Obama's Egypt Flip-FlopRead the rest of this man's wise words here.
U.S. media pundits are intoxicated with protests and naïve about religious and military extremists—and the White House's daily policy shifts aren’t helping, writes Leslie H. Gelb. Plus, full coverage of the Egypt uprising.
As the Egyptian earthquake rumbles into its second week—with implications for U.S. security in the Middle East rivaling those for the Soviet Union during the 1989 uprisings in Eastern Europe—three matters roil my mind:
First, most of the American talkocracy is now so utterly intoxicated with protestocracy, which they call democracy, that they outright neglect the enormous trials of getting from the streets to a real democracy. It's hard as hell, and the process lends itself to hijacking by extremists.
Second, the Muslim Brotherhood jumps immediately to mind as hijackers, but don't overlook the potentially equal or greater threat to democracy from Egypt's beloved armed forces. The history of venomous domestic and foreign-policy pronouncements by the MB should keep us all awake at night. And never forget that the murderers of the great President Anwar Sadat were Muslim Brothers embedded in the army. All who ignore this history are naïve, best suited to cable-TV commentary, not policymaking.
Third, the Obama White House hasn't helped matters by shifting policy ground almost daily, causing confusion, and thereby squandering America's credibility and limited but precious influence. President Obama has got to learn the fundamental rule of dealing with careening crises: State your basic principles and then shut up publicly! (Meaning, just boringly repeat your mantra daily.)
I'd like to believe that, if I were an Egyptian, I would be in the streets with the protesters. I'd be mad as hell with Mubarak and would want to get rid of him as quickly as possible. But that wouldn't make me or my fellow mobsters democrats. Generally, one cannot count on mobs, no matter how nice or liberal or unfilled with hatred, to produce democracies.
The United States has no power to shape events in Egypt, but it does have real influence. Using that influence effectively absolutely requires consistency out of the White House. That has not been forthcoming.
The best way to get from the streets of Cairo to some semblance of a constitutional government that ensures rights and freedoms is, of course, to get Mubarak and his lot to help with the transition from dictatorship to the desired end. That's what the Obama administration is now trying to do behind the scenes. And that's the right approach. The protestocracy is justifiably skeptical of involving Mubarak and his bunch in any capacity whatsoever. And that's understandable because he disappointed and lied to them so many times before. And they're afraid that if they get out of the streets and let him take the lead, Mubarak will revert to business as usual or worse. I'd think that way if I were in their shoes as well.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Is this the Answer for Egypt?
It seems to be the truth, but is there really any answer at all? From The Daily Beast by Leslie H. Gelb.