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Thread: Egypt's Spring Revolution (2011-2013)

  1. #181
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Roger...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    @Surferbeetle: "Leitkultur". "Leid" has a very different meaning...
    Fuchs,

    True.

    Thanks for catching my typo.

    From my sixth edition 1970 version Langenscheidt's Taschen-Worterbucher /Compact Dictionary - German

    • Leid: harm, injury, wrong, hurt, sorrow


    • Leiten: lead, guide, conduct, convey


    • Leitung: direction, guidance, management, conduction



    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I explained the 'Turkey is not European' thing elsewhere in the forum already.
    An arguable opinion which does not reflect existing legal frameworks with references provided here.
    Sapere Aude

  2. #182
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Almost forgotten

    The potential impact of radicals and extremists from the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip on recent events, from an Israeli think tank: http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/mal...l/ipc_e165.htm

    I do recall hearing the Egyptians moved an extra Army brigade into the Sinai, to provide security around the tourist areas - with Israeli agreement, as required under the peace accords.
    davidbfpo

  3. #183
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Were the Small Wars Council to become a going concern I wonder whether Fuchs could retire from his current job and support himself by operating a Schnell Imbiss Bratwurst kiosk in the Kitakidogo Social Club. It would gratify us old Ami farts from the Cold War to have a constant supply of grilled Bratwurst, Brotchen and heisse Senf. It would be a comfort to us old guys in our old age. Dad sad it was rough in Germany in 1945 but he wasn't there in '55, '65, '75 or '85.
    Last edited by Pete; 02-08-2011 at 10:02 AM.

  4. #184
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Good Lord...

    Ya know yer on the innernet when somehow Sarah Palin, Noam Chomsky, and Ron Paul are dragged into a discussion of US policy toward Egypt. Not places I'd look for relevance, influence, or substance on the subject, and overall I prefer bratwurst, brotchen and heisse senf... but so be it.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    Look, like majority of the public, I do not know such figures like Palin personally. Correspondingly, I can only depend on her "talking" - to the media. I can't say whether the things she says are her own ideas or not, but it's obvious that a certain segment of the US population is listening to what she says. Thus, even though she has no relevant official executive powers, when she's complaining about Obama entering cooperation with the MBs (see her relevant statement from few days ago, already posted in this thread), there is little doubt she's exercising pressure upon the admin in the DC. And then there is no doubt that she's "better-heard" than the Egyptian public.
    There seem to be two assumptions here... first that the US has significant influence ofver the Egyptian succession, second that Sarah Palin has some form of influence over US policy. I'm not sure either is supportable.

    I don't think anyone making policy today is listening to Palin or her audience, except perhaps the unfortunate charged with recording her inanities for use against her in potential campaigns down the line. She's not exerting pressure, or doing anything at all beyond making a public ass of herself. It's not an audience the current administration is concerned with, except to the extent that its existence helps to mobilize the current administration's base. There is no influence at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    Can you prove his..."preaching" (?)..."thesis" (?) that the USA are at least ignoring, if not openly supporting a regime in Saudi Arabia that supports extremist Islamists (financially), as "wrong"?
    There's a lot that could be said on that, but this would not be the thread. As in so many other places, Chomsky slides a few threads of truth through an ideological blender and comes up with a pretty meaningless set of conclusions. In any event the extent to which the US "supports" the Saudis is pretty negligible; one could easily say they do more to support us than we do to support them. They are not a US client by any means.

    Chomsky routinely uses a technique common among those who rant on the ideological fringe. He pulls together an array of factoids that support his pre-ordained conclusion, yanks them out of any relevant context, bangs them together, declares all points to be "true", and announces the conclusion. It actually works pretty well, especially when the conclusion is addressed to an audience predisposed to accept it. The only way to argue against it is to break down the "facts" one by one and show how they were distorted. Few people have the patience, and the audience doesn't generally pay attention. Not generally worth the trouble to argue with the ideological fringes in any event.

    US Republican Congressman Ron Paul says on his blog: "We see now the folly of our interventionist foreign policy: not only has that stability fallen to pieces with the current unrest, but the years of propping up the corrupt regime in Egypt has led the people to increase their resentment of both America and Israel! We are both worse off for decades of intervention into Egypt's internal affairs. I wish I could say that we have learned our lesson and will no longer attempt to purchase - or rent - friends in the Middle East, but I am afraid that is being too optimistic."
    Our relationship with Mubarak is and has long been a cold war relic and as much an embarrassment as an asset. It endured through inertia and this is an excellent opportunity to let it die of natural causes. This is widely recognized and widely accepted; there will not be many tears shed when Hosni lands on the trash heap of history, in whatever condition he arrives there. Nothing really very earthshaking or controversial there.

    Paying the Egyptians not to fight the Israelis probably seemed a good idea at the time, and may have actually been a good idea at the time, but these things tend to run on beyond any reasonable point of utility, and need to be shaken up. They are getting shaken up. We should be grateful.

    What emerges next remains to be seen. Whatever regime emerges will undoubtedly be imperfect, will very likely be miserable, and will probably have some sort of relationship with the US. Whatever that relationship is, it will be criticized by people with ideological axes to grind and no responsibility to provide a more effective policy. So it goes. Very easy it is to point out what's been done wrong, especially with hindsight. It's very easy to demand that the US wave a magic wand and produce outcomes that serve some perceived interest or another. Forming and implementing better policies is a good deal harder.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    How would you then characterise Israeli reactions reported in the last few days, and how would you describe their effects upon the US decisionmaking?

    Call it a guess, if you like, but I somehow doubt you're going to use the word "irrelevant".
    Ineffective shrieking? Of course they want the US to preserve Mubarak or install a clone, but the US probably hasn't the power to do that and probably wouldn't be inclined to do it if they could. Doesn't look like they'll get their way... a good thing IMO.

  5. #185
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Ya know yer on the innernet when somehow Sarah Palin, Noam Chomsky, and Ron Paul are dragged into a discussion of US policy toward Egypt. Not places I'd look for relevance, influence, or substance on the subject, and overall I prefer bratwurst, brotchen and heisse senf... but so be it.
    Ein Paar Frankfurter mit süßem Senf for me, please.

    There seem to be two assumptions here... first that the US has significant influence ofver the Egyptian succession, second that Sarah Palin has some form of influence over US policy. I'm not sure either is supportable.
    Palin is "just another example". A hyperbole in regards of how little not only "the average Egyptian", but all of Egyptians (bar Mubarak) have to say about their own future (i.e. next to nothing) and thus an indication of how I think this affair is not only developing but also going to end.

    There's a lot that could be said on that, but this would not be the thread. As in so many other places, Chomsky slides a few threads of truth through an ideological blender. and comes up with a pretty meaningless set of conclusions. In any event the extent to which the US "supports" the Saudis is pretty negligible; one could easily say they do more to support us than we do to support them. They are not a US client by any means.
    Using exactly the same approach ("breaking down the facts one by one"), I'm affraid, is likely to show this standpoint as positioned on quite shaky legs.

    We all lack the time and no internet forum is ever going to be really suitable for presenting facts on point-by-point basis. The best we all can offer are (quite rough) "summaries" of what we think, or links to works that offer corresponding information. In this case, and Chomsky's ideology or methods by side, the sad fact is that at least the cited excerpt from that article is something that can be easily confirmed.

    True enough, there are only few people "arguing" about what's going on in Saudi Arabia (for an example, see here, or here). But then perhaps there are a few good reasons for this being the case. Whatever is the case (and regardless of reasons for this situation), Saudi Arabia as it exists nowadays would be impossible without a direct US involvement, back in the 1930s and 1940s. That's where it started. It went on with al-Sauds not only being supported through military- and security-related projects (financed by Saudi money, as compared with aid deliveries to Egypt), or there being a strong mutual inter-dependence in energy and financial sectors, but this going to such an extension that the direct involvement of members of the royal family in financing Islamic extremism is simply ignored by US authorities. Yes, no doubt, pressure was exercised to curb this and a lot has been undertaken. Yet, various cables from the last few years revealed by WikLeaks show that the flow of money is continuing - in cash, not via wire-transfers - and that little changed in regards of cooperation with various US authorities (read: FBI is still not permitted to investigate in the KSA).

    There are many parallels between this situation, and that in Egypt.

    Perhaps you're right when you say that the country is not an "US client". But, al-Sauds are, and they are the country since they do not tollerate any kind of opposition (perhaps that's the reason they prefer to export it instead?). And, al-Sauds are as much a US client like the entire USA - not to talk about certain segments within the US society (I dare mentioning a certain society named "Carlyle Group" here) - are clients of al-Sauds. This goes well-beyond a US-equiped and -instructed security system: it functions so that the Sauds sell their oil reliably and often at lower prices, and recycle these through massive purchases of US armament or investments in the USA, both of which keep large parts of the US economy in running condition.

    Contrary to what you say about the US relationship to Mubarak, relationship to al-Sauds is also certainly no "Cold War relic", an issue that endures "through inertia", or something of that kind, but an active, ongoing relationship, to mutual advantage of the USA and the al-Saud family (including parts that support extremists). Thus, to say "they are not a US clients by any means", sorry, stands no proof.

    Ineffective shrieking? Of course they want the US to preserve Mubarak or install a clone, but the US probably hasn't the power to do that and probably wouldn't be inclined to do it if they could. Doesn't look like they'll get their way... a good thing IMO.
    I explained this somewhere at the start of this thread already: one of funny, perhaps "ridiculous" things about such dictators like Mubarak is that they are so sensitive about every single, even the smallest, signal from the USA. Under specific circusmtances, a simple "go" from Obama, personally, would've been perfectly sufficient.

    No such message has been sent to Cairo, though, while there is so much crying for Mubarak by all the Israeli representatives here in Europe, that our technocrats (some call them "politicians") are all falling in love with him, one after the other. I doubt the situation is any different in the DC.

  6. #186
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    We are getting at the roots of the War on Terrorism here; or from the other side; the employment of terrorism to liberate the Middle East from overt Western interference.

    The U.S. policy of controls over the politics of the Middle East made sense during the Cold War, but even then was a compromise of U.S. principles in the name of national security. The populaces of the region could generally buy into that being the lesser of two evils.

    The escalation of U.S. controls over the politics of the Middle East in the post Cold War era is the result of the growing effort required to sustain a program of controls that is no longer viewed as necessary by the affected populaces. This problem is then enhanced by the growing impunity of many of these governments that have come to realize that the U.S. is convinced that it must sustain them in power at any cost.

    This is the foundation that bin laden then built his "base", AQ, upon.

    All the U.S. has to do is focus on getting our policies back in line with our espoused principles. That is step one.

    Step two is to make it clear that we are changing ourselves. That we are recognizing that we got off track and that we believe that the principles that we hold up as "self evident" (granted by God) are granted to people everywhere, and not just in the U.S.

    The hard part is breaking contact and falling back. This is true in platoon tactics, and it is true in superpower policy and strategy as well. To just abandon our position and run to the rear would be a disaster for everyone. We need to have a plan, we need to communicate the plan, and then we need to execute the plan. Done right, the U.S. will have even greater influence in the region once we have removed the systems of controls and manipulations we have in place now. We will have become the champion of the oppressed in deed as well as word; rather that claiming one, while sustaining the oppressors in power by our deeds. We still have the best product by far, it is just our sales and service plan that got off track.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  7. #187
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    Were the Small Wars Council to become a going concern I wonder whether Fuchs could retire from his current job and support himself by operating a Schnell Imbiss Bratwurst kiosk in the Kitakidogo Social Club. It would gratify us old Ami farts from the Cold War to have a constant supply of grilled Bratwurst, Brotchen and heisse Senf. It would be a comfort to us old guys in our old age. Dad sad it was rough in Germany in 1945 but he wasn't there in '55, '65, '75 or '85.
    Much has changed since '85. Back then, fast food in Germany was very multinational in Bonn, but not so much elsewhere. Today it's very variable.


    The Turkish immigrants won the market share battle even against corporations with their small Döner businesses. Their beef/pita/salad based Döner sandwich got a little brother with chicken instead of beef when beef had a crisis in the 90's.

    The other important fast foods are

    Pizzas - more pizzerias in Germany than in Italy. Large pizza chains play a marginal role.

    Currywurst with frites & curry/tomato sauce
    Krakauer (another sausage), Nürnberger (small sausages)

    Asia fast food; mostly chicken with rice and vegetables or some noodle fast food. Most are run by Vietnamese immigrants, even some "Chinese" restaurants.

    Gyros - (Greek immigrants)

    Burgers - McD and BK mostly (the only real fast food franchise successes in Germany), but the best burger I've ever tasted was from a butcher shop. The normal American-style bap for burgers is horrible, and the franchises never get the salad right either.

    Roasted chicken half

    Frikadelle (rissole) with mustard and bap

    Finally, some salad bars and Subways.

    I'm the right guy to write a business plan for people who want to set up such a small business with a credit, but I'm totally the wrong guy for running such a thing myself.


    ------------------

    Back to Egypt; does anybody have a link at hand for a site that tracked how many people were in the streets when? It seems to be somewhat reduced to the symbol of tahrir square now.

  8. #188
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Damn, it all goes to show you can't go home again. All I wanted was a bratwurst but now all you can find there are pizza places. Compared to Egypt falling apart at least the good old Cold War was predictable, except for the occasional foray by the Baader-Meinhoff Gang.

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    If you are interested in what the liberal blogosphere is saying, here is a sample

    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksd...gypt.html#more

    And Fuchs, Is there any Indian food in Germany? Especially Indian fast food? (maybe British-INdian food?)

  10. #190
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    Palin is "just another example". A hyperbole in regards of how little not only "the average Egyptian", but all of Egyptians (bar Mubarak) have to say about their own future (i.e. next to nothing) and thus an indication of how I think this affair is not only developing but also going to end.
    I think you rather overstate the influence he has, especially now, in his dotage and with his world sliding apart around him. Even in his prime no despot rules alone: he needs the army, the police, the business elite, all kinds of key sectors around him, and he needs to keep doling out to feed and keep the barons in balance. When the edifice starts to shake there is little or no loyalty. Everyone in the picture knows Mubarak is gone, whether next week or in September makes no difference. The people around him may still be kissing ass in front of him, but the moment his back is turned they are plotting ways to turn the situation to their personal advantage and ways of covering their exits if things go badly. There will be lots of deals being cut behind his back.

    Mubarak is not in charge; if he was this wouldn't be happening. He still has cards to play and he still has people behind him, but he doesn't know for how long: he knows better than most how fast loyalties can change and what can happen when they do.

    Of course none of that means "the people" are calling the shots. They never are, even in a functioning democracy. It means nobody is fully in control,and everyone with an ambition is maneuvering for position. The kind is going down, there's no mechanism for succession that anyone has confidence in, the barons are cutting their deals and preparing for their moves, and the crowd is the joker in the deck. It will likely be messy and nobody, including Mubarak, is in a position to dictate the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    I explained this somewhere at the start of this thread already: one of funny, perhaps "ridiculous" things about such dictators like Mubarak is that they are so sensitive about every single, even the smallest, signal from the USA. Under specific circusmtances, a simple "go" from Obama, personally, would've been perfectly sufficient.
    You didn't explain it, you stated it. Repeating it doesn't make it true, and I doubt very much that it is true.

    There's a lot of talk about the US "supporting the revolution" or "supporting the will of the people" but lovely as the idea may sound, the degree to which the US can or should get involved is open to a lot of question, even from supporters of the populace. There's a hair-thin line between supporting it and supplanting it, or trying to direct and manipulate it. The process the resistance is now going through, the negotiations among factions and between factions and the government, is an essential part of the process by which the post-Mubarak scene will be shaped. In order for a populace to remove their dictator they have to organize, those who fight him have to build coalitions, they have to cooperate and negotiate and balance their interests. All of that contributes to the ability to manage the next phase. It may seem quicker and easier for an outside deus ex machina to simply say "go", but even assuming that worked, which is far from certain, the opposition have failed to reach the requisite level of maturity and capacity to force change themselves, which would not augur well for the aftermath, which will be hard enough in any event

    I personally think we're more or less on the right track: don't oppose the resistance, offer sympathy, work behind the scenes, speak for peaceful transition and democracy, but do not do their work of the resistance for them or openly intervene on their behalf. In the long run that would not be doing Egypt any favors: it's virtually impossible for us to intervene without taking over, or being perceived as taking over. The final step, of course, is willingness to work with whatever emerges after, even if it's not what we'd have hoped for. I hope we can do that, and I suspect that we can, at this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    In this case, and Chomsky's ideology or methods by side, the sad fact is that at least the cited excerpt from that article is something that can be easily confirmed.
    I don't think it is so easily confirmed, and the references one chooses to cite say a good deal about one's preconceived ideas... often more than they say about the matter under discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    It went on with al-Sauds not only being supported through military- and security-related projects (financed by Saudi money, as compared with aid deliveries to Egypt), or there being a strong mutual inter-dependence in energy and financial sectors
    It never ceases to amuse me that people can see the Saudis ordering $60 billions in goods from American factories, in an industry under severe stress at a time of very high unemployment, and somehow translate that into us supporting them.

    "Mutual interdependence" comes closer to the truth. Whatever that relationship was in the past, it has for some time been close to peer-to-peer. The US does not and cannot dictate to the Saudis. We've some influence over them, as they have over us, but no more than is normally the case among nations with interests in common and extensive economic connections. Neither they not their rulers are in any meaningful way US clients.

    Of course all manner of relationships are routinely distorted, cherrypicked, and elevated to an exalted status by all manner of fringe conspiracy theorists. AIPAC, the Carlyle Group, and a whole bunch of others are favorite fodder. Some find it all very thrilling in a Robert Ludlum sort of way; I personally can't be bothered.

  11. #191
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    We are getting at the roots of the War on Terrorism here; or from the other side; the employment of terrorism to liberate the Middle East from overt Western interference.
    A bit more complex than that, I suspect. The most egregious examples of terror against the US have been designed not to get the US out of Muslim lands, but to get them in: without a foreign invader AQ hasn't much to work with, and they needed us to do what we did. They made sure we would do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This is the foundation that bin laden then built his "base", AQ, upon.
    Bin Laden built his base around opposition to the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. He has tried, repeatedly, to use that base against Arab leaders, but he's never had enough support to come close to success, even in the Saudi Arabia of the 1990s, which should have been the perfect field for that endeavor. The same people who send him money and men and cheer his every step when he fights the infidel far away want nothing to do with it at home, not because they love their governments but because they don't see him offering a better alternative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The escalation of U.S. controls over the politics of the Middle East in the post Cold War era is the result of the growing effort required to sustain a program of controls that is no longer viewed as necessary by the affected populaces.
    I've asked this before and never had an answer, but hope springs eternal: what exactly does the US control in the Middle East?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This problem is then enhanced by the growing impunity of many of these governments that have come to realize that the U.S. is convinced that it must sustain them in power at any cost.
    Again, I think this has become a bit of a mantra, and needs to be examined. Impunity in these countries isn't growing, it's always been there. It's a political tradition in the region. The US hasn't opposed it, and couldn't do so with any effect, but we didn't create it and don't sustain it. It's not about us. It's the way they do things and the way they have always done things. Someday it will blow up in their faces and change will come... but it's not for us to say when.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    All the U.S. has to do is focus on getting our policies back in line with our espoused principles. That is step one.
    I don't see anything in our espoused principles that requires or encourages us to bring our ways to others or to interfere in the domestic policies of other nations.

    I do not like the idea of installing or sustaining dictatorships, not because of espoused principles but because in the long run I think it works against our interests. Trying to impose ourselves as champion of the oppressed populaces is just as bad. Gently, subtly supporting change, yes. Giving it a quiet push at key moments, yes, though we have to very careful about how and when. Waving the flag of democracy and charging into the affairs of others... no.

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    The most egregious examples of terror against the US have been designed not to get the US out of Muslim lands, but to get them in: without a foreign invader AQ hasn't much to work with, and they needed us to do what we did. They made sure we would do it.
    Confuses tactics and strategy. If Professor Pape and his group at the University of Chicago can be believed, the goal and the strategy are crystal clear: get the troops of "western democracies" out of Islamic countries.

    That conclusion is based on thousands of hours of interviews with family members of deceased suicide bombers, as well as a smattering of conversations with live Jihadists.

    Main paper:

    http://www.apsanet.org/imgtest/APSRAug03Pape.pdf

    Feeble(because it argues about events which haven't taken place) rejoinder:

    http://www.princeton.edu/~kramsay/Si...rejoinder3.pdf

    From the rebuttal:

    First, the article did not sample suicide terrorism, but collected the universe of suicide terrorist attacks worldwide from 1980 through 2001. It is the first database of its kind; United States, British, and Israeli officials tell me that they do not have comparably complete data.
    There is no such thing as sample bias in collecting a universe.

    Second, although it is true that the universe systematically studied did not include suicide terrorist campaigns that did not happen . . .
    http://www.princeton.edu/~kramsay/Si...ape-respon.pdf

    ------------------

    I always found the approach of Ashworth etc incredibly republican. Depends on something that did not happen, but we know what to think about it.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-09-2011 at 07:10 AM.

  13. #193
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Again straying OT, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by 91bravojoe View Post
    Confuses tactics and strategy. If Professor Pape and his group at the University of Chicago can be believed, the goal and the strategy are crystal clear: get the troops of "western democracies" out of Islamic countries.
    Possibly some confusion among tactics, strategy, and policy here.

    Certainly AQ's long term "policy goal" (or fantasy, possibly a more appropriate word) would be to expel the west and all who associate with them from the Middle East, establish a Caliphate, etc. By the late 90s, though, the operative goal was a lot simpler: survival. Pursuit of that goal required a jihad against an infidel invader in Muslim lands, and there wasn't one. AQ tried desperately to sell the idea of the US presence in Saudi Arabia in that role, but it didn't work, at least not in a sense widespread enough to make a difference.

    The sequence that began with the 1998 fatwa and culminated in 9/11 were, as far as I can see, less about driving the west out or building a Caliphate than about provoking military occupation and providing AQ with the raison d'etre it lost with the Soviet withdrawal.

    The beliefs of suicide bombers do not necessarily reflect the goals of AQ. The actual goals and the pitch used to persuade suicide bombers and jihad footsoldiers were likely very different. This is often the case: soldiers are always told that they are fighting for the noblest of motives. Hard to get people to blow themselves up by telling them that fundraising is way down and if we don't get the Americans to invade somebody it's gonna dry up completely.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 02-09-2011 at 06:04 AM.

  14. #194
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default The brotherhood... in or out?

    Was looking at Google News this AM, good way to see what's being said about things in other parts of the world. Came on this:

    http://www.jpost.com/International/A...aspx?id=207553

    Congress members wary of Muslim Brotherhood role in Egypt

    Defense Minister Barak holds meetings in Washington with top officials to discuss Cairo crisis; legislators slam Obama administration for suggesting Islamist group should have some role in government.

    WASHINGTON – Members of Congress warned about the risk posed by the Muslim Brotherhood’s participation in a new Egyptian government Wednesday and scolded the Obama administration for suggesting an openness to the Islamic group having some role in its composition.

    “The Muslim Brotherhood had nothing to do with driving these protests, and they and other extremists must not be allowed to hijack the movement toward democracy and freedom in Egypt,” declared Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, at the start of a hearing Wednesday.
    Natural I suppose for the Jerusalem Post to play up that angle. The more I think about it, though, the more I think the US should be pushing for inclusion of the Brotherhood in Government, ideally in a substantial role. The reason why:

    When Mubarak goes there's going to be huge euphoria and great expectations. Ding, dong, the witch is dead, Mubarak was the problem and Mubarak is gone, so the problems are over and everything's gonna be ok. All that is going to come to a crunching head-on collision with reality very quickly.

    Very early in the new government's term some poor SOB is gonna have to crunch some numbers on revenues and expenses, assets and liabilities. Those numbers will be beyond ugly. The new government will have to manage a civil service, local government apparatus, military, and police that are riddled with patronage and an entrenched culture of corruption. They will not be amenable to reform. Prices of food and fuel will still be high. There will still be a huge demographic bulge of unemployed youth, and "create jobs" is easier said than done. Domestic investment will be constrained for years: I haven't seen figures on capital flight but you can bet Mubarak's cronies have been getting everything they can get their hands on out of the country, and that's plenty. Most of it won't come back. The foreign investment climate is not exactly hopping. Foreign aid may be sustained, but donor countries have their own issues and it's not likely to be increased. The new government is likely to be a coalition of groups that have little in common but opposition to Mubarak, and there will be all kinds of infighting and gridlock. I could go on (and on, and on) but that's enough. it will be very difficult, and there will be a lot of disappointment and frustration.

    The last place we want to see the Muslim Brothers in all this is outside the tent in a pure opposition role, with no responsibility or accountability, blaming, criticizing, and building their own constituency and influence around that disappointment and frustration. Far better to have them sharing the hot seat, making their share of the mess and taking their share of the blame.

    So we should make sure, IMO and as much as we can, that they are in the tent. The Israelis will have a cow and some Americans will shriek "who lost Egypt", but it may be time to do something sensible for a change. Fearful breach of precedent, yes, but some are worth breaching.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 02-10-2011 at 01:04 AM.

  15. #195
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    Default Case studies supporting inclusiveness...

    Steve,

    For what it's worth, I agree with this analysis...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I think you rather overstate the influence he has, especially now, in his dotage and with his world sliding apart around him. Even in his prime no despot rules alone: he needs the army, the police, the business elite, all kinds of key sectors around him, and he needs to keep doling out to feed and keep the barons in balance. When the edifice starts to shake there is little or no loyalty. Everyone in the picture knows Mubarak is gone, whether next week or in September makes no difference. The people around him may still be kissing ass in front of him, but the moment his back is turned they are plotting ways to turn the situation to their personal advantage and ways of covering their exits if things go badly. There will be lots of deals being cut behind his back.
    ...as well as this one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Very early in the new government's term some poor SOB is gonna have to crunch some numbers on revenues and expenses, assets and liabilities. Those numbers will be beyond ugly. The new government will have to manage a civil service, local government apparatus, military, and police that are riddled with patronage and an entrenched culture of corruption. They will not be amenable to reform. Prices of food and fuel will still be high. There will still be a huge demographic bulge of unemployed youth, and "create jobs" is easier said than done. Domestic investment will be constrained for years: I haven't seen figures on capital flight but you can bet Mubarak's cronies have been getting everything they can get their hands on out of the country, and that's plenty. Most of it won't come back. The foreign investment climate is not exactly hopping. Foreign aid may be sustained, but donor countries have their own issues and it's not likely to be increased. The new government is likely to be a coalition of groups that have little in common but opposition to Mubarak, and there will be all kinds of infighting and gridlock. I could go on (and on, and on) but that's enough. it will be very difficult, and there will be a lot of disappointment and frustration.

    The last place we want to see the Muslim Brothers in all this is outside the tent in a pure opposition role, with no responsibility or accountability, blaming, criticizing, and building their own constituency and influence around that disappointment and frustration. Far better to have them sharing the hot seat, making their share of the mess and taking their share of the blame.
    We both agree that the journey towards equilibrium in Egypt will take some time, 'grown' in your paradigm and 'built' in mine. I am curious as to the shape of your predicted equilibrium and the steps it may require, beyond encouraging inclusiveness. From what I have observed Darwinian fights for power are often characterized by no holds barred struggles which usually occur behind a facade of adherence to socially acceptable mores. To me, grown implies a genetically defined endpoint, whereas built captures some of the 'creative tension' which is part and parcel of collective social experiences.

    Some of the steps on the way towards equilibrium that I see include media access, technocratic transparency, and room for political discourse...however all of these require a powerful team of referees...perhaps a regulated MMA vs. 'Vale Tudo' MMA match analogy applies. I would say that the population of Egypt, who are but ‘one’ of the participants in this struggle, has a better chance of meeting some of it's aspirations because of the role that international/new media has assumed in acting as a referee (part of a team of referee's which still includes, from this armchair, the Egyptian Military). 'Neutral' technocrats, backed by power brokers/barons (building and maintaining bases of power and negotiating agreements), can also use new media as a tool to provide transparency into corruption and thus leverage public outrage in order to influence politicians. Democratic structures can act as relatively safe (as compared to war) arenas for political brawls among interested parties.

    Like many others I am thinking about Indonesia as well as some of the Eastern Block countries in Europe, during their transitions to democracy, as case studies. Any recommendations?

    Steve
    Sapere Aude

  16. #196
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    Steve,

    I tend to refer back to the Philippines and Indonesia, only because I know them best. Obviously those can only be very loose reference points; differences abound.

    I don't know enough about the Egyptian political scene to have any detailed predictions of what will emerge.

    I can think of a few plus points. A strong sense of national identity and national pride help. Egypt doesn't have the ethnic/sectarian divisions and history of minority rule that Iraq had, or Afghanistan's history of recent and violent internal conflict. The current resistance seems primarily aimed at Mubarak, not so much class-oriented. That reduces the "us and them" factor a bit.

    The spontaneity of the rebellion is in some ways a downside. The forces that are actually driving Mubarak out are poorly organized with little clear representation. A crowd of a million can drive a government out, but you can't bring it into the back room when negotiations are going on. It will, however, be in the back of the minds of those who are negotiating that what happened before can happen again.

    I suspect that whatever emerges first will be elite-dominated; and that's not all bad. Better an elite-dominated government that has an outside chance of governing and potential to evolve than a truly representative government that's so diverse and so inexperienced that it can't function at all.

    The army will have to be in the mix, despite being identified with Mubarak. The business elite, same. Hopefully these will be somewhat constrained by the prospect of the crowd returning to the streets. The youth leaders need to be there but it remains to be seen whether their constituency and leadership role are more than transitory. The brotherhood needs to be there too: who they decide will represent them will be revealing.

    I understand that current Egyptian law, heavily weighted to the advantage of the ruling party, could be an obstacle. There would be plus and minus sides to trying to write a new constitution: it may be necessary, but trying to do it at once could eat time and attention that might better be applied to getting the nation back on its feet.

    All that might be a load of bollocks. I'd like to hear what those who know more than I do think.

    Some current commentary on the Muslim Brotherhood seems to assume that if they are legal and included they will inevitably take over. I have doubts. That reminds me of the Cold War notion that any tolerance at all for Communists was a one-way road to Communist rule. As paranoia faded many nations discovered that the best way to disable a Communist is to give him a seat in Parliament. The same may be true of the Brotherhood.

    We will see.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    Contrary to what you say about the US relationship to Mubarak, relationship to al-Sauds is also certainly no "Cold War relic", an issue that endures "through inertia", or something of that kind, but an active, ongoing relationship, to mutual advantage of the USA and the al-Saud family (including parts that support extremists). Thus, to say "they are not a US clients by any means", sorry, stands no proof.
    Crowbat -

    I have to agree that the relationship with the KSA is mutually benificial. But I think the US' main "gain" out of the relationship is not oil (only 10.4% of US oil is from KSA, see here), but security and stability. One of the main benefits is that the Saudis (along with the UAE and Qatar) help us deter the Iranians from dominating the region. This is one of the main reasons why we provide them with weapons, in spite of the drawbacks that you have pointed out.

    I submit that you would be hard-pressed to argue that allowing Iran to dominate the region would be a good idea.

    V/R,

    Cliff

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I think you rather overstate the influence he has, especially now, in his dotage and with his world sliding apart around him. Even in his prime no despot rules alone: he needs the army, the police, the business elite, all kinds of key sectors around him, and he needs to keep doling out to feed and keep the barons in balance.
    If we would be talking about Iraq under Sadam (for example) I would be ready to agree with this without any problem. If we would be talking about Iran, I'd say this goes even further than described by you.

    However, a large part of Mubarak's power is based on his fortune, with which he is buying his lieutenants as required. As the situation in the country is, even if only 10% of rumours are true, he surely has the money to pay large parts of state apparatus, as required and from his pocket, in order to achieve what he needs. In essence, he was all the time doing with various Egyptians what he did with that French minister, later the last year.

    Mubarak is not in charge; if he was this wouldn't be happening.
    He can't be in charge of the minds of all the 80 millions of Egyptians, because nobody could do that and one can't kill ideas - particularly not the "popular" ones. That's why this happened.

    Of course none of that means "the people" are calling the shots. They never are, even in a functioning democracy. It means nobody is fully in control,and everyone with an ambition is maneuvering for position. The kind is going down, there's no mechanism for succession that anyone has confidence in, the barons are cutting their deals and preparing for their moves, and the crowd is the joker in the deck. It will likely be messy and nobody, including Mubarak, is in a position to dictate the future.
    Until yesterday, I would have said that Mubarak was perfectly in control of almost everything that was going on in Egypt, bar protesters of course. He appointed a VP, who began manoeuvring for position in quite an arrogant, but successful fashion. His new government followed the same track. There was obviously a plan for a situation like this, and his lieutenants were sticking to that plan, working it down one point after the other - and quite successfully at that. Since the unions of large segments of the industry are on strike, this began to change, i.e. this revolution entered its new phase (just for comparisson: unions not siding with protesters was what made the difference in Iran, the last year).

    You didn't explain it, you stated it. Repeating it doesn't make it true, and I doubt very much that it is true.
    I explained it too, already, but if I really have to repeat it, I'll do so, no problem.

    There's a lot of talk about the US "supporting the revolution" or "supporting the will of the people" but lovely as the idea may sound, the degree to which the US can or should get involved is open to a lot of question, even from supporters of the populace.
    The essence is this aspect is that the US present themselves - in the US and abroad - as "the land of the free" and the "free land", "cradle of modern democracy", "seat of justice" etc. Because of this, in cases like this with Egypt the US has only two choices: present themselves as what they says they are, or present themselves as what so many of their enemies say the US are. "Walking the thin line" works for the opponents of the US, since it presents a true load of argumentation against the US. And, in the case of US-supported despots as eager for power as Mubarak it signals, "stay in power at least until we think about this one".

    ....It may seem quicker and easier for an outside deus ex machina to simply say "go", but even assuming that worked, which is far from certain, the opposition have failed to reach the requisite level of maturity and capacity to force change themselves, which would not augur well for the aftermath, which will be hard enough in any event.
    All perfectly OK and quite obvious. And still, every single minute Mubarak remains in his position makes this situation ever less predictable, though more likely to end in violence. If for no other reason then because there are plenty of young people on the streets of Egypt, protesting against what is very few old people that are in charge, because both sides tend to grow inpatient in such situations, and because - as we all should know - this "combination" tends to end without useful results, in violent confrontations.

    ...it's virtually impossible for us to intervene without taking over...
    Nobody is asking the USA to "take over". A step of this kind would not only be "wrong", but result in a catastrophe. All I'm telling you is what I'm "hearing" (literaly), i.e. reading in e-mails from a number of young Egyptians at the Tahrir Square and in Alexandria: Mubarak must go, first and foremost, and that's where the USA can "help" a lot - primarily through becoming more "direct" in their handling of Mubarak.

    Then (I do have a feeling I'm repeating myself now, and not for the first time), as long as Mubarak is in power, nothing in Egypt is going to change, since he's going to remain in a position to keep on bribing members of his clique that are still in charge as he wants (and once they are in power of some kind, they are unlikely to "wish" to go away; see Soleiman). And when I say "nothing", then I mean the opposition too, then the opposition is not going to get any different (not even better organized) as long a Mubarak is still in power.

    Surely, there is a number of Mubarak's lieutenants who meanwhile act on their own (though still in agreement with Mubarak) as well, since they know that when he falls, they're going to fall too. But, they are going to continue working in his interest - and, like Soleiman, practically continue ignoring protests, or at least ignoring their demands - only as long as he's in power.

    I don't think it is so easily confirmed, and the references one chooses to cite say a good deal about one's preconceived ideas... often more than they say about the matter under discussion.
    Down at the bottom, you're always going to think about me whatever you like, regardless what references I use.

    It never ceases to amuse me that people can see the Saudis ordering $60 billions in goods from American factories, in an industry under severe stress at a time of very high unemployment, and somehow translate that into us supporting them...."Mutual interdependence" comes closer to the truth....
    I'm also frequently amused about people prefering to rip statements out of the context in which they are issued (for the sake of argument?), instead of paying attention at the fact that right after that sentence, I also wrote, "...an active, ongoing relationship, to mutual advantage of the USA and the al-Saud family...".

    Whatever that relationship was in the past, it has for some time been close to peer-to-peer. The US does not and cannot dictate to the Saudis.
    "Dictate" - is definitely impossible, exactly because of "mutual interdependence" we're both talking about. Not only are such times a matter of past (and that since long), but also it is so that lot of power structures inside the USA would have to change in order to reach a position where the White House and/or State Department would ever come to the idea to issue specific demants upon the al-Sauds. For the time being (at least), this is not even distantly possible, then al-Sauds are "untouchable".

    However, exactly that is the problem: the pillar of the US "non-Israel related" foreign policy in the Middle East stands, and falls, with al-Sauds.

    We've some influence over them, as they have over us, but no more than is normally the case among nations with interests in common and extensive economic connections. Neither they not their rulers are in any meaningful way US clients.

    Of course all manner of relationships are routinely distorted, cherrypicked, and elevated to an exalted status by all manner of fringe conspiracy theorists. AIPAC, the Carlyle Group, and a whole bunch of others are favorite fodder. Some find it all very thrilling in a Robert Ludlum sort of way; I personally can't be bothered.
    Sure. And there are also plenty of people that put their visor down as soon as they hear a trace of certain terminology. It gets particularly funny how the same people instantly use the terminus "conspiracy theorists" and all other sorts of similar semanthics of denial - regardless what it takes.

    Quite defensive in my opinion, but then that's not my problem: I'm still waiting for my pair of Frankfurter with süßem Senf.
    Last edited by CrowBat; 02-10-2011 at 05:09 AM.

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    Default Causes of Egyptian Unrest

    Found this analysis of why the Arab Regimes are falling on the World Politics Review media roundup. The author is a professor of political science at Cairo University and Central Michigan.

    Touches on the varied sources of the unrest, especially the demographic ones.

    V/R,

    Cliff

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    The army will have to be in the mix, despite being identified with Mubarak. The business elite, same. Hopefully these will be somewhat constrained by the prospect of the crowd returning to the streets.
    As Lawrence famously said in the Seven Pillars, it's the former collaborators and businessmen who form stable governments, not the revolutionaries.

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