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29 January 2013


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There's a recently published book I want to recommend. It's by Hazem Kandil and its called Soldiers , Spies and Statesmen: Egypt's Road to Revolt.

I know, I know, there are a lot of books out there. But if you want one that actually tracks the development and competing interests of the political state, the military state and the security state in Egypt at a practical and historical level, this is the book. I think it's framework will quickly become a standard interpretation. Verso, 2012.


Democracy is messy. When America is offered an opportunity to influence other countries and the choice is between democracy and a despotic "stability" of any color, it always chooses the latter. So does Australia except for one aberration; East Timor- but that may well have been a Prime Ministerial rush of blood to the head.

Alba Etie

But my question is how long can the unrest go on and not affect the tourist dollars going to the Generals ? And , related - how long can Morsi & the MB stay in power without the military ? Finally if their was a rational policy for the US and the West to adopt at this moment towards Egypt - what would that policy goals be & how would they be gained ?



you know that is not true. The US has "midwifed" democracy in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan to name a few. Were these misguided efforts? IMO, yes. These countries are at present still unsuited for Western style democracy. they lack any number of basic notions necessary to democracy. among these is the concept ofthe "loyal opposition." Additionally, the very concept of "party" is inimical to their underlying culture. Islamicate civilization reveres unity in society as a reflection of the unity of God. Islamicate civilization regards diversity as weakness and seeks to suppress it. Only in those countries heavily infuenced by western colonialism do you find any real regard for western style polics. I listened to Abdullah II try to explain at Davos that most Jordanians are unaccustomed to the concept of "party" other than as a the reflection of a particular leader. He is right. they see party in terms of "faction" something condemned in their religion. pl



It has been my impression that the GO class is not heavily invested in the tourist trade. Hotels in Egypt tend to belong to true plutocrats. These are not generals. Agriculture, construction and manufacturing have been more the thing. Remember that the armed forces as institutions are also heavily involved in the economy. pl

Alba Etie

Col Lang
So will it still hurt Mursi and his government if the foreign dollars from the tourist trade dries up ?
And is there still concern that the junior grades in the Egyptian military are MB 'fellow travelers" ?
Do the secular pluralist like ElBariDei still have any political or economic levers to pull in Mursi's Egypt ?

William R. Cumming

Is not the history of MENA largely the military picking the leaders as opposed to the converse?


Really good explanation.

I (like most Americans) have always assumed that since we are the "best" place to be, that every one else would like to either live here or live in their own country - like we would.
Especially the freedom (both political and economic) that we take for granted and Arab countries have never seen.

Western Europe (where all of my foreign travel has been except 1 trip to Turkey) is just similar enough to reinforce this view.

This could also explain the affinity that most Americans have for Israel; they are more "western."



Yes, it will because the general population especially in the cities benefits greatly from the tourist trade. pl


I'm dubious most Americans have an "affinity" for Israel. Although that myth is pushed aggressively.


You are right Col. Lang, I just let despair overcome hope. The "midwifing" of democracy seems to me to be a recent development anyways.

Shouldn't self interest dictate a more conservative program?



We utterly defeated Mexico and then let them have some of their coutry back. We could have kept it all. It was that kind of world then. We backed Juarez against Maximilian's government. We defeated Spain and then after a lot of soul searching left Cuba and the PI. We occupied Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua and left all these places. We were quite keen on Japanese and German democracy after WW2. So, I don't knoe how "recent" this behavior is on our part. Self interest? Yes. I am in favor of that but I can't seem to sell Americans on that idea. pl


Affinity for Israel? That's because most American's don't know what's going on there and the unending repetition of the 'holocaust', where on would almost never find out the Gypsies were rounded up (ordered on January 29 1943, along with political opponents, gays and a variety of others.


Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

Per your observations, may be US is good at conquest and not very good at all in subsequent peace that follows the war.

Like Sikhs; great warriors, poor administrators.

By the way, you forgot to include Canada and the war of 1812.



they and the british won except at sea. pl

Alba Etie

Col Lang
There was a Lincoln Juarez Public school house in Austin, Tx for many years before it was gentrified .

Alba Etie

Col Lang
Port Said has declared its independence - the Army is protecting the Suez transit traffic. This sounds like its getting pretty dicey for Mursi & the MB .
(I think Juan Cole was saying over half the Egyptian GDP is Suez Canal related ) .

Bababk Makkinejad

I thought the British were defeated - US won. I guess I was wrong.


Babak, is this in reference to 1812? We won a bunch of frigate actions at sea. The important naval victory was on Lake Erie. Most of the land battles were losses other than the Battle of the Thames (which resulted in the loss of Tecumseh in battle which was a disaster for Native Americans on both sides of the then border) and the battle of New Orleans. In the east we had a draw an Lundies Lane though the Canadians will claim a victory.



I understood BM's comment to be about Lexington and Concord.

In 1812 the British captured and burned our capital city. In most land engagements the British forces were victorious. pl

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