State Dep’t says democracy is OK for Tunisia but not Egypt because of Israel

on 15 Comments

Thanks to Pulse, here is a wonderful interview of State Dep’t spokesman P.J. Crowley by Shihab Rattansi of Al Jazeera that shows why Obama talked about Tunisian democracy in the State of the Union but said nothing about democracy in Egypt. At about 5:40 Rattansi asks Crowley why the U.S. with all its leverage over Egypt doesn’t pressure it to call off the dogs and let the society move toward democracy?

Says Crowley: “We respect what Egypt contributes to the region, it is a stabilizing force, it has made its own peace with Israel, and is pursuing normal relations with Israel, we think that’s important, we think that’s a model that the region should adopt broadly speaking. at the same time, we recognize that Egypt, Tunisia other countries do need to reform, they do need to respond to the needs of their people, and we encourage that reform and are contributing across the region to that reform.”

Rattansi: [paraphrased] but if Egypt can’t guarantee stability, what’s the point of all your financial support.

Crowley: “We rely on Egypt as an ally to be a stabilizing force in the region… that has benefits across the region.”

Rattansi: “Democracy would be destabilizing to the region generally, wouldn’t it?”

15 Responses

  1. Jim Haygood
    January 27, 2011, 5:34 pm

    Here’s another comparison which the amnesiac administration should be reminded of.

    In terms of denial of political participation, internal repression, use of secret police, torture, and summary punishment and execution, it is difficult to distinguish Hosni Mubarak from Saddam Hussein.

    But what a difference in the U.S. political slant. Neocon war plotters, up to and including the president, said Saddam Hussein was a Hitler-like figure who threatened humanity; so regime change was urgent.

    By contrast, the brutal, kleptocratic thug Mubarak is lauded as ‘a stabilizing force.’ We’d hate to see him go, really.

    And the sole reason for the difference? As Crowley makes clear with his repetitions, it’s because Mubarak is solid on Israel.

  2. seafoid
    January 27, 2011, 5:36 pm

    That shining city on the hill is looking very shabby at the moment.

    • Citizen
      January 27, 2011, 5:45 pm

      Why shouldn’t it? That’s where Israel’s help lives; the help should be satisfied with their dwellings and not look jealously at the Master’s Mansion.

  3. Citizen
    January 27, 2011, 5:41 pm

    Glen Beck is on his show now, ranting out fear to the sheeple, “If Mubarak falls, God help Israel!” Then he adds in a low tone, “Not that I think so much of Mubarak.” His closing comment: ” I stand for nonviolence, and I stand with our police officers.”

    • Jim Haygood
      January 27, 2011, 5:51 pm

      It’s a shame he didn’t adapt Hank Paulson’s old refrain:

      ‘I, too, support the strong Egyptian pound!’

    • Potsherd2
      January 27, 2011, 5:54 pm

      So fine, let god help Israel. Why does the US have to do it?

  4. Citizen
    January 27, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Crowley, when asked if US will threaten to withdraw US aid if the Egyptian government keeps jailing protesters and shooting rubber bullets at them, replied, “It’s not either/or,” and recited the usual about how Egypt is a force for good in the region. As to why didn’t we respond to Tunisia the same way?
    But the aid to Tunisia has been reduced from 50 million to 20 billion, while US aid to Egypt stays intact at 1.5 billion plus. Why are we doing this when the US is in austerity mode and the Egptian government is suppressing free speech violently? Crowley replies that Egypt is helping Israel & so is a stabilizing force in the region. The US treats each country in the region differently; no cookie-cutter approach, but rest assured the US wants real democracy for the people in the Middle East.

    Looks to me the only democracy in the Middle East Uncle Sam cares about is that applicable to Jewish Israelis. 5 million people? And how many billion Arabs and Persians are there in the region?

  5. pabelmont
    January 27, 2011, 6:06 pm

    Yes, democracy can be destabilizing. Look what happened to Iran in 1953 (USA/UK toppled Mossadegh’s democratic gov’t); Gaza & WB (2005) (USA./Israel toppled Hamas democratically elected gov’t); Lebanon (2011 – elected Hezbollah-connected gov’t scheduled to be toppled by Israeli attack).

    These democratic gov’ts are so destabilizing — even tho USA uses the spread of democracy as a slogan for its recent wars. But democracy alone is (sometimes sadly) not enough to guarantee the immediate demise of a gov’t: Israel as example.

  6. lobewyper
    January 27, 2011, 6:06 pm

    Rattansi: “Democracy would be destabilizing to the region generally, wouldn’t it?”

    What a dry wit has our friend Mr. Rattansi…

  7. Siegfried al-Haq
    January 27, 2011, 6:07 pm

    Crowley must be full of self-loathing. That was the most pathetic performance ever, but I guess there’s not much you can do when you’ve bet all your chips on a doddering tyrant and the rising opposition knows who’s paying for the guns pointed at them.

  8. yourstruly
    January 27, 2011, 7:31 pm

    egypt a stablizer?

    as in protecting the settler-entity?

    as in being empire’s puppet?

    as in terrorizing its own people?

    better to destablize the egyptian government

    that the settler-entity be under siege

    that empire fall

    that egypt be free

    in a just and peaceful world

  9. Shingo
    January 27, 2011, 10:48 pm

    Wow, so it appears that to obtain a position at the State Department, one has to be incoherent, inconsistent, illogical, and self contradictory.

    I think our resident humanist might have found his calling.

  10. Lydda Four Eight
    January 28, 2011, 2:31 am

    here’s the comment i posted earlier when i linked the Rattansi/ Crowley link in a comment in an earlier post, *ahem*.


    What I find so funny in the above, beside the obviously stupendous job the AJE reporter does, is when the State guy says they support social media and technology during this time the USA supports democracy, blah, blah, blah. I was thinking how nice of you. What about supporting those things along with FREE PRESS when Israel was raining missiles down on Gaza in 08-09? And what about supporting these things when the Israeli commandoes stole/ confiscated and silenced media/ social media activists on the Mavi-marmara? Not only did Israel confiscate all the activists’ gear but they also scrambled the network so they couldn’t send out anything while they were on the flotilla.

    How do you do that? How do you talk out of both sides of your mouth?

    Also the AJE journalist says Democracy will destabilize Middle East and suggests that’s why USA pays 1.3 billion for Mobarak’s security forces and only $20 million for programs on governance and democracy in Egypt. That’s striking, what does our USA gov’t fund in terms of gov’t and democracy programs at home compared to military spending?

  11. NorthOfFortyNine
    January 28, 2011, 2:37 am

    Somewhat off topic, here is a good piece, via Walt, on Lebanon.

    After a visit to Beirut in October, where he was sent to “reassure Lebanon’s president of President Obama’s support,” [Senior State Department official] Jeffrey Feltman said that “there are people inside Lebanon who are arguing that it faces a choice of justice versus stability. That’s an artificial choice.” [3] The intended “justice,” and the punishment to follow, is of course the one to be meted out by the STL, with the UN Security Council and the US behind it.

    The unnamed “people inside Lebanon” that Feltman alluded to almost certainly included Walid Jumblatt. Jumblatt is a veteran Lebanese parliamentarian and Druze chieftain, formerly allied with Saad Hariri and a one-time favorite of the neo-cons in Washington (in the years 2005-2008). In interviews with the Lebanese press, Jumblatt recounted his meeting with Feltman, but was far less circumspect than the latter. According to Jumblatt, Feltman tried to flatter him and he wisely demurred. “[Feltman] told me I’m a national leader and should back the tribunal. I said, no, I prefer to be a tribal leader, I’m downgrading! And I asked what the use of tribunal justice is if it leads to slaughter? It’s better to drop justice for stability.” [4]

    The lobby at work, downstream?

    link to

  12. Tuyzentfloot
    January 30, 2011, 5:24 am

    This article smacks too much of ‘confirmation science’ overshoot: mainstream ignores theory X > end up by overusing theory X because you’re collecting everything that fits in. Israel matters in US policy towards the Egyptian events, but would the policy be that much different without Israel? There is a pragmatic preference for dictatorships: they provide stability and reliability. I would even claim that reasoning is valid for Gaza as well.

    And if anyone is thinking of calling up Occam, tell him he needs a shave.

Leave a Reply