Getting Over the Political Islam Allergy

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political islam.jpgJames Goldgeier has just published a smart, short piece that outlines the structural differences between the revolutions that brought down totalitarian regimes in 1989 and what is now unfolding in 2011. In particular, he notes substantial differences in the outreach of the US and Europe to opposition groups in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe and the build-out of a comprehensive security architecture that was attractive to these states.
In contrast, the failure to secure the Arab Peace Plan in the region that would have led to normalization between Israel and 57 other Arab and Muslim nations has also preempted security infrastructure discussions along the lines of an ASEAN Regional Forum for the Middle East. There has been a serious cost to the paralyzed Israel-Arab peace process.
James Goldgeier writes:

In 2011, the United States does not have the same standing in the Arab world with opposition movements that it did in 1989 in Europe, nor do these countries seek to join Western institutions.
The West has not promoted a Helsinki-type process in the Middle East that might have built ties with opposition forces, nor fostered a broader regional security framework that could promote peace. Although Hosni Mubarak won’t be around past September, President Obama doesn’t have the kinds of carrots for reform that his predecessors had in the 1990s. And even if Egypt makes a peaceful transition to democracy with a supportive, rather than oppressive, military, it is not inevitable that other Arab countries follow suit.

Secondly, as Goldgeier indicates, we have a weak record of reaching out to and even knowing the political opposition in these countries. We should know all sides of the equation — and yes, including the Muslim Brotherhood who themselves in many parts of the Middle East are the biggest advocates for democratic practice and principle.
It’s time that the US deal with all groups in these regions — and at least have interaction with and communications with key leaders. The Muslim Brotherhood is automatically part of that list, and it is in American interests — as well as in the interests of Israel and Arab states in the region — to begin to normalize discussions about democratic political norms with the rising political Islam movement.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

82 comments on “Getting Over the Political Islam Allergy

  1. Henri says:

    I think a lot of people the world over would be relieved if the new Egypt included something like the following in their new constitution:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    Reply

  2. Carroll says:

    Posted by Matthew, Feb 11 2011, 5:23PM – Link
    Carroll: Why are you continuing trying to engage “Nadine”? An utter waste of time. She apparently never got the memo: Some of us don’t care about Israel. At all. It’s just not a factor in our cares, concerns, etc. It’s like Andorra. Does anyone demand that you care about Andorra?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Actually I seldom address nadine…I am bored with the nadine wars.
    Occasionaly if I have nothing new to offer on a thread I will correct some misinformation she has posted.

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Matthew,
    you must be joking. Everyone here care very much (too much) about Israel, pro and anti, and for a
    variety of reasons. One could even say that TWN is what it is because no one here (the host
    included) is able to pretend that Israel is “like Andorra”. It isn’t.

    Reply

  4. Matthew says:

    Carroll: Why are you continuing trying to engage “Nadine”? An utter waste of time. She apparently never got the memo: Some of us don’t care about Israel. At all. It’s just not a factor in our cares, concerns, etc. It’s like Andorra. Does anyone demand that you care about Andorra?

    Reply

  5. David Billington says:

    “In contrast, the failure to secure the Arab Peace Plan in the region that would have led to
    normalization between Israel and 57 other Arab and Muslim nations has also preempted security
    infrastructure discussions along the lines of an ASEAN Regional Forum for the Middle East. There
    has been a serious cost to the paralyzed Israel-Arab peace process.” (Steve Clemons)
    I don’t think Goldgeier is arguing that the nation-states of the Middle East would join a larger
    system of security if the Arab-Israeli dispute were settled first. He seems to be asking the
    opposite question: what might be possible if membership in a larger security structure with the
    outside world were available to all states in the Middle East as a way to encourage diplomatic
    and domestic change.

    Reply

  6. samuelburke says:

    no more illegal settlements on arab lands…
    Eric Margolis, foreign correspondent and author of War at the
    Top of the World and American Raj, discusses how Egypt is
    becoming yet another foreign policy humiliation for Obama; the
    Israeli government

    Reply

  7. Paul Norheim says:

    I recommend the live blog from the Guardian. Here’s the last three messages:
    “10.42am: An interesting comment from below the line from
    OneWorldGovernment:
    The military is the only institution that can make Mubarak leave. Not the United
    States and not the protesters. The US can try to use their leverage with the
    military and the protesters can try to bring the military to their side, but this is
    the Egyptian military’s show and it has been that way since 1952. The US
    withdrawing aid will be counterproductive and will leave the protesters more
    vulnerable and the military less worried about perception.
    10.40am: Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian activist who wore a green wristband when
    he talked in Tahrir Square, sent a message to Iranians for their protest
    organised on Monday by giving an interview to an opposition website:
    I would tell Iranians to learn from the Egyptians, as we have learned from you
    guys, that at the end of the day with the power of people, we can do whatever
    we want to do. If we unite our goals, if we believe, then all our dreams can
    come true.
    10.39am: Apparently the following joke is splitting Egyptians’ sides:
    Communique No 2 from the Armed Forces: “A message from the Armed Forces
    to the Noble Egyptian People: our next Communique to you will be No 3.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/feb/11/egypt-protests-mubarak

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    I remember quoting, I think it was the 2008 version of that
    report two years ago her – it basically said the same.

    Reply

  9. questions says:

    From Carroll/Walt:
    “Well, according to the EU’s 2010 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, the total number of terrorist incidents in Europe declined in 2009. Even more important, the overwhelming majority of these incidents had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. ”
    So, if this is the case, what’s Palestine got to do, got to do with it?
    And if this is true, what’s US imperialism got to do, got to do with it?
    We’re at war, Israel has cracked down all the more, and there are fewer terrorist incidents…. Funny that.
    Though if you read your Pape and note the basic all-terrorism-is-local stuff, and you note that Obama seems to have tried to reduce the footprint of the Iraqi presence and is working on doing the same for Afghanistan, it kind of makes sense.
    There is a tie-in here, somewhere, for debunking some version of linkage.
    Walt is, maybe, containing some contradictions?
    Could people just make the only good case against Israeli treatment of the Palestinians — it’s simply immoral. There’s no strategic case, no realist case, nothing at all but plain old morality issues.
    It’s wrong of Israel to put its psychic cravings far above the well-being of a large group of people. The imperialist side of things is immoral. The desperate and self-focused craving for absolute security for mortal beings is immoral. We are all gonna diiiiie and we should probably get used to that fact.
    But morality is an inconvenient kind of argument in a seemingly strategic world. Because, really, on the level of strategy, Israel’s behavior probably makes sense.
    Got morality?

    Reply

  10. Cee says:

    ludicrous farce of the peace process can now be declared dead, dead, dead.
    She may get her wish.
    “The state…. must see the sword as the main if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may know it MUST invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation and revenge…. And above all, let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.” Diary of Moshe Sharett, Israeli’s first Foreign Minister from 1948–1956, and Prime Minister from 1954–1956.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    Inconvenient facts…for the usual suspects.
    Some good news about ‘Islamic terror’
    Posted By Stephen M. Walt Wednesday, February 9, 2011 – 10:39 AM
    Ever since 9/11, Islamophobia has been a recurrent problem in a number of Western societies, including the United States. It’s been fueled by opportunistic politicians, hate-mongering bloggers, and any number of the other usual suspects. The lingering fear of Islam undergirds the present concerns that the turmoil in Egypt might give groups like the Muslim Brotherhood greater political influence there.
    Trying to inject reason and evidence into this sort of debate is usually futile, but I do wish to report some good news. Remember the avalanche of Muslim-based terrorism that was about to descend upon the West? Well, according to the EU’s 2010 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, the total number of terrorist incidents in Europe declined in 2009. Even more important, the overwhelming majority of these incidents had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.
    The report is produced by Europol, which is the criminal intelligence agency of the European Union. In 2009, there were fewer than 300 terrorist incidents in Europe, a 33 percent decline from the previous year. The vast majority of these incidents (237 out of 294) were conducted by indigenous European separatist groups, with another forty or so attributed to leftists and/or anarchists. According to the report, a grand total of one (1) attack was conducted by Islamists. Put differently, Islamist groups were responsible for a whopping 0.34 percent of all terrorist incidents in Europe in 2009. In addition, the report notes, “the number of arrests relating to Islamist terrorism (110) decreased by 41 percent compared to 2008, which continues the trend of a steady decrease since 2006.”
    I know there are lot of people getting rich fueling Islamophobia, but we’d really all be better off if they would focus their attention to anarchists, or maybe separatist groups like ETA. The report isn’t naive or Panglossian about Islamic radicalism, and it emphasizes that there are still extremist groups with worrisome ambitions. But their sifting of the data does put the actual danger in perspective and serves as a valuable corrective to the careless threat inflation that has become all too common over the past decade

    Reply

  12. Carroll says:

    Posted by nadine, Feb 10 2011, 6:40PM – Link
    That sounds a trifle, ah, imperialistic, Carroll. I thought you were against Gitmo and the rendition program? Or was that only when Bush was Prez — for Obama, anything goes?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Well, yes I am very imperialistic when it comes to dealing with dicators and bullies…thought you would have surmised that before now.
    And I didn’t vote for Obama.

    Reply

  13. Dan Kervick says:

    “How has Hosni backed down?”
    He just handed over half the presidency to his vice president! Wake up.
    You and Rubin are too easily impressed by that phony Middle East tough guy routine. It’s pretty clear that Washington – including Gates and the Pentagon – has been in close contact with the military at several levels.
    It’s the same with Netanyahu. Swagger, bluster and arrogance from a low-class hood in a politician’s suit. He’s another guy who has also miscalculated his strength, and is now going to have to do some serious re-thinking.

    Reply

  14. Dan Kervick says:

    “Mubarak is saying ‘I am an Arab warrior. I am an Egyptian. I am staying right here, and the army stays with me.'”
    Well brave talk for Hosni. But he has already backed up so far that the idea that he is standing his ground is a joke, and everyone knows it. Pretty soon he’ll be making his defiant speeches standing waist deep in the Red Sea.
    The consensus tonight of the reporters who are in Egypt appears to be that the Army held out to him an opportunity for a graceful exist, and that was the plan all day, but Mubarak screwed it up.
    Mubarak was supposed to give an MacArthuresque “old soldiers never die” swan song tonight, and then wave goodbye. Instead it was more like, “I’m not coming home from Korea, and you can’t make me.”
    I think the protesters just have to stay unified and disciplined, keep increasing the numbers in the street, and keep the pressure on. Mubarak will wake up in an hour or two and say, “Did it work Omar? Are the protesters going home, and going back to work, and turning off Al Jazeera and meditating on Egyptian brotherhood and the wise counsel of me, their father?”
    And Suleiman will tell him, “No, there are more people in the street now than ever before.”
    And so then maybe Mubarak will tell his generals, “It’s time to start chasing them out of the streets then!”
    And the generals will just say “No.” And that will be the end of the Mubarak era.

    Reply

  15. Cee says:

    In Washington they are gloating, not realizing what the impact of their “clever maneuver” will be. I wouldn’t be surprised if before this is over there will be attacks on American facilities and people in Egypt.”
    Ah huh. Remember the Lavon Affair.
    http://warincontext.org/2009/10/26/where-have-all-israels-friends-gone/
    Quoting Sandmonkey? Alrighy.
    Blame Judith Miller for 911
    She apparently knew it was coming beforehand, or so she says in this interview .
    http://www.sandmonkey.org/2006/05/19/blame-judith-miller-for-911/

    Reply

  16. questions says:

    I think the fundamental question here is how do we undo the ravages of the Cold War Bubble ™?
    We have the housing bubble to look at as an example.
    Everyone big who has skin in the housing/finance game gets a govt bailout. We spend a huge amount of our national energy on extending and pretending and hoping to grow our way out of a multi-trillion dollar fantasy. We don’t bail out individual mortgage holders because of moral hazard issues, the moral concerns about debt repayment, and a bunch of racist thinking lurking just under the surface.
    We may still have to pay the piper some serious blood and money to get through the housing bubble.
    How do we unwind the Cold War Bubble ™? We let some of our dictators go, we refuse to grant 100% support to traditional allies, we still grant some support though, just in case.
    It’s ugly, this unwinding. We backed some seriously wicked people and some seriously wicked policies and we can’t keep pretending that they are worth the immorality we support. We don’t get that much security out of backing tyrants anymore. And without Cold War calculations, we get less than we ever did before.
    Whoever is in charge during this bursting of the bubble is bound to look weak and dumb even as previous presidents looked strong and smart. How strong are you if what you’re really doing is paying the Egyptian security service to torture people? How smart are you if you are party to the squelching of nations full of people?
    The loss of control, if there ever really was control over Egypt, looks bad, but only because forces have been unleashed as they should be. But I would suggest that the US had a lot less actual control over these tyrants and a lot more aligning of interests for a time which has now passed. When interests align, it looks like there’s power being brought to bear, but actually it’s merely some self-interested parties acting in concert.
    I get the feeling that the admin is unable to start or stop anything in Egypt, and that this has pretty much always been the case. Because there’s a split in Egypt itself, it has become clear that we aren’t really in control and we haven’t ever really been in control.
    There’s a lot less power in superpowers than one might have thought.

    Reply

  17. Dan Kervick says:

    “I don’t think Mubarak would have said what he just did without army backing.”
    I think it’s probably not that simple, and that there might be a power struggle in the army. The speech was delayed by a half hour, suggesting the political battle was still raging behind the scenes. It could have been that there was an earlier coup/mutiny, and Mubarak was about to be pushed, but that he regained the upper-hand later in the day.
    The army still isn’t moving onto the streets. And I’m thinking many junior officers and rank and file soldiers were blindsided after having been given the message earlier in the day to expect a soft coup.
    Mubarak might just be looking for an escape hatch – a way to get out of the country and make sure he and his family will be secure, not subject to arrest, and in possession of their money. Suleiman is also trapped now. His reputation is mud and he won’t be safe from arrest outside Egypt. If these guys have no way out than there is nothing for them to do but to continue to barricade themselves in the bunker.

    Reply

  18. Paul Norheim says:

    From BBC’s live blog:
    2337: A protester named as Mohamed, who says he has now
    left Tahrir Square and will return on Friday, says: “There’s
    been outrage here at all levels. It needs to be clear to
    everybody – something that is clear to many Egyptians – that
    even if the president delegates power to the vice-president,
    constitutionally that does not delegate the power to dissolve
    the parliament, to sack the cabinet. It is clear the president is
    keeping these powers in his own hands. It’s been a
    disappointment at very high levels.”
    2329: The BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Washington says both Mr
    Suleiman and Mr Mubarak sounded quite upset and quite
    resentful of everything that had been said in foreign capitals –
    and assumes they mean Washington in particular. It sounds
    like the relationship between Mr Suleiman and Mr Mubarak
    and Washington may be broken.

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    There is a time for diplomacy and a time for the practical.
    I can’t believe after all our experience with ‘renditions’ we don’t have anyone who can snatch Mubarak’s wife out of London, throw her in Gitmo and tell Mubarak he can pick her up on his way out of Egypt and set Anonymous to work tracking down all Mubarak’s money and making it disappear.

    Reply

  20. JohnH says:

    For once I agree with Nadine. Obama seems to be daring Egyptians to bring it on…

    Reply

  21. JohnH says:

    Events in Egypt are following the agenda of the US national security establishment: expunge the ghosts of Vietnam and Iran.
    Here’s why. The security establishment narrative is that in Vietnam it was public opinion that forced the end to the nonsense. One of the purposes of Iraq and Afghanistan wars is to prove that public opinion no longer matters. (After all, according to them, some things are just too important to be settled democratically.)
    In Iran, a US ally got overthrown by a popular revolution, something that was thought unthinkable at the time. Now it’s unthinkable again. So Egypt will be the test case to prove that a major US ally can no longer be dislodged by a revolt of its own people. This is reminiscent of the Soviets, who thought the communism could not be reversed, and Afghanistan was to prove the point.
    Obama’s bobbing on top of the sea, issuing smooth, vague, and often contradictory statements. Of course, these statements are made only for public consumption, designed to lull the American people.
    On a deeper level, White House actions show that it sides firmly with the national security state, as proven by its behavior in Honduras, Haiti and soon Egypt. As in the Bush administration, the White House’s words are devoid of meaning, divorced from any future behavior.

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    Well, what a farce.
    Bottom line….
    Mubarak handed over to Sulieman all except three things:
    *power the change the constitution.
    *power to dismiss the parliment.
    *power the fire the president’s cabinet.
    In other words..nothing. Mubarak really does think all his ‘children’ are stupid.
    Without the power to change the constitution– in particular the 2007 changes to it Mubarak made, the election rules can’t be changed to allow fair elections.
    Pure bullshit. Off with his head.

    Reply

  23. Cee says:

    They probably have the backing of the majority of Egyptians for this. The economy is at a standstill, poor people are running out of food. The number of people who really sympathize with the middle-class Facebook crowd in Tahrir Sq is maybe not as great as the foreign media would like to believe.
    Nadine hopes the Netanyahu-Mubarak plan will work.

    Reply

  24. JamesL says:

    DonS @5:33: That is, Adminstration and State Department incoherence.

    Reply

  25. Dan Kervick says:

    Report that Obama will convene National Security Council meeting on Egypt as soon as he lands.
    What are White House options?

    Reply

  26. DonS says:

    “army . . . will decide how to act.”
    Military coup, or back the unfolding Mubarak/Suleiman plan?

    Reply

  27. Paul Norheim says:

    “9.51pm GMT: This is interesting: the BBC’s Paul Adams
    reports that people in Cairo are receiving text messages from
    the high council of the army, saying that it is monitoring how
    events unfold and will decide how to act.” (from the live blog
    of the Guardian)

    Reply

  28. Cee says:

    Change you can believe in, er, wait, just a moment. . .
    “Mubarak refuses to resign”
    Shit!

    Reply

  29. Dan Kervick says:

    The buzz is that thousands of protesters are now headed to the State TV building, which is guarded by the Presidential Guard, not the army.
    Is the army backing Mubarak and Suleiman?

    Reply

  30. Cee says:

    This is horrifying. These people who have peacefully protested will be slaughtered by the monsters that the US has subsidized.
    The Saudi regime told Mubarak that they would pay the 2 billion to Megabucks Mubarak if the US cuts off the foreign aid.
    I hope they fund Israel after we cut them off too.

    Reply

  31. Dan Kervick says:

    Suleiman now telling the youth of Egypt to go home and stop watching Al Jazeera.
    Insanity.

    Reply

  32. DonS says:

    ” . . . or else the dumb-ass, tone-deaf State Department line on this crisis won out. ”
    Obama a bit premature with the “witnessing history unfold” conclusion.
    [Still mouthing the ] “President Barack Obama called for an “orderly and genuine” transition to democracy . . .
    “US intelligence indicated a “strong likelihood” that Mubarak would resign as early as tonight, CIA Director Leon Panetta earlier told Congress.” Three cheers for US intelligence.
    “What is absolutely clear is we are witnessing history unfold,” Obama told students at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. “It’s a moment of transformation.”
    Change you can believe in, er, wait, just a moment. . .
    “Mubarak refuses to resign”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/mubarak-refuses-to-resign-2210788.html

    Reply

  33. questions says:

    Things could very well turn ugly at this point.
    The organizers may have just lost control of the protesters.
    I suppose we’ll see in the next day or two how crazed it gets.

    Reply

  34. questions says:

    I get the feeling the US is less involved, actually.
    I think this is Mubarak’s psyche coupled with a military that doesn’t really want to take over.

    Reply

  35. Cee says:

    Mubarak and his “Dear Son” are insane to think they can hold on to power.
    Someone please pull his coat and tell him to give up the Grecian Formula too. The toxins must have gone to his brain.

    Reply

  36. Dan Kervick says:

    This sounds like either the US pushed for Mubarak to go, and he said no, or else the dumb-ass, tone-deaf State Department line on this crisis won out.

    Reply

  37. questions says:

    I think this was a big miscalculation of the national mood of Egypt.
    Wow.
    He really thinks the people are children. He really spoke as if his not leaving is an expression of refusing to bow to foreign pressure.
    “He shall leave” is what the crowd is chanting according to AJ.

    Reply

  38. Dan Kervick says:

    Crowd chanting:
    “Down, down with Hosni Mubarak!”
    “He must leave!”

    Reply

  39. questions says:

    He’s half-leaving, half-changing the constitution, and totally into himself, his martyrdom, his land, his children, his love of his own life story.

    Reply

  40. Dan Kervick says:

    He’s not even lifting the emergency law – just re-stating the agenda he set out in his last speech. There is going to be an explosion.
    If Obama is seen as being aligned with this repression, Barack Obama is going to go down in world history on the same pages as Leonid Brezhnev.

    Reply

  41. Carroll says:

    I am listening to Mubarak, doesn’t sound like he’s stepping down to me.
    He’s hanging in until September.

    Reply

  42. DonS says:

    A little late for Obama to get out in front of anything.
    Juan Cole, mentioned above, takes Obama’s measure (and Cole is no radical): http://www.juancole.com/2011/02/wael-ghonim-vs-barack-obama-change-we-can-believe-in-yes-we-can.html
    . . . yes, and hold off on the cork popping . . . . The regime is more like a hydra-headed monster than a snake.

    Reply

  43. Dan Kervick says:

    If Mubarak is just handing off to Suleiman … and if US fingerprints are on this handoff to their designated secret police goon … then it is going to go very, very, very badly for the US.
    President Obama – don’t be snowed by this false image of a “peaceful, orderly transition.”

    Reply

  44. questions says:

    Reuters is providing some kind of summary of the speech — power transfer to Suleiman, but no leaving, no re-election, possibly lifting emergency laws, changing some 5 laws/constitutional prescriptions.
    Not sure…..
    This from AJ.

    Reply

  45. questions says:

    If the MB were to operate in a vacuum, there’d be more room for panic. BUT, there are a whole bunch of secularizing forces, professional forces, economic forces all arrayed against the theocratic fantasies of some.
    History is not destiny, it’s informational. Very different outlook. Caution for sure, but let’s face it, Mubarak’s state police/torture regime is a high price for some to pay for the kind of seeming security that comforts others. I’m not really comfortable with being “secured” by the torture of others.
    It’s an ethical issue — how much should some suffer so that others benefit. Conservatives seem to be more comfy with other people’s pain, and they seem to justify it by saying that suffering is good for the sufferers, and if that fails, they bring out “moral hazard” and “I can’t be supporting all those deadbeats” and “if they had any chance at all, they’d kill me, so it’s better for me to keep the upper hand.”
    I don’t really take well to any of these views. And I’m unconvinced generally in the deep bad faith that these kinds of views assume about other people.
    Power struggles are real, resources are limited. Absolutely. So why the fuck do we drive SUVs, build 3000 sq ft mini mansions, and give tax breaks to the most hoggish of our consumption practices?
    It’s a lot to piece together, but it does make me wonder about the conservative view of the world and the justifications it comes up with for supporting tyrannical regimes.

    Reply

  46. DonS says:

    Here’s nadine’s idea of a reasonable position on Muslims, and reasonable critics of Islam: Rep. King and Pam Geller:
    “Right-Wing Islamophobe Who Doesn

    Reply

  47. Dan Kervick says:

    My guess is that there is still a bitter struggle going on behind the scenes.

    Reply

  48. Dan Kervick says:

    If it’s Suleiman, this isn’t over.

    Reply

  49. Beth in VA says:

    “I do so recognizing that change cannot happen
    overnight. I know there’s been a lot of publicity
    about this speech, but no single speech can
    eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in
    the time that I have this afternoon all the
    complex questions that brought us to this point.
    But I am convinced that in order to move forward,
    we must say openly to each other the things we
    hold in our hearts and that too often are said
    only behind closed doors”
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/NewBeginning/
    This speech by Barack Obama cannot be irrelevant–
    although clearly this is a national movement, and
    Egypt is more than Muslim–it’s older even than
    Islam.

    Reply

  50. questions says:

    Oh come on… If TWN’s bandwidth were as narrow as an artery, MAYbe you’d have something to fuss about.
    But the fact is that there’s plenty of room, and the further fact is that plenty of people have a conservative outlook and silencing that outlook is far more a narrowing than is letting it have its expression.
    Further, the MB may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or it may be a sheep in wolf’s clothing, or it might be something utterly different.
    There is no good reason to hold any particular view regarding the quiet intentions of the MB in Egypt, if indeed there are quiet intentions.
    I know I personally do not have the area expertise, the immediate access to the souls and psyches of current MB leaders, nor a crystal ball view into the future. Therefore, I remain cautiously concerned that the democratic protesters in Egypt might get a whole lot more than they bargained for.
    I don’t see room for anything other than hope. The rest is religious faith that the MB is either evil or the best.

    Reply

  51. DonS says:

    “What could be more normal and rational? Talk. What’s the alternative; wag our finger?” (DonS)
    “Exactly Neville Chamberlain’s sentiments in 1938.” (nandie)
    And everything is parallel with 1938. Screw you, nadine.
    “But I take the time to write because Nadine

    Reply

  52. questions says:

    Some insight into the organization behind the amorphous crowd of Egyptian protesters.
    Deliberate lack of organization, no focal point, no closure to any potential supporters so that the broadest possible coalition could be formed. Really interesting….
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/world/middleeast/10youth.html?hp
    **********
    AJ reports that there’s a report that Mubarak is “definitely not going to step down” — but we don’t know what that means….
    Wait and see…..

    Reply

  53. questions says:

    Oops — and the fact that AJ and state tv are showing the same thing is pretty amazing…..

    Reply

  54. questions says:

    AJ saying that there is some kind of legal action against Mubarak for stealing state wealth –while he’s still in power. “Unprecedented” and the gov’t officials are starting to turn on each other.
    Just wow.
    I agree with Paul about the Champagne bottles, and about what date we should be referring to. And the fact that AJ and state TV is pretty amazing as well.
    If all the national institutions are happy revolutionaries and are pretty damned patient on the pay raise issues, things could conceivably go well.
    I would be more forward looking than backward looking so that there’s more unity than division, but I haven’t lived under Mubarak and the state police for 30 years and then some.
    I hope that they see the future coupled with a glorious and proud history and a sense of being the very best revolutionaries there have ever been.
    And if all of that happens, I will have a glass of the bubbly in honor of the best revolution ever, with the fewest deaths, the greatest justice emerging, the most beautiful constitution ever, humane treatment for all, an anchor in the region for all peoples’ democratic hopes.
    And I hope that the lurking theocrats in the region realize that theocracy, like slavery, takes away the possibility of changing your mind later, so freely entering either status is simply unacceptable to every thinker in history.
    Again, I wish well for everyone.

    Reply

  55. MarkL says:

    Nadine, we are fully convinced that you ardently believe your own sociopathic ideology.

    Reply

  56. Paul Norheim says:

    Current rumors from Egypt are contradictory, perhaps reflecting a power struggle still going on
    within the establishment. Whatever happens tonight (Mubarak leaving, transfering power to the VP,
    the army, or whatever), expecting that the established powers will meet all of the demands of the
    demonstrators would be like expecting a miracle.
    Regardless of the events tonight, the demonstrators will probably take to the streets in huge
    numbers tomorrow too, demanding a fundamental structural change – after the Friday prayers. The
    army will probably allow this to happen. So how exactly the military will react may perhaps be
    clearer *after* friday – perhaps on sunday, when the weekend is over?

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  57. Paul Norheim says:

    Egyptian state TV is now showing exactly the same live pictures from Tahrir Square as Al Jazeera.

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  58. Paul Norheim says:

    Timothy Garton Ash:
    “…”are we witnessing Tehran 1979 or Berlin 1989?” To which one answer is: what we are witnessing
    in Cairo in 2011 is Cairo 2011. I mean this not in the trivial sense that every event is unique, but in a
    deeper one. For what characterises a true revolution is the emergence of something genuinely new,
    on the one hand, and the return of a suppressed human universal on the other.
    New in Cairo 2011 is that it is now Arabs and Muslims standing up in large numbers, with courage
    and (for the most part) peaceful discipline, for basic human dignity, against corrupt, oppressive
    rulers. New in 2011 is the degree of decentered, networked animation of the demonstrations, so
    that even the best-informed observers there struggle to answer the question “who is organising
    this?”. New in 2011 is the extraordinary underlying pressure of demography, with half the
    population in most of these countries being under 25.
    Old in Cairo 2011

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  59. Paul Norheim says:

    “Civil, not military rule!”, the crowds at Tahrir square reportedly
    shouted when a military boss promised that all their demands
    will be met. And a spokesperson for the Brotherhood fears a
    coup.
    Nope, I won’t open my champagne yet – this is a moment when
    everything can happen.

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  60. JamesL says:

    Not a fan of Abrams but few people are wrong all the time. Abrams, about the US approach to Egypt: “We’re not going to pay for the suppression of democracy,”

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  61. Kathleen says:

    This comment from Huff po

    Reply

  62. Kathleen says:

    “Posted by Don Bacon, Feb 10 2011, 10:49AM – Link
    “Now the MSM seems to be ignoring El Baradei.”
    Not true.
    http://tinyurl.com/4frbors
    Last week his name was popping up all over the place. Sunday on Meet the Press was the last time I have heard anything about him in the U.S. MSM. Nothing this week and I have been glued to the tube.

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  63. JohnH says:

    Don Bacon got that right: “The US has never been in favor of democratic movements in autocratically-governed countries.” The proof?
    What democracies has the US spawned in the past few decades? I have asked that question several times and no one has chosen to respond, probably because the answer is painfully obvious.
    Eastern Europe can thank the EU for forcing the institutional changes that brought democracy. Observers in Latin America note that democracy there happened only because of a period of US benign neglect. Many in East Asia would assert that their democracies happened in spite of the US.
    Yet the US hypocritically proclaims itself brand democracy. Around the world this claim is seen as ludicrous. Only those in Washington hold steadfast to the myth that the US practices what it preaches.
    In Egypt it would be well for the US to forget about getting involved in creating a democracy there. First, any US efforts will be taken as promoting pharaonism without the Pharaoh. Second,
    the US has no competence in fostering democracy.

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  64. Dan Kervick says:

    Kristoff meant they may *not* change the system.

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  65. Dan Kervick says:

    I agree with Nick Kristoff.
    “NickKristof
    Word of caution: Wait before celebrating in Egypt. Those in power may dump Mubarak, but they may change the system.”
    (3 minutes ago)

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  66. questions says:

    Kathleen, here’s a part of it:
    Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
    “You will not be able to stay home, brother.
    You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
    You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
    Skip out for beer during commercials,
    Because the revolution will not be televised.
    The revolution will not be televised.
    The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
    In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
    The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
    blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
    Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
    hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
    The revolution will not be televised.”
    And here’s a youtube link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

    Reply

  67. Kathleen says:

    Questions…some Egyptian bloggers bringing up that they could be hauled away in the middle of the night by Sulieman’s thugs

    Reply

  68. questions says:

    The gov tries to remake itself in the midst of this:
    “On Wednesday, some cellphone customers in Egypt received the equivalent of marketing messages from the new minister, Mahmoud Wagdy. One read,

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  69. Kathleen says:

    Who said the revolution would not be televised? Live at Al Jazeera.
    Too bad our MSM barely whispered about the hundreds of thousands of us (millions nationwide, 30 million worldwide) who marched, protested, lobbied against the invasion of Iraq. We were out in the streets in New York, Wash D.C. etc in massive amounts. The MSM ignored us. Lives might have been saved.
    So happy for the Egyptian people. Our government’s 30 year support for the Mubarak regime, tear gas cans made in the U.S., and providing cover for the illegal settlements expansion in Israel…the wall is coming down.
    This revolution is being televised!

    Reply

  70. questions says:

    If Mubarak really is gone, I certainly hope the protesters get want they want, and not what they fear:
    “CAIRO

    Reply

  71. questions says:

    More confirmation??
    “President Hosni Mubarak will step down on Thursday night following mass protests against his 30-year rule, NBC News reported.
    NBC’s Richard Engel said two independent sources have confirmed that Mubarak will step down.
    In Cairo, however, a cabinet spokesman told Reuters a decision about Egypt’s president staying or leaving was due in hours. ”
    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/02/10/world/international-us-egypt-mubarak.html?hp

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  72. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s fine to note that the Muslim Brotherhood is an established part of Egyptian and other Sunni Arab societies, but we shouldn’t overstate the importance of Political Islam in what is going on.
    Ayman al-Zawahiri is 59. If Muhammad Atta were still alive, he would be 42.
    Wael Ghonim is 30. He’s of a different generation with an outlook that is a world apart from those earlier generation guys.

    Reply

  73. questions says:

    And more wow!! from the same article:
    “Badrawi later appeared on Egyptian state television and acknowledged that the government was considering constitutional amendments, including one related to a “peaceful transfer of power.” Asked if that involved Mubarak, Badrawi replied: “No, I don’t have specific information. All I can do is offer predictions. And I would predict that that would be a good thing.” ”
    Totally amazing if they could CONSTITUTIONALLY deal with this. Stay within the law, satisfy the major protester demands, and then slowly build a new civic order with law, non-corruption, multi-party participation…. The good stuff. And a whole lot of committee meetings.

    Reply

  74. questions says:

    “CAIRO – Rumors swirled Thursday afternoon about the future of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, as senior officials in his party hinted he was preparing to transfer power. Meantime, revolutionary fervor tightened its grip on the country as doctors, lawyers, bus drivers and factory workers marched through the streets. ”
    Wow, if this is the case, just wow!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/09/AR2011020905656.html?hpid=topnews

    Reply

  75. Don Bacon says:

    “Now the MSM seems to be ignoring El Baradei.”
    Not true.
    http://tinyurl.com/4frbors

    Reply

  76. DonS says:

    “We should know all sides of the equation . . .
    It’s time that the US deal with all groups in these regions . . . to begin to normalize discussions about democratic political norms with the rising political Islam movement.” (Clemons)
    What could be more normal and rational? Talk. What’s the alternative; wag our finger? Wig wag foolishly clings to rhetorical objections to islamist extremism while the world indicates the agenda is autocratic extremism in this moment. Cart before horse? Fat lot of good our (US) ‘objections’ to radical Islam have done for oppressed peoples everywhere. Almost as as much a nullity as our ‘pressure’ on ME autocrats to reform, which has been less than window dressing for our primary aims: oil and Israel.
    Abhoring Islamist extremes and the offense to Western sensibilities, at least rhetorically, which I must, it is really stupid and hollow to somehow hold up the “West” as “civilized” when you count the actual consequences of our direct, military, interventions, and indirect political/diplomatic support of repressive regimes.
    ———————–
    On another subject: the combination of democrats and quite a few republicans derailed the GOP and Obama administrations attempt to fast track extension of the Patriot Act. Perhaps, in light of Egypt, the danger of the national security state run wild is more obvious. And it’s exactly the direction the US is going, with the Patriot Act as the spearhead. It would be good if Obama could have a reflective moment about this rather than push and extend Bush/Cheney’s invasion and curtailment of rights; don’t push for extension. If not, perhaps the Congress, informed by citizens, can more clearly read the obvious: overreacting to the danger from without by expanding the danger from within of expanding the national security state needs to stop now.

    Reply

  77. Kathleen says:

    “There has been a serious cost to the paralyzed Israel-Arab peace process.”
    Steve why do you think that quite a few of our MSMer’s Richard Engel, Andrea Mitchell, Former spokesperson for Clintons State Dept Jamie Rubin have been trying to undermine El Baradei? Are they afraid of El Baradei’s willingness to call the U.S. out (Niger Documents, other false pre war intelligence) Willing to bring attention to Israel’s unwillingness to sign the NPT, expansion of illegal settlements. Are they terrified by someone like El Baradei because he is willing to shed the light on Israel’s illegal activities?
    They almost seem to be supporting Sulieman being in charge.
    Now the MSM seems to be ignoring El Baradei.
    The only MSMer that I hear pounding away at Sulieman’s history is MSNBC’s Cenk Uygar. MSNBC’s cameras never go to any SULIEMAN MUST GO TO signs. Some say the protesters want Sulieman to go too. Afraid that some of the protesters might disappear in the middle of the night if he stays

    Reply

  78. Kathleen says:

    Steve Clemons: “It’s time that the US deal with all groups in these regions — and at least have interaction with and communications with key leaders. The Muslim Brotherhood is automatically part of that list, and it is in American interests — as well as in the interests of Israel and Arab states in the region — to begin to normalize discussions about democratic political norms with the rising political Islam movement.”
    Heard Peter Bergen on one of the Sunday morning programs talking about the Muslim Brotherhood. Said that they had nothing to do with Sadat’s assisination. I keep hearing they are made up of a very diverse group of people.
    Yesterday on Andrea Mitchell’s news program she seemed to be stirring up the negative view of the Muslim Brotherhood. She had Ayaan Hersi on her program. She beat up on the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Ayann came to Ohio University to speak at the Baker Peace Conference. She was asked some very tough questions. No one could figure out why she was asked to be the guest speaker at a Peace conference. But then again the powers that be at Ohio University chose James Woolsey and Dennis Ross as guest speakers for the peace conference

    Reply

  79. Don Bacon says:

    “. . .images of 1989, when Communist governments fell like dominoes in Eastern Europe. Like today, those earlier events unfolded with surprising speed, catching the West (as well as the oppressive regimes) off guard.”
    Off guard — he got that right. The US has never been in favor of democratic movements in autocratically-governed countries.
    You might say that it really got going in 1890 with what Walter Karp calls “the contrivance of the Spanish-American War” and the ensuing US battles against the Philippine nationalists. It continued after WWII with the support of Nazi collaborators in Greece and Italy, then to Argentina, South Africa, Vietnam and other places too numerous to mention, most particularly in Central America. Eastern Europe? Remember the brave Hungarians we failed to support in 1956, and left them to be crushed by the Soviets.
    Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, was involved in many of the US military pro-corporate efforts early in the last century: “I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
    The recently exalted Ronald Reagan was involved in putting down Central American democracy in Nicaragua particularly. “Reagan Was the Butcher of My People:” Father Miguel D’Escoto.
    It hasn’t been only military, through the World Bank the US has promoted the transfer of the peoples’ government assets to private corporate interests in many countries.
    Any revolutions that have succeeded have been accomplished despite the US, not because of the US. That will be particularly and especially true in the Middle East where “stability” i.e. acquiescence in the Zionist takeover of Palestine has been US policy.

    Reply

  80. WigWag says:

    I think this is just silly.
    Steve says,
    “…as Goldgeier indicates, we have a weak record of reaching out to and even knowing the political opposition in these countries. We should know all sides of the equation — and yes, including the Muslim Brotherhood who themselves in many parts of the Middle East are the biggest advocates for democratic practice and principle.”
    Suggesting that the Muslim Brotherhood is a force for positive change just defies belief. The Muslim Brotherhood itself admits that it favors capital punishment for apostate Muslims who convert to Christianity (or any other religion). It’s most articulate (and supposedly moderate) European spokesmen, Tariq Ramadan, couldn’t bring himself to castigate stoning until their skulls are crushed, Muslim women who supposedly engage in adultery. So called “honor-killings” are ubiquitous in the Muslim world with hardly a peep of objection from the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Even the name of the movement is offensive to anyone not steeped in regressive Muslim values. The idea that a political movement and a fledgling political party should be called a “brotherhood” is perfectly emblemmatic of why the Muslim world is so dysfunctional; the “sisters” are relegated to second class status in most of the Muslim world (there are a few exceptions, like Turkey).
    The reason that the United States had (to use James Goldgeir’s word) “standing” with Eastern-European opposition groups towards the end of the Cold War was that those groups shared American values. They wanted the same thing that Americans wanted; liberal democracy.
    Of course the United States doesn’t have the same “standing” with the Muslim Brotherhood. The “Brotherhood’s” values are to say the least foreign to what Americans believe in. It is more accurate to say that most Americans would find their values repugnant.
    Political Islam needs to be opposed by the United States with same vigor and tenacity that it opposed communism in the years after World War II. In certain ways, the fight against political Islam is likely to be easier and less costly than the Cold War confrontation with communism but in many ways it is likely to be harder and take longer.
    The struggle between Islam and the Christian world (a world that continues to be devoutly Christian everywhere except Europe) is ancient. It went into hibernation during the Cold War but it didn’t evaporate. Now the longstanding battle is being joined again.
    Putting your head in the sand and pretending that liberal enlightenment values can coexist with political Islam in an increasingly interconnected world, whether the brand of political Islam is of the type practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood or Al Qaeda, is to delude yourself.
    The Muslim Brotherhood needs to be treated like a bitter enemy that should be defeated not like just another aggrieved party that’s entitled to be at the table.

    Reply

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