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18 August 2013


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William R. Cumming

Given my very superficial knowledge of Egypt this post makes sense to me! Does it make sense to others?



After all the time I have spent on you, you should have more than a superficial knowledge of Egypt. Are you saying you have learned nothing from me? pl


It is surprising that those professional reporters in the Western press are unable to see that the officers, NCOs and conscripts in the Egyptian army are members of a national institution with a unique history and social role within Egypt. Not to mention zero involvement in any of the wars America has been involved in these past few years (especially not Vietnam; though I think Professor Schleifer is correct in his analysis of American journalists' psychological make up in that regard).

One would hope those advising our national leadership were able to overcome their own psychological projections in this regard before giving any advice; however from the what has happened with regard to our actions in the last few months I would say they haven't. I sure hope the new owner of the Washington Post cleans house. It would be nice to get some real reporting for a change.


Cher Colonel -- We have learned so much here that we only now realize the depth of our ignorance.
Cut us some slack -- we are not all ME hands (thank G*d!) and rely on the expertise and instincts (not to say refined guts) of folks like you.
Remember why the oldest regular customer at the bordello always prefered the company of Mary.


Pirate Laddie

you are right. Sorry Bill. pl



Abdullah Schleifer is some sort of Sufi so it is natural that he has no use for the MB or Wahhabis. They have no use for him. pl



Unfortunately there is a certain generalized anti-military feeling in the press. Schliefer does not seem to be immune for it with regard to the US Army. As for the
Egyptians recent history, there were two Egyptian divisions in the First Gulf War. They did not fight but they were there. The same was true of the Syrian Division. pl

Al Arabist

Schleifer raises a good point but he's too easy on the journalism-policy connection. Some policy experts themselves either wish to defy Egypt's history of military state building OR just believe they can catapult Egypt beyond, say, Singapore. Like we're going to export to Egypt a super pure version of democracy. Having said that, tanks in the street shocked me after the Boston Marathon bombings.


Al Arabists

Show me a photograph of a tank in the Boston streets. Do you know what a tank is? It is a heavily armored fully tracked vehicle with a rotating turret that has a big gun in it. Show me a picture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:M1_Abrams-TUSK.svg

I agree with you that American media are following the WH policy line. pl



Thanks for pointing out my error. I seem to have my own blind spot as I had read the same facts on the First Gulf War (though I didn't live through it like you.) How quickly we erased our influence in Syria and Egypt over the past two administrations. It is a very sad state of affairs.

William R. Cumming

PL! No apology needed but thanks. Issac Newton is reputed to have said at the end of his life something like that all he had learned was but a small shiny pebble he had picked up on a beach with many many pebbles nearby with an ocean of ignorance in which to find more.

My long term issue for Egypt is what do the Egyptians do when their dams silt up?


I think Schleifer was featured in the documentary on the 1967 war "Six Days in June". Very interesting fellow.


While there were no tanks on the streets of Boston, Marine Colonel Peter Martino made some interesting observations on the increased militarization of our domestic police departments when speaking before the Concord, NH, city council regarding that city's purchase of a APC for its police department.

"We're Building a Domestic Army"--Marine Colonel Peter mMrtino

"[MARTINO 1:25] What’s happening here is that we’re building a domestic military because it’s unlawful or unconstitutional to use American troops on American soil. So what we’re doing, is we’re building a military.

And so what we’re doing here, and let’s not kid about it, we’re building a domestic army and we’re shrinking the military because the government is afraid of its own citizens. The last time more than ten terrorists were in the same place at one time was September 11, and all these vehicles in the world wouldn’t have prevented it, nor would it have helped anybody. So, I don’t know where we’re going to use this many vehicles and this many troops; Concord is just one little cog in the wheel. We’re building an Army over here and I can’t believe that people aren’t seeing it. Is everybody blind?"


Neil Richardson

Dear Colonel:

I think some people are confusing BearCats with tanks.





Yes. They are confusing some sort of police armored vehicle or USARNG APCs with tanks, but I continue to be concerned with this kind of imprecision in speech since it has political implications. p l



I have no problem with the thesis that a police state with domestic armed forces not covered by the posse comitatus act is being created. Of course the national guard is already outside the PC Act if not in federal service. pl


Concur with Mr. Schleifer- the Egyptian Army is a nationally-revered institution. From my few personal contacts with Army officers, they do not want to rule the country- but felt they had to act against the MB. The NY Times, Post and TV talking heads have completely missed the boat.
And Fred was right when he commented on how we have lost our influence in Egypt. McCain and Graham certainly didn't help matters with their comments.


My main critique is that there seems to be some assumption that the purpose of journalists is to inform the public. It may have been once, but today, journalisms purpose is to sell advertising time. Their goal is to provide information that keeps the viewer interested enough to not change the channel during the numerous publicity breaks. The information needs to be of high public interest, with its main point(s) communicated in 15 second or less sound bites.

None of the ideas Prof Schleifer proposes are amenable to 15 second soundbites. The inevitability of Political Islam (and the need for more security spending) and Lindsay Lohan's underwear nicely meet the key criteria. The complex role of military in societies (domestic and foreign)? Not really. Hence the attraction of SST.

Re: The veracity or utility of this information, well.... most inevitable things usually are not and Lindsay Lohan's fashion - well nuff said...


Col: In "This Town" by Mark Liebovich, the author will provide many examples of how the media almost always waits for ther government's cue.

Maureen Lang

"None of the ideas Prof Schleifer proposes are amenable to 15 second soundbites. The inevitability of Political Islam (and the need for more security spending) and Lindsay Lohan's underwear nicely meet the key criteria..."

The very definition of "infotainment," ISL.

Also the reason my husband & I became fed up to the gills & stopped watching any national "news" shows (24/7 or otherwise) several years ago- read instead across a broad spectrum of online international newspapers/news sites. SST always the 1st bookmark hit for all things ME.

Bill H

"None of the ideas Prof Schleifer proposes are amenable to 15 second soundbites."

I don't know. How long does it take to say, "The vast majority of the Egyptian people opposed the Muslim Brotherhood?" I don't speak very rapidly and it only took me four seconds.


Not just Lindsy Lohan; let’s not forget Russian gymnasts kissing on stage, much to the glee of the left wing crowd.


Bill H:

That is a sound bite, for sure, but that still needs qualification (given the general uselessness of polls as shown by Nate Silver) and is not the point of Prof Schleifer's article - that the relationship between the military and the Egyptian people is complex and nuanced. And nuance does not soundbite.

Medicine Man

I read an article in our (Burnaby, BC) transit newspaper about the violence in Egypt. It was rather vague. Lots of "X number of religious minorities were killed" and "violence is spreading". Basically talking about political violence as if it were a flood or wildfire, rather than a phenomenon with actors, victims, and motivations. I don't know if it was deliberate or not but the net result was to obscure the multilateral nature of the violence in Egypt.

I simply don't trust a great portion of the western media these days. At best they are sloppy and not up to the task of seeing foreign parts of the world as they exist, rather than how we imagine they exist. At worst they are completely in the tank for their owners.


oofda: Which McCain comment? He was for cutting off aid to Egypt until AIPAC told him to be against it before he decided again that he was in favor of it.

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