Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Fails

Just something that came to mind when I saw this picture...


  1. I'm with seydlitz; Mubarak's a tough old bastard, and he's beaten these sorts of protests down before. I wouldn't be willing to put money on his getting a Ben Ali out of this.

    What IS interesting is you note that the Yemenis are now getting into the act.

    I'm said this before but its worth repeating; the U.S. problem isn't so much that we don't have a Middle East strategy, but that we DO, and many, many Muslim Middle Easterners hate the fuck out of it. Supporting authoritarian regimes and bankrolling Israel is the sort of things that work well...but only for as long as the authoritarians are willing to send the troops out into the streets to do the bloody dirty work for you.

    I read a good article once about Tianenmen Square and the famous "tank man" video. The blogger (I think it was Chris Farley at LG&M) observed that the Bejing regime could and did survive "tank man" and his protest, just as they did the protests of the kids in the square. But if the "tank commander" ever refused to run over the tank man...well, then there was going to be trouble.

    So I'd say that as long as the Egyptian cops and troopers are out there busting heads - as they are now - I doubt that the Mubarak regime is in imminent danger.

    But if they stop...

  2. "So I'd say that as long as the Egyptian cops and troopers are out there busting heads..."

    As you astutely pointed long as the Cops and Troopers play their roles as jackbooted headcrackers, then Mubarak's chances of remaining Big Man will be sustained.
    However, it should be noted that sometimes...the tide of fate will not be resisted by any form of human shield wall.

    I personally am of the opinion that our national form of foreign diplomacy needs to be reviewed...rather quickly imo...considering the current trend of people getting fed up with the status quo...that being their status isn't up to the quo of privilege.

  3. Here's the article, and it is Farley:

    What's interesting, and what I didn't recall, was he was talking about the Iranian protests of early summer 2009, which, as you will recall, were easily as large and occassionally as violent as the Cairo protests and came to nothing, largely because the forces supporting the Tehran government proved willing to beat and kill without remorse.

    Here's the full paragraph that I remembered:

    "The thing is, Tank Commander is far more dangerous than Tank Man. Tank Man can simply be shot; most seem to believe that Tank Man was later executed, far out of sight of the international media. The regime survives if Tank Man dies, even if the death of Tank Man isn’t the optimal outcome. The regime dies, however, if Tank Commander refuses to run over Tank Man. Eisenstein used the Odessa Steps to demonstrate the corruption of the Czarist regime, but the regime didn’t die until the soldiers refused to shoot the demonstrators. The successor regime didn’t die until Boris Yeltsin climbed on a tank in August 1991. While there’s some mystery as to the fate of Tank Man, I don’t doubt that the CCP found Tank Commander and put a bullet in the back of his head at the first opportunity."

  4. And I should add that so far my favorite reactions to the business are from the usual suspects; the goof-and-goon squad on the Right who pines for...wait for it...Bush's "Freedom Agenda" and are whacking Biden on the head for his comments about Mubarak - not that they seem to have a good alternative, it's just fun to use a fucked up foreign policy problem to beat up on the Democrat Party...

    From the NYT, (, here's that outstandingly idiot Donald Douglas: "The administration has dropped “name and shame” against Arab dictatorships while browbeating Israel, the only democracy in the region (notwithstanding Iraq). Amazing. We help keep in power authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Iran, while strengthening the same forces of reaction against the one state standing as the West’s bulwark against Islamist fanaticism. I’m shaking my head at this, but again, international affairs is a nasty business. And the Obama team’s obviously working against a steep learning curve."?

    Learning, Donnie? Learning? As compared to the foreign policy wisdom of...Condi? Colin? The Decider hisownself?

    Jesus. We've been shoving our dick into this meatgrinder since Truman's day (Ike was the last U.S. President to dare to stand against the Israeli/Arab despot gravy train) and we don't have a really good place to go here. Don't see how there's a happy ending, regardless of who ends up on top, Mubarak, El Baradei, or someone else.

  5. Agree with the distinction between Tank Man and Tank Commander, but what is also necessary is the willingness of the government to use force and even escalate. The government has to have a fairly good idea of who the real opposition is and what their response to violence will be in order to successfully use force as means. The violence against the Iranian demonstrators was effective in quelling their protests, although the young woman killed became a global icon.

    Tank Commander can't do anything if he never leaves his barracks or gets the order to begin the crack down.

  6. I've never seen an authoritarian regime that ever had problems with this, seydlitz. The problems usually started when Tank Commander was ordered to leave his barracks and didn't go.

    The Egyptian "security" forces (and both in the Sinai and at Bright Star I worked with several flavors, ranging from the paras, straight-leg infantry, and their "Border Police" who are really specialized light infantry, similar to the German Grenzschutzen) are pretty well bought and paid for by the Mubaraks, father and son. The only thing I can see changing this would be a truly national uprising, and what comes across to me from this is this is mostly twentysomethings who are massively un- or underemployed and pissed off at the regime. The rural poor and the urban elites seem pretty solidly behind the regime...

  7. Anyone remember riots and protest like this in Iran 18 months ago? I am not optimistic about Egypt just yet, but I wonder what country is next? Tunisia, Egypt and small protests in Yemen. I think there are some other North and sub-Saharan African nations that are on the brink.

  8. Jordan has a longstanding problem with the undigested Palestinian minority. Lebanon is already going though some political turmoil with the Hezbollah resignations, though whether or not this will lead to popular protests I don't know.

    Subsaharan Africa is a mess, but I doubt this unrest is transferable...

    Other than that, I can't think of another Arab country likely to be influenced by these riots.

  9. I dunno, Ferdinand Marcos had the wealthy behind him. Look what that did for him.
    There is that tipping point where Tank Commander sympathizes with Tank Man. Maybe Tank Commander's mom is Tank Man's neighbor or something like that. I don't see Egypt as being the polarized population that is Lebanon or Iran or even Yemen. All it takes is a difference in religion, political party, ancestry, wealth, you name it, one small thing can start the hatred that snowballs. Sometimes it's fed by politics, or power plays or what not. Egypts population is not divided so much religiously, it'll be wealth and poverty or something else that divides.
    Last weekend, I watched History Channel's series on the Fall of the Third Reich. It was interesting that they noted the average German's attitude toward war while the war was on foreign soil was one of ambivalence. Especially those who hadn't signed on to the Nazi party line. It took the Allied bombing of civilians to bring the war home to them. Sound familiar?

  10. Chief:
    One of the differences between the Iranian electoral protests and the ones now erupting with the Gypos is that the Persian anti IRGC government forces(and that's what it is, ruling Ayatollahs notwithstanding), is made up from "Educated Urbans," whereas the Guard Corps subsidizes the uneducated Rurals, and counts on their support to bust heads, provide political support, and to fill their ranks.

    In Egypt, all peoples except the elite few hate Mubarak. The oppressed masses thus have a greater chance of success in their quest for ouster of The Man. Husni is fucked either way!
    If the Obamameister/Hillary openly support him in any way; he will be seen even more as a US stooge. If (as they do now), exhort him to go easy on the violence, Blah Blah, human rights, violins ad finitum, ad nauseam, and Mubarak takes this fey advice, he will be seen as weak, and therefore easier to well as being even more of a total puppet to the Sugarmeister.

    If he gaffs American leadership off, and the administration cuts off the billions in annual bribes (1.3 Bil. of which being the Gypo military's take), things will get even more dire. Why? Cuz Husni needs the bribe money to bribe his elites, and backers. The Army, as well, will frown on this shite flavored schwarma being handed them, and will be a mite less friendly to Husni's Dickensian belt tightening program.

    Ya see, No one in Guvmint is able to do the critical thinking the present tense; never mind worst casing for the future, unless of course it involves raising campaign luchre. The shithead congresscritters and cabinet level turds, and, more importantly our presidents don't have the strategic/tactical snap, nor the good, long term brainwork wherewithal, and not the courage to play this here game....Basta!

  11. FDChief-

    "I've never seen an authoritarian regime that ever had problems with this, seydlitz. "

    GDR in 1989 as well as the Soviets in 1991 when dealing with Russian protesters.

    The Egyptians don't have that problem, obviously. The demonstrations continue in spite of the state violence, which means they are able to escalate as well. If the demos keep spreading in spite of the state violence, the security forces will see that the violence (which is exercised after all in the name of order) is only bringing disorder and the inevitable backlash . . . could be interesting.

  12. Therein lies the issue of which Seydlitz brought up, and I agree...we'll see.

    Me, I'm betting on several things...
    1) Mubarak is old, his grasp on his country is weak, and the fact that the only support he has right now is military...which oddly enough brings me to...
    2) There comes a point where even the Military says, "ah nuts!" and stands to the side. Romania anyone?
    3) The discontent comes not from any particular class, but from all strata's of Egyptian society...ouch...sure, Mubarak may have a few wealthy people on his side, but when the entire lot doesn't back you?
    4) Who is he going to turn too? Muslim Brotherhood? There comes a point, which is called the "Tipping Point" where the momentum goes with the mob and against the government.

    In all...I think there is momentum going on in the ME of which says, "oh hells no!" to the Big Man concept of government, and from the Geo-political stand point of American Foreign Policy...we seem to be on the wrong side of change...again.
    America needs to say about the Egyptian outcry..."this is an internal issue the Egyptians must work out amongst themselves, and we hope that it ends peacefully to the contentment of all Egyptians." Instead of being a fair weather friend as this article seems to indicate our dear leaders mindset.

  13. Mubarak has already sent in the army and support of the military will decide his future. The army was cheered by the crowds whereas the security forces continue to bust heads . . . so why send in the army?

    To end the opposition's momentum and to buy time . . . ?

    From what I've read the protest movement is more middle class, more well-educated, more progressive . . . which means that the Egyptian masses have not yet made an appearance, whether they in fact do (or have) will decide the success or failure of this whole movement imo, since the Army which is mostly recruited from the lowest economic classes cannot be expected to turn their guns on their own, but on the "smarty pants intellectuals" on the other hand . . .

    In retrospect it will be interesting to see how much this played out like a circa 19th Century popular revolt against a rigid authoritarian monarchy . . .

  14. 1848? Remember how that played out...

    Remember that in 1991 the Russian government called the security forces out (Yeltsin on the tank...) but Tank Commander wouldn't shoot. I agree on the GDR, but I wonder how much that had to do with the old party guard realizing that the army wouldn't fight for them?

    I'm not sure whether this is so much a "middle-class" protest in Egypt as a "young people's" protest. Most of the faces I see, and most of the voices I'm reading, are twentysomethings who are sick of being out of work and being slapped around by corrupt officials.

  15. Looks like Jordan is starting to feel the pain:

  16. 1848 provides a wealth of examples, some successful revolts, others less so.

    In 1991 there were Tank Commanders on both sides, still it was the inaction/indecision of the coup plotters to isolate Yeltsin which helped do them in.

    Mubarak new line-up . . .

  17. Here's a fascinating little video clip from Al Jazeera; the Egyptian officer all but gives the demonstrators a big wet kiss. (

    This doesn't sound like "disperse, ye rebels, ye villians, disperse!" but more like "We don't have anything good to say about the President, but we will have to stop you looting. So if you want to loot, why not start with the Presidential Palace?"

    One man's opinion, but still; not a ringing endorsement of the regime. Mark Lynch thinks that the U.S. is doing what it can to pressure the troops to stay in their barracks ( "...the U.S. is signaling directly and clearly to the Egyptian military that the administration will not accept a massive, bloody escalation in repressive force. Secretary of State Clinton's statement well-crafted message yesterday morning, reinforced by Gibbs and then Obama, was important: not just wringing their hands over the violence, as many seem to think, but sending a pretty clear and strong signal to the Egyptian army about American red lines."

    I still wouldn't want to bet against Mubarak yet - he's been here before and hung in there - but this is looking more and more like the most serious threat he's faced. I was a little shocked that he cut his kid out of the succession. That's not the act of a confident man.

  18. Two things:

    a) I don't get why there's no decisive assault on the president's building/palace. A single tank company commander could end these troubles with a single decision.

    b) Demographics. Mubarak has apparently failed to keep his iron grip because of the the population growth. Lack of jobs and lack of hope for the economic future were key triggers in Tunisia, and apparently so in Egypt as well. The population growth in many Arab countries (plus in Iran) inflates the share of the youth and exceeds the ability of the economy to supply jobs. The states can supply enough education, but even academics find no appropriate jobs with their degrees.

    Egyptian population growth is linear instead of exponential, and moderate - but 2% still seem to be too much. The population diagram is really a pyramid.

    A democratic government would need to reduce military spending if it really attempts to solve the jobs and income crisis.

  19. Sven: I think that Mubarak has been caught in the Autocrat's Dilemma for a long time now. The key to reducing popular unrest would be to liberalize the economy, reduce the military expenses while encouraging older Egyptians to retire and open up jobs for young people.

    But his safety resides in the troops, any real reduction in military spending risks that, and the crony capitalists that provide much of what passes for private enterprise in Egypt would be pretty miffed at any populist changes.

    As for a coup de etat, well, it may yet happen. But I suspect that it might not be as easy as that; I'll bet that Mubarak has some sort of "Presidential Guard" ringing his office and residence - he remembers Sadat, in fact, I'll bet he's thinking about him now and wondering how loyal his "outer inner circle" would be if it came to gunfire...

  20. Sven-

    "I don't get why there's no decisive assault on the president's building/palace. A single tank company commander could end these troubles with a single decision."

    This is tactics, not strategy. What could the Army achieve by doing this? They are attempting to get the movement quieted down now, decrease the unrest, convince the demonstrators that they have in fact attained what they were after, but that the current situation is in danger of getting "out of hand".

    They have the trust of the people and can now manage the transition to "post-Mubarak" Egypt, although it still does not seem clear that Mubarak is in fact history . . .

  21. Another thought came to mind, from a strategic theory perspective . . .

    The Egyptian Army has identified the center of gravity of the main element supporting the protests and is allowing a bit of (controlled) chaos to distract them from their goals. The middle class has been widely reported as making up the majority of this movement and what better way to distract their attention than to put private property at risk? The attack on the National Museum can also be seen as part of this larger strategy. After a few days of this sort of instability, most of the protesters (assuming the movement to be predominately middle class) will be more than ready for the Army to come in and "restore order". How quickly the focus can change, or rather be changed . . . ?

  22. And at the same time they are using their heavy assets (tanks, aircraft) to remind the public that the Leaden Rule is that he who sprays the lead makes the rules.

    I think that in the end Mubarak may be replaced by The Colonels a la Greece, but I really have no idea. This thing is still in flux, and what I find fascinating is that the Islamists aren't playing their cards. Maybe they want to see who comes out on top in this one...

  23. seydlitz: re: the middle class and the current revolt Cole (who is not really an Egypt expert but who has summarized the work of others) has a pretty concise summary of the social forces at work here (

    "The state was thus increasingly seen to be a state for the few. Its old base in the rural middle classes was rapidly declining as young people moved to the cities. It was doing little for the urban working and middle classes. An ostentatious state business class emerged, deeply dependent on government contracts and state good will, and meeting in the fancy tourist hotels. But the masses of high school and college graduates reduced to driving taxis or selling rugs (if they could even get those gigs) were not benefiting from the on-paper growth rates of the past decade."

  24. FDChief-

    Yea, I was reading Cole today as well. Liked his use of Weber and his description of the Egyptian class dynamic . . .

    And there was also this:

    -In an interview on Aljazeera Arabic, Zewail called for fundamental change in Egypt, not just cosmetic alterations. He gave as the causes for the current uprising:

    1. Power games among the elite, competition over the succession to President Hosni Mubarak, lack of transparency and phony elections.

    2. The economic situation: the masses of the poor have been left behind, the situation of the middle class has actually gone backward, while a small elite at the top benefits from what economic progress there is– because of a marriage of power and capital.

    3. Corruption and constant demands for bribes by officials.

    4. Education: The deterioration of the education system, which is central to every Egyptian household’s hopes of progress, to a state that does not in any way reflect Egypt’s standing in the world.-

  25. Not to draw comparisons - because the U.S. lacks the mass of disenfranchised young urban poor - but it's intriguing to note that the things that Zewail complains about wren't exactly unknown here in the Land of the Free. An increasingly disconnected power elite that is more concerned about power games than governing, increasing crony capitalism and outright corporatism, and the increasing failure of education in the face of the beginnings of offshoring of professional jobs...

    We're nowhere close to where Egypt is, and yet we're emulating many of the worst aspects of its polity. Sad.

  26. Some interesting observations from Heather Hurlbut at TNR:

  27. Well, NOW we're fucked: Obama has decided to get advice from a well-respected Middle East expert;

    Bob Fucking Kagan.

    Honestly! What the hell do you have to do to lose your credibility inside the Beltway? Bob Kagan? Bob KAGAN? Asking Bob fucking Kagan what the U.S. should do about a dictator in the Middle East?

    That's like asking John Wayne Gacy what to do about homicidal clowns.

    For fuck's sake!


  28. Interesting development, Reuters is reporting that the Egyptian Army has sided with the protestors...

  29. FT reports the Army is "Ruling out the use of force against demonstrators"

  30. FDChief-

    You could smell this one coming, the return of neo-con thinking/scams to full "Washington Rules respectability" . . .

    Only shows how desperate they are in the WH at this point, the powers in Israel must not be very happy . . .

  31. sheer-

    Since this is your thread, where are you in this process at this point? From my comments I think you can see where I am. Kinda like crossing a river.

    What does it mean and what can it teach us?

    There is so much going on at this point. The call for a General Strike was the correct move, probably the best possible, but who made it?

    Unknown, at least for now. Still, for the immediate future, much to study. Andy should have a lot of data to go through . . .

    Quite amazing, isn't it?

  32. "FT reports the Army is "Ruling out the use of force against demonstrators""

    Just saw this reported on BBC, too. I think this moves us a LOT closer to endgame for Mubarak. If the Army won't force the protesters off the streets I'm not sure what the government's options are beyond negotiating a settlement, and I don't see what the protesters' options are for leaving Mubarak in place.

    Big question now is, can the Army engineer a transfer of power without a coup; can they be a Turkish Army and not an Argentine one. Dunno on that...

  33. I think the teaching point on this, seydlitz, is that the entire notion of "stability" may very well be an illusion.

    The U.S. has put a lot of chips on Mubarak as the linchpin of an Israelcentric Middle East policy (in the sense that no matter what else we do there, we have one eye on "how does this affect the possibility of a war against Israel?") The whole point behind Camp David was that Egypt would prosper from a seperate peace w/ Israel and serve as an example for the other Arab nations to imitate.

    That has worked fairly well for thirty years; now we're looking at the other side of the coin - will there be payback for all those years of helping Mubarak and his cronies hang on to power? Will we pay for our thirty fat years of stability with thirty lean years of turmoil? Or, worse, with thirty years of enmity and skulduggery as we have as punishment for our support of the Shah in Iran?

    I have no idea. But the complete unpredictibility of this one certainly should serve as a red flag for those who seem to think that we can "make our own reality" in foreign policy. Just like no plan survives contact with the enemy intact, no foreign policy exists in a unipolar world. The objects of that policy can, and as they have here, do, get to affect how the policy works...or doesn't.

  34. OK, this is after all a revolution. It's not supposed to be predicatable. But think about it. On this thread we've been able to make about as much sense of it as anyone else. Most of what I've read in the MSM is crap. Also given that we know collectively ziltsch about Egypt. I was following SST and Col. Lang's analysis is about the best, but then he shifted perspectives and I couldn't follow him any more. Came back here and it was clear again, or am I missing some important turn?

    In this revolution there is a structure of domination remaining intact, unlike say Iraq after the 2003 invasion. This structure consisting of the Egyptian Army and the Mukhabarat. The state as it is has been reduced to an essentially unworkable bureaucracy upon which mostly the Mukhabarat, but also the Army, "feeds" (refer to David Gardner's "Last Chance"). Following the Juan Cole article the Egyptian people have an example of a workable state in their living memory so know what to expect and will demand success.

    At the same time we see the storm clouds coming . . .

    Strategic theory is retrospective, not really cut out for predicting, especially something as complex as a revolution. Still it allows for a system of concepts, a language so to speak, . . . along with a wide knowledge of history, an inquiring mind, an openness to the unexpected, a bit of common sense, luck, chance, what else? . . . and ya just might be able to do a better job explaining stuff than the $$$million$$$ boys and girls ya see on TV . . .

  35. The problem being, seydlitz, that the "official" system is gummed up with...dumb fuckers like the Kagans, because they tell the story the insiders WANT to hear. At least, that's my theory for how being wrong - Max Boot wrong, Vic Hanson wrong, Dougie Feith wrong - on pretty much every-goddam-thing they've said re: the Middle East has still failed to clear the crap out of the system.

    As far as this one goes, well, my guess is that the successor government will not be all that much different from what we have now. I doubt VERY much if we'll get the islamists. Most post-US-backed-dictator regimes have been fairly friendly to U.S. interests. Think post-Pinochet Chile, post-Marcos PI, post-Rhee Korea. The elites who really rule will still be there - this doesn't look like Russia 1919.

    The one thing that I suspect might change will be the relationship with Israel. It MIGHT be for the better...but I think the average Egyptian is getting real tired of helping the U.S. carry Israel's water and getting dick in return except stuff that the military wants. But we'll have to see.

  36. Here's the thing; a LOT of our foreign policy is based on the notion that these despots are good because they're "predictable". So we help bankroll the Sauds, the Hashemites in Jordan, now the Karzaites in Afghanistan, we backed Bhutto in Pakistan for donkey's years...caudillos in Latin and South America, warlords in Asia, whackjob dictators in Africa...we seem to be willing to at least toss 'em a few bucks if they promise to keep the reds and the muslims down.

    But these revolts point up that these guys are just revolutions waiting to happen. If we're lucky the outcome will be a "soft landing". But every once in a while we'll kick up a Khomeni or a Danny Ortega and then we're off, spending money and time we could be spending on rebuilding bridges or bolstering our trade balance fucking with 'em.

    Frank Fukuyama's notion was that representative democracy "won" history; ISTM that time is NOT in the side of these caudillos, and the real existential danger isn't a podunk country run by some revolutionary or islamist but a nominal democracy that is in realty a failed, criminal state; Russia, or perhaps, in the future, China...

  37. "Since this is your thread, where are you in this process at this point?"

    I'm digging into history.

    There are a lot of unknowns going on here, and there are a lot of possible confluences of ideologies that may or may not portend a stable shift of power, or enable a radical shift in power.

    The thing history has shown repeatedly is that violent overthrows of government are replaced by repressive governments who fear themselves being overthrown.
    One of the clear examples of this was the Russian Revolution...yes, lots of big names in that one, and in the end of it all, Stalin stood on top of the heap of corpses that provided the stepping stones to his ascenscion.

    Egypt could go that way, but considering that the Egyptian people and the Egyptian military are not scorch-earthing each other, I think that there "could" be a chance for a peaceful change of government.

    However, there are factions within Egypt who, like their counterparts in Iran, play the part of the "Let us hold hands as brothers!" but when it comes time to actually, you know, consider the needs of the many...thats where this particular brand of Iranian strongman goes, "my way or your head!"

    So...for us, the US, the situation is particularly difficult because we have fucked this pooch for far too long, and the problem is that we could be painted as Mubarak's enablers.
    Especially if we have a black site there, and that gets opened like a box of pandora's nightmares for us...that could lead to some seriously ugly ramifications that will put the US in a very bad in which we have gone out of our way to earn.

    Overall, the best the US can do at this point is to tell Mubarak, "The party is over, the Egyptian people want you out, your decision, but don't look to us to keep you in power. We're your allies, not your personal patron, we don't interfere in your internal politics."

    Well...hopefully we can say that with a straight face, and also hope people have a short memory.

    Overall, the US needs to say this is an Eygptian people issue, and if the people of Egypt want a new government...then they have the right to one.

    the unknown is who is for whom, and what form of government will come out of this?

    Interesting...yes...exciting...yeah, that too.

    All I know is that anything a Neocon says at this point for advice should be promptly ignored.

  38. FDChief: Are you getting your Kagans straight? You got Bob, the guy you surfaced, and then you've got Fred of the ever-expanding waistline along with his harridan wife, Kim. I don't know anything about Bob, but I do know his brother Fred and his execrable wife have been responsible for a great number of deaths. It's probably important to sort this out because even though he's Fred's brother—and Fred is indeed a total dick—Bob may not be that much of a dick.

    We gotta keep our dicks straight is what I always say. And speaking of dicks.....

    Think of what Mao said about revolution: out of the barrel of a gun. Then think about who's got the guns in Egypt. Despite the ambition dripping off his chops, El Baradei is not going to lead Egypt. The Army has already decided Mubarak is toast and that it's not going to kill people on his behalf. But they also know they should get a piece of the pie, which means a voice in leadership.

    Now think about what a revolution is. First, don't we kind of picture it as being bloody, with brave patriots dying whilst slaying the lackeys working for the existing order? With a latter-day George Washington leading the patriots in deposing the bad guys?

    No George Washington? No brave patriots? No guns for the brave patriots to slay the evil forces of government? Gee, maybe the Army has a solution. Has El Baradei ever led troops? No? Shit, he's a real outsider, a guy who didn't even live in Egypt for many years. A carpetbagger. Well, then maybe somebody else. Maybe a general. Gee. You think a general might be able to do it?

    Mubarak is out of here. The world is changing. Tunisia, Egypt...who's next? We're going to see serious reshuffling, serious changes in winners and losers in the next ten years. History is running out on all of us who thought Pax Americana might work for all of our lifetimes.

    The Army will end up running Egypt. And we will be happy with another bandage placed on the running sore that is the Mideast.

    The older we got the easier it became to just go along. Now we're stuck, with a bunch of mediocre and even criminal people we've chosen to lead our nation. We need greatness in these trying times; instead we've gotten mediocrity. But then, of course, we deserve the mediocre leadership. Isn't that what we've demanded?

  39. Publius: Bob is right up there with brother Fred and harpy Kim; a happy little neocon Mafia family double-tapping the back of the U.S. foreign policy's head. Sweet.

    I suspect that what we might end up with in Egypt is something like what we have now in Pakistan and what has been the case in Turkey since Ataturk's day. I'll bet the Army doesn't want to outright run the place - who would? It's a fuckstory - but they will find some pliant mook to "run" the country while they reserve the "right" to step in if their winddummy ever makes a decision they don't like.

    And I think - although I tend to agree with your assessment that our nation's "leadership" is pretty piss-poor, this isn't really a good test of U.S. leadership. The time to have taken the lead here was decades ago; right now this is Egypt's story, and the U.S. just doesn't have much say one way or the other...

  40. Publius: your comment made me think enough about this to actually provoke a new post. See "You Can't Get There From Here" on the main page.

  41. Hey Publius, where have ya been?

    Col. Lang's reported that the Saudis have suggested that Mubarak quit by Friday to avoid a bloodbath . . . Mubarak getting asylum in Saudi Arabia . . . He's been pretty much on the money so far.

  42. AJE reported that Mubarak has flatly denied that he will leave; "I will die in Egypt" was the quote. Says he wants to "finish his term".

    The counterattacks today suggest that he hasn't reached his endgame yet. Pretty fucking cunning, actually - you fear that your Army won't do the killing you need to keep you in power, so you assemble your rural goon squad, your Egyptian Basij, and use THEM to bust heads and kill.

    Mubarak hasn't stayed where he is as long as he has for nothing.

    Still think he can't really rule without the Army. So if the Army says go, he'll go. Then we'll be left with a sort of Pakistan v2.0

  43. Here's a POV article from the Independent - - that makes it pretty clear that this isn't some sort of "spontaneous" counter-riot of support for Mubarak. These guys ARE his Basij.

    Ruthless and cunning.