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

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default From Israel, a voice outside the chorus...

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition...cracy-1.343011

    This was a civil uprising, one that did not suit the wild and violent image we insist on ascribing to all Arabs and to all Muslims. If only the square had been awash in blood, we would feel better. If only more heavily bearded young men and veiled virgins had gathered, we would be more sure of our predictions; if only Israeli flags had been burned in the streets, we could frighten ourselves and the whole world, saying we were right again.
    Obviously a lot remains to be determined, but I don't think we or the Israelis should be hoping the new is a clone of the old, or even that it embraces similar foreign policies. I don't think we can expect a new regime to be pro-US down the line, and I think we can expect a somewhat more confrontational stance toward Israel. As long as it stops short of outright war or sponsorship of terror, this is not a bad thing at all. It could be a very good thing: an opportunity to show, not just tell, that we are willing and able to deal with regimes that don't see their interests as identical to ours.

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    The Economist has an interesting debate currently running which speaks to some of the points we are covering here regarding the responsibilities of Elites to Society...

    Global elite: This house believes that the global elite serve the masses.

    Defending the Motion

    Jamie Whyte, Journalist/author and head of research and publishing, Oliver Wyman Financial Services

    Voluntary transactions benefit both parties. If they did not, they would not happen. In a free market, everyone serves those they deal with. Anyone who gets rich must have done others a lot of service.
    Against the Motion

    Daniel Ben-Ami, Journalist and author of "Ferraris For All: In defence of economic progress"

    From the 1970s onwards the Western elite have retreated from the notion of progress. Although they pay lip service to economic and social advance they have become strikingly ambivalent in practice.
    The moderator's opening remarks Feb 8th 2011 | Mr Saugato Datta

    Societies have always had elites: rich people who exercise a great deal of influence over the societies in which they live. And for as long as they have had them, these groups have aroused in others a mix of envy and resentment. There appears to be no shortage of either sentiment today.
    Sapere Aude

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    Carrying on with our press review:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/wo...lomacy.html?hp

    Feels that the current American administration was, er, of polarized range.

    Found a White House group "who worried that the American preoccupation with stability could put a historic president on the wrong side of history."

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Stability at the expense of the liberty of others IS the wrong side of history. During the Cold War we could rationalize such manipulations of the governance of others as part of our containment strategy.

    That rationale is long gone, yet we have done little to empower the reestablishment of self-determination and peaceful evolution of governmental reforms to bring these populaces a greater sense of participation and legitimacy of their governments.

    Tunisia and Egypt is the nose and head of the camel under the tent. The key now is to provide appropriate assurances that we will work with these people as the seek new guards to the future security; and also to get in front of the camel in our diplomatic engagements with the other dozen governments who are in-line to feel similar pressure. Moderate, reasonable reforms will go a long ways toward avoiding violence and chaos.

    The Wild Card is AQ, who sees their rationale for existence slipping away from them. The timing could be right to execute more violence in an effort to once again get Western leaders and populaces to overreact and confuse popular quests for liberty as something much scarier and darker.

    The voice of ignorance and fear is still very loud. While we are tipping toward the right side of history (at least as measured by the principles that Americans proclaim to the world), a bad event, a bad response, and we could be right back in the business of propping up despots and chasing ideologies.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (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)

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default AQ undermined?

    Bob's World cited:
    The Wild Card is AQ, who sees their rationale for existence slipping away from them.
    A contrary viewpoint I encountered from a British Muslim community observer was that AQ had been undermined by the student-trader martyr in Tunisia; his actions had had a far greater, positive impact on the Muslims in the Arab world. Compared to AQ, what had they achieved for the "man in the street"? Years of repression and humiliation etc.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Bob's World cited:

    A contrary viewpoint I encountered from a British Muslim community observer was that AQ had been undermined by the student-trader martyr in Tunisia; his actions had had a far greater, positive impact on the Muslims in the Arab world. Compared to AQ, what had they achieved for the "man in the street"? Years of repression and humiliation etc.
    Yes David there are many views on every aspect out there but once again the fact remains that this whole business has been yet another spectacular failure for the intelligence community. The two stumble-bums, the CIA and MI6 together with the hopeless incompetents (the State Department and the British Foreign Office) missed this one completely.

    Surely governments need to focus on cutting costs there rather than with the military who will be required to face AQ where they next rear their ugly heads?

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    If we approach the populaces properly we will achieve the same effect in the Middle East that the Brits achieved in Malaya (not talking the military tactics they applied prior to making the political fixes that addressed the concerns of the pop.) The Brits had co-opted legitimacy and exerted controls over governance. They ultimately removed those controls; and when the remnants of the insurgents filtered back in they found that the populace no longer needed them, as the populace had "won". Essentially both the Brits and the Insurgents were out, and the populace was in.

    This is the opportunity unfolding in the Middle East. Arab heads of government are pissed at the US. They accuse the US of not being loyal. Loyalty is a two-way street, and besides, is our loyalty to some King or "President"? Or is our loyalty to some nation? I argue it is the latter, and when those leaders tarnish their positions by leveraging their trust in US support to them personally to act with impunity toward their own people they deserve what they get.

    The US needs to make this clear that we are extremely loyal, but that our first loyalty as Americans is to support and defend our Constitution, not any particular president, our own or any one else's. When some government puts us in a position to make us hypocritical of our own principles in order to keep or commitment to them, they have breached the deal.

    The sooner we get this cleaned up the better. This will disempower AQ. When AQ comes to these populaces looking for support, much like those Malay insurgents, they too will find that the populace has won, and that they are no longer needed.
    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)

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Quiet soldier

    As expected attempts to explain the new rulers; this thin profile is of the Army Chief of Staff:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ransition.html
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Yes David there are many views on every aspect out there but once again the fact remains that this whole business has been yet another spectacular failure for the intelligence community. The two stumble-bums, the CIA and MI6 together with the hopeless incompetents (the State Department and the British Foreign Office) missed this one completely.
    If you expect any intelligence service to predict emergence phenomena, then prepare to be disappointed.

    Surely governments need to focus on cutting costs there rather than with the military who will be required to face AQ where they next rear their ugly heads?
    How many air wings, fleets and combat brigades do we need to face AQ?
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Three things to watch during the transition...

    Three factors that will make a difference...

    1: Short-medium term management of economic subsidies

    Americans think often in terms of liberty and freedom and the ability to change governance, but in much of the world desire #1 is economic opportunity and a better life. If people don't think democracy is getting them there, they are very likely to back a return to authoritarian rule. What's the point of having influence over government if government still doesn't give you what you want? Unfortunately, what people want is often low prices, high wages, plentiful jobs, low taxes, great government services, and a host of other contradictions. Economic trade-offs are often poorly understood.

    One of the things that pushed Egypt over the edge was a withdrawal of subsidies, particularly on wheat. This was less about "neoliberal policies" than about reality: with the population soaring, wheat prices rising, a sagging pound and a rising trade deficit the subsidized imports were just not sustainable.

    The economists are of course right: the subsidies are an abomination and must go. Dropping them all at once, though, is a sure way to popular disillusionment. My preference (not that anyone cares) would be to restore them, even with foreign aid paying part, with a clear schedule for a gradual phase-out and a clear explanation (assuming optimistically that someone will listen) of why they have to be phased out. It's hard to explain in places where the idea that "government should feed the people" is entrenched, but it needs to be done.

    Management of subsidies needs to balance economic necessity with the need to maintain popular confidence and support. They have to end, but sudden withdrawal can trigger disorder that could lead to a radical rise or a military coup. Worth keeping an eye on how policies emerge: immediate termination of subsidies is a danger sign; maintaining them without a clear plan for phase-out supported by information (and ideally economic improvement, though that will take time) is as bad.

    2. The emergence of political parties

    There will be pressure to hold early elections, but that's not always a good idea. It's hard to hold an election without parties, and it will take time for meaningful parties to emerge. Egypt looks likely to avoid the scourge of party differentiation along ethnic or sectarian lines, but there are still potential problems.

    Looking back to post-Marcos Philippines, the pre-Marcos two-party system did not re-emerge. Instead there were dozens of parties, often with no ideological differentiation and in many cases little more than vehicles for personal ambition: if your party doesn't nominate you, start a new one. That left positions contested by absurd numbers of candidates, with winners holding far less than a plurality and a minimal mandate. Choices were uncertain and based on personalities, not platforms, and it's common for people to jump parties and parties to shift coalitions for transient advantage.

    Indonesia has runoff elections for the two top candidates if nobody gains a clear majority... expensive and cumbersome, but at least there's a mandate.

    The emergence of parties will give a good indicator of how democracy is coming together, before policies or their impact are seen. How do parties differentiate? Do they represent distinct policy or ideological positions, or are they personality-dominated? Are small parties with similar views forming coalitions, or will they all run their own candidates? Will dominant parties be able to nominate candidates and remain together, or will leaders who don't get nominated break away?

    3. Justice vs Reconciliation

    Always a huge issue after a peaceful revolt succeeds. Who do you punish for corruption and human rights abuse? How far down the food chain do you go? Wherever you draw the line, the people above point to those below and ask "why me and not him". Push too hard and you can spark massive capital flight, disrupt government, even spark a coup. Give a free pass and you get major popular resentment and encourage more corruption. There's no right call and whatever they do will piss people off, but it will be very interesting to see how the transition government proceeds (likely they will kick it down the road), what positions the emerging parties take, and what is actually done when an elected government takes power.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 02-13-2011 at 11:10 PM.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Stability at the expense of the liberty of others IS the wrong side of history. During the Cold War we could rationalize such manipulations of the governance of others as part of our containment strategy.

    That rationale is long gone, yet we have done little to empower the reestablishment of self-determination and peaceful evolution of governmental reforms to bring these populaces a greater sense of participation and legitimacy of their governments.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    If we approach the populaces properly we will achieve the same effect in the Middle East that the Brits achieved in Malaya (not talking the military tactics they applied prior to making the political fixes that addressed the concerns of the pop.) The Brits had co-opted legitimacy and exerted controls over governance. They ultimately removed those controls; and when the remnants of the insurgents filtered back in they found that the populace no longer needed them, as the populace had "won". Essentially both the Brits and the Insurgents were out, and the populace was in.
    In Malaya the Brits were the government. They could relinquish control because they had control. They were in a position to empower. The US in the ME today is not in that position. We do not govern, nor have we any control to relinquish. Our influence in most cases is not sufficient to force governments to change or to produce more than a bit of very nominal cosmetic reform.

    We cannot "reestablish self determination" in places where it has never existed. We cannot relinquish control that we do not have. Our capacity to "empower" populaces in other countries is exceedingly limited. For the most part all we can do is talk and encourage, and even that is often as badly received by populaces as it is by governments. We often fail to realize that even populaces who dislike their governments often react very badly when the US lectures those governments on democracy and human rights. It is not seen as standing up for the little guy, it's seen as self-interested imposition and disrespect for the nation and the culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Moderate, reasonable reforms will go a long ways toward avoiding violence and chaos.
    Absolutely true, but we can't reform governments in other countries. They aren't "ours".

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This is the opportunity unfolding in the Middle East. Arab heads of government are pissed at the US. They accuse the US of not being loyal. Loyalty is a two-way street, and besides, is our loyalty to some King or "President"? Or is our loyalty to some nation? I argue it is the latter, and when those leaders tarnish their positions by leveraging their trust in US support to them personally to act with impunity toward their own people they deserve what they get.
    There is an opportunity, yes, but the extent to which it is our opportunity is very limited. We need to accept that our influence is not what it once was, and that very few of these governments are dependent on us or feel any need to listen to what we say.

    Certainly we should not be "loyal" to the despots, but trying to leap in and actively oppose them, or to impose ourselves as uninvited and unwanted champion of the populace, is not going to get us anywhere. We can certainly advise a despot that we think they are steering their ship onto the rocks and that we think a course correction is urgently needed, but we cannot and should not try to take over the helm. We can also make it clear that we are not going to go down with the ship, and if they lose control we are not going to stay with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The Wild Card is AQ, who sees their rationale for existence slipping away from them. The timing could be right to execute more violence in an effort to once again get Western leaders and populaces to overreact and confuse popular quests for liberty as something much scarier and darker.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The sooner we get this cleaned up the better. This will disempower AQ. When AQ comes to these populaces looking for support, much like those Malay insurgents, they too will find that the populace has won, and that they are no longer needed.
    AQ's rationale for existence is foreign military intervention in Muslim lands. Of course they would have been ecstatic if we'd intervened to keep Mubarak in power, but as long as we are engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan AQ's rationale for existence will continue. AQ will also continue to gain support within these populaces... maybe not support against their own governments, but they weren't getting that very effectively even under the old order. Even if Egypt and Saudi Arabia became full democracies without a hint of US intervention, AQ would draw support as long as the US or another foreign power was engaged in military intervention in Muslim land. Money will still flow: donations to subsidize a faraway jihad feel good. Fighters would still be recruited: religion and testosterone make a potent cocktail, and "expel the infidel from the land of the faithful" is a narrative that works. It is the only narrative that has ever really worked for AQ.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    There are no lasting friendships in diplomacy, only lasting interests. Not all interests last. i don't think the US ever saw Saddam as a "friend"...
    Well, on one hand....if we go into the details of the US-Saddam relationship, the situation is even worse, since this relationship started with him on the "Company's" pay-list. So, if we discuss this relationship that precisely, and suppose that there are no lasting friendships in diplomacy, then we also ought to conclude that there are very much lasting friendships in "intelligence" (even if this is limited to paid assassinations).

    On the other hand: would you use the same analogy about lasting friendships in the case US - KSA?

    Politicians and diplomats lie a lot; it's their job.
    Would you like to say that all the US "special friendships", are lies?

    Conferences don't prove or disprove anything. Lots of perspectives out there, few of them amenable to "proof" one way or the other.
    Yes, I'm sorry I do not recall who was it specifically that said so in his presentation on that conference. I do recall that the statement in question found a wide agreement, though.

    Not a lot of difference there. The war probably did fasten the Iranian regime in power, but the US didn't initiate the war and couldn't have stopped it.
    Sorry, but I never said the US "initiated the war": I implied they were informed in time about Saddam's intentions (I would like somebody to tell me that the Saudis are not informing their "business partners" in the US when somebody tells them he's going to invade one of their neighbours) - yet did nothing at all to stop him.

    You say "they couldn't have stopped it", to which I can only conclude we're back to the topic of the quality of US influence in the Middle East. And here I meanwhile must observe: if the situation is as you present it, the US has no and is not attempting to influence whoever or whatsoever; its diplomacy is entirely concentrating on innocent commerce; there are no special "relationships" (neither of diplomatic nor of personal nature) and especially no connections to local despots based on any kind of common interests against the "subjects" of these same despots and even less so against other governments that refuse to have their foreign- and domestic affairs dictated by the DC (which is impossible any way, since DC is never dictating anybody how to behave)....

    ...right. And can we get serious now?

    I'm sure Saddam sold this idea to his generals and many others; that doesn't mean he believed it himself. Many Iraqi generals believed to the last that Saddam had WMD.
    Once again, Ken described this in a very nice fashion. I do not ask you to agree with that, but you'll at least have to accept the fact that the people in the Middle East - and in this case: people who used to have leading positions in Iraq - see the situation differently than you do.

    All of which could be achieved, without contention, under a number of fuel processing deals that have already been rejected.
    ...which is the standard US line, obviously based on not even listening to what the Iranians (those who have the say) say. Then, from their standpoint - regardless if from those closely associated with the government, working as IRGC officers, but also Artesh officers, and regardless if pro or contra their government - there is no chance of anything of that kind - since all such proposals start with conditions. Is their standpoint that unless somebody starts to treat them as an equal partner, they are not ready to any kind of concessions, really that "strange" or at least as "unusual" as to be completely "in-no-way-understandable" to the USA?

    The Iranian government could stop supporting Hezbollah, accept the fuel processing deals on offer, and drop the ridiculous anti-US and anti-Israel rhetoric without compromising its interests in any way.
    This is also what the US government is "explaining to Iran" (via the media) since years, and the same idea that is not functioning because it is ignoring Iranian interests and standpoints.

    You can't expect the Iranians to even think about not providing US$100 Million or so to Hezbollah every year, while the US is providing 400 Million to various Iranian oppositional groups (particularly those renown as "terrorists" in the IRI) and who knows how many Billions to various other of their enemies (again: I'm just telling you what they say, not argumenting pro or contra).

    In fact, don't you find it rather surprising they are ready to negotiate at all, considering they have to deal with an administration that is - from their standpoint - involved in state-sponsored terrorism against their country?

    The advantages would be very substantial: there would no longer be any justification for sanctions, and the neighbors across the Gulf have demonstrated rather well that oil-producing countries that get on with the west do rather better than those who choose confrontation.
    Why do the oil-producing countries have to get on with the West, first of all?

    Would you like to say that if they don't (get on with the West), they "automatically" turn into US enemies?

    We work with governments who are willing to work with us, and governments with interests similar to ours. Alliances are made by common interests, not similar systems of government... always been that way.
    OK, very nice.

    Now, before I come to my next question, let me first observe that I am aware of the fact that a large part of "academic" West (I'll not even try to discuss the Western politicians) has immense problems of understanding alone how the IRI functions as a state, not to talk about how the government there functions. And, obviously, this is a topic that could easily "gulp" 10-15 threads each of which would be three times as large as this one, only in order to properly explain. So, let me try to (roughly) summarize the situation there as a "rule of consensus in a chaos of self-governing".

    Anyway, the point I would like to hear from you about is this: at the turn of the centuries (note: the following did not happen some 50 years ago, but within the last seven, eight years) there was a relatively moderate admin in Tehran (the same figures are now organizing protests against the government), which dismantled a large part of the IRGC apparatus and then proved more than willing to cooperate with the Bush admin in Afghanistan and Iraq (for a summary of relevant developments see, for example, "Immortal", by Steven R. Ward). The very same Bush admin first exploited this situation, then dropped the IRI admin like a hot rock and at the first opportunity began openly antagonizing it. Quite "surprisingly", during the next elections in the IRI, the IRGC returned to power in full force and is meanwhile mightier than ever before. What happened ever since is more than well-known.

    While I'll always be the first to observe that this reverse at the top of the IRI was primarily related to an internal power struggle going on already since the lat 1980s, I can't but add that this development was directly influenced by the behaviour of the Bush admin too - i.e. this "business only, nothing personal" policy - and this because not only a few voices emerged in Tehran concluding, "You see, we can't cooperate and even less so depend upon them" (the US). This is what I've heard with my own ears from several persons there that really can't be described as "not important".

    So please be so kind and patient and explain me: if it is so as you say, and the US is interested to work with governments that are willing to work with the US, and the IRI admin of Khatami proved willing not only to work with the US, but fully support its "business" (since this was all on purely commercial basis, right?) in the neighbourhood, if there were strong and undisputable common interests, and this has always been that way, and there was no change of US admins in between (and thus there should have been no change in US foreign policy either)... then what was the logic of the Bush admin turning its policy towards an actually friendly IRI admin for 180, at the spot, in around 2003-2004?

    Was there some kind of disagreement over commercial deals?

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Bob's World cited:

    A contrary viewpoint I encountered from a British Muslim community observer was that AQ had been undermined by the student-trader martyr in Tunisia; his actions had had a far greater, positive impact on the Muslims in the Arab world. Compared to AQ, what had they achieved for the "man in the street"? Years of repression and humiliation etc.
    You can see this on the example of Algeria in these days too.

    The FIS and similar - Islamist - groups used to be very strong there, back in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Indeed so strong that when the FIS was denied the right to rule, it trusted itself to reach back upon AQ's methods (and link with it), and launch a major insurgency. Eventually, this turned out not to have found any widespread popular support with the result that - slowly but certainly - it was practically smashed and is nowadays languishing in isolated camps in the south of the country, or even outside it. In summary, they are no important political factor any more.

    Anyway, because the Islamists were crushed, the protests we now see in Algiers are mainly run by the FFS of Ait Ahmed and the RCD of Said Sadi, both of whom are from the Kabyle branch of the Berbers, who, in turn are only certain never to be accepted by the majority - consisting of Arabs. That aside, there four main branches of the Berbers (Kabyle in the centre of the country, Chaoui in the east, Chenoui along the coast and M'zabi in the south), and they are opposing each other at least as much as they are opposed by the Arabs.

    The only other "important" party, the PT, is composed of Arabs, "but" its leader is Louisa Hanoune - a woman: as "progressive" as Algeria actually is, but expecting the Arabs to "rise" while led by a woman is still... well, a very distant prospect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    If you expect any intelligence service to predict emergence phenomena, then prepare to be disappointed.
    Well as your own Daniel Patrick Moynihan has articulated so well that the intelligence community has done little more than disappoint in all respects.

    Where he got it wrong (IMHO) was to promote the absorption of the CIA into the State Department. That would have been catastrophic as it has now finally been confirmed (thank you Wikileaks) that the State Department is even more incompetent than the CIA (if that is possible).

    I would love to hear of any list of CIA successes since their inception in 1947... should I hold my breath?

    How many air wings, fleets and combat brigades do we need to face AQ?
    Well, was not the Al Qaeda/Saddam connection one of the rationales for starting that war? Used a lot of impressive war machinery in that one.

    Then I seem to remember the whole Afghanistan thing started because Al Qaeda was allowed safe haven there. More impressive stuff used there and lots of troops.

    So there we have Iraq and Afghanistan... and how come chose to ignore that?
    Last edited by JMA; 02-14-2011 at 07:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Well as your own Daniel Patrick Moynihan has articulated so well that the intelligence community has done little more than disappoint in all respects.

    Where he got it wrong (IMHO) was to promote the absorption of the CIA into the State Department. That would have been catastrophic as it has now finally been confirmed (thank you Wikileaks) that the State Department is even more incompetent than the CIA (if that is possible).

    I would love to hear of any list of CIA successes since their inception in 1947... should I hold my breath?
    Did anyone predict what happened in Egypt? Not that I'm aware of. Emergent phenomena cannot be predicted except through guesswork.

    And yes, intelligence comes with a lot of opportunity for failure and it is (or should be) a humbling profession.

    I personally have never much liked the CIA, but I won't deny them their successes. If you aren't aware of any, then I suggest you read any of Jeffrey Richelson's books on the agency and intelligence community.


    Well, was not the Al Qaeda/Saddam connection one of the rationales for starting that war? Used a lot of impressive war machinery in that one.

    Then I seem to remember the whole Afghanistan thing started because Al Qaeda was allowed safe haven there. More impressive stuff used there and lots of troops.

    So there we have Iraq and Afghanistan... and how come chose to ignore that?
    As I recall, Iraq and Afghanistan didn't exactly turn out as expected and, given the state of the USA, I doubt the American people will support similar invasions elsewhere - even if one believes such invasions are necessary and appropriate given the threat posed by AQ. Maybe it's different where you live, but here I think the idea that invading countries with large conventional forces to rout out terrorist organizations is pretty much bankrupt.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    This posting in it's entirety is worth reading, but this passage was particularly telling -


    "A man respects people who are different. While Muslim protesters were attending Friday Prayers, Christians formed a human wall to protect them. On Sunday when Christian protesters performed Mass, Muslims stood watch to protect them. There was no slurring in the protests. People who attended were of different races, religions, and social backgrounds; black and white, Muslim and Christian, rich and poor, we stood together. If people deep down inside had a certain hatred for others due to these differences, the protests helped them replace this hatred with understanding. In the end we were all the same. We were all Egyptian, and we all wanted freedom."
    http://artofmanliness.com/2011/02/11...an-revolution/
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  17. #257
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    Default Wheat and democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Three factors that will make a difference...

    1: Short-medium term management of economic subsidies

    Americans think often in terms of liberty and freedom and the ability to change governance, but in much of the world desire #1 is economic opportunity and a better life. If people don't think democracy is getting them there, they are very likely to back a return to authoritarian rule. What's the point of having influence over government if government still doesn't give you what you want? Unfortunately, what people want is often low prices, high wages, plentiful jobs, low taxes, great government services, and a host of other contradictions. Economic trade-offs are often poorly understood.

    One of the things that pushed Egypt over the edge was a withdrawal of subsidies, particularly on wheat. This was less about "neoliberal policies" than about reality: with the population soaring, wheat prices rising, a sagging pound and a rising trade deficit the subsidized imports were just not sustainable.
    Dayuhan, I totally agree with you. Like most autocracies, Moubarak's regime was founded on the passive acquiescence of the masses generated by a patronage system that guaranteed survival and social security by subsidizing basic necessities like food. The problem was that economic growth in Egypt was insufficient to cover the cost of patronizing the fast-growing population. The recent sharp increase of food prices exacerbated the situation. Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat: 8 million tons per year. Of these 8 million tons, 6 million tons are dedicated to the subsidy program, feeding three quarters of the population. Moubarak simply did not have the cash to sustain this system. The next governments has even less money to spend because revenues from tourism have decreased sharply.

    Starting the revolution was easy. However, it's not the revolution that counts, but the day that follows it. The power vacuum will soon be filled by the best available alternative. Two organizations have a head start in this race: the Army and the Muslim Brothers. Emerging political parties need time to catch up. The international community has to provide that time by keeping Egypt's graneries well filled. In Egypt, "bread is everything" and the lack of it will quickly lead to riots, resulting in either a military regime or an Islamist government.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/e...ad-crisis.html

  18. #258
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    The problem was that economic growth in Egypt was insufficient to cover the cost of patronizing the fast-growing population. The recent sharp increase of food prices exacerbated the situation. Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat: 8 million tons per year. Of these 8 million tons, 6 million tons are dedicated to the subsidy program, feeding three quarters of the population. Moubarak simply did not have the cash to sustain this system.
    I try to be nice, really.

    a)
    GDP growth was way bigger than population growth.
    That's a real world fact and easily accessible.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy...ypt#Reform_era : Economic growth p.a. about 5%
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogra...on_growth_rate : Population growth p.a. about 2%

    b)
    Their trade balance deficit was gross. It was also many times as large as the wheat imports (if I believe your figures - too lazy for crawling through FAO statistics now).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_egypt : USD 23 bn trade balance deficit
    http://www.mongabay.com/images/commo...rts/wheat.html : even at its peak, 8 million metric tons of wheat did only cost USD 3.5 bn. About 2/3 of this price was representative for the last few years.


    A thirty-year one-man dictatorship was overdue. We need no facebook, wheat imports or other fashionable (Malthus is apparently never out of fashion!) explanations for Mubarak's demise.

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    Default Article on organization of protests

    Gents-

    Article in today's International Herald-Tribune by David Kirkpatrick and David Sanger talking about the origin of the protests in Egpt:

    http://www.heraldtribune.com/article...to-Arab-States

    Talks about the role of Facebook and social media in educating the youth and getting the first protests started.

    Kill MiGs!

    V/R,

    Cliff

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    Default One slogan (Mubarak out) is met ...

    but what do these headlines (all from today) bode ?

    Robert Fisk (Independent): Is the army tightening its grip on Egypt?

    CNN: Egypt shutters banks after new protests from employees, police

    Daily Mail: Army takes over in Egypt and orders ban on trade union strikes after old regime deposed

    and as background for the armed forces and their role in Egypt's economy, NPR (from 4 Feb), Why Egypt's Military Cares About Home Appliances:

    One reason for the military's peaceful response: the unique role it plays in the Egyptian economy. The military owns "virtually every industry in the country," according to Robert Springborg.

    Springborg, a professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, has written several books about Egypt, he's lived in Egypt, he's consulted with the Egyptian military, and he's an expert on the various businesses it runs. Here's a list he rattled off from the top of his head:

    ...car assembly, we're talking of clothing, we're talking of construction of roads, highways, bridges. We're talking of pots and pans, we're talking of kitchen appliances. You know, if you buy an appliance there's a good chance that it's manufactured by the military. If you ... don't have natural gas piped into your house and you have to have a gas bottle, the gas bottle will have been manufactured by the military. Some of the foodstuffs that you will be eating will have been grown and/or processed by the military.
    The reasons for this arrangement go back to the '60s and '70s, when the Egyptian military was very large as a result of the wars with Israel.
    Regards

    Mike

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