Could Next Leader be Worse?

-

shah_uniform2.jpgThere is a clear broad tilt in the American and global media against President Mubarak’s regime. I have seen statements of support for Mubarak and dismissal of the protests from some Israeli leaders and oddly from John Bolton.
But on another front, former Newsweek chief foreign correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave sent me this interesting reminder about the fall of the Shah in Iran. Just something to remember and consider.

Our institutional memories are apparently non-existent. I did the last interview with the Shah on Nov. 8, 1978.
I told him his friends Henry Kissinger and Al Haig and others had asked me to ask him why he did not suppress the revolution and then drastically reform the regime. He answered he had been betrayed by the US and did not wish to see any more blood.
I did not know how ill he already was but I realized then he was finished. The world liberal media was already fawning over Ayatollah Khomeini giving his daily press conferences in a Paris suburb. A number of them flew back with him to Tehran, hailing him as the great liberator from the Shah’s tyranny.
The Shah was an enlightened liberal next to the medieval theocrat the world media was hailing as the liberator of the Shah’s brutal dictatorship. And the rest is history. The Ayatollahs executed more people in the first six months than the Shah’s regime had done in a whole generation.
Arnaud de Borchgrave

Former US Senator Paul Laxalt (R-NV), a good friend of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, was the person Ronald Reagan used to communicate to Marcos that he had to go and that US support was over.
Who will Obama use with Mubarak?
— Steve Clemons

Comments

41 comments on “Could Next Leader be Worse?

  1. Dumpster Rental says:

    The operative criterion is obedience, not religious extremism (rampant in the U.S., for example) or surely democracy.

    Reply

  2. Cee says:

    Chomsky: Strategic and Economic Objectives, Not Anti-Islamization, Drives U.S. Policy
    January 31, 2011 By Noam Chomsky
    [While many are claiming that a central goal of U.S. policy is to minimize influence of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Noam Chomsky contributed this to our blog]
    It is well-established, including the major scholarly literature, that the U.S. supports democracy if and only if that accords with strategic and economic objectives. Following that principle, in the Arab/Muslim region it has generally supported radical Islamists in fear of secular nationalism (as has the UK). Familiar examples include Saudi Arabia, the ideological center of radical Islam (and of Islamic terror), Zia ul-Haq, the most vicious of Pakistan

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve Walt on regime change in Egypt:
    “Of course, if the Egyptian government becomes more
    responsive to its population, we can expect it to be more
    critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its
    refusal to accept a viable two-state solution. It will also be
    less willing to collude with U.S.-backed policies such as
    the counter-productive and cruel siege of Gaza. In other
    words, we may be witnessing the birth pangs of an Egypt
    that it is a more like contemporary Turkey: neither hostile
    nor subservient, and increasingly seeking to chart its own
    course. And this might be precisely the sort of wake-up
    call that Israel needs, to help it realize that its long-term
    security does not lie solely in military strength or territorial
    control. Ultimately, its security must rest on being
    accepted by its neighbors, and the only way to do that is
    via a two-state solution with the Palestinians (as the
    2002/2007 Saudi/Arab League peace plan envisioned).
    To be sure, such a prospect is certain to alarm anyone
    who thinks that U.S. Middle East policy has been pretty
    much on-target for the past few decades. But the number
    of people who still believe that should be dwindling
    rapidly, when one considers the debacle in Iraq, the
    prolonged turmoil in Lebanon, Iran’s growing influence,
    the failure of the Oslo peace process, and the revolving
    door of failed U.S. Mideast policymakers, who are often
    wrong but never disqualified for appointment. For those of
    us who think that U.S. policy has been bad for just about
    everyone except our adversaries, the turmoil in Cairo is
    not a threat but an opportunity.
    To be specific, this crisis in Egypt is an opportunity for the
    United States to rethink the underlying principles of the
    Pax Americana that Washington has sought to maintain in
    the Middle East for decades. That arrangement rested on
    three pillars: 1) unconditional support for Israel, 2)
    denying or discounting Palestinian rights, and 3) support
    for and collusion with various “pro-Western” leaders
    whose legitimacy was always questionable.”
    More here:
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/

    Reply

  4. Paul Norheim says:

    In an article in Haaretz today, Aluf Benn seems to suggest
    something similar to the option I outlined above on this thread
    yesterday (Jan 29 2011, 12:45PM):
    “It cannot be assumed that Mubarak’s successors will be clones
    of Iran’s leaders, bent on pursuing a radical anti-American
    policy. Perhaps they will emulate Turkey’s prime minister,
    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who navigates among the blocs and
    superpowers without giving up his country’s membership in
    NATO and its defense ties with the United States. Erdogan
    obtained a good deal for Turkey, which benefits from political
    stability and economic growth without being in anyone’s
    pocket. It could work for Egypt, too.”
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/obama-will-go-
    down-in-history-as-the-president-who-lost-egypt-1.340057

    Reply

  5. rich says:

    I nominate the photo currently frontpage at nytimes.com as of 6:23pm for the graphic illustrating next post here at TWN. It’s an aerial view of Egyptian citizens praying in front of the tanks sent to eliminate free expression and end any hope of real freedom by crushing the demonstrators physically. For daring to speak their minds. The faithful are arrayed around the tank in the foreground as they pray.
    It’s like a little mosaic of human bodies, worshipping God.
    We’ll see if this image gets as much play as the man who faced down the tanks in Tiananmen Square.
    Question: is there room in the Anglophone sphere of influence for a Western-backed dictatorship willing to murder its own citizens in broad daylight, all merely for exercising the basic rights that all men are endowed with by their Creator, “certain unalienable Rights”? If so, then what is the basis for our appeal to any other nation to cooperate with us, to do as we say, to open themselves to investment? What does that do to our credibility as an arbiter of anything really, on the world stage? To our credibility as a counterweight to Iran? (Not that the Palestinian Papers didn’t confirm that, even as formal arbiters, we’ll fix the game, then sell out the weaker side lock, stock and barrel just for the thrill of displaying the worst fig-leaf imaginable.)
    If we can’t even get the basic political cause right, then all the lawyers guns and money and bombs in the world isn’t going to put us on the side of the right.
    That Egypt in practice counter-acts the American project comes as no surprise; the repression only confirms that much of current U.S. foreign policy also undercuts the American project, insofar as upholding our basic political instincts and spreading those principles is taken seriously by any of our fellow Americans any more.

    Reply

  6. The Pessimist says:

    What are the parallels between the two events?
    The Shah was an American puppet overthrown by the oppressed people partnering with the only opposition group that could successfully effect their desired change, which just so happened to be a religiously identified core group.
    Mubarak is an American puppet being challenged by the oppressed people partnering with the only opposition group that can successfully effect their desired change, which in this case is multi-dimensional in its core make-up.
    The support group that effects the change is nothing more than a means to an end for the oppressed people. The oppressed people don’t care who helps them achieve their end goal so long as they achieve their end goal. This is not a Muslim or Islamic driven event, it is a popular revolt against an unsupported dictator.
    There is no objective stability to return to in Egypt, there is only the type of stability that results from 3 decades institutionalized repression and martial law. For this Mubarak should reflect on the fate of Mussolini. Probably the most insulting aspect of Mubarak

    Reply

  7. Warren Metzler says:

    I vigorously object to most of the posts here, including Steve’s position. This is an Egyptian thing. This is Egyptians exercising their God given right to become their own persons, and select their own destinies. This is the democratization that the same posters have repeatedly lamenting is lacking in the Arab world. No change of this magnitude is lacking significant violence; remember the revolutionary war, and how about the massive loss of lives and limbs and property,including civilian “collateral damage”, of our Civil War?
    If the transition to an American style democracy and economy goes through a Khomeini type leader, so what. If they have to discover that an Islamic government doesn’t work, than they have to discover it.
    These responses are, to me, a pure manifestation of the foreign policy nonsense that infects people. If our concept of foreign policy was sane; same foundations as how we treat our neighbors down the street; none of these hysterical comments would exist. Instead most would be posting, “isn’t it fascinating that the Egyptians are finally growing up and demanding their universal human rights”.
    I’m fascinated that such a apparently sweeping change can start with one Tunisia college educated street fruit vendor committing a public suicide. Reminds me of how much similar suicides by Vietnamese Buddhist monks changed the course of that war. Sometimes the ultimate sacrifice can lead to major changes.
    DO I hear a hallelujah! 🙂

    Reply

  8. rich says:

    Rewriting history at The Washington Note, again.
    The problem with de Borchgrave’s selective memory is that his inversion of history involves a rhetorical gesture that can be repeated to his discredit.
    Mohammad Mosaddegh — (the rightful & democratically elected ruler of Iran (author, administrator, lawyer & parliamentarian, & politician — overthrown by the CIA in 1953)
    — Mosaddegh sure does look remarkably attractive when you remember, and Steve Clemons remembers . . . doesn’t he? that the Shah’s tyranny was much worse than what had gone before. The Shah tortured his own citizens, and the CIA trained SAVAK to do the torturing simply to suppress the democratic tendencies, post-Mossadegh, that we SAY we as Americans support.
    While the sovereign democratic governance of Mossadegh aspired to fulfill the American ideals laid out during our own revolutionary crucible — the American-backed coup & subsequent installation of the Shah of Iran betrayed all of the patriotic & democratic beliefs that Steve and most Americans still like to say we hold so dear.
    Arnaud de Borchgrave does us a grave disservice in suggesting that maybe in retrospect the Shah would have been better. If we’d been on the side of what’s right/effective, and adhered to our own values in securing our best interests, Khomeini would never have had the opportunity to exploit our fatal and vicious foreign policy mistakes. And our policy wonks and our think-tankers wouldn’t be contorting their best judgment, even now, to put the best possible face on the foreign policy debacle that continues to unravel.
    So it is false to assert the Shah can be presented as a relatively civilized leader or some sort of enlightened liberal who looked out for the best interests of Iranian citizens — and it is false even in comparison to Khomeini. This rhetoric amounts to a remarkable fit of self-indulgence, and it is useless in that it refuses to identify America’s extraordinary errors in our relations with Iran.
    Current commentary continues to repeat the same mistake — (here & elsewhere) by failing to mark out a path that adheres to the core American principles that would so easily win popular support around the world. That’s not a request for morality — merely a statement that the principles, with which we justified our American Revolution, consist of politically proven policies that are of great utility in foreign policy. (UNLESS, of course, you prefer to torture as a matter of course, rather than living up to basic American views on liberty, sovereignty and democratic governance.)
    Had we adhered to those values, to those political principles, there would be no Shah, no Iranian Revolution and no Ayatollah Khomeini. A democratic Iran would instead remain grateful to us for upholding Mosaddegh, the integrity of their electoral process — and for ridding them of British interference. THAT is our opportunity cost, not the Shah.
    I have yet to see an American foreign policy wonk honest and gutsy enough to ‘fess up to this basic truth. We gave the Ayatollah Khomeini both the correct just cause to win, along with everything else he needed to successfully prosecute the Iranian Revolution, and we did it through the outright betrayal our own guiding political principles. In spades.
    And instead of turning to a worthy and effectual public debate, we get these disingenuous blogposts substituting rhetorical gambits for effective foreign policy.
    Sure, it’s just a bit of propaganda to shore up the doubts of Establishment functionaries after decades of abusive foreign policy instruments come home to roost. So of course everybody will see right through it.
    Arnaud de Borchgave’s multi-valent dishonesty rests upon Washington’s willingness to erase the rich history of its own mistakes. D.C.’s foreign policy functionaries may be desperate & scared, but that hardly justifies the refusal to recognize basic Iranian sovereignty NOR the continued scapegoating of Iran’s current regime, whose only obvious intent is to ensure that sovereignty.
    A sovereignty Washington and Adams would clearly understand.
    It doesn’t matter that current Iranian leaders aren’t up to our hypocritical snuff. It’s still a blatant falsehood to assert the Shah was enlighted relative to the Ayatollah Khomeini — the Shah wasn’t trying to defend himself from American covert ops. Khomeini no doubt withstood continued attempts to undermine & overthrow Iranian governance of Iran. Like every other nation, Iran first secured its own sovereignty, and not until its own national security interests are stabilized will its leaders lift repressive measures and open up Iranian society. That’s the way it works everywhere, and there’s nothing unusual about that. Security clampdowns in reaction against a proven external threat is exactly what the U.S. security bureaucracy has done and continues to do.
    There’s nothing unusual about the dynamics in play over the past 6 decades. It’d benefit us all as Americans, if all of us would make a decision to be honest about the political dynamics of repression and resistance prompted by unaccountable policy-makers.
    The Shah may prompt nostalgia among colonial-minded functionaries looking for heads-of-state both pliable and vicious enough to turn on their own people. But those of us who want a foreign policy that works (without damaging our national security) understand that aligning our policies & instruments with the core democratic principles that define us as a nation is a prerequisite for, and intrinsic, effectiveness in securing our national interests and in protecting our national security.
    The disaster wrought by other disproven methods, such as torture and one coup after another, is proof enough for any objective thinker.

    Reply

  9. Dan Kervick says:

    “Paul, last December the Pew Poll asked people in a number of Arab countries if they preferred “Islamists” or “Modernizers” In Egypt, Islamists won by 59-27 percent.”
    That’s a fairly tendentious way of asking a question in the Middle East. It would be like asking Americans whether they prefer to be ruled by Christians or Secular Humanists. “Modernization” is an avowedly secularist program particularly associated with the ruling party. Try asking people whether they prefer democracy or theocracy instead. Religious people are pushed to theocracy when they see the alternative as not just constitutional neutrality, but a secularizing program that is actively hostile to their religion.
    One of the dumbest mistakes the Shah made was changing the Islamic calendar in Iran to date years from the founding of the Persian Empire. That’s the kind of thing that makes religious people think the government is trying to exterminate their religion.

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    Paul, last December the Pew Poll asked people in a number of Arab countries if they preferred “Islamists” or “Modernizers” In Egypt, Islamists won by 59-27 percent.
    I think your Religion Dispatches article is wishful thinking. Sure the Muslim Brotherhood has learned to lay low under overwhelming pressure from the Mubarak government, but that doesn’t mean they philosophy has changed from radical to pragmatic. Allah has promised victory to the pure, that’s their line.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    I am not a fan of Arnaud de Borchgrave–he is a Jurassic Park fossil.
    And so typical of the constipated in DC typical–‘assuming’ that what ‘did’ happen ‘will’ always happen.
    History does teach and repeat –but not always–the only constant thing in the world is change and
    the only thing you can predict is human nature.
    Humans react to events and information and create more changes.

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    by the way, could we just stop blaming israel every time a web site is down for a bit? servers get overwhelmed routinely, software has bugs, the internet is a series of tubes and tubes are funky things!
    and to be honest, israel has a lot more on its plate than mr mondo…..
    yarg
    am i honestly the only person who has ever clicked on a site when there is no i/p content and had a site failure issue?
    or is the theory that every single site failure is part of a giant conspiracy as a way to cover up all the times that the failure is related to i/p issues?
    gimme a break people.

    Reply

  13. questions says:

    Paul, thanks! Very interesting.
    As for incrementalism, think what happens when the gov’t gets ahead of the people or the other way around.
    Think what happened, say, in New Orleans when city services broke down for a bit during a flood.
    No prisons, no emergency help, deaths, massive property loss, displacement that never really got fixed. Think what happens to people who are diabetic, in need of surgery, in need of antibiotics, in need of psychiatric care, in need of legal documents….
    In one city, NoLa, we had a huge mess with governance, services, and basic functions because of sudden breakdown. And this city was located in a functioning state in a functioning region in a perfectly fine country.
    OR,
    DC just had some snow the other day. Some people were trapped in their cars in traffic for 13 hours. From some snow. In a well-governed city (comparatively speaking.)
    Now think about a revolution with a crashed economy over an entire country, and think about all the services people need to be able to manage, even if at a low level.
    The services won’t be there, and the people will be impatient for precisely those services.
    Idealism has its moment, without activists we’d be nowhere at all.
    BUT, the activists have to give way to the incremental institution builders because those are the people who make sure that trash pick up, rodent control, sewage, and all the other scut work of the city is done.
    The incrementalists know that things have to be built, deals have to be struck, and the tent has to be pretty big because you actually will need people with expertise from the previous system to help run the new one.
    Purges are a thing of activists, and purges will destroy the future.
    So, yes, I worry about the possibility of a reign of terror, about purging, about impatience, about the CROWD’s being attracted to a charismatic thug/tyrant who makes damned fool promises but who sounds really great and has a nice smile. (cf The Republic for what the masses do.)
    I have hope, as always, but I do wonder if Egypt will get what it deserves, a functioning and just state, or what nations often get, a reign of terror even worse than the one they replaced.

    Reply

  14. Cee says:

    Informed Comment is up.

    Reply

  15. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    I think I saw the same show this morning (Norwegian time), and yeah, they were “attractive idealists” who sure lacked
    some understanding of how institutions work – but hey, they were students and bloggers. And one of them expressed
    optimism on behalf of Egypt “10-15 years from now”; not overnight. But yeah, I’m sure they are less patient and
    incrementalist-minded than you, questions 🙂
    As for the Muslim Brotherhood and religion/politics, I saw an article that may interest you – I don’t know, it’s from
    “Religion Dispatches”:
    Reply

  16. Kathleen says:

    John “Gee, I wonder who has the motivation to attack mondoweiss and juancole?
    Nadine, of course, would be quick to point out that not everything is Israel’s fault. But AIPAC has a long history of suppression of dissent, legal or otherwise.
    Can anyone think of anyone else who would have the resources and the motivation to shut down these informative sites?”
    Did the Obama administration or our MSM (hello Rachel Maddow) demand that Israel open up communication systems on the Mavi Marmara after Israel shut them down? Did they demand that Israel release all of the electronic equipment confiscated on those humanitarian ships back to those they were taken from?
    Do you hear these same individuals demanding that Palestinian protest be covered?
    Anyone hear Rep Ros Lehtinen demand that the Palestinian voices be heard? Our talking heads are now repeating Ros Lehtinen’s words about the protest in Egypt
    Hell no this hypocritical woman pretends that she is in support of the voice of the people and their demands be heard..While she did everything in her power to undermine the free and fair elections of the Palestinians. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting

    Reply

  17. Kathleen says:

    “There is a clear broad tilt in the American and global media against President Mubarak’s regime. I have seen statements of support for Mubarak and dismissal of the protests from some Israeli leaders and oddly from John Bolton.”
    Can you imagine if El Baradei was a contender in a free and fair election in Egypt? El Baradei one of the folks demanding that Israel open up to inspections. Pushing them to sign the NPT along with Pakistan and India.
    What would a free and fair election look like in Egypt?
    Still wondering why Informed Comment is down?

    Reply

  18. Kathleen says:

    “There is a clear broad tilt in the American and global media against President Mubarak’s regime. I have seen statements of support for Mubarak and dismissal of the protests from some Israeli leaders and oddly from John Bolton.”
    Can you imagine if El Baradei was a contender in a free and fair election in Egypt? El Baradei one of the folks demanding that Israel open up to inspections. Pushing them to sign the NPT along with Pakistan and India.
    What would a free and fair election look like in Egypt?

    Reply

  19. Kathleen says:

    Mondoweiss is back up as folks noted. Amazing blogging directly from Egypt at the site. Informed Comment still down. Wonder who he is trying to stream.
    Just too damn bad our MSM did not cover protest before the invasion of Iraq here in the states as well as they are covering these protest. Hundreds of thousands of people might still be alive if those at home watching their TV’s had realized that hundreds of thousands (millions nationwide of WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm Vets along with teachers, students, grandmothers families pushing children in strollers and seniors in wheel chairs, teamsters, lawyers, were out on the streets protesting before the Bush Cheney Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld invasion of Iraq. 30 million marched against that invasion before the invasion world wide. We did not get this kind of coverage. Those at home had no idea that we were out there on the streets. Chris Matthews, CNN, did not cover us. Hell Cspan barely covered us.
    Our MSM completely ignores Palestinian protest. Silence. That so called progressive Rachel Maddow is silent about Palestinian protest but is all over this and Iranian protesters. Hell Rachel was completely silent about the Goldstone Report. So progressive of her
    Mondoweiss has amazing reports from Egypt
    Glad the Egyptian protesters have gotten their attention.

    Reply

  20. questions says:

    Paul, I saw three Egyptians on some Al Jazeera talk show last night and you know, it’s a little bit mixed between beauty and OMG to watch these attractive, young, energetic people talk about why they are revolutionary. At first it sounds good, and then you start to realize that what they really want cannot be delivered anytime soon.
    It’s a little like the Tea Party — real grudges but without the institutional sense that suggests that better wages don’t come overnight, that an improved economy is a thing to build over a lifetime, that there are so many political enemies and factions temporarily united but that given a moment of peace will realize that, no, they don’t really agree and they totally don’t want to compromise.
    If political institutions stay put, and if the power shifts can be done gradually and if people can have patience, then there is something to be hopeful for.
    By the way, some MB leader was also interviewed and his line is that the MB will not participate in elections because it isn’t a political party in that manner. I have no idea what to make of this claim, but if there’s an area studies person out there who knows something, this would be worth writing up as speculation.

    Reply

  21. Paul Norheim says:

    Cole’s “informed Comment” is accessible right now:
    http://www.juancole.com/

    Reply

  22. JohnH says:

    Gee, I wonder who has the motivation to attack mondoweiss and juancole?
    Nadine, of course, would be quick to point out that not everything is Israel’s fault. But AIPAC has a long history of suppression of dissent, legal or otherwise.
    Can anyone think of anyone else who would have the resources and the motivation to shut down these informative sites?

    Reply

  23. Carroll says:

    Posted by Kathleen, Jan 29 2011, 12:34PM
    >>>>>>>>>>
    I got thru to mondo but very slow…says they have been down all morning.
    Can’t get thru to Cole.

    Reply

  24. Cee says:

    Why on earth would anybody think a Muslim Brotherhood takeover would be peaceful? When Hamas took over Gaza it executed hundreds of Fatah guys.
    Sigh…Okay. I’m going there!!! Muslim Botherhood my ass. I expect some of these Mossad MF’s to be dressing up as Arabs to create more havoc to blame on the Botherhood, Hamas and anyone else that they hate.

    Reply

  25. JohnH says:

    There was a lot of optimism in Chile, too–until the US encouraged Pinochet to overthrow the elected government and start a reign of terror…an outcome more to the liking of Nadine and her ilk.

    Reply

  26. nadine says:

    Paul, I think you are right to remember the optimism in the air in Ethiopia and Iran when their revolutions happened, and what came later. We got the same sappy Western reporting and in Iran’s case, the same pressure for reforms after it was far too late for it to more than put the skids under the regime.
    But you are substituting wishful thinking for everything we know about the Muslim Brotherhood if you think there is any chance they would be peaceful: they are Salafi, their main offshoots are Al Qaeda and Hamas, who share the MB ideology of Al Banna and Sayyid Qutb. This is explicitly an ideology which talks about the right and need to use violence to enforce their idea of right behavior, as ordered by Allah.
    STRATFOR is reporting that Egyptian troops are not guarding the Rafah border anymore and Hamas reinforcements are pouring into the Sinai. Of course taking down Pharoah is the big prize for these people.
    Why on earth would anybody think a Muslim Brotherhood takeover would be peaceful? When Hamas took over Gaza it executed hundreds of Fatah guys. You can multiply it times a thousand for Egypt. They want revenge on Pharoah and his men. This may be the strongest card the Mubarak regime has left to play; his generals know they are also dead men or exiles if the MB takes over. I don’t think they can entertain illusions of collaboration. TWT.

    Reply

  27. Kathleen says:

    Thanks Paul. Phil Weiss said they have been having problems in the last several days. Glad it has opened up

    Reply

  28. non-hater says:

    Mondoweiss up, Cole accessible but mis-configured. Sometimes hosting companies will pull a site on a shared server if it is overloading the server.

    Reply

  29. Kathleen says:

    Just too damn bad that the same MSM outlets did not cover the anti invasion of Iraq protest in the states or around the world as much as they are covering these protest.
    Too damn bad the same MSM outlets never EVER cover the Palestinian protest over the decades. Never EVER.
    Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Diane Rehm, Dylan Ratigan, CNN, CSpan (you know that fair and balanced open outlet (choke) will not touch the Palestinian protest.
    Ever hear any of those talking heads or the Obama administration yell out when Israel shut down all communication outlets or stole all cameras and electronics off the Mavi Marmara. Ever hear Rep Ros Lehtinen demanding freedom of speech or protesing in regard to the Palestinains
    So f–king absurd and hypocritical
    Posted by …, Jan 29 2011, 12:53PM – Link
    i note the hypocrisy when i compare the coverage on iran to the coverage on egypt… no “”neda”” moment yet for the folks who like to comment with an aura of authority on such defining moments?? go figure…

    Reply

  30. Paul Norheim says:

    Kathleen,
    I got access to Mondoweiss immediately, but when I clicked
    on Cole’s blog, I got an “Internal server error” message.
    I’v had trouble getting access to Juan Cole’s blog several
    times during the last three days.

    Reply

  31. Kathleen says:

    Would folks be willing to try to access Mondoweiss (incredible middle east site hosted by Phillip Weiss and Adam Horowitz) and Informed Comment (Professor Juan Cole) Why has access to these sites been shut down? Anyone know?
    Phillip Weiss has confirmed they are having problems. Will people try to access please?

    Reply

  32. ... says:

    i note the hypocrisy when i compare the coverage on iran to the coverage on egypt… no “”neda”” moment yet for the folks who like to comment with an aura of authority on such defining moments?? go figure…

    Reply

  33. non-hater says:

    Of course the next leader could be worse. Centralized authoritarian states are not exactly known for nurturing competency or engineering smooth transitions of power.

    Reply

  34. Paul Norheim says:

    Could next leader be Worse?
    Yes, he certainly could. As a teenager, I lived in Addis
    Ababa during the revolution and overthrow of emperor
    Haile Selassie (1974-1976). Although there was plenty of
    optimism and idealism in the air, a nationalist/stalinist
    faction of the army grabbed power and it went from bad
    to worse – just like in Iran a few years later. And although
    I witnessed this as a (very young) foreigner, this
    revolutionary experience has since those days been part of
    my DNA.
    The good news from Egypt (and Tunisia) is that the Arab
    streets have found their voice. But their strength, the fact
    that the revolution is largely improvised and spontaneous,
    is also their weakness: they have no leader yet. So who
    knows who may take over? The military? The Muslim
    Brotherhood?
    So let’s assume for a moment that Islamists will become
    dominant in a new Egyptian regime. This raises some
    questions not yet posed with the weight they deserve:
    Where is their Ayatollah?
    Well, exactly: there is no Egyptian Ayatollah. The (sunni)
    Muslim Brotherhood, though extremist in the 1960’s and
    70’s, have changed since then. They don’t accept the the
    Iranian shia model of theocratic rule, and this is a crucial
    point.
    We don’t have the answers, but let’s at least widen the
    options and raise some new questions:
    Why are we so sure that Egyptian Islamism would more or
    less follow the Iranian model? Why not something closer to
    the Turkish model under Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the
    AKP – moderate Islamism, respecting democracy and
    human rights?
    The newfound voice of the Egyptian and Tunisian streets
    certainly points more in that direction, than towards
    copying the Iranian theocracy. The Arab world has gone
    through many ideological phases through the decades
    since formal independence: Pan-Arabism, Socialism,
    Islamist extremism. Perhaps the non-violent, slow, but
    nonetheless dramatic change in Turkey will prove to be
    the new ideological model also for the Arab world: a
    moderate Islamism with respect for democratic institutions
    and a better balance between the political leadership and
    the army?
    We should be cautious against unfunded optimism, but
    these questions should at least be raised and discussed.

    Reply

  35. Kathleen says:

    the I lobby will be up in arms if El Baradei was chosen to lead a transition in Egypt. Sure don

    Reply

  36. Kathleen says:

    There are problems accessing both Mondoweiss (Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz’s amazing site about middle east issues) and accessing Informed Comment (Professor Juan Cole’s amazing site) from a public library. Phil Weiss has confirmed they are having problems. Anyone else know what givees here. Why are these two sites being blocked?
    Would other folks see if they can get through to Mondoweiss and Informed Comment.

    Reply

  37. Kathleen says:

    Just read Emptywheel

    Reply

  38. questions says:

    Regarding foreign policy experts — ugh.
    I’m hearing and reading all sorts of English-speaking voices with all sorts of information regarding Egypt.
    Plenty of area studies people to call on, plenty of scholarship all over the map…..
    THAT is not the problem.
    The real problem is that we use this phrase “American interests” and we don’t have a real working definition for it.
    Think of it this way, it’s in American interests if all the money in the world flows our way. It’s in American interests if gasoline is under 2 bucks a gallon. It’s in American interests if American companies can exploit the life out of all the other people and peoples of the world. It’s in American interests if we can force others to take our garbage and give us our iPods and laptops.
    It’s in other people’s interests, not the interests of Americans, to charge a fair labor price for their goods, services and resources. But we might end up with 6 dollar a gallon gas.
    So, what is the job of the US government, whose interests should be served?
    Because it’s not really clear, we’re not going to get clear policy in the direction you think we’d get if….
    And again, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of people around who know a fair amount about Egypt, religious groups, religion and the ME and so on.
    ****
    A-J reporting that Suez is under curfew that the military is enforcing. Tanks seem to have stopped the city center protest.

    Reply

  39. Paul Norheim says:

    15.38: Sharif Kouddous of Democracy Now! tweets: “Muslim
    Brotherhood chanting Allah Akbar. Crowd stopped them
    chanting louder: Muslim, Christian, we’re all Egyptians” (BBC)

    Reply

  40. JohnH says:

    Yes, echoes of Iran. The group thinking foreign policy elite was clueless then, as it is now, having learned nothing.
    Walt sums it up, “The problem is this: The United States has no idea how to deal with a Middle East where the voice of the people might actually be heard, rather than being subject to the writ of various aging potentates. And having followed policies for decades that are unpopular with most of those same people, we may be about to reap the whirlwind.”
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/27/on_the_palestine_papers
    Will the US finally encourage and employ a group of foreign policy experts not vetted by AIPAC and gutted of any real area knowledge?

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *