Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Is Obama Channeling Beck And Palin On Egypt?

It looked for awhile as if the Obama administration was going to side with the demonstraters in demanding that Hosni Mubarak resign, and there was even a unanimous resolution out of the US Senate to this effect. But the administration has been backtracking since, appearing to support maintaining Mubarak in power for some unspecified transition period, even as the street demonstrations increase in size. Are they channeling the Glenn Beck-Sarah Palin line that if Mubarak goes, Egypt will go radically Islamist and we will end up with a radical Caliphate from Mauretania to the Philippines?

This is more mysterious given that a bipartisan Working Group on Egypt was formed last spring, with members ranging from Human Rights Watch member, Tom Malinowski, to former Bush official and neocon, Elliott Abrams, which has been warning that there would be a popular uprising in Egypt against the regime and that the US needed to support this movement. Instead, the administration cut funding for the Endowment for Democracy, which had been developing links with the secular, democratic opposition, and essentially looked the other way at the time of the seriously rigged Egyptian election in November.

Now we know that Israeli leaders very much want Mubarak to stay, as well as the Saudis and Jordanians and some other neighbors, but it is seriously unclear who in the administration it is who is getting to Obama to push a line that seems both morally wrong and politically/diplomatically stupid. Is it the State Department, the CIA, the US military, some or all of the above? Whoever it is, this seems to be a serious mistake on Obama's part, the sooner undone, the better.


Ken Houghton said...

"the administration cut funding for the Endowment for Democracy"

Do you mean the National Endowment for Democracy here?

"essentially looked the other way at the time of the seriously rigged Egyptian election in November."

What gave it away? Was it that the Muslim Brotherhood went from 88 seats (which was Mubarak sending a "support me" warning to the US in 2005) to 0? In such a context, the clear question re: 2005 v 2010 is "ma nishta ha-laila hazeh?" Clearly rigged "elections" are the rule, not the exception, for the duration of the Mubarak regime.

Not quibbling with your basic point--p*ss*ng away an opportunity is much worse than p*ss*ng into the wind--but the idea that BarryO is doing anything different from what has been US policy for decades is not well-founded.

Kuttner, sadly, is completely correct--he's at best a legislator, not a Leader.

ProGrowthLiberal said...

It appears the Mubarak will resign tonight!

Anonymous said...

Egypt is experiencing a national bread riot brought on by dollar inflation under QE2 (should it be QE12 by now?)

As we have seen before, a liberal government will either impose price controls leading to black marketeering and shortages, and so fall, or not impose price controls and be seen as powerless in the face of massive increases in food prices.

Food prices go up first in monetary inflation. Here in the USA we are able to pass this off because food represents such a small proportion of our household budgets. However I would bet it's a lot higher part of the average Egyptian's budget.

If Egypt establishes some kind of weak secular democracy and Obama does nothing about the dollar, I predict that the Egyptian government will fall and be replaced by a totalitarian one that will impose price controls (and Islamism).