it is.

Norbert M. Salamon

Thank you for the cogent analysis presented Dr. Brenner.

There is one important issue not mentioned by you, Dr, , the revelation [and fact] that Saudi Arabia can not produce oil ad infinitum, that is connected to the problem of declining oil export by many countries[due partially to more use within]. Whatever Sunni leaders, the neocons, AIPAC, etc propose, the USA can not go to another war in ME land, especially versus IRAN, for there is no spare oil. Please recall that the three largest exporters to USA, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela are all exporting less and less, due to inability to increase production.

Instead of rattling sabers versus nuclear power generation, the USA's priomary foreign policy should involve strenuous effort to increase such power production in ME land, thus freeing up oil for export that is at present used for electricity generation.

Internally. the USA should cancel all food derived bio fuel production to ease food shortage/price increase in the whole world [especially in poorer countries], and take strong steps to decrease oil consumption.

Of course, the biggest canard in ME politics is Israel and her policy regarding Palestine, Lebanon, Jordah, etc. Without solving this problem, the USA is powerless in any positive fashion.

Jake

Does any one really have a handle on the thinking and debate at the NSC?

I have so many questions that I would love someone to take a stab at.

I have listened to many of the interviews after HM departed. I know there is more to this than just a bunch of kids on twitter. I still do not understand who or what really organized this so-called revolution? Who really was the opposition? There had to be money behind this. Who's?

The reason why I am stuck on this, is because there was organized staying power on this event, unlike the last few that fizzled in a day or two. What changed? Could this have been a subverted reverse triad backing? Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran? A internal power struggle we are not seeing? International business interests? A couple of billionaires having a child's temper tantrum?

This was too slick a operation for just a bunch of internet savory kiddies to overthrow a government using twitter and that includes organizing the pressers. Now the so-called Egyptian opposition (who ever that is), has a list of demands that it wants to be met. Notability, wipe out 30 years of the Mubarak regime. My spider sense tells me there are other players here we have yet to see...

My other problem with this is the folk on the NSC. What was the US Intelligence Communities warning to the WH on all of this? Or where they asleep at the wheel? What is the WH thinking? The US can dictate what is going to happen in Egypt now? We can do better than Bush did in Iraq? Or are they really naive to think that this is a simple peoples uprising that will not effect US policy in the region? Or is this someones joke to make us better at Nation building without using the military hammer?

What am I not getting here? What have we really wrought here?

Jake

Egypt the day after Mubarak quits - live

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/feb/12/egypt-day-after-mubarak-quits

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." William Congreve

Times will become both interesting and very scary....

Fred

Theodore, just how many Palestinian lives have been saved by the 'temporary' fence?

Thomas

"Logically speaking, there is an alternative to the two active alternatives of confrontation and grudging containment. That is engagement. It would mean a move toward comprehensive exchanges on the whole array of issues between Iran and other regional powers – including the United States."

Concert of the Middle East?

Roy G

The fall of Mubarak has an added bonus for the region; the Israeli govt. now needs to be reactively concerned with the reality of dealing with Egypt, thus leaving less time for their proactive 'dirty tricks' around the region. Notice how their tone is so much less belligerent in re Egypt? It's because they are dealing with a formidable opponent now, not some ducks on a pond. Where are the belligerent Mr. Netenyahoo and the Kahanist FM Lieberman now? Cat got your tongue gentlemen?

In re Mr. Lewis, he sounds like a good Afrikaaner, pre-apartheid. I've heard that clucking about 'unfortunate' and 'regrettable' situations before, but it now it appears that the shoe is changing feet. We will see, indeed.

Leanderthal

I'm sure I must have missed it, but have Michael Brenner's credentials been posted on SST?

dh

This is all going to cost the US more money I think. When it comes to bonuses the Egyptian military has a lot in common with Wall Street bankers. At a time when people are talking about spending cuts it should make for some interesting debates.

chimneyswift

It seems from my view from afar that the first impact of Obama's decision to side with the masses of Egyptian people and in favor of a pluralist representative government in Egypt is to separate American foreign policy from Israeli wishes.

In light of your writings Dr. Brenner, I must wonder if it doesn't put us on a path into the wilderness. Clearly we are exerting an array of pressures on a complex constellation of other actors.

Fortunately, I believe President Obama to be a long range strategic thinker, and can only imagine that he has a sense of where this might go and what course the United States might chart.

Certainly his April, 2009 speech in Cairo now looms even larger in history than it already did.

FB Ali

Dr Brenner,

An excellent piece! Both the analysis of past developments and the implications of events in Egypt are remarkably perceptive.

You have laid out clearly the choices facing the US administration. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that these decisions will be based on such rational analysis and the imperatives of US interests. US policy appears to be so much under the influence of pro-Israeli lobbies and interests that such action would be a remarkable break from past practice.

I was especially pleased to read your article because I am currently writing a piece for SST in which I discuss the underlying currents and forces that are causing this wave of change pulsing through the Muslim world; your piece complements that nicely.

Stanley Henning

It looks like, in the midst of the frightening economic situation facing us, we are now
looking at serious changes in world politics. We need people who can help us deal with all this in far more astute ways than we have done in the past and it looks like we will not be in a position to continue throwing big money at "friendly" dictatorships. For our continued survival we need to go into a "politico-military-economic huddle" and come out ready to cope effectively with the problems of the 21st century.

Cal

Observation Number One:
Some nervous paper tigers in the ME. Doesn't seem to me their populations would be up for an attack on Iran or for Israel's continued confiscation of on Palestine. So.....will the threat of unhappy people power figure into the regional poobahs strategies re the US-Iran-Isr and etc.etc.? Or not?

Bahrain

Bahrain's king has decided to give $2,650 to each family on the Gulf island, the latest step the Sunni rulers have taken to appease the majority Shia public before protests planned for next week.

Algeria

Algeria's state of emergency, in force for the past 19 years, is to be lifted soon, official media quoted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as saying on Thursday.

The announcement followed pressure from government opponents who demanded the emergency powers be scrapped.

Several Algerian towns including the capital experienced days of rioting and protests last month, provoked by a jump in food prices.

Two people died and hundreds were injured, officials said. To calm the situation, Algeria cut the cost of some basic foodstuffs and increased wheat supplies to markets.

However, protests erupted again on February 12, with pro-democracy demonstrators ignoring an official ban to march in the capital, Algiers.

Yemen

Yemen's opposition has said a dialogue with the government, which was expected to start this week, had been delayed so that it could consult with opposition figures outside the Arabian Peninsula country.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on February 3 he would not seek to extend his presidency, in a move that would end his three-decade rule when his current term expires in 2013.

Saleh also vowed not to pass on the reins of government to his son. He appealed to the opposition to call off protests.

Saleh promised direct election of provincial governors and also agreed to re-open voter registration for elections due in April after opposition complaints that around 1.5 million Yemenis were unable to sign up.

Jordan

King Abdullah of Jordan has replaced his prime minister after protests, but the opposition has dismissed the move as insufficient.

The king asked Marouf Bakhit, a conservative former prime minister to head a new government after accepting the resignation of Samir Rifai. He asked the new government to take speedy and tangible steps to launch political reform.

Jordan has announced a $225m package of cuts in the prices of some types of fuel and staples including sugar and rice. Rifai also announced wage increases to civil servants and the military in an attempt to restore calm.

Kuwait

The ruler of Kuwait has announced the distribution of $4bn and free food for 14 months to all citizens, although his country is not facing any protests.

Each of the 1.12 million native citizens will get $3,572 in cash as well as free essential food items until March 31, 2012, Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was reported to have said.

...from Al Jazeera

William R. Cumming

What I meant to suggest in my pronostication was that unlike 30 or 40 years ago when the great power options were just two {and maybe are still just two) now China is a major player in both North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. So the Egyptians can again use their considerable skills at "blackmail" to offer false choices to the US.
My guess is that the discourse on Egypt is much more interesting in the inner circles of the PLA and Communist leaderhsip in China than the equivalent in the US.

Or by the way does not China run the Panama Canal and is overseeing its enlargement? Why not the Suez Canal? After all the longest canal in the world is in China!

Thomas

Jake
“I still do not understand who or what really organized this so-called revolution? Who really was the opposition? “

The young Egyptians who want to get on with life, as we all do when we are in our 20s. As for organization, look into the story of Wael Ghonim . Last night on TV, they were talking to two young Egyptian women in the US, one of them said that she was proud for her people and followed up with 'it was our (youth) generation that did it.'

On the Interview thread (Feb 10) an analysis by Chas Freeman has, in my view, a key overall point:

“What may also be ending is the fatalistic passivity and groveling to power that have made the Arab world stand out among the world’s great civilizations as the only one not to have seen a rebirth of intellect, wealth, and power. (Iran’s attempt at achieving this has so far largely failed but at least Iran made the effort.) The contrast with renewed Chinese, Indian, and Turkish vigor and self-confidence (not to mention the Japanese in an earlier era) has been striking.”

Times are a changing, especially for each generation.

steve

Theodore Lewis:

"Nevertheless, it [the separation barrier around Gaza] has proven to save countless lives."

I think it has proven to cost far more lives than it has saved.

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