Monday, January 31, 2011

'Let Egypt Go to Sh*t'

That's what Eric Dondero told me today in an e-mail exchange. He blew off my argument for democracy in Egypt and said:
"Full-fledged support of Israel. Let Egypt go to shit. Threaten them. Tell them, any border crossings by the Egyptian military into southern Israel will be met with the full might and force of the US Military."
Also, at the comments from Eric's blog, Libertarian Republican:
Donald, protect Israel, and make it abundantly clear, whatever happens the United States will not tolerate a Radical Islamist regime like Muslim Brotherhood taken over.

Pressure Mubarak to step aside and let someone pro-America/pro-free enterprise take his place.

But alas, with Islamist-sympathizer Obama in the White House, the situation is just about hopeless
I also heard from my former student Barbara Efraim. She's concerned. She wrote that "a government led by the MB can be BAD." No doubt. And Barbara's especially worried about Israel: "Netanyahu said that they need to support Mubarak, but when he leaves, the incoming government coalition will most probably be opposed to Bibi and to the U.S." Again, that's for sure. News reports indicated today that Mohamed Ghanem, a Muslim Brotherhood stooge in Egypt, has announced plans for a military campaign against Israel. So to be clear, I'm not minimizing the threat. I think the New York Times' piece last night covered the challenges extremely well. Israel Matzav links to that piece, with added discussion: "The New Middle East." And John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has been on Fox News all week warning against the Muslim Brotherhood. It's a dangerous situation.

That said, no one knows for sure what will happen. The New York Times reported earlier that Egypt's military renounced the use of force against the protesters. See, "Mubarak’s Grip on Power Is Shaken." And a million protesters are expected to take to the streets on Tuesday.

So amid all the uncertainty, I say once again: America has to stand for freedom. Stephen Hadley, former national security advisor to President George W. Bush, offered an insightful analysis at today's Wall Street Journal, "
The Two Likeliest Political Outcomes for Mubarak":
Time and a full array of political alternatives are critical in the upcoming presidential election and the parliamentary elections that undoubtedly will follow. If given an array of choices, I believe that the Egyptian people will choose a democratic future of freedom and not an Islamist future of imposed extremism. While the Muslim Brotherhood, if legalized, would certainly win seats in a new parliament, there is every likelihood that the next Egyptian government will not be a Muslim Brotherhood government but a non-Islamist one committed to building a free and democratic Egypt.

Such a government would still pose real challenges to U.S. policy in many areas. But with all eyes in the region on Egypt, it would be a good outcome nonetheless. With a large population and rich cultural heritage, Egypt has always been a leader in the Middle East. Now it has the opportunity to become what it always should have been—the leader of a movement toward freedom and democracy in the Arab world
And see also William Kristol's latest analysis, "Obama's Opportunity: This is the 3 a.m. phone call. Will President Obama rise to the occasion?":
It’s up to President Obama to seize the moment. It’s not too late for him to do so. But the stakes are high, and the situation is urgent. Egypt’s path may be determined in the next 48 hours. President Obama can overcome all the counsels of timidity and passivity. He can take charge of his administration. He can help usher Mubarak out—his presence is now a source of instability, and the longer the showdown continues, the greater the odds of a bad outcome. He can get the U.S. engaged—to some degree publicly, but on all cylinders privately. Our ability to shape events is limited, we keep on being told. That’s true—but we don’t know how much we can do until we try. And what’s the downside? We can’t bring back the status quo ante.
I too think that the Egyptian people will ultimately choose freedom, and the biggest threat to stability in the region is the Obama administration's amateurism. Support the Egyptian democracy. Change will be messy, and even dangerous, but it will be honest and we'll deal with the consequences. I won't tell the Egyptian people to "go eat sh*t."

'Let the People of Egypt Vote'

Via Ahmed Al Omran on Twitter:

She's Saudi, apparently, but a precocious little thing like this is the face of modernity for the Middle East.

And in other news, some
conservatives and libertarians are still resisting democratic change in Egypt. Sure, no doubt ElBaradei is a poor prospect, although I'm still waiting to see who will form a viable secular opposition. And as I noted previously, we saw ElBaradei shilling for the Muslim Brotherhood yesterday on CNN. So let's be clear about no illusions here. I've chronicled the risks over the last few days. But as Victor Davis Hanson pointed out, Mubarak's regime is the ultimate source of popular discontent, and maintaining the status quo will simply exacerbate the rage on the street. Building on that sentiment is Danielle Pletka, "How Should the US Respond to the Protests in the Middle East?":
Some say that a freedom agenda only opens the door to Islamists; the truth is that our support for secular dictators does more for Islamists than democracy promotion ever did. We have an opportunity to right our ways and stand with the people of the Middle East - not forgetting Iran - in their quest for basic freedom. But it's going to take more than bland statements and White House hand-wringing. The president himself needs to stand up and unequivocally make clear America's position: in favor of the people over their oppressors. Suspend aid to the Egyptian government. Initiate an immediate review of all programs in the Middle East. Get the word out to our diplomats. Now.
See also, Michael Rubin, "The U.S. Should Not Fear Egypt Regime Change":
Today, the U.S. is paying the price for its refusal to cultivate liberal opposition. Next to Iraq and Afghanistan, Egypt hosts the largest American embassy in the world. That no American diplomat saw this uprising coming, however, should raise serious questions about how our embassies operate. That the Muslim Brotherhood presents a real challenge to American policy is undeniable. In neither Tunisia nor Egypt, however, have Islamists led the popular protests, although there is a risk that the Brotherhood may co-opt the protests. The mistake the White House has made in the past - both under Bush and Obama - is that it has accepted the rhetoric of democracy and liberalism without setting tough standards. Militias should never be accepted as political parties, nor should any group that legitimizes terrorism ever have America's imprimatur. The sooner the White House and State Department engage non-violent opposition groups in the Middle East, the more influence the U.S. will enjoy when the going gets rough and the dictators get going.
That's one way to tackle the Muslim Brotherhood question, and while sweet-sounding and wonkish, it's not satisfying in the short term. Jihad Watch reports that the Muslim Brotherhood has pledged war with Israel in the advent of power: "Muslim Brotherhood Leader: Prepare for War with Israel."

Things are still really up in the air. See Business Week, "
Egypt’s Suleiman to Seek Dialogue With Opposition," and New York Times, "Government Offers Talks After Army Says It Will Not Fire." But see Foreign Policy, "White House Prepares for Life After Mubarak." Also at Memeorandum.

Anyway, I'll have more later.

And no, I'm
not a socialist.

PREVIOUSLY: "Move Quickly on Egypt Democracy."

Added: From Laura Rozen, "Egypt VP Suleiman, Defense chief preparing transition from Mubarak rule, analyst says."

Move Quickly on Egypt Democracy

I've been reading around the conserva-sphere, and there's a lot of backtracking on Egypt. The euphoria's gone, replaced with a deep fear of an Islamist regime in Cairo. It's certainly understandable. This New York Times story on Israel paints near trembling at the prospects of collapse of secularist Egypt: "Israel Shaken as Turbulence Rocks an Ally." And Melanie Phillips, one of my favorite writers, made a surprisingly pointed effort to distance herself from the neoconservative agenda of democracy promotion: "The Arab world on the brink...but of what?"

But folks need to get a grip. Nostalgia for Mubarak is exceedingly misplaced. Yeah, he's our guy and all that. But he's been a disaster for Egypt's development, and in an age of increasingly rapid global communications, the regime's failures are exponentially multiplied by the day. Victor Davis Hanson points out that the roots of radicalism in Egypt have more to do with Mubarak's rule than anything found in Israel or the United States, "What’s the Matter with Egypt?"
What’s next? “Finger-in-the-wind” diplomacy may work for a while, but it requires deftness that follows conditions on the street in a nanosecond to avoid appearing purely cynical (a skill beyond Hillary, Biden, and Obama). I think in this bad/worse choice scenario we might as well support supposedly democratic reformers, with the expectation that they could either fail in removing Mubarak or be nudged out by those far worse than Mubarak. Contrary to popular opinion, I think Bush was right to support elections in Gaza “one time” (only of course). The Gazans got what they wanted, we are done with them, and they have to live with the results, happy in their thuggish misery, with a prosperous Israel and better-off West Bank to remind them of their stupidity. All bad, but an honest bad and preferable to the lie that there were thousands of Jeffersonians in Gaza thwarted by the U.S.

So step back and watch it play out with encouragement for those who oppose both Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood— hoping for the best, expecting the worst.
And as I indicated earlier, the dawdling Obama administration is only empowering the Green-Red alliance working to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power. Even mainstream progressives are pooh-poohing the Brotherhood's ties to Hamas and global jihad. So we need to move quickly in transitioning to an interim government committed to free-and-fair elections in the near-term. William Kristol offers the appropriate response, "Beyond Mubarak: ‘Twere Well It Were Done Quickly":
In a crisis like this, moving quickly is often more important than moving in an “orderly” way. After all, an “orderly” transition is far less important than a desirable and orderly outcome. Trying to ensure now that everything is “well thought-out” to the satisfaction of diplomats can easily become an excuse for a drawn-out transition. And that means trouble. The more drawn-out this transition is, the more likely it is to end badly. The best case—the least radicalizing one for the population, the least advantageous for the Muslim Brotherhood—would be a quick transition now to an interim government, with the prospect of elections not too far off, so people can rally to the prospect of a new liberal regime. Uncertainty and dithering is what helps the Lenins and Khomeinis in revolutionary situations. Acting boldly to prevent more disarray and more chaos offers the best chance for an orderly outcome.
I'd recommend folks visit Jennifer Rubin for updates throughout the day as well. She hammered the administration's dalliances earlier, "On Egypt, Obama offers 'too little, too late'." And in another entry she points to the pragmatic manifesto of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
"For far too long the democratic hopes of the Egyptian people have been suppressed. Their cries for freedom can no longer be silenced.

"I am deeply concerned about the Egyptian government's heavy-handed response seeking to silence the Egyptian people. It is imperative that all parties involved avoid violence.

"I am further concerned that certain extremist elements inside Egypt will manipulate the current situation for nefarious ends.

"The U.S. and other responsible nations must work together to support the pursuit of freedom, democracy, and human rights in Egypt and throughout the world."
That's the right balance and the right approach. It's time to move forward. The neo-communists will seize the initiative and attempt to install the Islamists in power. Their useful idiots on the progressive left --- in the media and Democrat Party apparatus --- will help propel that outcome. For the true friends of freedom, the best bet is to quit whining about how bad the Muslim Brotherhood is and start working to help the Egyptians on the street take back their country. Those folks are at the top video above. They help us capture a vision of what an emerging secularist democracy could look like.

Socialists Rally in Support of Egypt — You Think?

Below at top, at 2:25 minutes, we can see a revolutionary banner with the U.S. on the target list. And this is a surprise? Perhaps so for Jonathon Seidl at The Blaze, "Why Were U.S. Socialists Rallying in Support of Egypt This Weekend?"

It's a long rambling post, so no need to single out anything in particular. This stuff is old news to anyone even remotely familiar with current agenda of the neo-communist left.

And from Blazing Catfur, a clip from Saturday's Egyptian Freedom Support Rally in Toronto. Hijacked by the red-green revolutionary alliance, "
Video: Toronto's Egyptian Freedom Support Rally Hijacked By Islamists & Their Pseudo-Leftist Enablers":

BONUS: Don't miss David Horowitz, "The American Left and the Crisis in Egypt."

Cairo, Ramses Square, January 28, 2011

From Sarah Carr's Flickr stream. Especially powerful is the Christian and Muslim cooperation at top. Considering recent developments, let's hope we see more of this:

Sarah Carr Egypt Photos

Sarah Carr Egypt Photos

Sarah Carr Egypt Photos

Sarah Carr Egypt Photos

Sarah Carr Egypt Photos

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Facing the Unknown in Egypt

From Ross Douthat, at New York Times, "The Devil We Know":

As the world ponders the fate of Egypt after Hosni Mubarak, Americans should ponder this: It’s quite possible that if Mubarak had not ruled Egypt as a dictator for the last 30 years, the World Trade Center would still be standing.

This is true even though Mubarak’s regime has been a steadfast U.S. ally, a partner in our counterterrorism efforts and a foe of Islamic radicalism. Or, more aptly, it’s true because his regime has been all of these things.

In “The Looming Tower,” his history of Al Qaeda, Lawrence Wright raises the possibility that “America’s tragedy on September 11 was born in the prisons of Egypt.” By visiting imprisonment, torture and exile upon Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak foreclosed any possibility of an Islamic revolution in his own country. But he also helped radicalize and internationalize his country’s Islamists, pushing men like Ayman Al-Zawahiri — Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, and arguably the real brains behind Al Qaeda — out of Egyptian politics and into the global jihad.

At the same time, Mubarak’s relationship with Washington has offered constant vindication for the jihadi worldview. Under his rule, Egypt received more American dollars than any country besides Israel. For many young Egyptians, restless amid political and economic stagnation, it’s been a short leap from hating their dictator to hating his patrons in the United States. One of the men who made this leap was an architecture student named Mohamed Atta, who was at the cockpit when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center.

These sound like good reasons to welcome Mubarak’s potential overthrow, and the end to America’s decades-long entanglement with his drab, repressive regime. Unfortunately, Middle Eastern politics is never quite that easy. The United States supported Mubarak for so long because of two interrelated fears: the fear of another Khomeini and the fear of another Nasser. Both anxieties remain entirely legitimate today.


Douthat is right to say that, in the end, the Egyptians have the last word on what government is right for them. But looking at the clip above, with the "we have to destroy Israel" sentiment, it's gonna be a rocky road ahead.

And here's an exit question. Do you think the signatories of this "
Open Letter to President Barack Obama" are saying the same thing?

In order for the United States to stand with the Egyptian people it must approach Egypt through a framework of shared values and hopes, not the prism of geostrategy. On Friday you rightly said that “suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.” For that reason we urge your administration to seize this chance, turn away from the policies that brought us here, and embark on a new course toward peace, democracy and prosperity for the people of the Middle East. And we call on you to undertake a comprehensive review of US foreign policy on the major grievances voiced by the democratic opposition in Egypt and all other societies of the region.

A number of prominent communists are signatories. And for the left, this is an anti-colonial revolution with explicitly anti-Zionist goals attached to it. (I'll scour around for more, but you'll get a chill reading some posts at Mondweiss. For example, "This revolution ‘undoubtedly means the end of Israel as a Jewish state’.")

That's frightening. Still, there's obviously no turning back on revolutionary change. The trick is to manage it. The goal is a reasonably secular interim government committed to democracy.
Expect updates ....

Mohammed ElBaradei to Form Government of National Unity?

It's a possibility I raised previously. And I think his comments constitute among the most important developments of the day. The guys over at Hot Air pretty much hit all the bases, "ElBaradei: Hit the road, Mubarak."

ElBaradei makes three main points: (1) Mubarak has to go; (2) there must be a transition from dictatorship to democracy, with the subordination of the military to civilian rule; and (3) the Muslim Brotherhood is not an extremist conservative religious organization. He also tells CNN's Fareed Zakaria that he'll serve as interim president if that's what the public wants. But clearly, his views on the Muslim Brotherhood are extremely controversial and deeply problematic. There's certainly been some discussion of this around the sphere. Andrew McCarthy is emphatic in pointing out that, frankly, the Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas, despite media spin and progressive propaganda to the contrary: "Hamas Is the Muslim Brotherhood." And Frank Gaffney points out the larger security threat: "The Muslim Brotherhood is the Enemy."

At any rate, check the mainstream press reporting for background, at LAT, "
EGYPT: Opposition leader urges U.S. to stop backing Mubarak," and NYT, "Jubilant Protesters Hail ElBaradei." And while I'd like to see some movement here, and I don't personally oppose ElBaradei in the interim, it's going to tremendous effort to cultivate secularism and civil society over extremism and Islamist jihad. And to close on a less optimist note than I've been taking, here's Nonie Darwish, "Egypt Between Dictatorships And Revolutions: A Choice Between Bad and Worse":
The choice in Egypt is not between good and bad, it is between bad and worse. The Muslim world lacks the understanding of what is hindering them and lacks the moral and legal foundation for forming a stable democratic political system. They will continue to rise and fall, stumble from one revolution to another and living from one tyrant to another looking for the ideal Islamic state that never was. The 1400 year old Islamic history of tyranny will continue unless Sharia Law is rejected as the basis of the legal and political systems in Muslim countries.
BONUS: At The Other McCain, "Egyptian Uprising: Latest Updates," and the commentary at Memeorandum.

Hillary Clinton on Meet the Press: No 'Faux Democracy' in Egypt

I watched this NBC segment with David Gregory's interview of Secretary of State Clinton. But Clinton made the rounds of all of the Sunday talk shows, and LAT has the details, "Hillary Clinton says U.S. not pushing for ouster of Egyptian President Mubarak":

Reporting from Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday called for Egypt to move toward "real democracy" but also made clear that the United States was not demanding that embattled President Hosni Mubarak step down in the face of continuing demonstrations.

In a series of television interviews, Clinton also eased slightly off the administration's threats on Friday to yank Egypt's billions in aid, saying such a step was not now under discussion.

Clinton spoke warmly of the Egyptian military as a "respected institution" and advised it to help move the country from its current unrest to an "orderly transition."

"We are urging the Mubarak government, which is still in power; we are urging the military, which is a very respected institution, to do what is necessary to facilitate that kind of orderly transition."

She spoke to NBC's "Meet the Press," "Fox News Sunday," ABC's "This Week," CBS' "Face the Nation," and CNN's "State of the Union."

U.S. officials are looking for what they are calling "managed change" -- a gradual transition to elections that lead the way to a greater sharing of power and economic reforms. With the Iranian revolution of 1979 in mind, they fear an abrupt transition that would lead to turmoil and a possible seizure of power by what they feel is the wrong kind of leadership.

Egypt has a powerful military that has kept the ruling party in place for more than 30 years. Its largest and best-organized opposition group is the banned Muslim Brotherhood. In this environment, other opposition groups have not been able to develop, and that absence could make a democratic transition difficult.
And at Politico, "Hillary Clinton calls for 'real democracy' in Egypt":
“Real stability only comes from the kind of democratic participation that allows people to feel that they are being heard,” Clinton said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” calling for “real democracy.”

She warned that the U.S. would not accept two alternatives as potential ends to the current crisis: “democracy of six months or a year and then evolving essentially into a military dictatorship” or – a scarier specter for American policymakers –what she described on NBC’s “Meet The Press” as “faux democacy like the elections we saw in Iran…where you have one election 30 years ago and the people stay in power and become less and less responsive to their people.”

Picking Sides in Egypt? Choose Freedom — Resist the Red-Green Alliance of Anti-Israel Fanaticism

By now folks are anticipated the end of the Mubarak regime. Unfortunately, the political and ideological battles lines are not so neatly drawn. I personally hesitate to attack the Obama adminstration as alleging aiding the Islamists, as in the case of my good friend Reaganite Republican, "Obama Secretly Schemed with Egyptian Opposition for 'Regime Change' for Years!" The evidence there is based on a single WikiLeaks cable published at Telegrah UK and the significance depends on how we define "opposition." The Egyptian opposition movement is broad, and the Muslim Brotherhood has long been the most well organized and highly mobilized. So there's danger there. But as Pamela points out, the fight is for freedom. If anything, the administration has been way too restrained in its approach to the protests. And by standing on the side of dictatorship, Obama gives aid and comfort not just to Islamist extremists, but the world solidarity movement seeking to delegitimize and destroy Israel. The first shot below is from Joshua Keating and the second, from a CNN screencap, shows a protester sporting Arafat's keffiyeh. Clearly, the neo-Stalinist ANSWER contingents have infiltrated the protests, turning opposition to Mubarak into a totalitarian red-green alliance for terror and Israel's destruction: "The Red-Green Alliance: Muslim Brotherhood, ANSWER Battle Mubarak."



The problem will be to sort through the range of opposition groups to find those who truly support freedom. It's not the ANSWER hordes, nor is it those at the far-left Salon, who have published a screed from self-hating Israel-basher Philip Weiss, a.k.a, Mondweiss, "Why is America So Afraid?":
The grimness on the faces of American Establishment figures reflects the greatest threat to authority, the crumbling of an existing order. Support for Israel has defined order in this region for decades and steered our support for dictators ... All this is changing in Egypt. An Arab liberation story is forcing itself into world consciousness ... There is bound to be great suffering in Egypt, we pray for a smooth transition, but if the Egyptians are only left to handle their own affairs, who doubts that the polity that will emerge from this chaos will be more responsive to human rights, and will strike a blow against the fetters of anti-Arab racism that have chained the American mind.
Pamela has more on the Salon communists, "Scrubbing and Smearing: Islamic vs. Secular Governance in Egypt - Leftist Islamic Machine in High Gear." Also, related at Blazing Catfur, "Egypt 'Support' Rally Hijacked By the Usual Islamist Suspects & Their Enablers."

This is not to say it will be easy sorting through the lines of opposition. The report from
tour guide Amos Abidov is illustrative. Leading a group of visitors to Epypt, he reports:
How is the atmosphere? Do you feel secure?

"The attitude towards us as Israelis and tourist is very friendly. Actually, they're overly nice compared to my previous visits in Egypt. The Egyptians want to explain themselves, to tell everyone about their struggle. They speak Arabic over here so it's easy to communicate with them. On Friday we went right past the demonstrations on our way back from the pyramids, and people helped us get though the crowd."
Looks like the Muslim Brotherhood folks weren't on the scene.

That said, the danger remains in the larger political and strategic situation. Two reports are worth checking. At Pajamas Media,
Barry Rubin warns of a fundamentalist regime coming to power, and at STRATFOR, "Red Alert: Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood." Hamas cells from Gaza have made their way into Egypt, working there with fundamentalist elements in the security apparatus. All told, the challenge is monumental, but as the tourist passage above illustrates, the end result of regime formation in Egypt is ultimately a political question.

There's an excellent (and extremely cautious) roundup at Sister Toldjah's, "
Egypt: 'Things are never so bad they can’t get worse'." And the post links to the very pessimistic interview with Ambassador John Bolton at Fox News from Friday.

So, if we have to choose, it's not a choice between the authoritarianism of Mubarak's nationalist regime and those of the Red-Green alliance for Islamist terrorism. The choice is freedom. And had the Obama administration been out in front on this, the peaceful elements --- like those helping the Israel tourists above --- could have gained the upper hand in the emergence of a new regime. It's not too late. But no matter what happens, we can see the battle lines ahead. Freedom and democracy on the one hand, and violent anti-American, anti-Israel totalitarianism on the other.

Rule 5 Roundup — GSGF Edition

GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD has the results of this week's Watchers of Weasels Council Winners.

Not enough hours in the day to keep tabs on all the world's weasels, which no doubt should include the neo-communists at the top of the list. That said, GSGF's posted these hoochies, so they'll serve to start off this week's Rule 5 roundup:

GSGF Weekend

Theo Spark's got Saturday night's bath totty.

And picking up from last weekend is WyBlog with
the Jets cheerleading hotties. And from midweek is Modesto Knuckledragger with a slinky tribute to Tattoo Jim, whoever that is, LOL!

Proof Positive comes in for the Friday night babe, featuring
Stephanie Seymour. No mention there of the former supermodel's shocking "beach kissing scandal," where she was caught noshing the lips of her 18 year-old son Peter Brandt.

And with that, here's the regular reach-around: Astute Bloggers, Bob Belvedere, CSPT, Dan Collins, Gator Doug, Irish Cicero, Left Coast Rebel, Mind-Numbed Robot, PA Pundits International, Pirate's Cove, Saberpoint, Snooper, WyBlog, The Western Experience, Yankee Phil, and Zion's Trumpet.

Plus, lots of Egyptian protest blogging at
American Perspective and Maggie's Notebook.

And speaking of Egypt, or not, see The Other McCain, "
Like Egypt, Charlie Sheen’s Problems Have Finally Reached Crisis Stage."

As always, drop your link in the comments to be added to the roundups.

The Dark Side Side of Internet for Egyptian and Tunisian Protesters

See Evgeny Morozov, at Toronto's Globe and Mail:

As the pundits were busy celebrating the contribution of Twitter and Facebook to protests in Tunisia and Egypt, most of them ignored the terrifying news from Iran, where on Monday two activists were hanged for distributing video footage on the Internet from the country's 2009 “Twitter Revolution.”

The contrast between Tunisia and Iran couldn't be starker: The former has just installed a dissident blogger as a government minister while the latter is still persecuting those who dared to challenge the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 18 months after the elections. Fortunately for Tunisian dissident bloggers, their army refused to shoot the protesters, the country's much-hated ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia and the new government has shown no intention of going after the protesters, many of whom are now celebrated as heroes. However, had the events in Tunisia turned otherwise – with Mr. Ben Ali staying in office after a bloody crackdown – it is likely that his secret police would now be acting very much like Iran's, turning to social-networking sites to identify his opponents.

As protests spread in the Arab world, much has been said about the democratizing power of the Internet, however, it is important to note that in the hands of an authoritarian regime it can become a tool of repression. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been used to publicize protests and share videos of police brutality, but they can also be used to track down dissidents after protests subside.

Egypt is one case where it is still hard to predict which side – President Hosni Mubarak's brutal police force or the predominantly peaceful protesters – will prevail in the long term. A 26-page leaflet with protest tips that has been distributed in Cairo explicitly warns its recipients to distribute it with the help of photocopiers and e-mail rather than social media, as the security police could be watching the latter. These concerns became less of an issue on Thursday, as the Mubarak regime pulled the plug on most of the country's communication systems, including the Internet and mobile networks.

That Iranians, Tunisians and Egyptians would be using the Internet to communicate is of little surprise; there is a symbiotic relationship between revolutionary movements and the latest communications technologies. Lenin lauded the power of the telegraph and the postal service while the Iranian Revolution of 1979 owes a great debt to the tape recorder, which allowed Ayatollah Khomeini to record his sermons in Paris and have them smuggled back to the Shah's Iran.

So it is only natural that the new protest movements in the Middle East turn to Facebook and Twitter: These platforms are cheap and provide almost instantaneous visibility to their causes. And those causes do not need to be widely admired in the West. As both Lenin and Khomeini discovered, one doesn't have to be a proponent of liberal democracy to make effective use of new communication tools. Were a revolution to break out in modern Russia, for example, it is likely to be led by anti-Western nationalists, who have made a far more effective use of new media than the Kremlin's liberal opponents.

The lesson for tyrants here is simple: The only way to minimize their exposure to digitally enabled protests is to establish full control over all telecommunications infrastructure in the country.

More at the link.

And check out Morozov's book, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.

'Retarded Sexuality'? — Plus, Scott Lemieux Anti-Semitism?

So alleges Paul Campos, at Lawyers, Gays and Marriage, after noticing that the New York Times' Opinionator Blog linked to my essay on the vice president's response to the Egyptian protests. But look, I've never heard of "retarded sexuality" ... or "unretarded sexuality," for that matter. I have heard of "repressed sexuality," which is weird when placed in the context of the radical progressives. I guess it's not so much '60-style free love any more so much as it is Obama-cult totalitarianism. So, yeah, it's repression, all the way down.

Maybe Theo's
Bedtime Totty will help those creeps loosen up a bit (click and enlarge the full image here).

And back over at LGM, Professor Dan Nexon
in the comments:
I can’t get worked up over which commentators opinionator pulls from, but there is something disturbing about juxtaposing Donald’s and allapundit’s thoughts with those of Marc Lynch. They could have found a right-wing expert on Middle East politics, rather than people far outside of their specialty who’s only interest is to find the latest angle to criticize Obama. But, no, we get a leading scholar on Middle East media and democratization and, well, the “other side.”
Fine, but c'mon: I don't really like being lumped in with Allahpundit!

ADDED: Scott Lemieux's piece on academic freedom: "We’re Just Firing You — The Course is Safe!"

And while the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has issued a protest, for some reason I doubt Lemieux would be standing up for the professor if he'd been attacking rather than backing Israel. Maybe that's because the guy's apparently a suicide-bomber sympathizer. Yeah, that's it. Lemieux's all about killing the innocent, so that makes sense.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt Protests: Sunday Morning, January 30th, Cairo

Journalist Danny Ramadan tweets:
"Cairo, 7.30AM on Sunday 30th of Jan, curfew is about to end and two people are on Qasr al-Aini."

Egypt Cairo

And some additional photos from Danny Ramadan. The ruling party headquarters on the 28th:

Egypt Ruling Party Headquarters

Protesters and a tank:

Egypt Protesters

The battle for Qasri Nile bridge:

Egypt Qasr al-Aini Bridge

Egypt Qasr al-Aini Fighting

Innocent bystanders are beaten:

Egypt Protesters Attacked

Retreat from the bridge:

Egypt Proterst Retreat Qasr al-Aini

Chris Matthews Says Panama Canal in Egypt

At Instapundit, "NOT THE SHARPEST KNIFE IN THE MSNBC DRAWER: Chris Matthews, who derides Palin as stupid, says Panama Canal is in… EGYPT!" The link goes to The Blog Prof, "What's good for the goose, should be good for the gander":

Mubarak Struggles to Maintain Power — Obama Struggles to Stay Relevant

Lots of news coming in.

At New York Times, "
Egyptians Defiant as Military Does Little to Quash Protests," and Wall Street Journal, "Chaos, Looting Spread as Mubarak Names Key Deputies." And at Politico, "President Obama Inches Away From Mubarak":

The Obama administration Saturday continued inching away from the besieged government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as observers in Washington and Cairo began to conclude that the autocrat has little chance of restoring his authority.

Key American officials spent Saturday morning in a two-hour meeting and another hour briefing President Barack Obama that afternoon.

Obama “reiterated our focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights and supporting concrete steps that advance political reform within Egypt,” according to a White House description of the later meeting.

But in terms of officials words on the spiraling crisis — one that holds enormous stakes for U.S. foreign policy — administration officials spoke only in a Twittered whisper, allowing Obama’s Friday night call on Mubarak to move swiftly toward political reform to set the tone.

“The people of Egypt no longer accept the status quo. They are looking to their government for a meaningful process to foster real reform,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley wrote Saturday morning. “The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat. President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action.”
A similar report at New York Times, "Obama Presses Egypt for Change, Without Calling for New Face at the Top." No doubt the fear inside the White House is that should revolution come, the administration will look hapless after the fact. To be fair, it's certainly not an easy situation. Mainly though, Obama appeared way too restrained during his brief comments last night. It's going to be quite interesting to see how the political opposition views the United States if Mubarak is deposed. I can't see the army handing power over to a bunch fanatical ruffians and Islamists, although a government of national unity behind Mohamed ElBaradei sounds like a good possibility. The Muslim Brotherhood could have a major voice either way, although good leadership could maintain secular rule and the transition to democratic elections. Then it's the will of the people.

Expect updates ...

RELATED: At Politico, "
Ex-officials urge Obama to suspend aid to Egypt" (via Memeorandum). And Peter Feaver, "Egypt's unrest reveals Obama's Middle East strategy is all wrong"

Conservatives in the Crosshairs

At the clip is Ed Driscoll's latest edition of Silicon Graffiti. I scooped the blogosphere on Newsweek's "American Assassins," as folks might recall:

There's more, at any rate. Sultan Knish offers an analysis, "In the Crosshairs of the Speech Police":
The best propaganda is not just accepted by those who hear it, but also by those who tell it. The lie so compelling that even the liar comes to believe in it. But lies are accepted more deeply when they appeal to the emotions and worldview of the hearer. And so when there is a cultural gap, the liar is more often fooled, than the lied to. He believes his own lie, because he wants to believe it. The lie reflects how he thinks the world really works.


When the media fails to win on an issue, it will blame the messaging. But if after every effort is exhausted, the public remains unconvinced, it will decide that the public is unreasonable. Dangerously so. In the media narrative, unpersuadability is equivalent to irrationality. And such people are dangerous. Having placed its own worldview at the apex of reason, worldviews that deviate from it are treated as unreasonable to the extent and magnitude of their deviation. Culture gaps that are not based on race or ethnicity, will elicit a violently xenophobic response. While the media celebrates diversity, it is actually profoundly intolerant of differences.
More at the link.

But see the outstanding James Taranto, "
The Politics of Bloodlust: Barbara Ehrenreich, Hendrik Hertzberg and the Left's Disturbing Preoccupation With Violence."

I've covered Ehrenreich in detail, and Taranto's discussion is exquisite, but let's scroll down to the discussion of Hertzberg:
Even odder, many on the left have advanced a false narrative in which the Tea Party is violent. The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg did so in a column last week, in which he was still trying to justify the media's falsely blaming the right for the attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Hertzberg claims that the shooting "took place amid a two-year eruption of shocking vituperation and hatred, virtually all of it coming from people who call themselves conservatives," and that "these realities, and not the malevolence of liberal opportunists, were why, in the immediate aftermath of the crime, the 'national conversation' focussed on the nation's poisonous political and rhetorical climate."

This is bunk. The "two-year eruption of shocking vituperation and hatred" is a media myth, promulgated in two primary ways:

The first is by seeking out the most extreme expressions by Tea Party activists and sympathetic politicians and portraying them as if they were typical. This is in sharp contrast to the way left-wing political rallies are covered. Extreme and violent rhetoric is at least as easy to find there if you look--Michael Bowers has put together a photo gallery of "Left-Wing Hatred"--but the mainstreamers seldom look. During the Bush years, "antiwar" rallies were routinely depicted as nothing more than forums for wholesome, patriotic dissent.

The second is by presenting innocuous rhetoric from the right as if it were something sinister or dangerous. The most famous example--cited by Hertzberg, naturally--is the SarahPAC map of targeted districts, including Giffords's, which many on the left hoped had incited the man who shot her. Palinoiacs denounced the map as "violent" when it first came out last March, notwithstanding that the visual metaphor of a target is about as common in political campaigns of both parties as cartoons on the pages of Hertzberg's magazine.

Similarly, as we noted Jan. 12, Paul Krugman, the New York Times's most dishonest columnist, characterized as "eliminationist rhetoric" Rep. Michele Bachmann's comment that she wanted her constituents to be "armed and dangerous." In context, it turned out that she wanted them to be "armed" with information--a poor choice of words, but no more eliminationist than Barack Obama's comment in June 2008: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." At the time, the New York Times characterized this as part of "Mr. Obama's efforts to show he can do more than give a good speech."

Hertzberg is saying no more than that liberal journalists like himself are justified in perpetuating the myth of conservative violence because they promulgated it in the first place.

Perhaps he is right that it is not the product of opportunism but rather of sincerely held prejudice. But would it be a defense of, say, Theodore Bilbo or Joseph McCarthy to say that they sincerely believed the prejudices and falsehoods they espoused? What's more, Bilbo and McCarthy were politicians. Why is it so hard for journalists to remember that their job is to tell the truth?

It's hard because most journalists are progressives, and progressives are liars.

Readers here see evidence of that all the time.

CPAC 2011 Agenda Now Available Online

Looks like a good program, at the link.

I'll have more on CPAC later.

Meanwhile, Tania Gail has posted a guide for photographers: "
Photography for Newbies – Part 1."

Egypt's Neoconservative Moment

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's is just about the lone GOP voice favoring the pro-Mubarak status quo. Allahpundit is skeptical of McCotter, although Robert Stacy McCain's taking the Burkean angle, cautioning, well, caution. Robert cites Jim Geraghty at National Review, who I don't recall boasting of big neocon credentials, but he's right on with this, "Why Would an American President Tout Mubarak’s Regime?":

As of this writing, the Mubarak regime appears to be tottering. He’s 82 years old and has had health problems. Even if he survives this challenge to his power. Mubarak will be gone someday; even if we preserve the status quo, we can’t preserve it for too much longer. And the status quo isn’t that great for American interests (when we’re the perpetual scapegoat in Egypt’s media).

It was shameful for Obama to hesitate and dawdle before endorsing the Iranian protesters, and it creates the awkward precedent for the Obama administration speaking sooner, and more positively, about protests against the government of an ally. But in the end, why would an American president tout the virtues of a regime that shoots unarmed protesters? Let Mubarak fall. He’s had his chance, and he has failed the Egyptian people.

I've obviously come out for revolutionary change, for example, "
Revolt in Egypt: It's Freedom, Stupid," and "If Mubarak is Toppled?"

Now what's particularly interesting to me is the response on the left to what folks are calling a victory for George W. Bush's freedom agenda. See "
George W. Bush in Egypt." Barbara O'Brien can't stand it, and she then somehow finds the Obama administration on the right side of history. Not. See the Washington Post, for example, to the contrary, "The U.S. needs to break with Mubarak now." That's not very nuanced, but Barbara O'Brien's not too bright. That said, here's Elliot Abrams, "Egypt protests show George W. Bush was right about freedom in the Arab world":
For decades, the Arab states have seemed exceptions to the laws of politics and human nature. While liberty expanded in many parts of the globe, these nations were left behind, their "freedom deficit" signaling the political underdevelopment that accompanied many other economic and social maladies. In November 2003, President George W. Bush laid out this question:
"Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even to have a choice in the matter?"
The massive and violent demonstrations underway in Egypt, the smaller ones in Jordan and Yemen, and the recent revolt in Tunisia that inspired those events, have affirmed that the answer is no and are exploding, once and for all, the myth of Arab exceptionalism. Arab nations, too, yearn to throw off the secret police, to read a newspaper that the Ministry of Information has not censored and to vote in free elections. The Arab world may not be swept with a broad wave of revolts now, but neither will it soon forget this moment.
And even if we give the administration the benefit of the doubt (and considering Barack Obama's abandonment of Iran in 2009, that's being generous), I think the Wall Street Journal captures the right frame:
The best course at this late date is for U.S. officials to keep their words and attention focused on the process of political and civil reform. Our stake in Egypt is not in any one ruler but in a transition from dictatorship to a more stable representative government that can better meet the aspirations of Egyptians.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is right to call for the government to restrain the police and stop blocking the Internet, but it doesn't help when Vice President Joe Biden denies the obvious fact that Mr. Mubarak is a "dictator." The post-Mubarak era is coming one way or another, and the U.S. can't be seen as the authoritarian's last friend.
Check back for updates ...

Revolt in Egypt: It's Freedom, Stupid

Following up from earlier (and my comments on alternatives to Mubarak), here's the take at The Daily Caller: "Muslim Brotherhood Takeover Feared."

Yeah, Islamist fundamentalists could come to power. But considering
Caroline Glick's analysis cited previous, beyond outward impressions its six in one hand and half a dozen in the other.

In any case, see Sherif Mansour's comments at Foreign Policy, "
Pharaoh's End: A Roundtable":

There's only one lesson that American foreign policymakers should take from recent events in Tunisia and Egypt: freedom matters. The United States has continually supported Mubarak and other oppressive regimes in the region, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. The Obama administration it finds itself between a rock and a hard place, forced to choose whether to support the ideals of freedom and democracy it espouses and run the risk that in the aftermath, the United States will have lost its allies in the region, or stick with the devil it knows.

If the administration is smart, it will see the writing on the wall and realize that the old order in Egypt, and conceivably the rest of the Middle East, is gone forever. When the smoke clears, Washington will want to be on the right side of history. The United States must now withdraw its support, both financial and symbolic, from the Mubarak regime and avoid any further ties to its oppression.
More at the link, as well as commentary from four other experts.

BONUS: Robert Stacy McCain engages the debate as well, "Whose Bright Idea Was It to Send Joe Biden Out to Talk About Egypt?’"

Detroit Police Release Precinct Shooting Video

The story as reported last week, at Detroit Free Press, "Four Police Shot in Detroit Precinct, Gunman Killed." With an update here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hosni Mubarak: 'I've Asked My Government to Step Down'

Well, we'll get the real-life test of my thesis: "If Mubarak is Toppled?"

Updates and videos forthcoming.

2:55pm: Mubarak hangs on. New York Times has a report, "Mubarak Orders Ministers to Resign but Backs Armed Response to Egypt Protests." And at ABC News, "Egyptians Defy Curfew, President Mubarak Announces New Government but Won't Resign: U.S. Reconsiders Aid to Egypt, Secretary Clinton Mum on Hosni Mubarak's Fate."

4:20pm: Videos of two presidents:

If Mubarak is Toppled?

Matt Lewis addressed this yesterday, "Toppling Egyptian President Mubarak: Careful What You Wish For":


Should he be toppled? ...

Even toppling regimes that were clearly anti-American -- from the Soviet Union to Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- resulted in power vacuums and instability, giving rise to new problems that had been obscured by the heavy-handedness of the ousted regimes. The benefits of toppling an anti-American government may outweigh the costs, and so one naturally wonders about the cost of toppling an ostensibly pro-American one. Were Mubarak's regime an obvious American enemy, such as Iran's, rooting for a revolution would be a no-brainer. But in Egypt, things are a bit more complicated.
I think the question to ask is whether Egypt's Mubarak is genuinely pro-American? Caroline Glick offers the definitive analysis of Egypt's foreign policy interests in the Middle East: "The Pragmatic Fantasy." The fantasy is that Israel's pragmatists believed their vision would best be achieved by allying with Israel's idealists. The reality is that nothing could was gained from the alliance (the Camp David Accords set back Israel's security, for example):
Unlike the starry-eyed idealists, the so-called pragmatists have no delusions that the Arabs are motivated by anything other than hatred for Israel, or that their hatred is likely to end in the foreseeable future. But still, they argue, Israel needs to surrender.
And she adds further, "Egypt has been the undisputed leader of the political war against Israel raging at international arenas throughout the world."

If Israel remains our main democratic friend in the region, American backing for Mubarak has been a disaster. We bought stability in an entrenched "secular" dictatorship on the leading edge of establishment jihad. So will regime change be an improvement? That depends. If the Islamists come to power it could unleash a rage of militant fanaticism around highly mobilized actors in the Muslim Brotherhood et al. (Glenn Reynolds
worries about this.) But frankly, it's not clear that violent militants could take power if Mubarak flees. The Weekly Standard suggests that top members of the officer class stand in line to power. The government is a "Free Officers regime" that is "unlikely to fold in the face of 50,000 protesters throwing rocks." That's not much change, and no improvement in the prospects for democracy. And that makes sense, considering Washington's disgusting approach so far. As I noted last night, the Obama administration has held its ground on the wrong side of history and democracy since taking office. And while no one really knows who's driving some of the most newsworthy reports out of Eygpt (attacks on Mubarak's party headquarters, government gun battles with RPG-armed "protesters" in Northern Sinai, etc.), it's without doubt that years of dictatorship have engendered powerful demands for freedom. The New York Times reports on that, "Egyptians’ Fury Has Smoldered Beneath the Surface for Decades." And I think ultimately the freedom agenda that drove U.S. foreign policy before the Obama interregnum is being reaffirmed, and freedom's a big step from dictatorship. Peter Wehner puts things in context, "Vindication for Bush’s Freedom Agenda":
During the course of the Bush presidency, his “freedom agenda” was criticized from several different quarters, including foreign-policy “realists” who believed that the bargain Bush spoke about — tolerating oppression for the sake of “stability” — was worth it.

It wasn’t. The core argument Bush made, which is that America must stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity — the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance — was right. No people on earth long to live in oppression and servitude, as slaves instead of free people, to be kept in chains or experience the lash of the whip.

How this conviction should play itself out in the real world is not self-evident; the success of such a policy depends on the wisdom and prudence of statesmen. Implementing a policy is a good deal harder than proclaiming one. Still, it seems to be that events are vindicating the freedom agenda as a strategy and a moral insight, as even the Obama administration is coming to learn.
So, topple Mubarak. We'll be sorting through the implications of global jihad either way, and without much help from Hussein Obama.

In any case, my earlier essay is linked at New York Times, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mubarak?"

And from this morning, "
Army on Streets of Egypt — UPDATED!!"

Army on Streets of Egypt — UPDATED!!

Things are moving so fast it's difficult to know exactly what's happening.

This first clip, from Al Jazeera, shows protesters overcome by tear gas (at about 2:00 minutes):

And here's the scene from the Qasr al-Nil bridge near Tahrir Square in Cairo. Students push back riot police:

And from yesterday, dramatic footing of a man being shot during protests, and Vice President Biden's interview on PBS: "Protests Escalate in Egypt — U.S. Stands by in Realpolitik Mode."

More from Michelle Malkin, "
Uprising in Egypt":
They’re calling it “Angry Friday.” Protesters in Egypt may have been cut off from the Internet, but information will always find a way to free itself. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is presiding over a violent crackdown against opponents who have joined a region-wide revolt against autocracy ...
Also, at Wall Street Journal, "Egypt Deploys Military On Cairo's Streets" (via Memeorandum).

UPDATE: Some additional video:

The Social Justice Highway to Hell

"Andrew Klavan: The Highway to Hell, Leftist Remix Edition," via Glenn Reynolds:

Tracy Morgan: 'Sarah Palin is Good Masturbation Material'

And at USA Today, "TNT apologizes for Tracy Morgan's suggestive comments on Palin." (Via Memeorandum and JammieWearingFool.)

And at iOWNTHEWORLD: "Who The Hell Is Tracy Morgan?"