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16 July 2012


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Egypt is inherently poor. It lacks the natural resouces and markets needed to industrialize successfully in the face of a population growth that devours any advance in economic product. At the same time the population embraces unlimited population growth as a good. In this situation the presence of a large number of poor is regrettable but unavoidable. pl


Col: I watched an old Michael Wood documentary last night called "Legacy." He noted that starting in the 13th Centuary, England's average family size declined in conjuction with the rise of private property rights. The womb is the most basic form of power.

Doesn't Egypt suffer from this paradox: its population growth rate will not slow without economic development, but robust economic development cannot occur until the propulation growth rate slows?



Egypt has been through repeated cycles of economic growth by design beginning in the time of Muhammad Ali. Each was followed by massive population growth. The English example does not seem to apply. pl

William RAISER

I'm about to give up on any "intelligent" discussion of the "Arab spring" and its aftermath. I think none of us know enough or are close enough to the unfolding situation to have anything much to contribute.

I find amazing the constant concern about Islam and Islamists and no concern about the influence of US neo-liberalism in the area. All the various global forces are fighting to gain position while the people suffer.

My major hope for Egypt comes from the workers' movements that have been active and gaining experience for quite some time now. They might be able to advance the cause of the people in the face of all our outside forces: Islamic, American and European.

I wish them well but; given the experience of the US in its war for independence and France, among others, in its revolution I don't look for any quick resolution of the issues in the coming months. We took years/decades. I expect MENA will also. For all our sakes, I wish them well.


"The exchange of views, the weighing of alternatives, verbal restraint, reasonableness, and the development ofdiscerning judgment on political matters is missing because Egyptian masses have no practice in these things"

nor does congress....

As for the rest, Mr. Sale seems dead on except for his fears at the end. Leave em to their own devices...we need to work on our own societies in "The West". If ours work and their's implodes...well, we are a model to follow. If we don't get ourselves right, we are more hopeless than we are now.



If this link works, it seems that the birth rate of Egypt has gone down steadily over the last 50 years, to reach a rather unremarkable 2.73 births per woman. Still well above replacement rate though!

I added Algeria and India for comparison. Notice the sharpness of the demographic transition in Algeria.







william raiser

"I'm about to give up on any "intelligent" discussion of Ithe "Arab spring" and its aftermath. I think none of us know enough or are close enough to the unfolding situation to have anything much to contribute"

Bye. Bye. I will continue to state my views pl

Medicine Man

From 36.3m in 1971 to 81.5m 2008. That's astonishing.


If only Egypt's birthrate mirrored your banishment rate...


Off-topic, but to note that the National Rifle Associate opposes the Senate DISCLOSE act, that would require groups to disclose publicly the sources of campaign-related funding exceeding $10,000.


Republican elites have successfully managed to attract the support of Christian fundamentalists--even to the extent of nominating a Mormon!--and still advance their pro-business agenda. I don't see why Egyptian politicians wouldn't do the same, maybe with a little advice from their friends in the US.

There is no inherent contradiction between the doctrines of the MB and the salafis and making money. The petro-monarchs of the Persian Gulf are ample proof of that.

Personally, I would not like to live in an Islamic fundamentalist state any more than I'd like to live in a Christian fundamentalist state or a Jewish one.

But what is the real issue here? Does anyone
here think we can tell Egyptians how to run their social and religious lives any more than we tell Zionists?

Or is the fear that Egyptian religious fundamentalism is really nationalization, like Zionism? If so, that flame is lit. Credit Zionism and savage capitalist, secular elites, who provided all the fuel needed.



Since you do not value the interests of the United States, no argument that I could make would be effective. BTW, the Mormon claim to being Christian is very weak. that's why Romney does not want to talk about it. pl

Alba Etie

Col Lang
If the US government had not asked Leader Mubarak to step down - would he still be in power ? How realistic would it have been not to expect that the Mubarak regieme would eventually have fallen anyway ? It looks like Egypt could possible go the way of Turkey -and ostensibly find some middle ground between the Salafist and the Military ruling that country . But then again we are cautioned that Erdogan may noy yet be done with his Islamic reforms.
Given the rapid rise of the radical fundamentalist in the Midle East and North Africa this might be why Russia and PRC are still supporting al Assad .
Its appears to be a train wreck - this Arab Spring .


I have a hunch that Mr. Sale has in mind not so much how the West would react but how Israel, would act in face of such 'encirclement - probably violently.

Should regime change in Syria succeed, I wouldn't be surprised if we get to see something resembling a joint Israeli/ Saudi-funded attempt to crush Hezbollah - which would be cheered on by neo-cons and neo-wilsonians alike - naturally before the Saudi-funded entities predictably turn on Israel (their presumable priorities being: Fighting the apostates and heretics first, and then the heathens).

Ironically, the Israelis would likely be better off finally making a deal with Hezbollah and the Palestinians, because of Hezbollah's discipline, restraint and comparable moderation. But that would mean making compromises, and that would require Israel conceding something, anything - and that is utterly unacceptable to the likes of Netan-yahoo.

Only a complete and unconditional Siegfrieden that imposes Israeli will on the enemy will ever be enough. Since that is utterly impossible to achieve, and since the Israelis are unwilling to compromise, there will be no peace. From their perceived position of strength the Israelis can, even in light of the shifting geo-political tectonics of the region, afford themselves the US subsidised luxury of not having a peace.

For that end, it may appear preferable to them to not have a partner for peace. It would be highly illuminating to see Israel's policy of targeted assassinations be analysed in that regard.

An Israeli desire to not have a partner for peace would handily account for Arafat's death. Having Syria and Lebanon in chaos would do fine in that regard also.

Of course that is a foolhardy approach. Kicking the can down the road, hoping that tomorrow will be a better day, as the Israelis do, is just crazy, but it appears to me that it is precisely what amounts to Israel's strategy for decades.

That lack of realism aside, I was struck by the deep cynicism on display when the Obama administration scolded the Palestinians for investigating Arafat's probably murder, because it would have a detrimental effect on the peace process. What a sad joke. Peace process? What peace process are they talking about? The one where the Israelis refused unprecedented Vichy-esque concessions, even on Jerusalem, as simply being not good enough? Grotesque.


"[T]rain wreck" for whom?

None of the secular regimes were working. The Arabs--like the Europeans before them--will stumble along until they find a system that works.


Let me get this straight. The salafi promoting royals in Saudi Arabia and Qatar are America's best friends. But salafis in Egypt (funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar) represent a threat to America's interests, in part because they would set a bad example.

Pardon me for my confusion.

Al Spafford

I turned my NRA hat and membership card back in to the org in the '80s when they fought the ban on coated bullets that could pierce police vests. They are too often, too extreme.


John H

Your confusion derives from the fact that the Saudi Wahhabis are not really our friends. We are stupid enought to allow them to convince the half assed people in the foreign policy establishment that they are our friends. The relationships with Qatar and SA are entirely transactional. they understand that. We don't because we insist on believing what they say to us. Tell me you are a student. Please tell me that. Give me hope. pl


Well, let's call a spade a spade.

Salafis are not a threat because of their religion per se. They are a threat because they are populists. They claim to represent the people, not wealthy entrenched interests.

We can argue about whether they are misguided or not. I personally don't like their social agenda. And I doubt that they have much of an economic one.

For some reason those spinning the foreign policy narrative don't want to call a spade a spade, preferring to cloak the message in Crusader-like images.


John H

You are altogether wrong about salafis. I have heard this fable for so long that I find it unspeakably boring. Salafis are Islamic zealots who hate the West because they see the world as a moiety in which they and their god are at war with the western alternative to the world they seek. people like you who do not accept the power of belief always insist that salafism is a screen behind which the truth lies whether this be a secret populism, agrarian reform, pragmatism in internatioal affairs. this belief is a matter of religion for you because your mind has been destroyed by the dogmas of political science. I weary of you. pl


Very interesting discussion, Egypt being the Petri dish of the Arab spring, all other Arab countries being peripheral...

Salaphists and Moslem Brotherhood have a rude awakening coming their way. If they can't make the trains run on time or find employement for those millions seeking some way out, they will not last long. Unless they learn how to put on suits and ties and trudge around the world looking for markets for their products, partners to establish factories, level field for trade, international standards etc etc...once people quelch their thirst for religious freedom much supressed, they would realize that Koran course does not guarantee the means for them to buy that new plasma TV ...

Nothing to worry about here, unless they find a way to integrate their Islamism with a working capitalist system, they are toast. I say let them try the spiritual way out of poverty and underdevelopement first, however messy. The second Arab spring will deliver. Or the Arab summer, time to reap what is sown in spring.


Alba Etie, in Turkey what passes as Erdogan reforms are nothing but a roll back of Ataturk reforms. People were not very happy with the dogmatic statism of the original elite once the immidiate dangers to the nation passed, so they have given a chance to a religious oriented administration. Fine, let's see how they like it. I know for a fact that people here don't like being denied their Raki, basic freedoms, free press, constant religious nonsense bombardment over the airwaves, an emasculated Army, rigged judicial system, turbans and slippers in the metro, hicab wearing women on the fine beaches, and their entertainment can not be denied. AKP came to power with the votes of the undereducated, disadvantaged and alienated traditional understrata of the Turkish society, but they are no longer that. They have become a prosperous middle class, all for the best. It would be hard now to subject them to a sheria law or a military dictatorship. If you have a sense of humor, you would find it funny as I do, a hicab wearing young woman on an Istanbul street, wearing Italian stiletto high heel pumps messaging on her blackberry next to her best friend in her total Seattle grunge hippy outfit.

But the point is, and the irony, the more the Islamists open to the world, the more they lose their hold on power over their people. And if they don't open up to the world, they still lose because they can not provide economic developement and relief from poverty for their people. And if they don't have democratic institutions and basic freedoms they can not have economic developement. Egypt will have to test and break this paradox, hopefully soon. This is the reason I am not too worried about the salafists and the moslem brotherhood there, they have a losing proposition in front of them.


Sorry, probobly won't get posted by Sayin Albayim, but totally incoherent comment above. Surprised that it warranted a reply by the good Colonel-by the way, Sir, you have kindled a new interest in me about the Civil War. Amazing how normal, typical human beings of 90 % of all those Generals were with all their petty egotisms and shortfalls. And how the guy who pulls the trigger and the one who orders it has not changed in 150 years.

 Larry Kart

The Colonel's "this belief is matter of a religion for you" is perfect and true. No belief system can be more fierce than that of the adamantly wised-up. I've been one of those myself at times and can still feel the pull of those wised-up certainties, much as I now try to resist.

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