Sunday, November 29, 2015

On That Video Where Some Egyptians Allegedly Say Obama Is Insane And On Drugs And Should Be Removed From Office

An old and close, but very conservative and increasingly out of touch with reality friend of  mine posted a video some days ago on Facebook.  He indicated that he thought it was both funny and also insightful.  It seemed highly suspicious to me, so I googled it and found that the person who uploaded it onto you tube stated in the comments on it that it is a spoof. Here is a link that discusses why it is known it is a spoof as well as linking to the video itself and its comments. It has reportedly been widely distributed on the internet by many conservatives who think it is for real, and when I pointed out it is a spoof, my friend defriended me from Facebook.  I am frustrated.

So, for those who do not view it,  it purports to show a talk show in Egypt where a brief clip of Obama speaking last May to graduating military officers about how climate change is and will be a serious national security issue, something the Pentagon has claimed.  He did  not say it was the most serious such issue, and at least in the clip he said nothing about Daesh/ISIS/ISIL, although of course he has said a lot about it and not only has US drones attacking it but reportedly we have "boots on the ground" now against them in the form of some Special Ops.

So, the video then goes back to the supposed talk show where they are speaking in Arabic with English subtitles.  According to these subtitels, which are partly accurate translations but also wildly inaccurate in many places (my Arabic is good enough that I have parsed out what is what there) the host asks, "Is he insane?"  A guest suggests he is on drugs.  Another claims he just does what Michelle says and that his biceps are small.  Finally a supposed retired general pounds the table and denounces him over Libya policy (that part is for real, although his name is  never mentioned) and suggests that Americans should act to remove him from office.   Again, conservative commentators have found hilarious and very insightful, with this even holding among commenters to the video aware that it is a mistranslated spoof.  Bring these guys on more.  Obviously they would be big hits on Fox News.

So, I would like to simply comment further on why Egyptians would be especially upset about Libya, but that them being so  against the US is somewhat hypocritical (I also note that there is reason to believe that the supposed general  is not a general). Of course Libya is just to the west of Egypt with its eastern portion (Cyrenaica under Rome) often ruled by whomever was ruling Egypt at various times in the past.  So there is a strong cultural-historical connection.  It is understandable that they would take Libyan matters seriously, and indeed things in Libya have turned into a big mess.

However, the move to bring in outside powers to intervene against Qaddafi in 2011 was instigated by an Egyptian, Abu Moussa.  This was right after Mubarak had fallen in the face of massive demonstrations in Egypt.  Moussa was both leader of the Arab League and wanting to run for President of Egypt.  He got nowhere with the latter, but he did get somewhere with getting
the rest of the world to intervene in Libya.  He got the Arab League to  support such an intervention, with that move going to the UN Security Council and convincing Russia and China to abstain on the anti-Qaddafi measure.  Putin has since complained that those who intervened, UK and France most vigorously with US "leading from behind" on the effort.went beyond the UN mandate.  But in any case, Qaddafi was overthrown, not to be replaced by any stable or central power, with Libya an ongoing mess that has remained fragmented since, especially between its historically separate eastern and western parts, something I have posted on here previously.

So, that went badly, but Egyptians blaming the US for this seems to me to be a bit much, pretty hypocritical.  It happens to be a fact that the US and Obama are now very unpopular in Egypt.  I looked at a poll from a few months ago, and the only nations where the US and Obama were viewed less favorably (although a few not polled such as North Korea) were in order: Russia, Palestinian Territories, Belarus, Lebanon, Iran, and Pakistan, with me suspecting there is now a more favorable view in Iran since the culmination of the nuclear deal.  I can appreciate that many Egyptians are frustrated that the US supported an election process that did not give them Moussa or El-Baradei, but the Muslim Brotherhood, who proceeded to behave badly, leading to them being overthrown by an new military dictatorship with a democratic veneer, basically a new improved version of the Mubarak regime, with the US supporting it, if somewhat reluctantly.

Yes, this is all pretty depressing, but I must say that ultimately the Egyptians are responsible for what has gone down in their own nation.  And even if those Egyptian commentators, whoever they actually are, are as angry about Obama as they are depicted as being, the fact is that Obama is still more popular there than was George W. Bush at the same time in his presidency, something all these US conservatives so enamored of this bizarre video seem to conveniently forget.

Addenda, 5:10 PM:

1)  The people on that video come across almost like The Three Stooges, which highlights the comedic aspect that even fans of Obama are supposed to appreciate, although it does not add to the credibility of the remarks of  those so carrying on like a bunch of clowns.

2)  Another reason Egyptians may be especially upset about the situation in Libya is that indeed Daesh has a foothold in a port city not too far from the Egyptian border in Surt, as reported as the top story today in the NY Times.

3)  Arguably once the rest of the world got in, the big problem was a failure to  follow through with aiding establishing a central unified government, although that was always going to be a problem, something not recognized by all too many involved, including Abu Moussa.  As it was once his proposal got going, it was then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton who was the main person leading the charge for the US to get in over the reluctance of Obama.  This was probably her biggest mistake in all this, even though most Republicans think the irrelevant sideshow of the unfortunate incident in Benghazi is the big deal.

4)  Needless to say, Republican views at the time of the intervention were just completely incoherent, as symbolized at one point by Senator Lindsey Graham, who within the space of a single sentence simultaneously argued for the US to do nothing and also to go in full force with the proverbial "boots on the ground."

Further Addendum, 7:10 PM:

     One of the pieces of evidence given that supposedly shows that the video is a spoof is that the supposed retired Brigadier General Mahmoud  Mansour cannot be found if one googles his name, except in connection with this video.  There are some other Egyptians named Mansour who show up, but this guy does not.  However, it occurs to me that he might be for real, but simply obscure.  After all, Brigadier is the lowest rank of General, one star, with Majors being two star, Lieutenants being three star (even though Majors are above Lieutenants), and with four and five star not having any other rank assigned to them.  Furthermore, Egypt has a large military that has run the country for decades, so there may well be a lot of these Brigadier Generals, with many of them amounting to nothing.  So, if he is for real, his claim to fame will be from jumping up and down, pounding on a table and calling for the overthrow of the POTUS.

Barkley Rosser

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