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Old 07-07-2013   #21
Madhu
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Default Brilliant comment, Bill

@ Bill M - that's a great comment.

Context matters a lot (as stated above by the Curmudgeon.) Describing a situation and the complicated nature of changing societies is different than advocating a policy which is where I think I misunderstood the original question.

I'll be honest that as a civilian I get a bit nervous when people in the military start talking about coups being a good thing. I know that's an over-reaction to a theoretical intellectual discussion like this thread but I can't help feeling that way.

The military is sort of its own world in the US--and in other places--and I wonder sometimes if that makes military members more sympathetic to foreign militaries and their narratives, or if narratives are overly influenced by the, well, influence of the military. So many things are going on at the same time and the same military that may be the lesser of evils now was partly responsible for the current mess to begin with.


I wrote the following in a comment that has now been moved to a different Egypt related thread but I am still curious what others think:

IMO, the "mirroring" attitude of the American military--in particular, the Army--caused a lot of problems in "AfPak", especially with regard to old relationships from the time of working with the Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies against the Soviets. Assuming the military in other parts of the world think the same is problematic.

Future historians studying this aspect of the American military, at least circa 2001-2005 or so, are going to have a field day of it, I predict.

But each situation is different and Egypt is not Pakistan. I don't know the Egyptian situation very well so I should probably stick to commenting on South Asia.

This sort of thing always interests me though:

Quote:
Egyptís ruling military has warned against any interference in its murky economic empire amid a burgeoning power struggle with Islamists who control parliament, state media reported March 28.

The warning comes as the military prepares to hand power to a civilian leader when presidential elections end in June, and as the dominant Islamist Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) pressures the generals to sack the government.

Maj. Gen. Mahmud Nasr, a member of the ruling council, warned that the military ďwill not allow any interference from anyone in the armed forcesí economic projects,Ē the official MENA news agency reported.

In the unusually detailed defense of the militaryís economic ventures, which include factories and hotels, Nasr said the businessesí annual revenues were 1.2 billion Egyptian pounds ($198 million).
http://www.defensenews.com/article/2...ness-Interests

I have no friggin' idea really. As others have said, we shall see. Perhaps it is a genuinely popular coup that will lead to some more inclusive government and is one step on the road to better governance, maybe it's just one more chapter of the military behind the scenes from the 1950's onward. When does the clock start on the goodness of enlightened militaries stepping in when needed?



I don't mean the comment to seem overly hostile, I am trying as a civilian to understand how exactly I should think about all of this?
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Old 08-16-2013   #22
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Default Stirring the pot ...

I often feel that political scientists and the military rely on history a bit too much which causes us to have convictions in the way we think that are undeserved. As we watch events unfold in Egypt I would like to reopen the conversation on whether military coups are ever a good thing. I will start with two thoughts:

Madhu points out that, as a civilian, the idea of the military talking about military coups potentially being a good thing is scary. His apprehension is not without merit. Without referring to history I will say that the military is hampered in its ability to deal with a population. Our natural inclination is to use coercion first – up to and including deadly violence.

To Madhu’s point I offer Fuchs and Bill’s counter-point: was a military coup the lesser of two evils. If no one stepped in would Egypt have descended into a civil war with the kind of unrestricted violence seen in Syria? Is it better to have a Leviathan keeping a lid on sectarian hatred until new social norms can be established? If the military backs down now (or is forced to back down by internal or external forces), will unrestricted violence be the inevitable result?

Let’s be clear, I am not talking about external intervention – this is strictly between the Egyptians. But the question and the answers should not be limited to this one situation. Egypt provides a backdrop. At the risk of sounding crass it is an ongoing social experiment. There are other strings that deal specifically with this situation.

Now, while events unfold, without the benefit of hindsight, what are your thoughts?
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Old 08-16-2013   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
Even so, does that justify removing him from office in an illegal manner? I feel like one of corollaries of adopting a democratic system is accepting that voters are going to make the wrong decision at times.
That corollary works in a country where the voters can reverse their mistake when the next election comes around. If they elect a 'one man, one vote, one time' outfit that opportunity will never come. That is when certain armies step in, as in Algeria and Turkey. The world would have been a lot better off if the Heer had stepped in in 1933.

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Al-Qaeda has been saying for years that democracy will never give an Islamist party the opportunity to succeed. Whatever favors the Egyptian military may have just done for their countryís economy may have been matched by the favors done for Al-Qaeda.
I don't think doing things so that AQ can't say 'gotcha' is a winning game. No matter what happens or happened they would always say it is somebody else's fault and they should run things. After all Allah is on their side. Just ask 'em.
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Old 08-17-2013   #24
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Thumbs up Yes!

I posted this article on another thread but it pertains to this as well. Saudi King says to support the Egyptian Army! Excellent article.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/saudi-king-...151611137.html
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Old 08-17-2013   #25
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Default From another thread

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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
On the BBC News yesterday, Professor Rosemary Hollis was interviewed and remarked that 33% of the Egyptian economy is owned by the military.
This offers another interesting perspective. If the major problems in the company are economic and if the military has experience in business, does this not provide another argument for the military?
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Old 08-17-2013   #26
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Default Worth reading and watching

Two contrasting, but similar commentaries. The first is by a Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan and has some telling passages, like this:
Quote:
There is no such thing as a good coup, only bad coups and worse coups. All military regimes, in time, become tawdry and self-serving. Whatever intentions the army officers begin with, they end up as petty tyrants. An elected ruler is kept in check by the knowledge that he can be fired. Take that knowledge away and, however pure his motives, he will end up arranging the affairs of state around his personal convenience.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ntentions.html

A BBC Newsnight commentary, four minutes or so, which gives a very quick overview of 'Egypt crisis: Does political Islam have a future?':http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23736446
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Old 08-17-2013   #27
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Originally Posted by carl View Post
That corollary works in a country where the voters can reverse their mistake when the next election comes around. If they elect a 'one man, one vote, one time' outfit that opportunity will never come. That is when certain armies step in, as in Algeria and Turkey. The world would have been a lot better off if the Heer had stepped in in 1933.
Itís often an apples-to-apples comparison, since military governments tend to leave at their own leisure, as well.

In retrospect, the Heer unseating Hitler would probably have made the world a better place. But the Alliesí reparations scheme and U.S. foreign policy toward Hitlerís government might also have been effective.

Quote:
I don't think doing things so that AQ can't say 'gotcha' is a winning game. No matter what happens or happened they would always say it is somebody else's fault and they should run things. After all Allah is on their side. Just ask 'em.
Iím not saying AQ arenít the bad guys. But just because they say something doesnít make it wrong, either.
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Old 08-18-2013   #28
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Default Business is better with the generals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
This offers another interesting perspective. If the major problems in the company are economic and if the military has experience in business, does this not provide another argument for the military?
Somehow I have m' doubts that a serving or retired Egyptian soldier has excellent commercial acumen, more likely via the state apparatus he'd have an "insider's track" on investments, such as a property development. In a wide-ranging critique from the 'left' Nick Cohen commented:
Quote:
To add robbery to murder, it has built a military-industrial complex that keeps Egyptians poor by preventing new businesses competing with the elite monopolies it controls.
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...-west-response
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Old 08-18-2013   #29
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Somehow I have m' doubts that a serving or retired Egyptian soldier has excellent commercial acumen, more likely via the state apparatus he'd have an "insider's track" on investments, such as a property development.
Perhaps, but there is something out there called the Dictatorial or Autocratic Advantage. It basically states that a central government that is actively involved in creating wealth for the nation through nationalistic policies does a better job of raising the economic standings of all citizens then do democratic governments. It is common now to attack this idea and you will find dozens of papers that claim that no such advantage exists or that it is vastly over-stated, but none-the-less Nazi Germany and China both gained prosperity over a limited periods of time with a combination of private enterprise and state participation.

In addition there are many countries where the military funds itself through private endeavors (I believe the Philippines is one). That means that they have an understanding of business and profits, something most democratic governments do not ... and failing economics is oft cited as a reason for rebellion.

So I would still argue that, under the right conditions, a properly motivated military may be better able to right a failing economic ship then a fledgling democracy.

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Old 08-18-2013   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
So I would still argue that, under the right conditions, a properly motivated military may be better able to right a failing economic ship then a fledgling democracy.
I understand, though do not necessarily endorse, the argument that the Pinochet-led junta was a necessary remedy to the economic situation Chile found itself in as the Allende administration wore on. Like I said, I donít necessarily endorse that argument, but it does make logical sense to say that what was needed was a sea change. But however much the Morsi government may have deepened the Egyptian economic crisis, the fact is that it was inherited from the same military government now headed by Sisi. I donít know the workings of Egyptian politics, but I have to suspect that Mubarak and Sisi might both be being used as scapegoats.
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Old 08-18-2013   #31
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
Perhaps, but there is something out there called the Dictatorial or Autocratic Advantage. It basically states that a central government that is actively involved in creating wealth for the nation through nationalistic policies does a better job of raising the economic standings of all citizens then do democratic governments. It is common now to attack this idea and you will find dozens of papers that claim that no such advantage exists or that it is vastly over-stated, but none-the-less Nazi Germany and China both gained prosperity over a limited periods of time with a combination of private enterprise and state participation.
As an economist who studied this for five years and majored about quite exactly this I tell you:
Nazi Germany had a disappointing economic performance pre-WW2 given the circumstances. The Nazi economic policy was an outright disaster and unsustainable any way. The Federal Republic of Germany is still cleaning of the crappy regulations done by Nazis in the 30's of struggling with their legacy of effects.
China's economic growth is perfectly explainable without any bonus from state-owned industries (which are in fact a huge problem because of their inefficiency).

Strong central governments are quite good at creating national infrastructure, but they are substandard performers when it comes to creating "wealth".
A country with rigged markets* such as Egypt is not going to go forward at a useful pace any time soon.



*: Not to be confused with impartially regulated markets.
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Old 08-18-2013   #32
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Fuchs,

So, as an economist, for a country that is having financial problems, would you prefer an autocratic system or a fledgling democratic one?
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Old 08-18-2013   #33
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Default Variant Voices - and Data

Starting with the Egyptian Army and its "grip" on the economy, the title says it all, Egypt military fights for macaroni, as well as security - Estimates of the Egyptian military's share of the country's economy range from 5% to 40% and its hands reach into many industries, including mining, real estate, farming and the production of household appliances (USA Today, 17 Aug 2013).

5% would make it a significant, material factor in the economy; 40% would make it an oligopolist, heading toward effective monopoly control. Which is the more factual case ? I don't know.

Then we have Gen. al-Sisi; for whom, we have two original source documents - the first, this year; the other in 2006: Excerpts from Washington Post interview with Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi; and Democracy in the Middle East (US Army War College, 2006).

Based on these (and other sources), we have two opinions that Gen. al-Sisi is an "Islamist":

Sisi's Islamist Agenda for Egypt - The General's Radical Political Vision (Foreign Affairs, Robert Springborg, July 28, 2013).

Why Egyptian Putschist General Al-Sisi’s Anti-Secular U.S. Army War College Thesis Matters (Andrew Bostrom, 10 Aug 2013).

Portrait of the General as a Not-So-Young Grad Student: Egypt's army chief isn't an Islamist -- in fact, his work at the U.S. Army War College suggests he may be a Mubarak clone (Foreign Policy, Eric Trager, 7 Aug 2013).

and these are just a sampling of divergent pundits.

Attached are pp.14-15 of al-Sisi's War College thesis (only 17 pages total). Based on his 2006 comments, I'd tag him as a moderate Muslim - though not a secularist. I see more than a little bit of Nassar in al-Sisi (the "masses", a Middle East "EU"; focus on Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen).

Regards

Mike
Attached Files
File Type: pdf al-Sisi pp.14-15.pdf (162.7 KB, 85 views)

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Old 08-18-2013   #34
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
Fuchs,

So, as an economist, for a country that is having financial problems, would you prefer an autocratic system or a fledgling democratic one?
Financial problems? Do you men fiscal problems?
What kind of fiscal problems? Why not compare a fledgling autocratic system with a fledgling democratic system?

How could I possibly choose autocracy over democracy because of such a petty topic as money?
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Old 08-18-2013   #35
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
Financial problems? Do you men fiscal problems?
What kind of fiscal problems? Why not compare a fledgling autocratic system with a fledgling democratic system?

How could I possibly choose autocracy over democracy because of such a petty topic as money?
Now Fuchs, don't evade the question. Just give it a shot.
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Old 08-19-2013   #36
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He answered the question: There can be no bad Democracy or good Autocracy.

Fiscal (or financial) status, corruption, or any other qualifier is irrelevant.
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Old 08-19-2013   #37
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I already answered it.
I'm not going to be lured into supporting autocracy by such a feeble thing as a myopic look at financial matters.

In fact, no-one is going to get me to support autocracy, even if aliens from space told us they will invade in a year and everyone was suddenly convinced that our mobilization would require authoritarian regime.
I am not easily scared or duped.

Besides; autocratic regimes have a horrible track record in economic affairs anyway. An autocratic regime looking good on the economic front is either existing under very lucky circumstances or the observer is merely looking at one side of the coin.
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Old 08-19-2013   #38
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I already answered it.
I'm not going to be lured into supporting autocracy by such a feeble thing as a myopic look at financial matters.

In fact, no-one is going to get me to support autocracy, even if aliens from space told us they will invade in a year and everyone was suddenly convinced that our mobilization would require authoritarian regime.
I am not easily scared or duped.

Besides; autocratic regimes have a horrible track record in economic affairs anyway. An autocratic regime looking good on the economic front is either existing under very lucky circumstances or the observer is merely looking at one side of the coin.
Financial matters can be a very big deal, the difference between living and dying even.

Lee Kuan Yew was a bit of an autocrat and Singapore is doing quite well. Red China is rather more than autocratic and they seem to be doing ok. Chile did quite well as did Turkey despite (because of) autocratic military regimes. So maybe it depends sometimes.
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Old 08-19-2013   #39
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Default When it is appropriate to act ...

From an article entitled "Egyptís Military: Doing What Germanyís Should Have Done in 1933"

Quote:
Sudanese writer Al-Hajj Warraq, got it exactly right in an Egyptian television interview last year. He said:

Democracy is about more than just the ballot box. Democracy is a culture engraved upon the cerebral box before it is the ballot box. One cannot talk about freedom in the absence of free minds. The tragedy of the Arab Spring is that when the tyrannical regimes fell, the fruits were reaped by movements that preach closed-mindedness, rather than free thinking. The outcome will be regimes that are worse than those that were toppled.

Apparently, the Egyptian people Ė at least the 30 million who were in the streets marching against Morsi Ė agreed with him. Unfortunately, the United States has not.
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Old 11-22-2013   #40
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We are just giving our opinions over here, its not like we stay we want it this way and its going to happen.
I doubt any of us are in a position to carry out a coup and install a military government on our own, but the question does have ramifications in the wider world. For instance, since the end of the Cold War coups conducted by the military or ones that resulted in a military strongman in the presidential palace, even as a transitional government, has been seen as a step backwards. In certain respects this is a PR question, but the ramifications are real since aid can be tied to how Western states approach the new government.

The more direct issue has to do with our own doctrine. If a military government is per se bad, than how can we ever implement a transitional military government? If a military government is "bad" than we can never again do what we did after WWII. In both Germany and Japan there was a military government who ran things for about eight months until it was turned over to civilian administrators. There was no looting; no loss of priceless art, and very little civil unrest as opposed to how we handled Iraq. This is a bit of a separate question, but it is related.
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