Archive for the 'Egypt' Category



Egypt Isn’t So Hard To Understand

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 10 months ago

Almost 2.5 years ago when the 26th MEU was in the Persian Gulf (or Gulf of Aden), I noted that:

During the 2008 deployment of the 26th MEU, an Iranian helicopter all but landed on the deck of the USS Iwo Jima.  The Marines could almost touch it from a standing position on the deck, but no actions were taken.  The Navy refused to allow the Marines to fire on the aircraft.

So much for the doctrine of force protection.  But that isn’t all for the 26th MEU.  I was talking to my son today about scooting through the Suez canal, and when the USS Iwo Jima was near Egypt, he told me that RPGs started pinging against the side of the ship, and Scout Snipers were stationed in the highest point of the ship because of the high risk to the ship and its souls.

If you think about it, all of the hand wringing that the “experts” did over Egypt and its well trained military forces – who were supposed to be so loyal to the U.S. – was just so much silliness.

For a country who incubated the likes of Sayyid Qutb and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and who today (and even in 2008) would incubate elements that send RPGs in our direction, for the U.S. to have ever wondered what would come of this wonderful “Arab spring,” which held out so much promise for the ignorant do-gooders and well-wishers, was wasted energy and even worse.  Our coupling with Egypt will show itself to be one of the worst foreign policy catastrophies in modern history.

Egypt isn’t so hard to understand.  Whoever thought it was?  Oh, and perhaps we will continue our aid to Egypt considering how vulnerable they are.  Such is the intransigence of ignorant people.

Foreign Policy de ja vu: Getting It All Wrong Again in Egypt

BY Glen Tschirgi
1 year, 10 months ago

Here we go again.

Max Boot over at Commentary tells us that we need to support Obama’s plan to send an immediate aid package of $450 million to Morsi in Egypt in order to keep Egypt from slipping into economic collapse which will naturally result in all sorts of terrible, awfable things like more terrorists.  Or something.

I can see why some influential Republicans on Capitol Hill would be reluctant to support the administration’s request to provide $450 million in emergency aid to Egypt. The recent mob attack on our embassy in Cairo, and President Mohammad Morsi’s slowness in condemning the attack, are hardly an advertisement for the new regime. But ask yourself this: Is Egypt likely to produce more or fewer terrorists if its economy collapses?

The question answers itself, and to the extent that an emergency infusion of cash from the U.S. and IMF can tide over the Egyptian economy for a while, it is likely to promote stability and deter the potential radicalization of Egyptian youth. It may even buy time for the new Muslim Brotherhood government to implement some of the free-market reforms it promised during the campaign, if it is so inclined and if it can overcome intense internal resistance from many sectors including the army. Conversely if the Egyptian debt crisis blows up, a la Greece or Iceland, the results are likely to be much more serious than in those countries, given the number of Salafist radicals already present in Egypt and given Egypt’s important strategic position as the largest Arab state.

This is exactly wrong and upside down.  The fact that such an influential commentator like Boot is peddling such nonsense is deeply disturbing.

First, America finally and firmly needs to get off this Train of Fear that our refusal to provide truckloads of cash to failing Middle East states that hate us will result in a new wave of terrorists.   It is simply not true.  The waves of Islamist terrorists are being born and bred literally all the time with the sole aim of attacking the West and its allies.   It has nothing to do with whether the economy is good or bad.  Saudi Arabia has produced, for example, more Islamist thugs per capita than anyone and they are the definition of a social welfare state.   Even if a bad economy in Egypt might result in more Islamists, what is the upshot?  The U.S. winds up spending that money on U.S. military instead and we are better prepared to take them out.

Second, who says we want to “tide over” the Egyptian economy?  Why do we want to help President Morsi out?   He is no friend of the U.S. and is arguably a declared enemy with his rants about revising our Bill of Rights and hints about amending the peace treaty with Israel.  His unconvincing performance with regard to the attack on our embassy in Cairo is further incentive to let him sweat this one out on his own.   Morsi is an Islamist and is bent on radicalizing Egyptian youth regardless of whether we give him money or not.   The U.S. needs to stop this insane co-dependency where we pay money to those who hate and attack us.

Third, it could very well be in U.S. interests to let the Egyptian economy fail.  The clear pattern in authoritarian societies which undergo crises like this is to revert to outright military rule.  Compared to Morsi, the Egyptian military is a better friend to the U.S. and far more likely to serve our interests.   Economic collapse and unrest will convince the majority of Egyptians that Morsi is incompetent and unable to get the international aid to keep society afloat.   In desperate times, people turn to the military as the last resort.    The U.S. should make it quietly known to the Egyptian military that we would be supportive (or at least not condemn) a military coup that restores stability and pro-U.S. government to Egypt.   The only choice in Egypt is the lesser of evils:  the Muslim Brotherhood and the Military autocracy.   Clearly the military favors the U.S.

Bottom line: the U.S. is badly in need of a foreign policy that has real spine.  A dash of Machiavelli and perhaps Sun Tzu.  If that means allowing Egypt’s economy to hit the crapper, so be it.   If it means providing weapons and training to Kurdish rebels in Syria in order to buy influence on the outcome of that civil war, so be it.   If it means, in Afghanistan, isolating Karzai and cutting off aid while cutting deals with regional tribes and warlords in exchange for putting Taliban heads on pikes, so be it.   If it means turning up the unconventional pressure on Iran by sabotaging oil refineries and wells and providing covert aid to insurgents in Iran, so be it.

Marines At American Embassy In Egypt Not Permitted Live Ammunition

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 10 months ago

I am sorry and sad to say that we must cease the celebratory mood over this day being the remembrance of the federal assault weapons ban sunset provision in order to deal with something else.  While we’re debating whether a gunship should have been with the Marines who attempted to defend the Libyan embassy, or whether they should have had a FAST or fleet infantry Marine mindset, whether they should have used massive fire to close with and destroy the enemy, and so on and so forth, there is this sad, sad report from Egypt.

U.S. Marines defending the American embassy in Egypt were not permitted by the State Department to carry live ammunition, limiting their ability to respond to attacks like those this week on the U.S. consulate in Cairo.

Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson “did not permit U.S. Marine guards to carry live ammunition,” according to multiple reports on U.S. Marine Corps blogs spotted by Nightwatch. “She neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the US Embassy.”

U.S. officials have yet to confirm or comment on the reports. Time magazine’s Battleland blog reported Thursday “Senior U.S. officials late Wednesday declined to discuss in detail the security at either Cairo or Benghazi, so answers may be slow in coming.”

If true, the reports indicate that Patterson shirked her obligation to protect U.S. interests, Nightwatch states.

“She did not defend U.S. sovereign territory and betrayed her oath of office,” the report states. “She neutered the Marines posted to defend the embassy, trusting the Egyptians over the Marines.”

While Marines are typically relied on to defend U.S. territory abroad, such as embassies, these reports indicate that the Obama administration was relying on Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood-backed government to ensure American security, a move observers are questioning as violence in Cairo continues to rage.

Marc Toner, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, did not respond to a request for comment from the Free Beacon. White House National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor also did not respond to a request for comment.

Failing to respond to requests for information is a sure sign of sin and misdeed by the State Department.  It’s too easy simply to reply to requests.  Therefore, we may only assume the accuracy of this report, and remark how sad, immoral and asinine it is for the U.S. Marines to be subject in any way to some idiotic State Department employee.

How’s That Democracy Thing Working For You? Egypt and the U.S. Face Reality

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 12 months ago

This is not looking good.

According to this report in The Wall Street Journal, the secular, pro-democracy movement in Egypt received a beat-down by the Egyptian military and ordinary Egyptian citizens who are increasingly backing the Army and Islamist groups like The Muslim Brotherhood.

CAIRO—Mobs of ordinary Egyptians joined with soldiers to drive pro-democracy protesters from their encampment in Tahrir Square here Monday, showing how far the uprising’s early heroes have fallen in the eyes of the public.

Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring.

Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order.

As if this is not bad enough the Muslim Brotherhood used this occasion to demonstrate its muscles, gathering “hundreds of thousands” to Tahrir Square a few days before:

Monday’s turmoil in Tahrir followed a massive Friday demonstration on the same square by hundreds of thousands of Islamists, who called for transforming Egypt into an Islamic state—and railed against the liberal and secular youths who had helped motivate millions to rise up against Mr. Mubarak.

The Islamists’ numbers dwarfed those of the activists who have re-occupied Cairo’s central square since July 8, criticizing the slow pace of reforms, calling for police accountability and pressing for speedier trials of Mr. Mubarak and his associates. The Tahrir sit-in was organized by the April 6 Movement, one of the uprising’s main planners, other youth groups and relatives of protesters killed in the weeks before Mr. Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11.

The repercussions of an Islamist Egypt could hardly be worse.  Besides the obvious threat to Israel, there is every chance that Egypt could align itself closely with the increasingly Islamist Turkey and join what appears to be the makings of an Islamist Bloc including not just Turkey, but Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Gaza.

The timing could hardly be worse for U.S. interests.  Under the just-completed debt ceiling legislation, defense spending could be slashed with dire consequences for U.S. force-projection capabilities.  Compounding this is the ongoing refusal of the Obama Administration to take the choke-hold off of oil and gas leasing approvals, resulting in an increasing shortage of domestic production and ever-greater dependence on foreign oil.  Add to this the growing influence of China and Russia in the Middle East and the U.S. is facing the prospect of having very little influence in this critical part of the world at a time when we need it most.

Perhaps worst of all, the WSJ piece ends on a note that reverberates right here in the United States:

Unlike in previous skirmishes, the activists interviewed Monday didn’t allege to be the victims of thugs paid by the government.

“The people were beating us and helping the army,” said protester Mahmoud Abdallah, catching his breath in a side street off Tahrir as an army truck hauled away detainees. “The people don’t know what is good for them. They don’t have any awareness. They just want to make money.”

As he spoke, Tareq Shawky, a 42-year-old toilet equipment vendor, interrupted the conversation. He said he had heard about the army moving against the protesters, and drove to the square so he could help dismantle the encampment.

“The Egyptian citizen wants only two things—security and low prices,” Mr. Shawky shouted. “The millions of Egyptians will do anything that the army tells us to do.”

This is the bottom line, isn’t it?

When Government-provided security and subsidies become the paramount concern of citizens, then democracy no longer exists.  There are no, real limits on Government under this mindset.

Egypt seemed to be emerging from an authoritarian legacy with dreams of founding a new society where basic, human rights were protected and valued.   Sadly, it seems that most Egyptians care more for safety and free bread.

And here in the United States, in a little over 200 years, we have, generation by generation, bartered away our independence for Government promises of security and subsidies:  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance,Pell grants, Minimum Wage, Farm subsidies, Ethanol subsidies… the list is endless.   Even when faced with imminent, national bankruptcy, the thought of any change whatsoever to these entitlements is unthinkable for most Americans.   To merely revise bargaining rights of a public employee union results in riots and the occupation of government buildings.

In the recent “crisis” over the debt ceiling, several polls showed that a lopsided majority of Americans wanted government to reduce spending, but not at the expense of any of their favorite programs.  There is only one place where this attitude leads:  systemic failure leading to societal collapse leading, inevitably, to authoritarianism.

But, hey, why let a little thing like financial collapse ruin the party?

Muslim Brotherhood Intends to Implement Sharia Law in Egypt

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 1 month ago

Andrew McCarthy writing at NRO’s Corner gives us an update on the MB and their intentions.

In the Egyptian press, a top Muslim Brotherhood official, Sobhi Saleh, explains that if the Brothers come to power they will apply Islamic sharia law. Given that applying sharia law is the Brotherhood’s primary objective wherever it operates, this should be no surprise — unless you live in a cocoon where government officials and expert commentators barrage you with assurances that the Brothers are secular moderates.

Speaking of secular moderates, Mr. Saleh elaborated that terms like “secular state” and “civil state” must be rejected because “Islamic sharia is the best system for Muslims and non-Muslims.” For non-Muslims? Yes, of course … which is no doubt why Mr. Saleh also apologized for his earlier statements that Muslims must not marry non-Muslims and that liberals (and communists) could not be recognized as Muslims. (He felt compelled to apologize although the, er, misunderstanding was really the fault of “the media,” which “incorrectly paraphrased my statements.”)

I’m Shocked, I tell you.  SHOCKED, that the Muslim Brotherhood has been duplicitous in their words, and intends to forcibly implement Sharia law.

That same duplicity cloaks what they do in America, but their own manifesto is clear enough.

The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.

On the home front, Steve Metz, professor at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, still isn’t impressed.  He still sees essentially no difference in the threats posed by Sharia law and boy scout law.  But smarter and more educated people know that AQ and affiliated groups (such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the LeT, etc.), are only more militant manifestations of the same ideology that springs from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Connecting the Dots: The Muslim Brotherhood And Middle East Unrest

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 4 months ago

A TCJ reader, “Dave,” wrote an excellent comment to a post not too long ago on the unrest in Egypt and the lack of response by the U.S.   He links to an article by Barry Rubin of the Global Research in International Affairs Center (aka GLORIA Center) that was first published on October 9, 2010.

This comment is so striking and important that I believe it needs to be highlighted as a separate post.  When you consider that Rubin’s article was written months before any of the arab uprisings, it sounds almost prophetic and deserves to be quoted at considerable length.  Reporting on a sermon delivered on September 30, 2010 by the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt, Rubin states:

This is one of those obscure  Middle East events of the utmost significance that is ignored by the Western mass media, especially because they happen in Arabic, not English; by Western governments, because they don’t fit their policies; and by experts, because they don’t mesh with their preconceptions.

This explicit formulation of a revolutionary program makes it a game-changer. It should be read by every Western decision maker and have a direct effect on policy because this development may affect people’s lives in every Western country.

OK, cnough of a build-up? Well, it isn’t exaggerated. So don’t think the next sentence is an anticlimax. Here we go: The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has endorsed (Arabic) (English translation by MEMRI) anti-American Jihad and pretty much every element in the al-Qaida ideology book. Since the Brotherhood is the main opposition force in Egypt and Jordan as well as the most powerful group, both politically and religiously, in the Muslim communities of Europe and North America this is pretty serious stuff.

By the way, no one can argue that he merely represents old, tired policies of the distant past because the supreme guide who said these things was elected just a few months ago. His position reflects current thinking.

Does that mean the Egyptian, Jordanian, and all the camouflaged Muslim Brotherhood fronts in Europe and North America are going to launch terrorism as one of their affiliates, Hamas, has long done? No.

But it does mean that something awaited for decades has happened: the Muslim Brotherhood is ready to move from the era of propaganda and base-building to one of revolutionary action. At least, its hundreds of thousands of followers are being given that signal. Some of them will engage in terrorist violence as individuals or forming splinter groups; others will redouble their efforts to seize control of their countries and turn them into safe areas for terrorists and instruments for war on the West.

When the extreme and arguably marginal British Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary says that Islam will conquer the West and raise its flag over the White House, that can be treated as wild rhetoric. His remark is getting lots of attention because he said it in English in an interview with CNN. Who cares what he says?

But when the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood says the same thing in Arabic, that’s a program for action, a call to arms for hundreds of thousands of people, and a national security threat to every Western country.

The Brotherhood is the group that often dominates Muslim communities in the West and runs mosques. Its cadre control front groups that are often recognized by Western democratic governments and media as authoritative. Government officials in many countries meet with these groups, ask them to be advisers for counter-terrorist strategies and national policies, and even fund them.

President Barack Obama speaks about a conflict limited solely to al-Qaida. And if one is talking about the current military battle in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen that point makes sense. Yet there is a far bigger and wider battle going on in which revolutionary Islamists seek to overthrow their own rulers and wage long-term, full-scale struggle against the West. If it doesn’t involve violence right now it will when they get strong enough or gain power.

More than three years ago, I warned about this development, in a detailed analysis explaining, “The banner of the Islamist revolution in the Middle East today has largely passed to groups sponsored by or derived from the Muslim Brotherhood.” I pointed out the differences-especially of tactical importance-between the Brotherhood groups and al-Qaida or Hizballah, but also discussed the similarities. This exposure so upset the Brotherhood that it put a detailed response on its official website to deny my analysis.

Yet now here is the Brotherhood’s new supreme guide, Muhammad Badi giving a sermon entitled, “How Islam Confronts the Oppression and Tyranny,” translated by MEMRI. Incidentally, everything Badi says is in tune with the stances and holy books of normative Islam. It is not the only possible interpretation but it is a completely legitimate interpretation. Every Muslim knows, even if he disagrees with the Brotherhood’s position, that this isn’t heresy or hijacking or misunderstanding.

Maybe it is just coincidence and it may be an over-estimation of the MB’s reach and influence to view the spate of uprisings in the Middle East as a carefully calculated stratagem, but it takes no imagination whatsoever to see that:  1) the MB felt sufficiently confident by October 2010 in plainly and openly stating their call for war against the West and any muslim regime that cooperated with the West, and;  2)  consistent with that declaration, the MB has quickly and effectively pounced upon the enormous opportunities afforded by the unrest and is systematically seeking to turn that unrest to their advantage.

One evidence of this is brought to light in another article by Barry Rubin on the MB’s campaign, post-Mubarak, to take over the clerical leadership in Egypt.

This is of gigantic importance (see if anyone else covers it). MEMRI has pointed out the opening of a Muslim Brotherhood campaign to replace Egypt’s current clerical hierarchy with its own people. If that happens…you can imagine. Once Islamists are in place making the “official” decisions on what constitutes proper Islam, an Islamist state cannot be far away.

Let me explain the background briefly. Knowing that control over Islam was vital to maintaining control of the country, the Egyptian regime (like nationalist regimes elsewhere) set out to build a systematic structure for doing so. The head of the al-Azhar Islamic university, the chief qadi, the clerics of different mosques, are government-appointed. Sermons are government-approved. A ministry in charge of awqaf (religious foundations) and religion supervises all of this and hands out the money. And the government also decides which clerics appear on television and radio, or even have their own programs.

Over the last decade or so, the “official” clerics have been radicalized, and they support terrorism against Israel. Yet there is still a huge gap between those who accepted the rule by Mubarak’s regime and those who demand an Islamist regime. They hate the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood hates them.

Now, if all of these official clerics are declared to be corrupt instruments of the old regime and are thrown out of office, the Brotherhood will control “Islam” in Egypt. Equally important, they will control a vast amount of patronage and money. Every cleric will have to get along with them or be unemployed. They could authorize which mosques could open. They would control religious education.

The MB-affiliated cleric, Muhammad Zoghbi, is quoted in the MEMRI translation of his February 15, 2011 television appearance as calling on the leaders of Al-Azhar University as well as the mufti of Egypt to resign.

Al-Azhar was subjected to a dangerous scheme, which was intended to shatter it and bring it down. This scheme consisted of three aspects: First, the politicization of the positions of the sheikh of Al-Azhar and the mufti of Egypt, as well as the position of the minister of religious endowments. These positions must be filled through elections. By no means should these officials be appointed by the president. Why? Because this politicization has led the people to lose their trust in Al-Azhar and its sheiks. [...]

“Therefore I say to the ‘sons’ of Al-Azhar: Let us all join the campaign, led by Sheik Khaled Al-Gindi, until we liberate Al-Azhar, just like Egypt was liberated. The liberation of Al-Azhar is even better than the liberation of Egypt, because while Egypt is the mother of the Arab region, Al-Azhar is the mother of all the Muslims on planet Earth. If Al-Azhar gets back on its feet, the entire nation will be back on its feet, and if Al-Azhar is back on track, the entire nation will be back on track. The president of Egypt must be subordinate to Al-Azhar and respect it. [...]

This has the eerie feeling that we have been here before.   1979 in Iran, perhaps?  This is the very same pattern:  de-legitimize the current religious leadership as being too connected and tainted by the old regime, then call for the appointment of new leadership subject to your own choosing.  Finally, make it clear that the political leadership, “must be subordinate to Al-Azhar and respect it.”  As Rubin notes, the real levers of power in Egypt can then transfer to the religious clerics.   If the Muslim Brotherhood can control these levers then they will be in position to dictate the shape and make-up of power in Egypt just as the mad mullahs did in Iran.

What about Libya?   The infamous cleric, Sheikh Qaradawi, has reportedly issued a fatwa that Gaddafi be killed.  The MB has been present in Libya since at least the 1950′s, at first openly and later, under Gaddafi, as a banned group operating covertly.  It stands to reason that the fall of Gaddafi would present a huge opportunity for the MB to expand its influence there.

What lessons can we draw here?

Surely one is that the U.S. cannot play defense in its foreign policy, by merely propping up friendly authoritarians.  When we line up on the side of dictators and thugs, we are sending a very clear message to people oppressed with our support that the U.S. talk of human rights and freedom is only so much hot air.  This, in turn, gives ample ammunition to groups like the MB who can effectively argue that their version of Islam is the only, true solution.  The U.S. has effectively ceded the playing field, so to speak, to the enemy.  Not only that but the U.S. has effectively given up– to continue the sports metaphor– developing any kind of farm system where we can have influence in developing future leaders who can puncture the lies of the Islamists.   We find ourselves with no, real options in Egypt for the precise reason that we never seriously and strategically pursued democratic formation in these countries.  We have, shamefully, left the Egyptian people with no one to turn to except the MB.

Another lesson is the importance of long-term, strategic thinking.   Note the striking difference between how the MB plays the game and how the U.S. has played it.   The MB was founded in 1928 with a clear purpose and objective to take power in Egypt and, from there, to re-establish theocratic Islamic states throughout the Middle East.   The MB has shown incredible patience and cunning, adopting conciliatory postures when they were weak or faced overwhelming opposition, but taking advantage of opportunities when available.  For over 75 years, the MB has been building its organization and extending its tentacles in Egypt.  And not only Egypt but throughout the Middle East by providing the ideological support (and perhaps logistical support) for groups like Hamas and opposition groups in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.   The U.S., by contrast, has no, obvious, long-term strategy in the region.   In fact, our policy, to the extent that we have one is neglect (at best) and, as practiced by the Obama Administration, a positive refusal to “interfere” in the affairs of any Middle East nation, even the worst such as Iran and Syria.   No, we go out of our way to extend a hand to them.   Surely the Islamofascists must be laughing their turbans off in amazement.

In fact, there is a clear note of triumphalism in Badi’s September 30, 2010 sermon (as translated by MEMRI):

Resistance is the only solution…. The United States cannot impose an agreement upon the Palestinians, despite all the means and power at its disposal. [Today] it is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and wounded, and it is also on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan. [All] its warplanes, missiles and modern military technology were defeated by the will of the peoples, as long as [these peoples] insisted on resistance – and the wars of Lebanon and Gaza, which were not so long ago, [are proof of this].

The Administration’s conciliatory gestures and haste to exit Iraq and Afghanistan simply embolden the enemies of freedom and convince them to redouble their efforts.  Worse, there is every indication that the Administration has no clue what it is doing and simply bounces around from event to event, reacting and recalculating its position with every new day and every news cycle.

Everyone should be closely watching events in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East for signs that the Muslim Brotherhood is actively instigation or, at least, co-opting the unrest to its advantage.  One pattern that may be emerging is that the protests seem to be fiercest in those countries that have governments which cooperate to some degree with the war on terror.   Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen.   All of these states have cooperated to one degree or another with the West in the war against Islamic terrorism or have not actively encouraged jihad against the West.   In the case of Libya, it may be a case of sheer luck for the MB which they are now seeking to fully exploit.   In any case, Qaddafi has been no friend to the MB.  Watch for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to be hit with “spontaneous” unrest in the next weeks or months.

Conversely, we have not seen the same sort of protests in Syria which is as autocratic as any Arab state.   The MB has a significant, if low profile, presence there as well.  But the Syrian regime fully supports the aims and methods of the MB, so any uprisings there, if my theory holds true, would be short-lived and anemic.

If the Brotherhood can seize power in any of these nations, the Long War is going to get very ugly, very quickly.

Happy, Clappy Democracy in Egypt

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 5 months ago

I warned you.  Now we learn that the Muslim Brotherhood plans on an official political party in Egypt, something that was never allowed under Mubarak.  For whatever else he did or didn’t do, he kept the likes of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sayyid Qutb in prison.  But there still seems to be some confusion out there in spite of the fact that things aren’t all peace, love and flower power in Egypt.

Seriously?  Is this what the liberal media and establishment thinks?  That anything Obama said had anything to do with anything regarding Egypt?  Does the liberal media really not understand the danger?  Is it that they won’t acknowledge it, or really and truly that they don’t know about it?  Are things that bad off in the liberal establishment?

Lights Out On U.S. Foreign Policy? “The Clapper” and the Muslim Brotherhood

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 5 months ago

This is simply stunning.

On February 10, 2011, Director of National Intelligence, Gen. James Clapper, appeared before the House Select Intelligence Committee.  In response to a number of questions from Rep. Sue Myrick (R-9th Dist. NC) regarding the threat posed by The Muslim Brotherhood, Gen. Clapper made this outrageous statement:

“The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.  They have pursued social ends, the betterment of the political order in Egypt and etcetera.  [Interruption by Rep. Myrick in attempt to refocus].  In other countries, there are also ‘chapters’ or franchises of The Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in the pursuit of violence, at least internationally.  And with that, since there are entities associated with The Muslim Brotherhood here in the United States I will ask [FBI] Director Mullens to speak to that.”

(Emphasis Added)

And “speak to that” Director Mueller did.   Perhaps Mueller failed to get the memo from the Administration on whitewashing the MB.  Maybe he has yet to succumb to the zombie spell.  In any event, Mueller had no difficulty stating that, “I can say at the outset that elements of The Muslim Brotherhood, both here and overseas, have supported terrorism.”

To which I fully expected Director Clapper to jump in and respond with something like, “Yes, of course, terrorism, but not, you know, violent terrorism.”

Most news organizations are, strangely enough, not including Mueller’s comments but you can view them on C-SPAN.  The relevant portion with Rep. Myrick begins at the 1:22:22 mark.  Rep. Myrick recites some very devastating information about the MB which makes Clapper’s remarks all the more outrageous, not to mention non-responsive— something that seems to irritate Myrick to no end.

What does this say in a larger sense?

For one thing, I think we are witnessing (perhaps it is more accurate to say, we have been witnessing for some time now) the ultimate Dumbing Down of American government.  Anyone can now trot up to Capitol Hill and testify about international terrorist groups if Gen. Clapper is any measure.  I can only shudder to think what Clapper would say about those secular Hezbollah do-gooders.   This is our Director of National Intelligence! This guy is theoretically in charge of all the other intelligence services in order to provide a coordinated and comprehensive picture of, among other things, significant threats to the U.S.

Maybe I am over-reacting here.  Maybe the House Select Intelligence Committee just decided to post a sign-up sheet outside the chamber door and Clapper was the first guy on the list.  He isn’t really the DNI, is he?

Does anyone else want to sign up?

A word of caution.  Do not sign up to testify before a Congressional committee on weighty topics like national security or international terrorism, unless  you have your own spokesperson who can issue “clarifying” statements if you happen to make a fool of yourself.

That makes Clapper one, lucky guy.  Before the D.C. sun had set, a spokesperson for the DNI “clarified” Clapper’s remarks:

“To clarify Director Clapper’s point, in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak’s rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation. He is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization,” DNI spokesperson Jamie Smith said.

Nice save.  You, er, figured that out from the inclusion of “Muslim” in the name, did you?

The spokesperson claims that Clapper was merely making a point about the MB’s participation on the political system.  Was that Clapper’s point?  Watch the video yourself and decide.

Clapper’s point seemed to be a direct response to Rep. Myrick’s concerns about the radical nature of the MB, particularly considering Myrick’s with the damning statements from the F.B.I.’s own investigation of the MB and its involvement in sponsoring terrorism that grew out of the Holy Land Foundation case.

Clapper’s testimony seemed designed to blunt Myrick’s protrayal of the MB as a radical Islamist group with a very definite agenda to subvert Western democracies. Clapper’s statement seemed calculated to portray the MB as a non-violent, almost benign or even benevolent presence in Egypt.   It is the equivalent of, “Don’t be silly, Congresswoman, the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t have any grand plan for promoting an Islamic caliphate and universal muslim rule.”

Why would Clapper, an important voice of the Administration, want to mischaracterize the MB in this way?

Part of the reason may be simple damage control.

Flopping about like a freshly caught fish, the Obumble Administration cannot make up its collective mind on whether or how to respond to events in Egypt.  Perhaps Clapper’s testimony reflects an effort to re-cast the MB as secular and moderate in order to claim, after the MB takes power in Egypt and bares its feral teeth, that they are shocked, shocked!

This is something like a 2011 re-make of the 1979 movie classic, Jimmy Carter and Khomeini, where Obama plays the role of heartbroken lover, surprised to find that the moderate, secular Muslim Brotherhood that promised they would respect him (and political liberties) in the morning is a radical Islamist afterall.  The problem with re-makes, of course, is that we have seen it before.  We know how the 1979 movie ended and no amount of re-casting by Obama is going to change things this time around either.

But there is something more than just damage control here.  These statements are so far off the mark that they seem almost delusional.  I would not be the first one to raise that possibility.

Look at the sorts of things Clapper said in that one, short statement.  The MB is an “umbrella term”?  No, it’s not.  The Muslim Brotherhood is a very definite and distinct group, founded in 1928 in Egypt with the stated goal of restoring fundamentalist Islam to dominance throughout the Middle East and beyond.  From Egypt, the MB has inspired and/or formed off-shoots— Clapper uses the term “franchises”– in other countries.  Like Hamas.

And what about his claim that there is “no overarching agenda” ?  If you watch the C-SPAN video from 1:22:22 on you will see that Rep. Myrick gives ample evidence of the MB’s overarching agenda and that agenda is not confined to Egypt but includes the U.S. as well.

Still it is difficult to believe that even this Administration could be so deluded.  Andrew McCarthy suggests that this is more of a case of  willful stupidity.

It may be simply that and no more.  But there is a nagging uneasiness.  If it is not delusion nor cynical damage control or willful stupidity, that leaves one, very disturbing possibility.

After watching this Administration over the last 2+ years, seeing the repeated follies and seeming mistakes over and over, one cannot help but wonder whether this is intentional.  How could an Administration be so thoroughly and consistently incompetent?  As the saying goes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally.  The Obama-Squirrel, however, seems to be avoiding the nuts and throwing out the ones that have been collected after decades of hard work by others.

The situation in Egypt bears watching, not only because of the important geopolitical implications, but because of what it may or may not say about the larger policy goals of this Administration.

Egypt And A Third Way In American Foreign Policy

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 6 months ago

Today’s post gets its launching point from an article by Barry Rubin in which Mr. Rubin sounds a very dire note for the prospects of anything like a pro-Western democracy emerging from the unrest in Egypt.

There is no good policy for the United States regarding the uprising in Egypt but the Obama Administration may be adopting something close to the worst option. This is its first real international crisis. And it seems to be adopting a policy that, while somewhat balanced, is pushing the Egyptian regime out of power. The situation could not be more dangerous and might be the biggest disaster for the region and Western interests since the Iranian revolution three decades ago.

All this may very well be the case and there is no good reason that, with this President, the worst will come to pass.

But this observation is particularly instructive, if true:

Look at Tunisia. The elite stepped in with the support of the army and put in a coalition of leadership, including both old elements and oppositionists. We don’t know what will happen but there is a reasonable hope of stability and democracy. This is not the situation in Egypt where the elite seems to have lost confidence and the army seems passive.

Add to this Mr. Rubin’s observation that

There is no organized moderate group in Egypt. Even the most important past such organization, the Kifaya movement, has already been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. Its leader until recently was Abdel Wahhab al-Messiri, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a virulent antisemite.

****

That is not to say that there aren’t good, moderate, pro-democratic people in Egypt but they have little power, money, or organization. Indeed, Egypt is the only Arab country where many of the reformers went over to the Islamists believing-I think quite wrongly-that they could control the Islamists and dominate them once the alliance got into power.

Nothing would make me happier than to say that the United States should give full support for reform, to cheer on the insurgents without reservation. But unfortunately that is neither the most honest analysis nor the one required by U.S. interests. In my book, The Long War for Freedom, I expressed my strong sympathy for the liberal reformers but also the many reasons why they are unlikely to win and cannot compete very well with the Islamists.

In all of the justified gloom over the prospects of Islamofascists coming to power in Egypt, the situation need not be as hopeless as Mr. Rubin and others fear.  As Mr. Rubin notes, the biggest difference between the unrest in Egypt and that in Tunisia is an “elite [that] seems to have lost confidence” and an army that “seems passive.”

Furthermore, there are pro-democracy groups and moderates in Egypt.  The problem is that they are weak, underfunded and disorganized.

Do you think this is something that the U.S., with its vast resources and connections to the Egyptian military might be able to remedy?

The urgent need for the people of Egypt and for U.S. interests is an all-out effort, behind the scenes and out of the public eye, to rally the moderate, non-Islamofascist groups in Egypt, with quick infusions of money and communications equipment, while making the necessary connections to the Egyptian military.

Publicly, the U.S. does seem rather limited.  Despite Obama’s naive speeches to the “ummah,” the Egyptian people have no significantly better opinion of the U.S. in 2011 than it did in 2008.  Privately, however, there is still great potential for the U.S. to aid in transitioning power away from the widely-hated Mubarak regime and toward some form of less-authoritarian leadership, backed by the military, that will promise free and fair elections.   Of course, the Islamofascists will no doubt contend for elections.  The U.S. must be prepared to back those parties that hold out the best hope of resisting the radical Islamists.   There is no reason for the U.S. to be passive, a grave mistake we made in Iraq and in Gaza.   Again, it need not be public but we should ensure that pro-democracy groups not be at any disadvantage to the Islamofascists.

The Third Way

To hear pundits such as Barry Rubin and others talk there appears to be only two options: full support for authoritarians friendly to the U.S. or support for popular uprisings regardless of the potentially disastrous consequences.

The dearth of strong, pro-democracy groups and leaders in Egypt points to a far more disturbing problem: the United States’ abject neglect of democracy in the Middle East.   As discussed in an earlier post, our neglect of democracy is a national disgrace.   It is inconceivable that over 60 years could have passed by without the development of credible pro-democracy groups in Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

This suggests a “third way” for U.S. foreign policy:  a two-track strategy that both recognizes the necessity for dealing with authoritarian regimes while also taking positive action to change those very regimes, preferably from the inside out.

The first track is to acknowledge– though not necessarily approve– the existing, authoritarian governments that are not openly hostile to the U.S.  There is an important distinction here that no authoritarian government, Middle East or no, can truly be counted as “friendly” to the U.S.   Authoritarianism, in whatever form, is antithetical to American values and to U.S. interests, even when it takes the guise of regimes that offer cooperation with some U.S. objectives in the world.

A true ally is a nation sharing our core beliefs in human rights, free expression and free exercise of religion– basic Western Democracy.   Excluding Obama’s disgraceful and curious treatment, Great Britain has historically been our closest ally — ignoring those, minor  spats in 1776 and 1812.   Nations with these common values are natural and easy allies:  Canada, Australia and Israel, for example.

Even nations new to the family of freedom–what Donald Rumsfeld termed the “New Europe” of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic– share a great affinity despite cultural differences.  These newly freed nations of Eastern Europe were all too familiar with the high price of freedom and its precious nature.

In this first track of foreign policy, the U.S. can justifiably acknowledge Middle East regimes that are not openly hostile to the U.S. without counting them “allies” and certainly without bowing to them (as Obama did with the Saudis in 2009).   Most importantly, to the extent that we provide military or other aid, it must come with clear strings attached.  Which brings us to the second track of U.S. policy.

The second track insists that any U.S. aid is accompanied by the development of democratic foundations.  This may take different forms in different places, but, in general, the U.S. should act on the firm conviction that every nation is either moving in the direction of greater freedom and human rights or in the direction of greater oppression and tyranny.

The U.S. will do all that it can to nurture leaders and institutions that subscribe to the core values of Western Democracy, for the day that will inevitably come when the authoritarian regime passes away.   In an ideal world, the authoritarians peacefully relinquish control and a transition is made to a democratic republic.   In a less than ideal world, the regime is pushed out and the U.S. will do all that it can to ensure that the new government is established with core, democratic values.

To be sure, we have to take the world as we now find it and not as we would wish it to be.  The U.S. has squandered decades in “stability operations.”   In football parlance, we call that “playing not to lose.”  It is not a winning strategy in football and it is surely not a winning strategy in global politics.   When we look at Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan and Gaza, maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.

Turning to Egypt, the U.S. should be doing everything it can right now to identify every, plausible democratic leader in Egypt– scattered and disorganized as they may be– and pour every helpful resource into them.   At the same time, the U.S. should be using every contact and channel it has with member of the Egyptian military to forge effective alliances with the democratic groups to serve as a bulwark against the Islamofascists.

Assure the military that they will have full U.S. support if they back the pro-democracy groups.   Sponsor public information campaigns by these democratic groups that blankets Egypt with the message that only an open and free society with full human rights for all– men and women — will make any real, lasting difference for Egypt.   Link these messages with one or more parties or coalitions that people will be able to readily identify and associate with these messages of freedom.   Once the message has achieved a certain “market penetration,” the military can then announce, however subtly, that it would support a national referendum to elect an assembly to begin drafting a constitution.   In the meantime, the military will keep order.   If possible, one or more of the democratic leaders will be appointed to lead the government on an interim basis.

It’s not perfect.  Much could go wrong, but this is the kind of fight that America needs to be about.  Unlike the passive stance adopted by Obama and other Realists, we cannot sit on the sidelines and hope that genuine democracy will somehow spring up.   It won’t.   The Islamofascists are too well organized and too ruthless to fail to take advantage of a chaotic situation.

The U.S. must do all that it can– by necessity behind the scenes given our poor public image in the Middle East– to promote genuine voices of democracy that can truly eventually be called allies.

Why bother?  What is the urgency?  Simply this: the freedom that we know in America is a revolutionary concept in this dark world, and it is under assault everywhere.  If we value our own freedom, we must have the courage to export the American Revolution everywhere we can.   Not at the point of a gun, that is a sign of failure (though, as in Iraq, a sad necessity).   We are not conquerors, we are liberators.   We need not be ashamed.   People want freedom.  It may take much longer in some places, but we should never yield the stage to the dark doctrines of oppression as our default posture.

UPDATE:  Michael Totten recently posted his interview with Abbas Milani, the director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution.

In response to the a question about the development of Iran during the 1960′s and 70′s and the rise of radicalism in Iran, Milani elaborates:

We had a class of brilliant Iranian technocrats, many of them educated in the United States, including right here at Stanford. They put into effect a remarkable process of industrialization that by 1970 was bearing fruit. These people demanded political rights, and the Shah, instead of opening the country, clamped down with the one-party system.

I am absolutely convinced that in 1975, when he was at the height of his power, if the Shah had made just a third of the concessions he later made in 1978, we would be looking at a very different Iran today.

MJT: It was too late in 1978.

Abbas Milani: What Mubarak and the Shah both failed to understand is that if you make concessions when you’re weak it just increases the appetite for more concessions. If they would have made concessions when they were in a position of power, they could have negotiated a smooth transition to a less authoritarian government.

In Egypt, when the US pressured Mubarak to announce that he would not run again, that he should come out publicly and say he has cancer and that there will be a free election soon, he instead tried to create a monarchy.

MJT: He wants his son to succeed him.

Abbas Milani: The reverse happened to the Shah. He also had cancer, but he hid it from everybody. He had a son who was then eighteen years old. If he had given up the throne and created a regency in 1977, as some had advised him to do, instead of making concessions under pressure in 1978 when all hell was breaking loose, I could easily imagine a different Iran.

What could America have done differently? Milani discusses the long-term mistakes that the U.S. made in dealing with Iran and the Shah in particular:

MJT: Jimmy Carter often gets blamed for Khomeini coming to power in Iran. Do you think that’s fair? What could he have done to stop it?

Abbas Milani: I don’t blame the revolution on Jimmy Carter, but I think he does bear some responsibility. He could not develop a cohesive policy. He wasn’t paying attention to Iran. He was preoccupied with Camp David. He couldn’t bring Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski into a cohesive position. He kept vacillating from one extreme to another. This only exacerbated the American inability to understand what was going on.

The failure to understand what was going on dates back to the Lyndon Johnson years. The Johnson administration succumbed to pressure from the Shah to cease all contact with the opposition inside Iran. The US remarkably even agreed not to contact a former prime minister because the Shah didn’t trust him. The Shah even created a diplomatic row when a former Iranian ambassador was invited to a party. Not to a secret meeting, but to a party.

Because the US was involved in Vietnam and had listening centers in Iran monitoring Soviet activities, and because Iran was flush with cash in 1972 and was willing to sign contracts with American companies, the US agreed to cease contact. Yet the CIA predicted an Iranian revolution as early as 1958. And what they said would happen is almost exactly what happened. They said Iran’s rising technocratic class, the teachers, and the new urbanites are all disgruntled and that if the government doesn’t open up the system they’ll find any leader they can and topple the Shah.

The Kennedy administration pressured the Shah to make changes that were based on the standard modernization theory. You modernize the infrastructure, you educate the people, you create a better economy, and you open up the system politically. Kennedy pushed the Shah toward this and the Shah complied. He himself wanted to make changes. He wanted to make Iran a better place. The Kennedys hated the Shah. Bobby Kennedy absolutely despised him. John Kennedy disliked him, if not outright hated him.

But just as the economic changes were bearing fruit, making political change more necessary, the oil price shot up. Nixon came in and made the decision to cease pressuring the Shah. The Shah had stopped listening anyway because he had all the money he needed.

Carter came in and renewed the pressure for democratization, but he renewed it at the worst possible time, when the economy was diving. Iran was borrowing money that year. The Shah went from giving away a billion and a half dollars to borrowing 700 million from Chase Manhattan. So the economy was diving, the Shah’s health was deteriorating, and suddenly the suppressed opposition felt that the Shah was fair game because Carter was talking about human rights.

MJT: But what should Carter have done instead? Are you saying he was he wrong to talk about human rights?

Abbas Milani: No, he should have talked about human rights, but he also should have understood that you have to go step by step. Concessions need to be made in a timely fashion from a position of power. Carter should have made it clear that he was for change, but not for change at any price. Brzezinski understood this much better than anyone else in the administration but didn’t get his way. And on the other side we had the Shah undergoing chemotherapy and his endogenous paranoia, depression, indecisiveness and vacillation. The result was disaster.

When asked by Totten what Milani would advise Obama to do in the current crisis in Egypt, he had this to say:

Abbas Milani:

I would say to President Obama that he must make it clear to Mr. Mubarak that he must clearly and categorically say he won’t run again and that his son won’t run, that he will turn over the daily affairs of the state to a coalition of opposition parties. There might be a chance for a gradual transition and the absorption of the elements of the Muslim Brotherhood that really are moderate.

If this doesn’t happen, if Egypt goes into a protracted period of lawlessness, or if there is a Balkanization of the society, Mubarak will do a tremendous disservice to Egypt, to democracy, and to the United States. He’s going to put the United States in a very difficult situation.

The most important lesson that needs to be learned is that the United States must push its allies to make concessions when they are in a position of power, not when they are in peril.

The majority in Turkey, Egypt, and Iran once accepted the notion that enlightenment, democracy, modernity, reason, and the rule of law were good things, that the West has used these things to good purpose, and that we in the Muslim world should find our own iteration of them and catch up. Now the radical fringe is much stronger and directly challenges this. They say they do not want reason, they want revolution. They don’t want laws, they have the Koran. They don’t want equality because the Koran says there is inequality and they abide by the Koran. They say they don’t want democracy, that it’s a trick of the colonial Crusaders.

Thirty years ago people laughed at these ideas. Now they’re being said more and more often and openly. If the Muslim Brotherhood wins, or if Egypt becomes democratic…

MJT: It’s a big deal either way, isn’t it?

Abbas Milani: It is. Because it is Egypt.

(Emphasis Added)

This interview clearly shows why the U.S. cannot afford to take a passive approach with authoritarian “allies.”  In the end, we lose the “ally” to extremists, lose all credibility we should have as democratic revolutionaries and, perhaps, lose a bit our soul as well.

Concerning the Rebellion in Egypt

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

Just a few days ago I sent the following note to a friend:

NRO is panning Mubarak’s admin, and most commentators I read are ready for something new in Egypt.

But listen to my concern.  I know that he is a dictator, and has in fact been hard on Christians in Egypt, except Coptic Christians as long as they don’t proselytize Muslims.  To be sure, I have no love for Mubarak.  I really don’t.

But … remember our history.  Ayman al-Zawahiri came from Egypt as well as Sayyid Qutb, father of modern jihad.

But they both stayed behind bars.  Mubarak, if he hasn’t done anything else, has certainly clamped down on radical jihadism in Egypt, maintaining his own rulership, to be sure, but you know the saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The most recent riots have also seen a lot of Muslim on Christian violence while shouts of “Allahu Akbar” were heard.  There is a tempest brewing, and I’m not so sure that it’s all good.

What will the next ruler bring?

There are a host of crackpot theories and commentaries out on what is causing this and what to do about it.  Michael Sheuer – who is always quick to throw Israel under the bus as if that would make the Muslim world love us – is also equally quick to point to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a cause for instability in the region.  If there is a culprit having to do with OIF, it pertains not to the campaign per se, but to our lack of vision in prosecuting it as the regional war that it is (including regime change in Iran).  But Michael Sheuer’s views on OIF are shortsighted.

I won’t weigh in on causes.  This is a complex region with complex actors.  Regarding our stance, I find myself in agreement with John Bolton who demurs from the rosy views (“We aren’t entering the Age of Aquarius in Egypt”), and Michael Ledeen.

And what about us?  We are supposed to be the revolutionaries, and we must support democratic revolution against tyranny.  But we must not support phony democrats, and for the president to say “Egypt’s destiny will be determined by the Egyptian people,” or “everyone wants to be free” is silly and dangerous.  Egypt’s destiny will be determined by a fight among Egyptian people, some of whom wish to be free and others who wish to install a tyranny worse than Mubarak’s.  That’s the opposite of freedom.  Think about the free elections in Gaza that brought the Hamas killers to power.  For that matter, think about Khomeini, viewed at the time as a progressive democrat by many of the leading intellectual and political lights of the West, from Foucault to Andrew Young.

We should have been pressuring the friendly tyrants in the Middle East to liberalize their polities lo these many years.  We should have done it in the shah’s Iran, and in Mubarak’s Egypt, and in Ben Ali’s Tunisia.  It is possible to move peacefully from dictatorship to democracy (think Taiwan.  Think Chile.  Think South Africa).  But we didn’t, in part because of the racist stereotype that goes under the label “the Arab street,” according to which the Arab masses are motivated above all by an unrelenting rage at Israel for its oppression of the beloved Palestinians.  That myth went along with another:  the belief that the culture of the Arab world (sometimes expanded to “the culture of the Muslim world”) was totally resistant to democracy.  The tumult has nothing to do with Palestine/Israel and even a blind bat can see hundreds of thousands of Arabs fighting for democracy, as have their fellow Muslims in Iran.

We shoulda, coulda done better all along.  But here we are.  It’s quite clear that Obama is totally bamboozled.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is already eyeballing a piece of the pie, and their cousins in Jordan have threatened every Arabic nation who supports the U.S. with the same sort of rebellion.  We’re in a dangerous time, and the framework for it has been under construction for quite a while.

The administration cannot be blamed for the failings of previous administrations, and there are plenty – from the failure to press for regime change in Iran, to throwing money all over the Middle East without commensurate demands not only for pro-democracy reforms, but for hard action against the Muslim Brotherhood.

But of the more current and obviously ridiculous failures is bowing and kowtowing to every tin pot dictator on earth in an attempt to talk our way to foreign policy success.  The final and most egregious failure has to do with the diminution of the CIA and human intelligence assets and resources.  The CIA was eviscerated under Clinton, built back only slightly under Bush, and now interests itself in things like anthropogenic global warming.

Educated action would have required prior preparation, an understanding of the hazardous waters in which many billions of the world’s people swim.  We can’t save the Mubarak regime, and it isn’t a good idea to try.  But with the proper planning we could have been ready for events like this one, with knowledge of the main actors within the Egyptian Army and intelligence communities, a close relationship with them, and enough leverage to make a difference in the final outcome.

As it is, Ledeen is right.  The Obama administration looks like a deer in the headlights.  The Middle East is ready to rock and roll.  Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine are trouble spots, and will likely only become more unstable.  Unfortunately, the Obama administration hasn’t been invited to the dance.

What will happen to a nuclear Pakistan when the Tehrik-i-Taliban seize control of nuclear weapons or cause the regime to collapse?


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