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14 August 2013

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jr786

Somehow I suspect they'd be pretty damned concerned if the people opposing them were, say, Jews, or gays,or 'modern' Egyptians, or anybody else other than the wrong kind of Muslim.

Great day for the forces of secular modernity. Imagine the instant iconization of that photo of the woman standing up to a bulldozer if she anybody other than the Other du jour.

Petrous

Mr. Lang
Your last paragraph is right on the mark. The two key words in the money quote being " UTTER" & "IGNORANCE". The question being, could this much ignorance be unintentional, or not?

JohnH

Given the fact that UAE just gave Egypt $3 Billion and Saudi Arabia just gave $2 billion, IMHO part of the quid pro quo will be tolerance of the salafis. Everyone knows how uncomfortable the bedfellows will be. However, the military needs a popular base beyond the 5-10% seculars. And they need more Gulf money. It's what gives them some breathing space with Washington.

walrus

The question is, Col. Lang, why are dilettantes and other assorted lightweights being allowed to provide policy advice in Washington and heavyweights such as your good-self deliberately excluded?

Sooner or later, Washington is going to take one piece of bad advice too many and end up with more American blood on its hands.

turcopolier

walrus

the incompetent and the naive are in charge. they don't want to be told they are that by people like me. they would feel that we criticized them even if we said nothing. You notice that the old WASP crowd of ME people are gone from TV. pl

turcopolier

petrous

Don't fall into the trap of believing that everything is a conspiracy. The leadership here really IS that ignorant. pl

Bill H

It was pretty hilarious watching CBS Evening News trying to portray Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood as paragons of modern democracy being taken down by the bloodthirsty military coup. Egypt's "first freely elected" whatever and a government "produced by democratic revolution" disappearing in a "military bloodbath," etc.

turcopolier

All

For some reason known only to the god in the machine comments on this post were closed. they are now open. pl

r whitman

PL-do you think the MB and the salafists will form armed guerilla groups??

turcopolier

r whitman

The MB and other salafists are already armed. They brought small arms into the "sit-ins" and are using them to fight the security forces. The real question you are asking is whether or not there will be insurrection in the cities on the Battle of Algiers model and/or in the countryside on the Maoist model. IMO the military and police are going to kill and arrest their way through the activist cadres and then the country will quiet down to a sullen passivity. It is interesting the extent to which the Islamists are attacking Coptic churches. That should give you some idea of their ultimate intentions. pl

wilson

While i find myself reluctantly agreeing with your excellent, hard-nosed, takes on the various situations in the region (Syria, Turkey, Palestine, etc...) for Egypt can you do a quick refresher on what direction you would have recommend the US take at the start of the Tahrir Square sit-ins against Mubarak?

And given where the situation is today, painfully predictable, is there an effective policy option going forward in the near-term? If the money isn't a big-deal anymore, are we sidelined?

Thanks

turcopolier

wilson

We don't have influence in Egypt any longer. So, in your phrase, we are "sidelined." If you back people who intend to make a country over into a theocracy in which all those who disagree are oppressed then you have to expect that the non-theocrats are going to ignore your pressure for them to surrender. Our abandonment of Mubarak was predicated on the utopian ideas of the neocons, the RTPers, and the generally vapid underlings in State and the NSC whose minds have been destroyed by political science as an educational experience. They believed and continue to do so that humanity is evolving politically and socially towards a brave new world that would look a lot like the ideal states portrayed in university seminars. The notion that local culture is as resistant as it is has been simply unacceptable to all these utopians. Egypt is unpromising ground for the development of "democracy" as most of us understand the term in the USA. The best that can be hoped for is a managerial state that is not excessively savage in its need to suppress seditious groups like the Islamists who seek to use the forms of democracy and the gullibility of the utopians for their own purposed. pl

Madhu

"....whose minds have been destroyed by political science as an educational experience."

As an outsider to all of this, I've been shocked to the extent that this is true. I had no idea that the National Security Apparatus of the United States, the academic and think tank culture, were so thoroughly dominated by such strange scholarship.

walter

I disagree that our foreign policy leaders are Utopian. They are not interested in democracy. Their priorities are "stability", US access to and control of oil, support of Israel.

James Baker III interview on Terry Gross "Fresh Air" said:

"WE HAD A WRITTEN POLICY THAT WE WOULD GO TO WAR TO DEFEND SECURE ACCESS TO THE ENERGY RESERVES OF THE PERSIAN GULF. THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO THE ECONOMIC, AND I WOULD EVEN SAY TO THE POLITICAL INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES. THOSE WERE WRITTEN POLICIES. AND SO WHEN YOU FORMULATE AND IMPLEMENT FOREIGN POLICY FOR THE UNITED STATES YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT PRINCIPLES AND VALUES, YES, BUT YOU ALSO HAVE TO LOOK AT NATIONAL INTERESTS. AND WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD A STRONG NATIONAL INTEREST IN PRESERVING SECURE ACCESS TO THE ENERGY RESERVES OF THE PERSIAN GULF."

turcopolier

Walter

Stop putting everything in caps like that. It is the equivalent of shouting at me. You are way, way out of date. Yes when Baker was Sec State we had a pragmatic policy based on a desire for stability. I was in the DoD then and it is true that stability and protection of Gulf petroleum were our major goals. That time is long gone. Now we are chasing our tails in pursuit of forms of government that the target populations cannot sustain and are only interested in when their particular group sees an opportunity for power. pl

Alba Etie

Col Lang
Ms Susan Rice is now the NSC person in charge , yes ? Are we to believe Ms Rice and the other neo- liberals actually believe we can 'manage ' the Egypt upheaval to our advantage - whatever that might be ?

ISL

Dear Colonel Lang,

Although it may have been a typo, I like the vision of "chasing our tails" like a reversed Cerebus with three tails. Incoherency and inconsistency in US foreign policy has long been a standard feature, which leads other nations to take US pronouncements as so much hot air.

Fred

"whose minds have been destroyed by ... an educational experience."

What every American learns by their freshman year of high school is you are always guaranteed a good grade by pleasing the power figure at the front of the room - the teacher. Most, upon graduation, promptly stop brown nosing everyone in sight. Sadly the elites still think that platitudes and sycophant behavior are their job requirements. It’s not like they will ever be in harm’s way implementing those policies or get fire if they fail.

Bill H

Always refreshing to see how much you can say in so few words. That was densly packed even for you.

Alba Etie

Col Lang
I have an Egyptian immigrant who rides regular with us to and from the Austin airport - she is a retired academic. I asked her to please put the present circumstances in Egypt in a context an American like myself might understand . She said imagine if an extreme right wing strain of political theocracy took over our national politics - perhaps the White Christian Identity Movement aka Timothy McVeigh .And that the extremist national government started oppressing every one to include twice a year church going Methodist like myself . And that it was shown that that the 'Timothy McVeigh" government was going to seize all the levers of national power and sustain themselves forever as a ruling Nationalist Theocracy - This my Egyptian academic customer told me was the the fairly analogous circumstance Egypt now found itself in as a country . My Egyptian customer then asked me -would I not want my US military to restore order and political comity & keep the Timothy McVeighs from jailing my uncle because he was a Methodist Preacher that had a mixed race congregation ?
Is this a fairly described analysis of current Egyptian state of affairs -that would help me and other Americans understand what is going on in Egypt ? This Egyptian Academic also opines that there will be some type of civilian government in place within the year and Mr El Baridei will return to be part of this civilian effort .

mac

This clearly shows, again, the limits to our influence. I am not sure if that is altogether a negative thing insofar as there are sound reasons for a less pronounced role in many regions around the globe, including, to some degree MENA. But, be that as it may, I fail to see how US security interests are served by seeing the Saudi monarchy et al prevail in seeing its vision of MENA miserably cling to power.

Babak Makkinejad

I think there is a parallel here with the Marxists; the expectation that societies will "evolve" from the primitive communism, to slavery, to feualsims, to caplitalism, to socialism and eventually to communism.

I think the fundamental assumption behind both the Marxists and the Polic. Sci crowd - as you call them - has been the normativeness of Western European experience and its general applicability to the rest of the world.

Fred

I am certain that our expert diplomat Samantha Power will rally all the democracies that are members of the United Nations to support the Egypt of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood’s policy of one man, one vote, one time.

The beaver

FYI: POTUS is on TV
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/obama-egypt_n_3761482.html

FB Ali

" The salafi parties will be outlawed and driven underground. There, they will fester and occasionally carry out violent actions which will not affect the overall situation".

A factor that may change that prognosis is the rise of well-armed, battle-trained Jihadis in the Muslim world. The situation in Egypt following the crackdown will provide a suitable environment for them to infiltrate the country and operate there. However effective the Egyptian police and army may be in crushing unarmed populations they are not able to effectively keep out or counter such fighters.

There is a distinct possibility that Egypt may gradually descend into the state that Iraq, Pakistan and Libya are in today.

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