A Light Fails In Egypt
Published on: June 29, 2013
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  • Corlyss

    “*** the places where this large youth bulge comes up against failed governance and curdled hope. Think Pakistan, where a comprehensive failure of civil and military leadership is turning one of the world’s most beautiful countries into one of its most miserable ones.

    “Inexperienced 18 years olds who have grown up in corrupt, poorly governed societies, and been educated in trashy schools by incompetent hacks know very well that the status quo is unacceptable. Young people who know they are being ripped off and abused are typically not very patient. Throw in healthy doses of sexual frustration and contempt for an establishment that has lost confidence in its own capacity to lead, and you have a cocktail much more explosive than anything Molotov knew.***”

    Gee, that all sounds very familiar . . . thinking . . . . thinking . . . . why, it sounds like the 1960s in the US!!!!

    • Andrew Allison

      1960s in the US? Seems more like 2013 to me; see, e.g., recent articles on the surfeit of grads.

      • Corlyss

        This lot of college grads is not only functionally illiterate, immature, self-indulgent, morally bankrupt and completely useless professionally, it’s politically supine and practically totally inert. There’s no comparison between the Classes of ’13 and ’68.

  • Fat_Man

    The only thing that failed is our understanding of what a rotten, corrupt, and useless place Egypt is. The next stage — famine, pestilence, and death — will test us sorely to see if we can mind our own business and let God solve their problems.

    • The future in the Middle East is too dreadful to think. But worst is the fate of Christians and other religions. Maybe the prophesy on Armaggedon is coming.

      • bpuharic

        What’s tragic is that to many people, this statement is not a parody, but a fact.

  • Andrew Allison

    “Egyptians appear to be rejecting representative democracy, without having had much of a chance to participate in it” is nonsensical on its face: if the people have not been able to participate, how can it be representative? Could it be that what’s really going on is a revolt against unrepresentative “democracy”?

    • Gene

      It’s a revolt against everything and against nothing, in a country in which NO ONE has the first idea of how to fix this. I think that point was made pretty well in this piece.

  • wigwag

    There seems to be a developing romance between New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, and the writers, editors and bloggers for the “American Interest.” Just a couple of months ago, a Friedman column mentioned an e-book authored by AI editor Adam Garfinkle and today Friedman referenced an AI article by William Waack in his column. See,


    While I am sure that Friedman’s endorsement is good for business, one can only hope that Friedman’s infatuation is not requited; after all, if there is a more clueless and venal commentator than Friedman it’s hard to know who it is. Okay, it’s really not that hard to know, Maureen Dowd is even worse than Friedman, but Friedman is a close second.

    As Egypt is on the verge of collapse if not civil war and as millions of Egyptians pour into the streets; some supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and even more opposing it, it pays to reflect on what nitwits like Friedman were telling us about the “Arab Spring” only a couple of years ago.

    On February 7, 2011, Friedman published an article entitled “Speakers Corner on the Nile.” The credulous columnist begins his commentary by waxing eloquent about all of the wonderful things that he’s seen as he strolled through the Tahrir Square (apparently nobody sexually molested Friedman in the manner that CBS reporter Lara Logan was assaulted). Friedman says,

    “I’m in Tahrir Square, and of all the amazing things one sees here the one that strikes me most is a bearded man who is galloping up and down, literally screaming himself hoarse, saying: I feel free! I feel free!”

    The more Friedman writes, the more he allows himself to get carried away by the mood. He goes on to say,

    “In 40 years of writing about the Middle East, I have never seen anything like what is happening in Tahrir Square. In a region where the truth and truth-tellers have so long been smothered under the crushing weight of oil, autocracy and religious obscurantism, suddenly the Arab world has a truly free space…”

    Let’s remember who Tom Friedman is; he’s the Tom Brady, Mariano Rivera, Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan of columnists all wrapped up into one moustached package. Friedman rarely publishes columns two days in a row, but so titillated by what was happening in Tahrir that he published another column the next day (February 8, 2011) entitled, “Up with Egypt.”

    In this column which is even dumber than the one the Times published the previous day, Friedman ponders what role the army will play in the Egyptian Revolution. The clueless columnist says,

    “The army could stick by Mubarak, whose only strategy seems to be to buy time and hope that the revolt splinters or peters out. Or the army could realize that what is happening in Tahrir Square is the wave of the future.”

    Friedman goes on to say,

    “I hope it is the latter, and I hope President Obama is pressing the Egyptian Army in this direction — as do many people here. For that to unfold, both the Egyptian Army and the Obama team will have to read what is happening in Tahrir Square through a new lens. Mubarak wants everyone to believe this is Iran 1979 all over, but it just does not feel that way.”

    In typically Friedmanesque fashion, the dean of American political commentators saves the
    pièce de résistance for last; he proclaims,

    “This uprising feels post-ideological… Any ideological group that tries to hijack these young people today will lose.”

    Friedman assures his American readers that,

    “..what makes this revolt so interesting is that Egyptians are not asking for Palestine or for Allah. They are asking for the keys to their own future, which this regime took away from them. They are not inspired by “down with” America or Israel. They are inspired by “Up with Egypt” and “Up with me.”

    Yep, that’s it, the Arab Spring is about “Up with me;” if we only give it a chance those demonstrators in Tahrir could have taught the world to sing in perfect harmony.

    If all of this was only about Tom Friedman turning himself into a clown for the umpteenth time, it wouldn’t matter all that much. The problem is that President Obama actually listened to the Tom Friedman’s of the world; he abandoned Mubarak, a long standing American ally, because like Friedman, he was sure that what was happening in Egypt was “post ideological.” Obama must have figured that even if he and Friedman were wrong and the claims that the demonstrators were post ideological didn’t turn out to be right, it didn’t matter. After all even if an ideology did come out of the wood work in Egypt, it would be the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and that was an ideology that Obama was sure he could live with. In fact, it was an ideology that in his heart of hearts he probably thought wasn’t all that bad.

    At least Obama was consistent; first he cozied up to the Islamist leaders in Turkey and announced that Erdogan was his bestest friend in the whole world. Than he abandoned the Green Movement demonstrators in Iran as they were being murdered in the streets. After this, it was hardly a stretch for Obama to decide that the Egyptian leader of a movement whose credo was, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations” was preferable to supporting a long standing American ally.
    Ironically, the demonstrators filling Tahrir Square in 2013 now hate Obama because they feel that he’s a stooge of the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, some of them are so charged up about it that there is fear that the liberal students might actually storm the U.S. embassy. Amongst the reformers in Egypt, the U.S Ambassador is widely held in contempt.

    It’s hard to know who is dumber, Tom Friedman or Barack Obama. There is one thing that’s not hard to know; whoever it is at the American Interest who is pursuing the bromance with Tom Friedman would be wise to find another love interest.

    • Just as the Syrian civil war was a proxy war between Sunnis and Shias, and kept hidden by the Presstituting Media, is the trouble in Egypt between Coptic Christians and fundamentalist Muslims ? You do not see that in the news. Could be a rebellion by the Coptics.

      • Sally Wilton

        they say there were 30 million people demonstrating today . that is 20 million more than the total number of christians including every man woman and child in all egypt

    • shonangreg

      You lost at Obama abandoning the Green Movement in Iran. There was lots of discussion of American involvement then, and it seemed that it was a very conscious choice for America to not back the protestors. Any perception that they were being aided by outsiders, especially the Great Satan, would surely have been the kiss of death for them.

      It didn’t turn out so well anyway, though they did just replace Ahmadinejad with a moderate president. American links to moderates would have made Hassan Rouhani that much less likely to have won.

      • Gene

        Kiss of death? Lots of death-kissing occurred during and after that period and the spineless silence from Obama didn’t make anything better, i.e., “less bad” for any of them. It just made the POTUS and his country look small and weak and lacking the courage of any conviction worthy of the U.S. And re the recent election: I don’t think “moderate” means what you think it does.

        • bpuharic

          Spineless silence? You mean the silence at the request of the Green Movement since, as shonangreg pointed out, American support is toxic. No matter what neocons think, there are limits to US power.

          Religious conservatives, no matter what their specific belief, poison everything…whether it’s Cairo, Tehran or Austin.

          • Gene

            The “Green Movement”? By that are you referring to all those people in the streets? Were they all card-carrying members of an organization with spokespeople and party lines and an institutional “position” on what the POTUS ought to do? They were not. And a little solidarity from the West would have been appreciated. Your fear that American attention will ruin things is way, way overstated. Nobody thought Obama was going to offer any material support. A few words can be powerful things, though.

            And BTW, I’m sure Barack Obama would be interested to know that he’s a religious conservative.

          • bpuharic

            They certainly had leaders. To pretend we would have made the situation better by doing…what? is something that the anti-Obama crowd never really specifies.

          • Funny, how many who think like you exhibit the same fundamentalist tendencies – the desire to jam their socio-economic morality down our throats as the One True Way by the use of the coercive force of law – that you decry …

            … and do so with a fundamentalist zeal that makes Baptist preachers look like loose-topped libertines out for beads at Mardi Gras.

          • bpuharic

            You and I have something in common.

            Neither of us knows what you’re talking about.

          • Let me ‘splain it to you … the Progressive paradigm of governance assumes that a small, highly-credentialed elite have the omniscience to solve the problems of 300 million people FOR them, better than they can themselves.

            Given human history, human nature, and human perception, that takes more BLIND faith to believe, than anything coming out of Jerusalem, Rome, or even Mecca.

            Yet that belief system is not impeded by the “wall of separation”.

            Get it now?

          • bpuharic

            Newsflash: Preachers, pastors and bishops ARE a ‘small, highly credentialized elite’ who think they, with their magic potions and notions, can tell the rest of us what to believe.

            Let me know when YOU get it. Because one of the most effective and powerful ‘elites’ in the US are the professional Christians of the clergy.

          • Fred

            bpuharic, If you’re going to criticize something, like say religion, it would behoove you to know something about it. And the notion that there is some sinister elite of professional Christians in this country doesn’t pass the laugh test. You actually do sound like a photo-negative of a Baptist fundamentalist. You’ve identified the source of all evil, i.e. religion, demonized it beyond all recognition and deployed it as an all purpose boogey man with little or no knowledge of what it is or what it entails. Sounds an awful lot like the fundamentalist view of evolution.

          • bpuharic

            No one has to know anything about Christianity since, with 35,000 denominations, you can make up anything you want. Your “Courtier’s Fallacy” doesn’t wash. In fact the very fact you think someone ‘doesn’t know’ about the religion shows how little you DO know about that sorry belief system

          • Fred

            Courtier’s fallacy my a$$ if I tried to tell you how ridiculous darwinism is because it says that somehow monkeys turned into people, you’d rightly laugh at my ignorance and tell me to learn something about what I was talking about before I made a further monkey of _myself_. Besides, the definition of courtiers fallacy itself begs the question. It assumes that God is nonexistent and that religious belief is ridiculous when that is precisely what is at issue. Try again smart guy.

          • bpuharic

            Science is about facts. Evolution is a fact. Religion is intellectual hoboism. It’s devoid of ANY intellectual rigor at all, save, perhaps, rigor mortis. It’s been 2000 years and you guys still haven’t decided who god is.

            Any idea when you’ll get a clue?

          • Fred

            This is the last time I’ll respond to you because a) we’ve hijacked this thread enough, b) you can’t reason someone out of what they don’t hold rationally anyway, and c) arguing with you is like racing a paraplegic; you can’t help but win but it’s too unchallenging to be fun. That said:

            _Science is about facts. Evolution is a fact._

            Science is about the explanation of and relationships among facts. In isolation, facts do not make up a scientific theory, and all scientific theories are in principle falsifiable. Evolution is the best explanation we have for certain facts and allows certain predictions. It has not been falsified since 1859 and is unlikely to be, but if enough new facts or interpretations of facts accumulate, in principle it could be. In any case, what does that have to do with the “courtier’s fallacy” (/rhetorical question)?

            _Religion is intellectual hoboism._

            Since you don’t define this much less argue for it, it’s hard to see how it refutes, or even responds to my point about the courtier’s fallacy.

            _It’s devoid of ANY intellectual rigor at all, save, perhaps, rigor mortis._

            Really? I’m sure that would be news to Augustine, Anselm, Avicenna, Averroes, Abelard, Scotus, Ockham, Pascal, Leibniz, Gilson, Maritain, de Chardin, Tillich, Taylor, MacIntyre, Plantinga, Haldane, and Odenberg to name a few philosophers. That’s not to mention scientists like Polkinghorne, Barr, Miller, and Collins. Your ignorance is almost as great as your arrogance.

            _It’s been 2000 years and you guys still haven’t decided who god is._

            I’m not sure who “you guys” are, but if you mean Christians, Muslims, and/or Jews, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. All three worship the God of Abraham, the one in the Old Testament/Torah. They may disagree about aspects of that God’s nature or points of doctrine, but they agree He exists and is the one true God. Arguably, Aristotle’s First Cause and Plato’s Form of the Good are rudimentary versions of that God.

            _Any idea when you’ll get a clue?_

            As you’ve amply demonstrated, we are not the ones who need to get a clue.

          • bpuharic

            One can see that you don’t know what the term ‘falsified’ means so right out of the gate your pretense is exposed as a sham.

            And the fact all those theologians (NOT philosophers) you named were wrong simply means they’re wrong. That can happen. Alot of brilliant people can still be wrong. And they are.

            The Aristotelean ‘first cause’ is a useless piece of sophistry invented by clever tricksters to fool lesser intellects, present company not excluded.

            As to the ‘one true god’, the Dome of the Rock Mosque contains an inscription saying that god is one…’he neither begets nor is begotten’. Doesn’t leave much room for Jesus. And let me know when Jews start taking communion.

          • Fred

            Keep inchworming toward that finish line Mr. Paraplegic.

  • circleglider

    In the pre-industrial world, religion was “government.” Christianity, in the form of the Catholic Church, and Islam, in the form of the Ottoman Empire, were the reigning powers organizing all economic and social life.

    Assuming that religion has never been anything other than a superstitious belief system is the biggest interpretive mistake that Western observers make about Egypt and other disorganized societies.

    • Only way you can prove that it is a superstition is if you have been in the after life and came back and report there was nothing out there., But that is not the case of the many who experience NDE just like Dr Eben Alexander. You blame religion for the dozen bad things it had done but disregard the thousand good things it wrought.

    • rodomontade

      Of course, once you disbelieve religion, are you not compelled to admit that every belief system is superstitious? Democracy, socialism, fascism, gnosticism in every form are just worthless pieces of human nonsense. There is no morality, just what people want.

      So where does your condescension come from?

      • bpuharic

        Religion is just another worthless piece of human nonsense in a pantheon of such horrors.

        • Thank you for your statement of faith … at least we clearly confess ours.

    • Jim__L

      That’s why “separation of church and state” can only be usefully applied to specific forms, not to religion in general.

      All legal codes are moral codes. Disallowing “religious” morality from legal codes does nothing except give artificial preferential treatment to moral codes that somehow escape the “religious” label.

      No one in this country is about to take murder, theft, and perjury off of the books just because they’re the 5th, 7th, and 8th commandments. (The 6th commandment hasn’t been so lucky these days; this just goes to show that our system is arbitrary and fashion-based rather than logically consistent.)

      • bpuharic

        Not all moral codes are religious codes, however, especially since in the US, there are 35,000 Christian denominations. The 1st commandment was a recipe for unrelenting war. So much for religion and morals.

        • Funny, I’ve not been shooting at the members of any other denominations lately …

          … but Jim_L has put one right in the X-ring here; those yelling the loudest about the “wall of separation” have no problem imposing what THEY take on faith, upon the rest of us, through EXCLUSIVE access to our public institutions.

          If you really desire a wall of separation, then make sure the faithful of the Cult of the Credentialed and Connected Omniscient can’t get around it, either.

          • bpuharic

            Vague generalities communicate little.

          • You should take your own advice … as for mine, to those with ears to hear, let them hear …

  • lukelea

    Egypt lacks Syria’s ethnic and religious diversity

    How do you measure that? How powerful is the clan in Egypt? How many tribes are there? I’m not saying you are wrong about less diversity in Egypt, only that I would like to see some facts. It’s not so much sectarianism as it is tribalism and clannism that make these societies so hard to govern.

  • bannedforselfcensorship

    You should also mention that many young people have drank the socialist kool-aid that they should all have cushy government jobs. This is why there is no one with a true solution – he would be shouted down by the protesters. See also Spain, where 20% youth unemployment leads to protests demanding jobs, as in “government give me a job”, rather than “government fix the incentives and lower taxes so companies can give me a job.”

    • Katherine Kelly

      The rules of wealth creation are stable and should be known, but if you organize your society in opposition to those rules, you can expect the eventual impoverishment of the entire society.

      Socialism does not create wealth only misery.

    • Jim__L

      “government fix the incentives and lower taxes so companies can give me a job.”

      Still not good enough.

      We need people who can go out and work and hustle to make a living whether or not there currently exists a company to “give” them a job, and we need governance that doesn’t actively crush these entrepreneurs with taxes and regulation.

      • bannedforselfcensorship

        I like your long version better, but young protestors need to take baby steps. First get rid of the government that is slathering on the regs and taxes. Then work on “personal motivation” – not really something you can do at a protest anyways.

  • Jack

    It may unfortunately be true that stability in the Islamic world can only be achieved under police state governments, but this type of government becomes corrupt and fails. Instability follows which is only ended by the establishment of a new police state.

  • Well it turned out Mubarak was the best bet for stability in Egypt, as was Qadaffi the best bet for Libya. Or maybe a strong leader is really the solution to many countries problem in the Middle East. So much for Arab Spring. Makes one wonder what is it in Obama that everything he touches turns to crap ? Leading from behind is surely not working. Is disappearing from the scene next ?

    • bkjazfan

      Supposedly, Egypt has only enough money to feed it’s people for the next 3 to 5 months. If this is anywhere near accurate Morsi’s main problem is a rapidly deteriorating economy.

    • bpuharic

      How’d the conservative war in Iraq go? Rousing success?

      • Beats what’s happening in Libya, Egypt, and Syria these days.

        • bpuharic

          There’s no situation so bad that conservatives can’t make worse.

          • Iraq is as as bad as it is because Progressives persuaded this nation to pull up short.

            Had we done the same thing in Japan or Germany circa 1946, we might have gotten similar results.

            But we stayed the course, back then.

          • bpuharic

            Iraq’s as bad as it is because conservatives thought they could go in and do ‘nation building’ with no time limit, no financial limit and no limit it blood. You people started with war and failed to bring it to a successful conclusion.

            The Japanese and Germans recognized it was in their self interests to build a modern nation. Islam is a contraindication to democracy and you people failed, arrogantly thinking that if you threw enough money and blood at the problem your magic would work

            It didn’t.

  • Chuckiechan

    It appears that America, through Obama feels a crumbling middle east is what is best for America. And the middle east may actually be dissolving into the old tribal system of kings and the vanquished.

    After all, it’s not explained in the press that Assad in Syria is Alawite, and is only killing off “the other tribe” – the Sunnis. This tribal system is what has run the Mideast since Mohammed shagged his first child bride. It’s like the south in the early days. You were either a king or a slave.

    This a return to the old normal, before Anglo Saxons tried to make sense of the mess by drawing lines, and creating countries, and trying to insert western values and “civilization” in to a land that seemed to be in chaos to western eyes.

    Western minds don’t understand that killing your enemies is really part of “civilization” in their culture. If you remove the borders and visualize the middle east as a group of tribes at war with boundaries determined by how you interpret the Qur’an, you may have some hope of understanding the middle east.

    It’s completely normal to them, and makes perfect sense.

    I won’t go into why nukes are a bad idea…

  • Anthony

    Egypt has an escalating economic crisis as well as noted domestic concerns. Yet, there exist an argument that MB, Salafists, Copts, Military, etc. are not part and parcel of Egypt’s problem; that is, ingrained institutional structures, dating from Ottoman Empire to Napoleon Bonaparte to British colonialism to Monarchy to Nasser and Sadat to Mubarak ( and perhaps even before then), underlie Egypt’s failing light. “Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Egyptians are expected to take thestreets of Cairo and other major cities on Sunday to demand that President Mohamed Morsi…stand down….”

    Are we experiencing anarchic breakdown? 85 million people (Tamarod) in a society where many think they cannot use their talent, ambition, ingenuity etc. are at a critical juncture. Egypt institutionally speaking is in transition but wedded to extractive institutional patterns she finds difficult to transform – therein for broad segment of its populace remains the conundrum.

  • Stoneyjack

    King Farouk knew how to govern, but was under-appreciated by the wobbly West.

  • Dave6034

    “It’s hard for the American press to wrap its head around what’s happening in Egypt,” but Thomas Malthus understood perfectly well two centuries ago: Egypt has more people than its land can feed. Other land-poor countries (like Singapore) can import food as long as there’s a global surplus, but Egypt has nothing to trade.

    Egypt’s complex, ever-shifting factions of blood, faith, and ideology (including “democracy”) are just a game of musical chairs to decide who eats and who dies.

    • rodomontade

      The point is “Egypt has nothing to trade,” not Malthus. Malthus’s big mistake was assuming that people are liabilities, not assets. People will produce more than they consume if allowed to do so. The problem is lousy governments that prevent that from happening.

      • Dave6034

        Look up “survivor bias”. All around the world, people produce enough to eat, so you conclude that productivity is an intrinsic human quality, ignoring the millions who failed and so died of hunger.

        When the dust settles a few years hence, every Egyptian will be working and eating. There just won’t be as many of them.

        • rodomontade

          Mass famine isn’t a common occurrence. People are better fed on the whole than at any time in history. Where there are massive famines, like North Korea, the causes are political.

          Are you predicting some massive famine in Egypt? You’re even more pessimistic than I am.

          • The honest among the aid organizations have a concurrent opinion to yours … usually, it’s not a lack of food that is the problem, the problem is getting it to the people. Of course, they don’t emphasize how this problem is often the result of the Powers That Be using food as a weapon.

          • Dave6034

            There will be famine as soon as donors tire of “loaning” Egypt money that it can never repay.

            Even in normal times, millions worldwide die of hunger every year. See the WSJ series “Starving in India” for example.

  • JP Knight

    The author only in passing mentions the Socialist poison that still infects Egypt and the rest of the Arab world. Nasser’s movement and the related Pan-Arabism (few remember short-lived “United Arab Republic,” a political union of Egypt & Syria) were infected with the Marxist/ collectivist-all good-flows-from-government mentality, so of course were doomed to fail. Islamism has a similar Government = God mentality, so will never lead to economic prosperity. Can anyone spell “free market capitalism?” Apparently not this writer.

    • Sally Wilton

      Exactly. Socialism in Egypt is actually worse than Islamism. It has taken away and incentive or possibility for the ordinary person to make anything of their life. Free market capitalism could work in Egypt with a huge population of young and dynamic people hungry for success. They need to split the monopolies, break up the state ownership, that includes the army ownership of companies and their use of conscripts as slave labourers on their projects, give people rights and contracts to their land ($800 billion) of land has no contract . they should sell or give away the large assets like the suez canal to the Egyptian people, end the huge taxes on imports and exports , (corrupt) and start cutting back on bureaucracy and licensing to start businesses. I could go on but what they really need is a latter day Margaret thatcher with the guts to carry it all through, like it or not.

  • PDQuig

    Pardon me if I fail to care what happens in the Arab world. After centuries of conquering at the point of a sword, Islam has revealed the true paucity of its ideals and human values. It is a political ideology born and then constantly amended on the fly to convenience the personal whims and sexual desires its founder, Mohammed. Sixty generations of Muslims have followed “the only book that they ever need to know” to a cultural dead end. They produce nothing of value to the world. Their ‘religious’ doctrine allows lying, cheating, and stealing if it furthers the cause of Islam. They oppress, mutilate, and murder their women.

    As far as I can tell, the greatest advancement that Islam has brought to its adherents might well be the fact that they eat and greet each other with the hand opposite to the one used to wipe themselves after bowel movements.

    Islam is reaping what it has sown–and none too soon. Let us accelerate our use of fracking to access our massive shale oil reserves and leave the ME to descend into well-deserved death and destruction.

    • bpuharic

      WRM says the Salafis are waiting in the wings, positioning themselves to offer a more conservative solution than the MB does. Religious conservatives do that…it’s a perfect argument. They never fail because when failure DOES occur it’s because you weren’t ‘conservative enough’.

  • Dr_Albert_Gortenbull

    After he completes his tour of South Africa, Obama should visit Egypt and give his Muslim Brotherhood pal Morsi a big hug and a thumbs up. Albert

    • bpuharic

      We could send in the neocons, fresh from their work in Iraq. What a success that was.

      • Compared to this, Iraq is a success … because we went farther than merely telling them to mouth mere “democracy”, we stood up and protected those who showed an interest in the idea … as well as making sure they knew that democracy alone was not enough: that rights-respecting governance, where life and liberty are beyond the reach of even a majority vote, is the key to sustainable peace.

        Again and again, the basic neocon idea – that rights-respecting governance is the key to sustainable peace – is validated. To the degree that we have failed in Iraq, it is due to our falling short of assuring its complete implementation, while sending the message that those who oppose such governance Will. Not. Be. Allowed. To. Prevail.

        That is the way you are going to get sustainable peace in Egypt, Syria, and anywhere else. Hopefully, the Egyptian people will discover this to be true themselves, before the place turns into a charnel pit.

        Heaven knows we’ve duct-taped the mouths and hands in the West, that could show them the way, while the Cult of the Credentialed and Connected Omniscient continue to peddle the conventional wisdom of the last century.

        • bpuharic

          Iraq is just the most advanced failure. It has no future, and what’s worse is we committed a huge amount of blood and treasure.

          Those other places are going to fail. But at least they won’t cost our young people and our money in doing so, no matter what conservatives say.

          Muslim culture as currently configured can not support democracy. We see that in Turkey, in Malaysia, and in every Arab country where religious conservatives try to run a country.

          It’s too convenient to blame it on Obama, which is exactly why the right is doing so.

          • bpuharic

            The Kurdish north is a piece apart from the rest of Iraq.

            As you note, it’s been 10 years. Any idea when they’re going to start using all this potential we’re supposed to have given them? 2 trillion dollars and 4400 US troops later they’re still slaughtering themselves. I don’t need to discredit conservatives; they have a well armed circular firing squad with collateral damage to our budget.

          • Yashmak

            And yet, the alternative, the liberals, co-opted the same policies the conservatives embraced, in some cases extending them. Heck, Obama’s big announced withdrawal from Iraq was per the timetable Bush had set. And ‘collateral damage to our budget’? Please. The current administration racked up more deficit and total debt in the first term than Bush did in two.

          • bpuharic

            The difference is Obama recognized a failure when he saw one, something the neocons could never understand. And if you think our budget problems have nothing to do with Iraq, I point you to the CBPP, which has a graphic detailing exactly that.

            And those of us who have had economics realize what you don’t:

            deficits ALWAYS go up in a depression. The right wing caused this depression with their deregulatory fundamentalism and the deficits are the result. Bush’s last deficit was larger than Obama’s most recent on.e

  • moderate Guy

    “Nasser captured the hearts and minds of the Egyptians as no one else has done, mobilized the entire energy and enthusiasm of the nation for a great project of renewal and development, and failed horribly, utterly and humiliatingly”.
    That’s because like all the “great leaders” and their academic grand projects, from communists of Eastern Europe and Asia, to the Perons and Kitcheners and Chavezs to Nassers, Assads, and various other Arab megalomaniacs all the way to Obama, all these mobilizers and “larger than life” pretenders are utter and cynical frauds. Grubby little slugs out to cheat and con their way into political power with no idea how the real world works and no care about what real people desire.

  • ClawhammerJake

    Yes, they have problems. But we need to recognize that their business is their business. We should stay home. We have plenty to do here.

    • OBUMYA

      I agree…the more they kill each other, the safer the world will be. Seriously, are we not better off with less Islamic extremists in the world? I havent seen the Amish, the Jews, the Catholics, the Buddhists, even the Scientologists go out of their way to destroy everything they touch! Let them burn themselves to death…make the world a safer, happier and better place. And hey, we can maybe bring whats left into the Stone Age. Its a start. And next time can we please give these people toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap? Its like 2013 and these folks make Ellis Island look like the noodle scene from BladeRunner….

  • rogern1967

    If Egypt is to emerge as a representative democracy, it will need its own homerown versions of George Washington, James Madison, Hamilton, etc. Barring the existence of such individuals to take the lead, the nation is doomed to more theocracy, thugocracy, or puppet kingdom status. I pity the poor Egyptians.

    • bpuharic

      Is Islam capable of generating such figures? They’ve never had a Ghandi, a Martin Luther King, etc. Young, sexually frustrated men, seem to be the action figures in this video game playing itself out on the world stage.

  • Sagacity Brown

    What rubbish! It was Nasser who destroyed democracy in Egypt and established a police state and a military dictatorship. He destroyed what hope Egypt had to develop a stable representative state based on the rule of law. Nothing has changed since then. Nasser ran the army, the army ran Egypt, and it continues to run Egypt to this day, using as frontmen people like Mubarak and now the Brotherhood. When they fail to wow the crowds the army sweeps them away.

  • valwayne

    Another Obama success story? NOT!

    • OBUMYA

      Now be kind…he has a Nobel Peace Prize to prove its not his fault….

  • J House

    “Those who manage to acquire real skills often go work in the Gulf, where Egyptian expats are able to have something approaching an effective professional career.”

    And others go on to fly airplanes into N.Y. skyscrapers…

  • Yashmak

    The issue is not, as this author implies, a lack of ideas regarding how to fix Egypt’s problems. Plenty of people have ideas (although precious few realistic ones). The real issue is that there simply aren’t any realistic solutions to Egypt’s multitude problems which are applicable in the short to mid-term time range.

    Egypt has, in a very real sense, simply run out of time, money, and food. The populace is demanding short term solutions for problems which require long term (and difficult) solutions. They will likely not have the patience or will to enact anything likely to truly fix Egypt’s problems, because said solutions will offer no remedy for their suffering in the near term. . .and might even exacerbate the day-to-day difficulties they are experiencing now. All of the ideological notions posited in the article would be relevant to the man on the street if he could get gas for his car, and food for his table. If not, none of the ideological stuff matters whatsoever to him.

  • skzion

    I was surprised to read such pabulum from this author, who begins by patting himself on the back for his insight and writing skill.

    Muslims will always produce poverty and chaos unless they can pillage others. Heck, Arabs even pillaged the oil companies that made oil available to sell. That’s how the House of Islam is supposed to work.

    So, it’s boring even to bother thinking about which combination of totalitarian ideologies will eventually surface in Egypt. Egypt, like all other Muslim countries, will always be an enemy of the West.


    The entire Middle east is coming apart! Well good thing Hillary can bring her amazing skills at travelling as SecState, after all she has done to enhance our credibility around the world, back to America. I mean after all, Lord Obama is so beloved around the world, he may run for Emperor…and you thought Star wars was fiction> Seriously, does anybody want to blame Bush for this too!!!! Obama — when common sense, intelligence and self-respect fail all you morons who voted for this loser, you can always tell your kids you voted for the cool guy who read well from a teleprompter and the wide hipped woman who asks us what does it matter when an ambassador is raped and killed….liberalism is NOT a disease, its a virus…it infects the host and kills it.

    • bpuharic

      The reason the US has little credibility is that conservatives shot it in the Iraq war. Thugs and religious fascists saw conservatives had NO idea what they were doing. NOW the revisionists blame their failures on Obama.

      YOU guys voted TWICE for a guy who bankrupted the US, got us into a useless war he had NO intention of winning AND don’t even know your own history. You cost 4400 US lives and whimper about Benghazi.

      Conservatism dooms a nation.

      • OBUMYA

        yeah be much better to let Hussein and his little sons continue to rape and torture and invade smaller countries or maybe let Al Qaeda set up shop in Afghanistan. Face it, you libs only like wars started by your guys..I lived through carter and THAT is what led to this…once he allowed a bunch of kids in Iran to run the show…like Obama is doing now…WE conservatives had to clean, or try to clean, the mess up…wanna go back further, aint gonna work. Nope the Middle east messes began in the 70s with Carter, jut a fact. Obama isn’t doing us any good pulling out but you will fin that out in 3 year..bank on it.

        • bpuharic

          Yeah, that’s never happened before, and every instance calls for massive US intervention, right?

          If you conservatives cleaned up anything, Bush wouldn’t have had to fire Rumsfeld.You guys failed on a scale that bankrupted our country while killing 4400 US troops.

          • OBUMYA

            whatever. When does the Statute of Limitations run out for you liberals on blaming everything you dont like on Bush? For God’s sake can you people man the F**K UP and act like adults…Bush inherited Clinton failure to deal with Bin Laden and Clinton and Reno’s’ attempts to deal with insane terrorists like a candy store robber…dont recall Bush every blaming Clinton non stop for his 8 years. MAN THE F**K UP you spineless liberals!! Obama has done squat to reverse what Bush did because Obama –as President and not the pathetic 6 month Senator who talked the talk and then did nothing about the talk– KNOWS it needs to be done that way. Disagree? Gitmo. The Surge. Drone Strikes,. Bugging allies. Listening to Americans. Politicizing the IRS. Using the AG like a personal lawyer. Obama will be seen in history as one of the greatest violators of Civil Rights since FDR….THAT is how clueless you are…I suppose you support the Japanese Americans who still blame FDR for vicious violation of Civil Rights, I suppose we still blame Carter for his near wrecking of the economy…oh no thats right, OUR side gets in there and cleans up messes and NEVER acts like a petulant group of children with cookie crumbs on their mouths, blaming the one kid who took the cookies first. Obama is Cheney in terms of what he has done…you know and the world does too so lie back and enjoy the ride…we now have a President who has combined Nixon, Carter and Cheney…your loss!!!

          • bpuharic

            Bush is irrelevant. What IS relevant is the failure of policy he represents. This Jacksonian thuggery too common on the right to send in the Marines lest we be thought ‘weak’ or vacillating.

            You folks are screaming that your policies are a success. As proof you offer your assertion that they’re a success

            You say Obama’s a failure? Uh…remind me…how many troops do we have in Iraq?

            Oh…zero. Looks like a success to me. But that MISTAKE only cost 2 trillion dollars and 4400 US lives…a MISTAKE Obama has NOT repeated…while being called a ‘failure’ by the right.

            You clean up the mess? You’re BLAMING Obama for a depression that started 1 1/2 years before he took office!

          • OBUMYA

            Please. You libs remind me of those moronic parents who complain about other kids with runny noses when your own kid has sh*t his pants…people with intellect are bored with the Affirmative Action, lower the bar for success, raise it for failure excuses you give this clown. Libs thought Carter walked on water and history said otherwise…same with the child in the Oval Office. he is a loser…just ask, oh gee, Europe…so with that, no sense me responding any further…I have history on my side. You have a guy who is handsome, empty-suited and has thrived on his ability to divide and foster resentment. Ok so he wins for a few moment in history…but he is a lame duck, ObamaCare will fail miserably, the Dems will suffer again in 20154 like they did in 2010, and so its just fun watching him and you libs flail as he falters…whatever, enjoy your fantasy…your sense of reality here is akin to the guy who watches porno and thinks he is in love because he can pleasure himself to something fake. Grow up…Im out!

          • bpuharic

            What’s next? You going to tell us slavery and racism never existed in this country? You rely exclusively on revisionism, making assertions having no basis in fact.

            And again, how many trillion dollar wars did Obama get us into? If that’s failure, I’ll take it over right wing success anytime. Arlingtion National Cemetery doesn’t need new occupants.

            As to Obamacare, your suggestion we ration by ability to pay is already a failure, having given the US the most expensive healthcare system in the world.

            Your litany of failures is amusing, made even moreso by the tiresome assertions on the right that they’re really failures that glorify our ‘free market’ system which is actually an oligopoly.

          • OBUMYA

            No slavery was around LONG before the USA started and indeed, we secured salves from the African warlords who sold them….no white man wandered around Africa looking fro slaves. But if you wanna play White Guilt, Im Irish and when my people came here, they were discriminated against, Irish need Not Apply, mocked for their religion and called white n8g8ers….but we got our sh*t together in two generations. Gee what more do we need to do? Nothing. People are tired of the lame excuses…over pout and done, your ideology is for the weak, the moronic and the lazy and the uneducated…and thats why its so easy to con you mopes! Go troll elsewhere, its been fun but as always, libs start resorting to issues of slavery and its useless. Look around and see reality…its a lot easier to see reality when your sphincter isn’t blocking your view. Buh-bye….

          • bpuharic

            What? What possible relevance does your statement have to do with US slavery? Yes, it’s the oppressors who always tell the oppressed to forget about the past and let bygones be bygones.


    Does Obama still fondly recall the beautiful sound of the noon time prayers when he sees Egypt? Or Syria? Or Iran? Or Iraq? Or Afghanistan? No, too busy telling Catholics, In Ireland no less, not to worship differently than Protestants to avoid division, because he is so wise and knowledgeable in his view that the Muslims simply love diversity…oh wait didn’t I read that a Catholic Priest as beheaded in Syria this weekend? Oh, you didn’t see that on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or MSNBC? How shocking. But I bet you saw Obama telling Africa not to trust America….

  • Mmr

    There are so many things wrong with this article, I can’t even begin to list them all.

    The Coptic church isn’t organized? Not politically organized, yes, because it is not a political institution, but the Coptic church may be the most organized large group of people in Egypt. You only need to look at the way they handled the appointment of their new pope to see how organized they are. The real reason you don’t see the Coptic church launching a civil war is because they share the same dream of most Egyptians which is to have their basic rights and freedoms. The government run by the Muslim Brotherhood is by no means providing this and is on a path directly in the opposite direction.
    I am keeping close tabs on the situation in Egypt and I too read the NYT article that “gets closer than most” as you say. In actuality, this article was the most inaccurate by far and the most politically-motivated, as it expresses the current view of the US government which is that they want the MB in power.
    The Egyptian youth may not have the political experience to make their own political parties and run the country but that is not the purpose of this revolution. If you look at the past year of Egypt’s government you’ll see how Morsi discarded the idea of a democratic country and chose instead to appoint the members of his party in all the high government positions ignoring the rest of the 83 million Egyptians. He drafted a makeshift invalid constitution that did not protect any Egyptian minorities or women, and was centred around his personal agenda. And let’s not forget his decision to give himself sweeping powers over all of Egypt for a few days before protests (the same ones you seem to be so opposed to) forced him to take back the declaration.
    The Egyptians today are opposing the illegitimacy of Morsi’s presidency as a result of his failure to abide by the democratic policies they worked so hard for in the past. They are not frivolously dreaming the government will give them a free lunch, they simply want a government that will make decisions based on the will of the people, will appoint knowledgable people in the right positions (another thing Morsi failed to do), and to protect their basic human rights.
    As the NYT article argues, the Egyptians cannot simply work their way up from the bottom and start a political party, because they will not be heard. The liberal ministers that resigned did so for a reason; they were not being heard, and all the decisions were coming from the Muslim Brotherhood and their twisted agenda.
    To claim that the people are going about this in the wrong way is minimizing their suffering and completely offensive and ignorant.

    However, the most ignorant statement in this article is the assertion that with this revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood “has no serious opposition”. If you think that millions of Egyptians supported by the police force, the army, and the entire Egyptian media is no serious opposition, I urge you to wait and see how this revolution ends and then speak.

  • Black Blizzard

    “Egypt’s university system is particularly destructive. Year after year it turns out people with paper credentials, high expectations, and no real skills or understanding of how the world works.”

    So, exactly like in the US then.

  • I’m having a hard time caring about the problems of 3rd world yahoos living on the far side of the planet.

    Dysfunctional nations are going to be dysfunctional. We may be able to look over at that nation, observe the behaviors of its people, and know what they are doing wrong. But we can’t make them do any differently.

    We can’t even do this here at home with the various segments of society that comprise our underclasses. How are we supposed to change things anywhere else?

    Can’t fix broken people, let alone broken nations of people.

    When problems abroad represent a security issue here at home, then we should act, and act swiftly and decisively. Otherwise there is nothing we really can do except monitor what is happening and be ready to act.

    Egypt is a mess because it is full of Egyptians. As long as the nature and character of that culture is what it is, Egypt will continue to be a mess. We can’t change who they are, only they can do that.

    Attempting to save people from themselves is not a valid use of government here at home, let alone on the far side of the world. As much as we would like the whole world to join us in peace and prosperity, we can’t make anyone do it.

    The most we can do is learn from their example of what not to do, what not do be, so as to avoid unwittingly following in their footsteps.

  • SLK1989

    Good article, but Mr. Mead should avoid using expressions that require some knowledge of the history of certain weapons: ie. the Molotov Cocktail. The phrase “you have a cocktail much more explosive than anything Molotov knew” suggests that it was Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov who invented and named this guerrilla weapon when, in fact, the name “Molotov Cocktail” was coined by the Finns during the Winter War of 1939, not by Mr. Molotov. The Finns used these incendiary devices to fire at invading Soviet tanks. Get your history right, Mr.Mead: the mistake undermines your otherwise insightful piece.

  • crazymook

    The U.S. has real problems that need hard, dedicated work. The rest of the world would benefit more from a strong U.S. than a weak U.S., expending her last gasps trying to heal their problems from afar.

    Losers always focus on other people’s problems instead of attending to their own. We don’t need to be losers, as tempting as that may be.

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