"“Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.” - Joe Biden
"The Egyptian government has an important opportunity to be responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people, and pursue political, economic and social reforms that can improve their lives and help Egypt prosper." - Hillary Clinton
Wow, that's a really proportionate criticism.
Fun fact: Egypt is our #3 recipient of foreign aid.
It would be great if Biden, instead of saying Mubarak is not a dictator, said something like this:
"Dear Egyptian Police and Military. The US government gives Egypt $1.5 Billion every year. That's what is paying your salary. If you want to get paid, just get out of the way."
That said, "idealism" is also often a terrible basis for foreign policy as well.
There's a balance of course.. but in a case like this, I'd elevate America the idea over America the set of short term interests, and I'm embarrassed by Biden's comments too.
Naive idealism is no better, but pragmatic idealism is far far better, but also far more difficult.
Makes you wonder if it is really worth it.
The US government gives Egypt foreign aid because that is part of the agreement of the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, when Egypt became the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel.
I don't know enough about the overall situation to have an opinion, but it does seem at least plausible to me that buying peace with foreign aid might be a good thing (albeit a distasteful moral-hazard-prone good thing).
We need a real poli-sci explanation for why certain leaders are sticky, and why certain regions seem to have more than their fair share of despots.
Some people are just better at being despots than others, just as some people are better at being actors, CEOs, basketball players or programmers.
Give me unquestioned power over some tin-pot little country and I'd probably be chased out of my palace within two weeks. But a really good (in the sense of efficacy, not morality) despot knows just how to crush dissent among the masses using just the right amount of force while keeping all his generals (and anyone else with the power to depose him directly) dependent on a drip-feed of favours and constantly afraid of a knife in the back. It's a delicate balancing act, I'm sure, and some folks are just really good at it.
And replace him with who ?
We had a nice pet leader in Iran once, he used to buy weapons and nuclear reactors from us. He did torture people and his secret police weren't terribly nice. Then he got overthrown and for some reason the people that replaced him didn't like us very much ( although we did still sell them weapons ).
That's really up to the Egyptian people, no?
Read my comment here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2151468
Western Media has made false rumors that this is the Facebook revolution of young people. Yeah, Facebook played a major role, but wasn't the key.
There is torture in these countries. To break police torture, you MUST torture them. To torture them, you must have free people. People that don't have jobs, families, are not related to a school or university, have absolutely nothing that they can go to the streets and clash with the police.
There must be clashes with the police and blood. It's expensive to get your freedom. 30 Million protesters will not change Mubarak mind. He is a dictator. You need to get him out by force.
Will Egypt succeed? Too early to answer. The protests need to spread. I must mention that the protests in Tunisia spread to 100% of the country. Every meter square has protests of any kind. That thing drives police crazy and they give up.
Can Mubarak win? Absolutely. If the protests doesn't spread, a few thousands will be caught and tortured and the revolution will die. Fear will get back stronger to citizen. That's exactly what happened in Algeria.
I hope you meant that in a figurative sense and not in a literal one, if you meant that literally then I'm sorry, but that's absolutely not the case.
You break a bad regime by doing better, not by becoming like them.
I sincerely hope that El Baradei will get his way and will be allowed to lead a transition government he seems like a decent fellow and has done a lot of good by upholding a high standard of ethics at the IAEA (even when under considerable pressure to do otherwise) and I can not for one second imagine that he would condone torturing his former opponents.
Some blood may flow but less is better, not worse. It's possible for a revolution to happen almost without bloodshed, typically mass strikes and walk-outs as opposed to violent clashes with representatives of the government.
Gandhi: "Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong"
edited: tx tsycho.
Gandhi has a romantic allure to people in the west, but the reality is he won because the alternative was much worse.
It was the end of the WW. The British were tired. And there were 100s of 1000s of Indian soldiers, just returned from years of fighting, who were ripe to be recruited by the radical elements in India. This was enough for the Brits to throw in the towel.
>> You break a bad regime by doing better, not by becoming like them.
You must get out and experience the real world. I like how you think, and in an ideal world, this would be the way to go. But the reality is, dictators don't got away quietly; they are driven out by violence and threats of violence.
I'll bet you that I've seen more of 'the real world' than you have, from communist Poland before the wall fell to Colombia, and plenty of other places both in times of relative quiet and in times of unrest, living there, not holidaying.
If I count the countries that I've visited I come to 22 countries on 3 continents, I've probably spent more time outside of the country that I was born in than in it.
Unrestrained calls for violence and torture are simply stupid and will actually decrease the chances of success, violence is best applied with restraint by a steady hand and a clear mind pursuing concrete goals.
Gandhi played his cars very smart making the British look like murderers of innocents while at the same time showing a way out with their hide intact.
Speak softly and carry a big stick.
No need to get into a pissing match. I've spent more than half of my life abroad too.
Do you really think people can just walk up to Gadhafi and say, "we protest peacefully, so please give us power"? Do you think Saddam could have been deposed peacefully by his people?
Since we geeks love to categorize and form patterns, I'll put this forward: the difference between the erstwhile empires (like the British, French, etc.) and these despots is that those empires weren't cults of personality; there wasn't 1 person brutalizing the public, like you have here (Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gadhafi (who's shitting bricks right now)). So when the push comes to shove, the employees of the "empire" can walk away and allow for peaceful transition of power; but the servants of these despots are too closely tied to their masters (sometimes it is tribal loyalty), and don't go away quietly.
And finally: even though one may say that Gandhi's "revolution" was peaceful, don't forget the million people killed in the subsequent blood-letting known as the "Partition", where India and Pakistan were split from one.
Agreed, so don't start them :)
> Do you really think people can just walk up to Gadhafi and say, "we protest peacefully, so please give us power"?
No, but I do think that if they cripple the country for an extended period that he'll find himself without a police force and an army to do his bidding. (see for instance Poland)
> Do you think Saddam could have been deposed peacefully by his people?
Saddam Himself would not have survived any turn but he did not have much foreign support, Mubarak on the other hand still has a lot of foreign support.
> Since we geeks love to categorize and form patterns, I'll put this forward: the difference between the erstwhile empires (like the British, French, etc.) and these despots is that those empires weren't cults of personality; there wasn't 1 person brutalizing the public, like you have here (Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gadhafi (who's shitting bricks right now)). So when the push comes to shove, the employees of the "empire" can walk away and allow for peaceful transition of power; but the servants of these despots are too closely tied to their masters (sometimes it is tribal loyalty), and don't go away quietly.
I'm with you there, and I think that some blood will flow. But it had better be the right blood, to incite unarmed protesters to take on heavily armed riot police and military is a great way to get a lot of people killed and to go back to the status quo afterwards. Plenty of times this recipe has been tried and has failed plenty of times as well (it did occasionally succeed, but those were unfortunately the exceptions rather than the rule).
> And finally: even though one may say that Gandhi's "revolution" was peaceful, don't forget the million people killed in the subsequent blood-letting known as the "Partition", where India and Pakistan were split from one.
Yes, that was very ugly, and effectively it has not even stopped today, and I don't think it will stop in the foreseeable future.
And you are simply wrong about nonviolent revolutions in the face of dictatorship not working. There is a long list of successes - there would no doubt be more if nonviolence as a response to violence were simply tried more often. Certainly violence as a response to violence has had more than its share of horrors.
The antithesis to this was the battle of Algeria. The french ratcheted up the level of suppression to protests to such a degree that they won the battle and lost the country, violently.
It has worked maybe two or three times in history.
Get to the street, you'll find police waiting you. Fight, you don't have another choice.
There is another point too: These strikes are led mainly by jobless people that have nothing in life. (Desperate people). So they are always in strike, they need to get their voice to the street.
And if you have followed the Tunisian revolution, as it advances it gets more organised, that's because people began to gain power. And once they gain power, they consider that everything the state owns as their property too. In the past, they considered it as a property of the ancient regime.
I have seen the wrong spelling used at many other places as well....not sure if they are always typos, or if some people are genuinely mistaken about the name.
In theory, you're of course correct. In practice, think about the regicide of Charles I or about the French "Reign of Terror" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reign_of_Terror), they were both meant to break bad regimes. How well they've succeeded in doing that it's debatable, the undecidable question is if terror/violence was really necessary.
Romania and Albania are fairly recent examples of successful revolutions that had a relatively small amount of violence (compared to what could have been, and being in the middle of it certainly wasn't a pick-nick), Poland is an example of an even more successful one with almost no violence (not that they authorities didn't try to change that, but that didn't work out so well for them.).
The middle east has a long history of having violent revolutions only to return to a 'new boss, same as the old boss' situation, it's high time for some real improvement there and this is one very big opportunity to show how it is done. Make sure that you give your opponent something to lose, if they know they're going to die anyway then they have nothing to lose and will hold on to their power in the most irrational ways. Give them a way out with their hide in tact and who knows what might happen.
Dictators only lose when their underlings no longer do the dirty work for them.
The more people that are fighting the bigger the chance that instead of changing the regime you end up with civil war.
The best bet in situations like this is on the regime having lost control over enough of their armed forces that they lay down their weapons, if it comes to violent confrontations between protesters and police/army then the loss of life on the civilian side will be considerable and it will actually increase the chance of further escalations. Don't forget that the 'regular' police and military have family too, that's the trump card of organized resistance anywhere.
That's also the reason that in countries like China and the former USSR (and others besides) the military is heavily rotated away from their place of birth.
Perhaps, but even if that occurs, it's probably a good thing.
A civil war is rapid, violent and photogenic - we see it on TV and we think "how horrible". Slow stagnation under dictatorship is quiet, the violence occurs behind closed doors and is spread out over many years, and we just don't see it on TV. But it's often far worse than a violent revolution would be.
If it has to be then let it be like Romania or Albania.
The best we can hope for is for the police and the military to be either restrained or to desert, if they continue to support Mubarak it could get extremely messy.
I sure don't blame the Egyptian people if they aren't feeling very strong right about now.
"The Brotherhood's stated goal is to instill the Qur'an and Sunnah as the "sole reference point for ... ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community ... and state""
The Shah was a horrible person, but do you think the Ayatollah have brought peace, prosperity, and democracy to Iran?
One thing a radical Egypt will do is further destabilize the region. Particularly the situation with Israel will grow very tense. I am no flag-waver for Israel, but I can't see how a new enemy will do anything but further harden the worst impulses of all participants.
Muhammad Mursi said the group wants Cairo to revoke the state of emergency, dissolve the People’s Assembly and hold free and fair elections, amend the constitutional articles that led to vote rigging in Egypt’s last elections, hold presidential elections according to those amendments, and fire the current government and form a national unity government responsive to the Egyptian people’s demands.
Though the return of Khomeini was definitely very much the catalyst.
Thirty years later, the situation in Egypt is different. The secular centrists and left-wing have a clear model of how to fill the vacuum. Even if they didn't before, Tunisia has provided one for them. There is little opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood to step in as strongmen willing to make order out of chaos.
1979 Iran and 2011 Egypt are simply materially incomparable situations. There is a possibility that the MB will cause headaches for an emergent democracy, but their ability to seize control and establish a theocratic dictatorship is minuscule, at best.
Ok, that's a good thing then.
Is Iran financing them? Or do they have local support?
What are the relative proportions supporting these factions in the population?
Not sure on the popularity thing. I'd say plurality support, off the cuff, based on recent history, but a big portion of that support is "anyone but Mubarak" moreso than "sharia law rules". All gut feelings on my part though.
I've been researching them a bit further and it definitely seems they would command a majority of the votes at the moment so I really have no idea why people are so quick to write them off.
Agreed on the 'anyone but Mubarak', if this thing does not blow over Mubarak will be a very lucky man if he manages to even reside in Egypt, if he is forced out and does not flee abroad in time he's as good as dead.
Edit: Actually I am completely baffled that the author of that article refers to these protests as "democracy movements." It seems like a very narcissistic assumption for Americans to make. These protests may be revolts against corrupt and repressive governments, but so was the revolution in Iran in 1979.
I suspect the US government is afraid of the results of fair elections in Egypt.
If only chaos is created and the people don't take complete control soon, there are a few opposing parties in Egypt, who could easily be classified as terrorists, who could take advantage of this and take control.
But they aren't at that point yet so these fears aren't discussed (yet). Government has not been dissolved. So if/when you hear that, everyone best be paying attention.
One lesson is: wisdom must be found to bring a country out of a dictatorship into a just land. Another lesson is: untrammeled democracy is but mob rule and leads nowhere.