In Egypt the seeds of a new world order and the end of Western supremacy

on 46 Comments
obamamubarak
Hosni Mubarak, Benjamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama, Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II in the White House on Sept. 1, 2010.

Some think the Middle East isn’t ready for democracy — in truth it’s the West that isn’t ready.

Nicholas Kristof duly notes:

Egyptians triumphed over their police state without Western help or even moral support. During rigged parliamentary elections, the West barely raised an eyebrow. And when the protests began at Tahrir Square, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the Mubarak government was “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

Commentators have repeatedly referred to the Obama administration playing catch-up during the Egyptian revolution, yet its seeming inability to track fast-changing events was merely an expression of its unwillingness to embrace the direction those events were heading.

Immediately after Hosni Mubarak resigned, Jake Tapper from ABC News tweeted that he couldn’t find anyone in the administration who thought that whatever comes next would be better for U.S. interests than Mubarak had been.

The dictator’s departure is not being celebrated in Washington. The leaders of the free world have a singular lack of enthusiasm for freedom.

The administration has not merely repeatedly stumbled, but has functioned as a dead weight, attempting to slow the pace of what may become the most significant transformation in world order since the birth of Western colonial power.

America’s friends in Israel have been equally unenthusiastic about the turn of events. After Mubarak’s defiant speech on Thursday night when he insisted he would sit out his term as president, “Israel breathed a sigh of relief,” according to Israeli commentator, Alex Fishman. The respite must have felt dreadfully brief.

But if Americans want to grasp the significance of the Egyptian revolution, they need look no further than this country’s much bloodier assertion of people power: the American revolution.

For the first time in Egypt’s history, the Egyptian people have made a declaration of sovereignty and claimed their right of self-governance. Is that not something that every person on the planet who cherishes life and liberty can joyfully celebrate?

As Western leaders now line up, having no choice but to express their support for the revolution, while sagely offering guidance and assistance in managing an “orderly transition” to a democratic system, they do so with a palpable ambivalence.

People power is in jeopardy of sweeping the Middle East and undoing the carefully constructed “stability” through which for most of the last century the West has managed the control of its most vital resource: oil.

Worse for the United States, the Egyptian revolution now undermines the US government’s ability to sustain an unswerving loyalty to the preeminence of Israel’s security interests.

A democratic Egyptian government will not have the autocratic latitude that until now enabled Mubarak’s complicity in the siege of Gaza or his willingness to participate in the charade of a peace process going nowhere.

Stepping back from the most obvious regional implications of what is now unfolding, there is a more far-reaching dimension.

When in 1990 President George HW Bush used the phrase “new world order”, his words had an ominous ring both because they implied that this would be an American-defined order but also — on the brink of the first Gulf War — a militarily-imposed order. The new order was synonymous with the dubious claim that the collapse of the Soviet Union represented an American “victory” in the Cold War.

A new world order worthy of the name, however, should represent something much more significant than the strategic reapportioning of power on a geopolitical level. It should involve the reapportioning of power through which global affairs become the people’s affairs. It should mean that international relations can no longer be conducted within the confines of intrinsically undemocratic arenas where ordinary people have no voice.

The people-power unleashed in Egypt has the potential to serve as a democratizing force that not only threatens autocratic leaders in the Middle East but also technocratic and nominally democratic leaders in the West — those whose complacent style of governance has depended on the political passivity of the populations they nominally serve while providing ready access for corporate interests to exercise their undemocratic influence.

The West, far from representing a model of democracy ripe for export has instead long been mired in a post-democratic phase where the foundational concept of demos, the people, has withered.

Individual wealth has supplanted the need for social solidarity as citizenship has been substituted by consumerism. Our material self-sufficiency has robbed us of the experience of mutual reliance and worn thin the fabric of society.

In a new world order, a new democracy might spread not just further east but also further west.

There is also a bittersweet note in this moment.

The Western exporters of democracy delivered the war in Iraq and yet as we witness events unfold in Egypt, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been possible had the people of Iraq, without Western help or hindrance, been allowed the same opportunity to claim their own freedom.

This is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

About Paul Woodward

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46 Responses

  1. Antidote
    February 11, 2011, 11:54 pm

    “In a new world order, a new democracy might spread not just further east but also further west.”

    Yes! Remember the Renaissance.

    Great post, thank you

  2. lohdennis
    February 12, 2011, 12:09 am

    When the US State Department is headed by Hillary Clinton with her strong ties to the American Jewish community and with people like Dennis Ross in the White House, it’s totally expected that they are uncomfortable with what is going on. None of these people understand Arabic or Arab culture. Think tank experts from Brookings, Council for Foreign Relations are now infested with neocons and Zionists and have fed administration with staff expertise. Take a look at the recent House Foreign Affairs hearing: Ross-Lehtinen ad Howard Berman questioning Elliot Abrams and representatives from WINEP. This is like Zionists quizzing fellow Zionists to understand Arab street.
    Unfortunately, America has been duped with the Israel/Zionist-filtered narrative for too long and has lost the ability to look at primary data as it emerges. Democratic and independent Egypt can only be good for America. It’s bad only if we consider our “friend” Israel in the context. When did bad things for Israel automatically become bad for America? That is a very dubious notion.

    • Duscany
      February 12, 2011, 2:26 am

      Last year when Hillary spoke at AIPAC she told a cheering crowd “our commitment to Israel’s security and Israel’s future is rock solid, unwavering, enduring and forever.”

      Just once I’d like to hear a politician say his (or her) commitment to America’s interests first was “rock solid, unwavering, enduring and forever.”

      When Bill Clinton was president I remember his once saying he would grab a gun and “die for Israel.” I never heard him ever say he was willing to die for America. In fact the last time I remember his mentioning the subject at all (when he was in his early twenties) he sent a letter to his draft board saying he “loathed” the military. Yes, I recognize he said “the military,” not “America” but in his mind at the time I think they were pretty much the same.

  3. Nevada Ned
    February 12, 2011, 12:22 am

    The photo above shows Obama taking the lead of the group of heads of state. The official Egyptian media altered the photo to show Mubarak taking the lead. See the story from last September at

    link to cbsnews.com

    • Richard Parker
      February 12, 2011, 2:16 am

      Yes they did indeed doctor the photo but when you’re photographing 4 villains and a wimp why shouldn’t you do that ?

    • Avi
      February 12, 2011, 2:21 am

      This shows what a ludicrous clown Mubarak was when he thought of himself as the Pharaoh. Such grandiosity is striking. That Egyptian state media altered the photo shows what an iron grip Mubarak has had on Egypt.

  4. Omar
    February 12, 2011, 12:22 am

    Great post.

    “It should mean that international relations can no longer be conducted within the confines of intrinsically undemocratic arenas where ordinary people have no voice.”

    I’ve been feeling that over the past two weeks – that it’s really the egyptian people versus the global oligarchs – a massive transformation.

    • Citizen
      February 12, 2011, 4:39 am

      When most Americans make the equivalent here of $2 a day, they will be out in the streets and public squares en masse too. That day is coming–look at the trajectory of the USA’s income gap while it has been supporting the largest military in the world to feed its own greedy oliarchs, military-industrial-security complex united with hegomonic Israel. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will touch this situation; instead they both enhance it at all costs to the American people and the Arab people, among others captive to their respective autocratic regimes. It’s a pyramid scheme much larger than Madoff’s ever was, with US bag-holders down onto future generations, shakily
      masked by the single interim fact that China, our lender of last resort (along with printing fiat money) needs Americans to buy its exports.

  5. Avi
    February 12, 2011, 12:25 am

    Paul Woodward, that’s a very good article.

    Watching American news discussing the revolution in Egypt, I wondered if that same people-power will reawaken a sense of ownership in the West. In other words, as you have put it, citizenship has given way to consumerism.

    The masses are happily following the same corrupt leaders that continue to squander treasuries, bailout corrupt businesses, and line their pockets with lobbyists’ money. Will the West finally wake up from that stupor? Time will tell.

    But, it’s time citizens throughout the world realized that their destiny and their future is in their hands, if they only freed their minds from the chains of complacent apathy, consumerism and materialism.

  6. yourstruly
    February 12, 2011, 1:05 am

    yes, thank you, very illuminating

    “global affaris become people’s affairs”

    let’s see

    what’s the significance?

    right now

    so perfectly timed

    this miracle on the nile

    live*

    it’s as if one is there

    liberation square

    cheering

    and at such a moment

    who isn’t egyptian?

    and what does that say?

    *compliments of modern electronics

  7. RoHa
    February 12, 2011, 1:29 am

    Tunisia and Egypt. Who’s next?

    Does Ghadafi feel bracketed, perhaps?

  8. Richard Parker
    February 12, 2011, 2:24 am

    The truth is that Mubarak has gone, but only as far as Sharm el Sheikh. He has left the Egyptian military in charge, including the master torturer Umar Suleiman.
    Too early to say whether massive protests have won anything, and whether the spirit will survive against the inevitable backlash. It’s still early days.
    American and Israeli ‘diplomats’ are swarming round the remains of the Mubarak regime like blowflies.

  9. Shingo
    February 12, 2011, 2:36 am

    Superb article.

    This uprising has revealed the cost to humanity that Israel’s “security” has imposed.

    The preeminence of Israel’s security has come at the expense of the freedom and liberty of tens of millions of people in the Arab world.

    Egyptians have endured 30 years of living under brutal dictatorship so that 6 million Israel’s could feel secure without having to pay the price of occupation.

     Israel chose the unsustainable option, along with Washington, to maintain a cold peace via bribing a tyrant.

    And now, Israel finds itself in a position where the US ability to sustain Israel’s security interests are severely compromised.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, Israel found itself alone (alongside Saudi Arabia no less), calling for Mubarak’s regime to be protected. Strange bedfellows indeed.

    • Citizen
      February 12, 2011, 7:01 am

      SA & N Korea both offered to replace US foreign aid to Egypt if US cancels it. Israeli official told US official (at the AIPAC building) that if it’s cut it should be diverted to Israel as an annual supplement to aid to Israel.
      (Haha-just kidding about the Israel stuff)

      • fuster
        February 12, 2011, 2:01 pm

        North Korea????? Where they can’t feed anyone outside of the government or army???? Where you can see all the stars at night because there’s no electricity in most of the country???

  10. seafoid
    February 12, 2011, 4:03 am

    I think what makes it even more interesting is that there is a new economic order emerging in the Middle East . Israel and the US are old saturated debt laden economies but Turkey and Iran and Egypt aren’t.

    link to aipac.org

    “Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Turkish State Minister Cevdet Yilmaz also set a target of $30 billion in trade volume. Trade between the two nations rose to $10.7 billion last year from about $1 billion in 2000.”

    This is where the growth is going to happen. Currently no company in the US is allowed trade with Iran because the Lobby has imposed sanctions. This just leaves the market wide open for Turkey. The demographics show a huge youth bulge and this is where the story pulls in investors.

    The Economist intelligence unit produced a report on the 6 countries most likely to grow significantly over the next 20 years. Colombia, Iran, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa.

    link to ft.com

    Israel is never going to be the natural trade partner of Turkey, Iran or a free Egypt absent the fall of the IDF power structure. Israel doesn’t have the business contacts in these countries because Israel spent the last 44 years building homes for Jews in YESHA, not in building a sustainable future. And because it has all of its eggs in one US basket.

    Zionism is going to fall over economics. The US elites want money more than they want YESHA.

    Israel is on the wrong side.

  11. MRW
    February 12, 2011, 4:18 am

    Individual wealth has supplanted the need for social solidarity as citizenship has been substituted by consumerism. Our material self-sufficiency has robbed us of the experience of mutual reliance and worn thin the fabric of society.

    Smart insight. Great article.

    • Citizen
      February 12, 2011, 4:51 am

      And, the US political campaign system is the engine. Good luck with that. Our higest court has declared corporations, including international ones, “people” with full civil rights. In America, the sole legal duty of a private corporation is to maximize profit for its shareholders. Basically, a handful of people run the whole country. There’s a reason why CEO income keeps going up while average income has been regressing in real dollars for decades. Goldman Sachs controls Congress on both sides of the aisle, in tangent with AIPAC.

      • Citizen
        February 12, 2011, 5:26 am

        The CPAC speakers are on CSPAN now, in the wee hours of the American morning. They each get up and list which countries, entities, principles constitute the aggregate Goliath their little David is facing. Their perception turns reality upside down–they don’t see they have listed the aggregate underdog in the real world, both here and abroad. Oops, a rebel within their ranks has stepped up to the podium–Ron Paul. (The consensus is RP is a wasted vote as “he cannot win.”) He’s saying the Patriot Act is a destruction of the 4th Amendment. He’s dissing the Fed Reserve. Saying we need to do a lot of thinking about propping up dictators around the world, and that fiscal conservatives should look, e.g., at the 70 billion dollars we gave Muburak over the years–lots of it stashed away for his family. Foreign aid is taking the money of poor people in our country and giving it to rich people in poor countries, like Egypt. The founding fathers told us to stay out of foreign entanglements when its none of our business. All of the Middle East hates us for propping up dictators in their countries. The real danger is when it gets to Saudi Arabia. And we plain don’t have the money. The USSR collapsed due to its bad economy. We can’t keep doing 900 military bases around the world and funding foreign military establishments. We don’t have the votes to stop this. Defense funding is one thing, the military-industrial complex is another. The latter is out of control. If we balanced the budget by a miracle, this would not change anything because the Fed Reserve steps in to bail out its buddies whenever they are in trouble here or around the world. The Fed Reserve must be ended; it resists transparency. Congress ignores its responsibility to solidify the dollar’s value. We’ve had way to much bipartisanship for 60 years, e.g., on medical care, monetary system, welfare system, warfare system. We need to take the big government spenders on both left and right and cut them off. American exceptionalism? Yes, but I’m afraid we’ve given up on our devotion to liberty; we go astray with neocons; force does not work (lots of boos); best way to get others to act like us is to have a foreign policy that makes sense, be a model for liberty. Freedom of expression is NOT limited to expressing only what you like. Liberty comes from our creator, not our goverment. Government should not take over this job as it does so at the expense of liberty; government should never be allowed to do anything you can’t do (applause). If you can’t steal from your neighbor, the government should not be able to steal from you for somebody else. No redistribution of wealth. An imperfect solution: Consider opting out of the whole system on condition you pay 10% and don’t ask your government for anything? The brush fires are burning, spreading, as to what personal and fiscal liberty really is; there is no authority for the police state, the welfare state, the Fed Reserve. Assume personal responsibility for supporting liberty. We can’t read the future, but if you understand liberty is the only real humanism, that’s the best you can do.

      • seafoid
        February 12, 2011, 7:45 am

        Garrison Keillor from 2006

        link to mobile.salon.com

        But who tells the truth to the man who is driving straight into the setting sun and thinks he’s heading due east? His wife murmurs that, uh, maybe we should look at a map, and he accuses her of being a defeatist who tries to tear him down any way she can in order to conceal her own lack of ideas. The man is heading the wrong way and speeding and the idiot light is flashing — low oil pressure — and the idiot is trying to be manly and authoritative but everyone can see he’s faking it, hoping for G-d to rearrange the landscape for his convenience. Someone ought to speak up, and yet he is fascinating. As the administration is these days, so resonant and believable. The Arctic icecap melts and the Chinese finance our tax cuts and someday we will have spent six years and trillions of dollars to bring democracy to Iraq, whatever that may mean, and the SUV of state turns toward the setting sun, driven by cocker spaniels. And there is so much intensity there, and they are so much in the moment.

    • Shmuel
      February 12, 2011, 5:05 am

      Smart insight. Great article.

      I agree. There’s this too:

      technocratic and nominally democratic leaders in the West — those whose complacent style of governance has depended on the political passivity of the populations they nominally serve

      It is very shallow and short-sighted to view the Egyptian Revolution merely in local or regional terms. The various reasons for this shallowness and short-sightedness are in fact part and parcel of our “nominally democratic” systems.

      • MRW
        February 12, 2011, 8:09 am

        That too. Dead right, Shmuel. Especially the part after the em-dash.

  12. stevelaudig
    February 12, 2011, 5:39 am

    the photo tells us much five gray/white [one shouldn't kid one's self Obama attended an exclusive one time wholly white prep school for his early education and never looked back except a disingenuous bow for street cred. Hint he seriously considered Birch Evans Bayh III for v/p. That told me a lot. but Hilary would've considered Bill's favorite governor too] men in dark suits. abbas has a prayerful pose the others, as befits their puppet status, shadow Gipetto. seemingly headed purposefully somewhere they are walking towards a dead end. If Obama says the transition from Mubarak was a “victory” then what has the last 30 years been? defeat.

    • Citizen
      February 12, 2011, 7:14 am

      Obama’s preppy high school was a lonely place for a white kid; similarly, there were only 4 blacks there when he was–so neither side of his family was significantly represented. His white grandparents paid for his stay there to the extent he didn’t get in free. link to lotsafunmaps.com

  13. Citizen
    February 12, 2011, 7:04 am

    Looks like, compared to the others, Murabak is standing still, as if he had a premonition of his shaky status. Abbas too–even more so since he knew at the time of his shaky status.

  14. MRW
    February 12, 2011, 8:11 am

    I don’t care what their color is, all I see is aging white men. [Like me, I know, but I'm am vastly unimpressed with Baby Boomers. Phucking fools.]

  15. Richard Witty
    February 12, 2011, 8:49 am

    “A new world order”.

    It ain’t so. The only thing that occurred was enthusiasm and the removal of part of a part of a shell.

    The Egyptian army is in control. Anyone here historically argue for the liberatory nature of an army?

    Is there a social vision articulated, for Egypt or for the rest of the “domino” region? Something that is designed to accommodate flexibility and the order that is needed to reliably govern, conduct an economy, provide for families?

    Or, just enthusiasm.

    • Chaos4700
      February 13, 2011, 1:54 am

      Anyone here historically argue for the liberatory nature of an army?

      You do. You argue that the Zionist militias did something liberatory when they erased five hundred Palestinian villages from the face of the Earth (murdering the residents, when necessary, to enforce that).

  16. Taxi
    February 12, 2011, 8:54 am

    Zoolanders!

  17. Taxi
    February 12, 2011, 9:14 am

    Let’s face it no one is truly free.

    The battle over the soul of man in the 21st century remains between religion and corporation: between perception of god and actual mammon. And we watch how cynically the concept of democracy is bent against the grain to serve as a slave to both.

    Really, those not interested in either religion or mammon are the ones who need desperate liberating from endless centuries of imposed conformism.

    • seafoid
      February 12, 2011, 9:45 am

      Taxi

      I think the battle between religion and mammon is a US thang. It doesn’t apply in Europe. I think the real battle is between mammon and having a future .

      I was listening to an interesting speech by Chief Seattle from 1852 today. How prescient he was.
      link to halcyon.com

      The system of resource exploitation is hitting its natural limits.

      Here is a very interesting video.

      link to youtube.com

      We have no spiritual connection with our descendents. Because we are destroying our environment.

      • Taxi
        February 12, 2011, 10:22 am

        Sadly seafoid, mammon is extremely popular in Europe too – the world over.

        Even though the euros, generally speaking, are slightly more classy with their money than the yanks.

      • seafoid
        February 12, 2011, 12:28 pm

        It is the same system all over the West, Taxi. But the growth has stopped and it won’t come back. It has only been possible since 1980 by massive doeses of credit and that is over.

  18. Richard Witty
    February 12, 2011, 9:36 am

    Of the five in the photo, the only individual that won a majority in a current election was Obama.

    Netanyahu actually lost to Livni, but she couldn’t pull together a coalition. King Abdullah is a monarch (a rather enlightened one, with critics). Abbas hasn’t been elected in seven years, though Palestinian elections were recently called to occur this year, so there will be a new parliamentary majority. Mubarrak “won” single party elections.

    In my morning walk, I heard an old loved song by Jefferson Starship from “Blows Against the Empire” (1970). “A Child is Coming”. “A child is coming, what are we going to do when Uncle Samuel comes around, asking for the young one’s name, asking for the print of his hand, a pawn in their numbers game. Lets not tell them about him.”

    I remember the spirit of the times, so enthusiastic. And, now, I feel betrayed by those lyrics, lied to, abused, enabled.

    The spirit of this blog recently, the rush of revolution, the uprising, reminds me of that youthful spirit.

    The Egyptian revolution itself was much much more responsible than the sentiment of anarchic/libertarian Jefferson Starship/Airplane.

  19. bijou
    February 12, 2011, 9:57 am

    Our material self-sufficiency has robbed us of the experience of mutual reliance and worn thin the fabric of society.

    This was another powerful impression that I got in the past week from watching the scenes of the Egyptian people in the streets – that they are interconnected with one another and passionately connected with their nation and their history overall in ways that we in America have long ago lost, if we ever had it. We have become a country of individuals crouched squinting over screens in private rooms, tending each to our personal gain and comfort, often oblivious even to others living in the same building as we are.

    We are losing the capacity for democracy even if we want to revitalize our ailing republic. And yet we patronizingly cluck in concern that “they” are “not yet ready for democracy” – ie, they are not civilized enough, not educated enough, not organized enough, not aware enough, not secular enough, not sophisticated enough, not dispassionate enough… ???? All of which is complete crap, as the Egyptian people so marvellously proved in the past few weeks each and every day.

  20. Jim Haygood
    February 12, 2011, 10:01 am

    This was posted as a comment on the Guardian’s daily Egypt blog:

    The most extraordinary thing of all was the way the demonstrators subverted the army with love. When the army appeared on the street they were welcomed as guardians of the people.

    The demonstrators simply refused to accept that their beloved army could be against the people or fire on them – and they didn’t. It was one of the most acute and intelligent political actions that I have seen in my lifetime. We have a lot to learn from the Egyptians.

    One of the effects of America’s endless overseas wars is the paramilitarization of domestic law enforcement: not just the absurdly inappropriate Rambo-style high-capacity machine guns brandished in public places, which would create a bloody disaster if actually used. But also, the ingrained mentality (learned on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan) of regarding all ‘civilians’ as potentially dangerous enemies.

    It’s hard to imagine a lovefest between the American people and the US armed forces until the troops are repatriated to perform their actual, sole duty of defending the nation. America’s sprawling overseas military empire, maintained for two-thirds of a century past the end of WW II, in rich countries as well as poor ones, is an economically and socially corrosive manifestation of an ossified political duopoly.

    Our Depublicrat rulers, in power for an uninterrupted 150 years, were more clever than Egypt’s NDP in giving Americans the illusion of choice. Coke or Pepsi; Crest or Colgate? Functionally they’re identical, you know. For the past ten years I have boycotted their ‘elections,’ on the grounds that there’s only one pro-Israel War Party. Whether Tweedledumb or Tweedledweeb wins the electoral mandate is entirely immaterial to me, as my stance is ‘eff ‘em both till they puke.’

    Woodward is right that Egypt’s stunning leap forward may actually leave sclerotic western democracies looking as obsolete as the Ottoman empire. We can only envy the incredible social unity on display in Egypt; the stunning scene of the martyr’s mother who said she was prepared to give up her second son if need be in the struggle for freedom. Some American families have made such supreme sacrifices too, but for what? To maintain a violent, corrupt puppet regime in Afghanistan? As the Soviet Union learned, this is a certain path to national destruction.

    We definitely are on the wrong road and under our aberrant tutelage, so was Mubarak’s Egypt. Brave Egyptians are way ahead of us in harking back to real American values — the universal values of liberty and human rights cited in the Declaration of Independence, and now so utterly mocked in our degraded realpolitik of dictators, drones and security walls.

    The notion that we have something to learn from Egypt upends an entire library full of 20th century tomes extolling a western-led, neoliberal march to development. It’s too early to tell, but this moment could be the beginning of Enlightenment II, emanating from the Global South this time round instead of from western Europe. What an exciting time to be alive!

    *sigh*

    At least Arabic’s a phonetic language, easier than Chinese I reckon. ;-)

  21. Jim Haygood
    February 12, 2011, 10:15 am

    Anyone here historically argue for the liberatory nature of an army? — R. Witty

    George Washington, the first US president, was the victorious general of a revolutionary army.

    Are you a Tory, sir?

    • Richard Witty
      February 12, 2011, 12:53 pm

      Are you joking Haygood?

      Its a gamble. If the army is the “people’s army” that trusts the Egyptian people (the past two weeks are a good reason to), then a transition to actual democracy is possible, actual elections, parliamentary government (no direct democracy possible among 90 million).

      If there is any distraction, or internal power play (a lot of power at stake, with only a few critical positions to assassinate), then the result will not be as benign as hoped.

      People routinely play longer lottery odds.

      • Donald
        February 12, 2011, 1:16 pm

        This is one of the rare occasions where you have a point–it is a gamble and nobody knows which way the Egyptian army will go.

        And clearly the US government must be hoping it can contain to influence Egyptian policy towards the Palestinians by way of the army. Ordinary Egyptians surely wouldn’t favor the blockade on Gaza, but the Egyptian military gets 1.3 billion dollars a year from us, which no doubt has a way of changing one’s mind on certain issues.

    • straightline
      February 12, 2011, 9:20 pm

      A few years ago I spent a wonderful week in Istanbul. Aside from the Hagiah Sofia, the Suleymaniye, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, and the Bosphorus at night, the high point was a discussion with a young articulate, educated, liberal Turk about local politics. At the time he was worried about the recent victory of the Islamic factions in the election and, in particular, that they would change Turkey’s secular constitution – an unfounded fear as it happens. But then he said: “In reality, we need not worry. The army will protect the constitution – it has been given this role.” For someone with a more Western upbringing this came as a shock!

  22. bijou
    February 12, 2011, 10:19 am

    More repercussions: Saeb Erakat has resigned; Palestinian Presidential and legislative elections announced for Sept.

    A regional earthquake is taking place…

  23. Kathleen
    February 12, 2011, 10:42 am

    “Commentators have repeatedly referred to the Obama administration playing catch-up during the Egyptian revolution, yet its seeming inability to track fast-changing events was merely an expression of its unwillingness to embrace the direction those events were heading.”

    I don’t believe for one second that the OBama administration was demonstrating “an expression of its unwillingness to embrace the direction” Now there may have been a few who were dragging their feet. But I really do think Obama was walking a delicate tightrope. If they had told Mubarak to beat it right away clearly stabbing him in the back after 30 years of $$$$$ endless support the neighbors would even get more worried than they are. I would put money on it that in a few years we will be reading about all of the military negotiations and phone calls between the powers that be in Egypt and the White House.

    Certainly my prayers are for the Egyptian people not only to get the dictator off their backs but the USraeli dictatorship off their backs.

    We own their military which means we basically own their country at this point.

    • Donald
      February 12, 2011, 1:03 pm

      “I don’t believe for one second that the OBama administration was demonstrating “an expression of its unwillingness to embrace the direction””

      “If they had told Mubarak to beat it right away clearly stabbing him in the back after 30 years of $$$$$ endless support the neighbors would even get more worried than they are”

      Given that Biden refused to call Mubarak a dictator at the beginning, I think there was a certain unwillingness. And those neighbors you mention are pro-US dictators and the Israeli government. Anyone who favors democracy in the Arab world would see worry among that crowd as a good thing.

      I don’t doubt that once they saw which way the wind was blowing, they have walked a tightrope. They still want Egypt’s policy towards Israel and the Palestinians to stay the same, so they’re going to have to figure out some way to persuade, bribe, pressure, or blackmail whoever comes out on top to do what the US wants. And they know it looks bad to openly side with a dictator (as Israelis have done), so whatever pressure they exert is going to be behind the scenes. Though judging from what I’ve seen on cable TV, most American pundits would be fine with any open pressure in favor of Israel the US government decides to exert.

      If the Obama administration were that interested in human rights, their behavior during the Honduras coup would have been different and their behavior towards the Palestinians would be different.

  24. MHughes976
    February 12, 2011, 12:09 pm

    I kept hearing this morning from Egyptians who love their army. I can’t see what’s so lovable about it. Its leaders, now the nominal leaders of the country, must have been up their wizened necks in Mu’s system of lavish rewards for supporters, his foreign policy (the treaty has been reaffirmed with great haste, ‘alleviating fears’ says a news bulletin I’m listening to as I write), his rather illiberal methods (do liberators really announce that they’re limiting the curfew (thankyou Sir!) to six hours? do they keep the dictator’s ministers in office even ‘temporarily’?) I don’t see how they can fail to obstruct any attempt to investigate Mu-era crimes, since at least when it comes to financial crimes they and their families will be among the most suspected. I rather agree with Richard Parker’s remarks above.

  25. dbroncos
    February 12, 2011, 11:12 pm

    Elections or not? Rigged elections? These things will tell us what the intentions are of Egypt’s military and transitional gov’t.

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