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Daybreak: Not Yet Xed Out

Plus Israel faces natural gas disruption, and more in the news

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A protester in Cairo.(Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

• Hosni Mubarak remains the president of Egypt. Both Vice President Omar Suleiman, who seems to do be doing a lot of the running of things, and Secretary of State Clinton warned of the instability that would follow his too-hasty departure. [NYT]

• Suleiman met with representatives of the opposition, most notably of the technically banned Muslim Brotherhood. [AFP/Laura Rozen]

• The U.S. and Egyptian militaries maintain close ties (even now), which could be the means for insisting upon Mubarak’s immediate ouster, should it come to that. [WSJ]

• Egypt cut off Israel’s natural gas supply as a safety precaution following an explosion in the Sinai. Reminder: Israel gets as much as one-fourth of its energy from natural gas via Egypt. [WP]

• Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a new economic package to the Palestinian Authority in order to promote West Bank stability, timed, likely, for Quartet talks over the weekend. [NYT]

• Accomplished Nazi-hunter Tuviah “Merciless One” Friedman (he was an accomplice of Simon Wiesenthal’s) died at 88. [NYT]

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If nothing else, Obama is “confident.”

President Obama exuded confidence when he had his press secretary tell the Egyptian president to leave, “immediately, and that means yesterday!” He was confident when he decided that democratic elections whose outcome would be fair and achieve stability was possible “even before” the constitutional date for elections in September. And he is confident in proclaiming that Muslim Brotherhood’s lack of support proves it is not the only option to a suppressive government. Very likely Jimmy Carter was equally confident in the democracy protesters heralding a new day for Iran in 1979, when the US turned its back on its hapless ally the shah. Certainly Carter’s deep held belief that the Islamists were too weak to affect events on the ground were sustained… Or Bush, determined to create in Iraq a model of democracy in the region; instead the Shiite Republic of Iraq, no doubt defying the faith of that president, is increasingly aligned with Shiite Iran, and poses a threat to America’s strategic interests, Sunni Arab oil. And lest I leave out Bush faith in democracy in Palestine. In 2008 the president dismissed Abbas and Olmert concerns and insisted Hamas be allowed to participate in those elections. When Hamas won, Bush initiated a coup to remove that democratically elected government. Hamas defeated the coup and created the Democratic Republic of Gaza.

And now Obama confidently welcomes a democratic Egypt in which Muslim Brotherhood “cannot” create a theocracy because, like the ayatollahs of Iran, they don’t have majority support at the polls!

Dennis says:

David Turner:
Carter and the US did not turn their backs on our ally, the shah. We actually let him come to the USA for medical treatment, which is what really inflamed the revolutionaries. And I hardly think the US or Carter viewed them as democratic protestors. It was obvious that they were a fanatical, cultish group enthralled by a fanatical religious zealot.

Obama did not say that Mubarak has to leave immediately. His spokesman said the transition has to start immediately, not Mubarak’s departure.

Sorry, Dennis. Carter did not turn back on shah personally. But he did come out in support of the “democracy” protesters as did Obama. Of course he did not support the Islamist counter-revolution some months later, only supported the demands of the demonstrators for regime change. Failed, as does Obama (but his position changes daily!) to recognize that a fragmented “democracy” movement is nothing but a stalking horse (a “donkey” in the words of Muslim Brotherhood) for easy pickings when time for Islamist regime change is ripe.

As to the comment quoted regarding Mubarak’s departure, his press secretary made certain of its meaning: he said “leave,” not “prepare to leave.” Second interpretation doesn’t even make sense, loses punch in translation.

Dennis says:

I never quite bought GWB’s idea that somehow a democracy in Iraq would necessarily be friendly to the US. And I certainly didn’t see it as a justification for the invasion of Iraq. (I also never bought his contention – I don’t remember exactly how he phrased it – that more prosperity in the Middle East would tamp down terrorism. As I recall, Bin Laden was well-educated and came from a prosperous family.)

However, this does get into the sticky wicket of American diplomacy. And it seems to be a rehash of what we went through during the Cold War, when we supported dictatorships around the globe to fight Communism. The problem is, how long can we hope for those dictatorships to stay in power? And, to stay in power, do they have to become increasingly more brutal? And what happens when one of those dictatorships falls, can we seriously expect the new people in power to sing our praises (cf., Cuba, Iran, Vietnam, China)?

Also, as Americans, we have it as part of our civic creed that all people are born with inalienable rights. How can we possibly justify supporting regimes of any type (rightist, religious, monarchical) that suppress those rights? (If you’re wondering why I didn’t add “leftist” to that list, it’s only because I can’t think of any leftist regimes that we support.)

Of course, Dennis, you forgot to mention Irangate by that most popular of presidents in recent decades, Reagan. Trading in weaponry (Reagan having personally requested Israel to front the transactions while the Saudis provided the laundered money); you know, Deniability? And who were the recipients of those weapons but the same anti-American Iranian mullahs, and the Contras of Nicaragua. Swapping arms for hostages against the law; supplying arms to Nicaraguan death squads intent on overthrowing the democratically Sandanista regime (leftist).

What gauls me about the Egypt thing is the sanctimony and near bible-pounding rhetoric accompanying a mere switching of sides against a regime that was worth supporting, whatever its record toward internal dissent, when it appeared beneficial. As if it sells on the Egyptian street, or the Saudi monarchy, or even democracy Israel now aware just how unreliable the US is when it appears profitable to abandon friends.

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