I'll be on the road and away from the internet for the rest of the week.
The official results of the Egyptian referendum have been announced: 27.1% participation, 75.9% voting yes. Al-Ahram, the official mouthpiece of the Egyptian regime (it used to be "semi-official" until a non-entity was appointed as editor in place of Ibrahim Nafie, who was corrupt and imperious but enough of a player to maintain some degree of independence when he felt like it), has announced the resounding success of the Egyptian referendum. Massive public turnout! "The boycott fails, the opposition participates", reads another headline!
Here's 80% of the reported turnout right here (photo: al-Ahram)
Meanwhile, in the real world, turnout was extremely low. Egypt's leading independent newspaper, al-Masry al-Youm, led with the headline "nothing new": "nothing happened yesterday.. the referendum ended as it began, with little popular acceptance." It also reported on the "unprecedented" military presence in the city center, the rough treatment of protestors and of would-be electoral observers, and widespread allegations of NDP "vote-buying" and other shenanigans (only 20 pounds for a vote in one district, but you could get 100 for your vote in another). The claimed 27.1% is obviously absurd; the only real question is whether the "less than 1%" claimed by al-Mesryoon or the 2-3% claimed by independent observers is too low, and whether a figure of 5-8% would be more realistic. And that, by the way, would include all of the government employees ordered to vote and the women ordered "to go vote for the President." Whether this should be seen as a "success" for the opposition which called a boycott, or else just the natural course of events in an apathetic and politically alienated society, will no doubt be a matter of much debate.
Outside of the official Egyptian media, there's no question that the referendum failed to win any popular mandate whatsoever. Here's my rough scorecard of successes and failures of this process. First, the regime succeeded at getting its new constitution. Gamal's succession has become more likely. NDP single party domination of the political system has been entrenched for the forseeable future. Repression of the Muslim Brotherhood and of all forms of independent political organization got easier. The security state is now established on constitutional foundations - though, truth be told, the regime was perfectly able to do all of those things before anyway under the cover of Emergency Laws. And the Egyptian regime succeeded in brushing off any suggestion of American criticism, openly laughing as they rubbed Condi Rice's nose in American impotence.
On the flip side, the referendum exposed the very low legitimacy of the process. The low turnout for the referendum and the highly critical international coverage combined to deny the regime any legitimation benefits from the constitutional reforms. While tempers will cool, a very wide swathe of the country's political elite is infuriated and alienated. The regime is more fragile now, less legitimate, and will have an ever harder time carrying on with business as usual. And it was good to see the American media take notice over the last few days, to realize exactly what this says about Bush's foreign policy. Mubarak was almost certainly hoping that the upcoming Arab summitt meeting and moves on the Palestinian-Israeli front would crowd Egyptian domestic politics out of the international news agenda; thanks to all of those who focused attention on the issue, that didn't happen.
The verdict on the Kefaya movement is mixed. On the one hand, activists clearly failed to mobilize mass protests, and suffered under the naked repression of the security forces. On the other hand, they managed a fairly high public profile, in the international media especially but also in the Egyptian debate. Today's press conference with Kefaya leaders received equal time on al-Jazeera with Mubarak and Anis al-Faqi's official pronouncements (I'm pretty sure I saw George Ishaq at the press conference, so whatever happened to him the other day he appears to be all right - I'm sure the story will come out soon). Both are no doubt due to the Muslim Brotherhood's decision to boycott but not protest: this gave the Kefaya people the chance to be the public face of the protests, such as they were. Beyond the movement per se, it will be interesting to see if blogs can produce enough video or other documentary evidence of vote fraud to have an impact, as in the exposure of the police abuse videos.
Will update as the day goes on.
Source: Al-Jazeera Talk
Al-Jazeera is reporting "very low" turnout in the referendum voting so far, especially in Cairo where voting would usually be expected to be high (Kefaya is also reporting weak turnout across the country - though everyone expects a blatantly forged result to be announced). It's worth noting that on a pretty busy news day, with the Arab Foreign Ministers meeting to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian initiative and plenty of other things, al-Jazeera is leading its news with the Egyptian referendum.
A very tired looking Hussein Abd al-Ghani had NDP official Ali Shams al-Din in his studio, where they debated the implications of a 30% turnout; Shams al-Din tried to both contest the low turnout claim and to lower the bar for what would count as high turnout. Expect such arguments to continue. (Al-Arabiya, which I've criticized for not covering the Egyptian events with much enthusiasm, is reporting on it today; I just saw it interviewing a Muslim Brotherhood Member of Parliament who denounced the referendum.)
Most Arab outlets are reporting that Condoleeza Rice softened her criticisms of the referendum after meeting with Mubarak. How humiliating, how predictable. Abou el-Gheit is spooning out the terrorism angle - we must do this to protect ourselves, just as you did with your Patriot Act - and Rice (and at least some of the media) seems to be eating it up whatever the flavor. Yes, how could Egypt possibly fight its great terror menace while judges are supervising elections?
UPDATE: Elevated from comments, report from the ground by our friend Josh Stacher:
I was out and about this morning and afternoon......
Turnout was very low. I think in Cairo we are talking 3-4%. I saw ballot boxes at 12pm that had 7 votes in them (the high might have been 20). The ballot itself was extremely confusing as all 34 amendments were listed - it was 4 pages (both sides) of text with the green 'muwafiq' or black 'gher muwafiq' on the first page.
There were two types of polling stations today. The ones in NDP-strong constituencies (like Sayida Zainab & Fathi Sorour) where the party activists were busy moving people about and doing their spin about terrorism and increasing freedom. In these places, security/police were very relaxed and letting the party play.
Then there were other polling stations such as in Bab al-Sharaaya (Ayman Nour's old consitutency), which despite being in the government's hands since Nov 05, the party is clearly not comfortable. In these stations, security/police were in charge and the NDP seemed absent (no activists or organizers). Those Ligaan were some of the worst managed polling stations I have ever seen in any Egyptian electoral process - in terms of protocol, who was in charge, spin, following the rules, and basic communication.
Also, last night's repression had an effect on Kifaya. They are lucky if there were 40 activists on the steps of the journalist syndicate (hemmed in by CSF). Al-Maseeri (the new head of Kifaya) is a sweet older gentleman but after speaking with him for ten minutes - it is clear neither he nor the movement has a vision or way forward. That was fine two years ago but now it just gives the whole movement of being stale.
The Brothers basic argument today was that they were not protesting because if they did, the government would bring tanks on the street. Perhaps....but I suspect their calculation is that the regime is doing more harm to itself than if group comes out on the streets. Because If they did, it gives the government an excuse to distract attention away from how the whole amendment ordeal has been so blatently rigged. By doing nothing, the MB helps keep the pressure/focus on the state.
Perhaps, I am overanalyzing what was in many many respects a completely average day in Cairo during March. Not that I can prove this but well over 90% of Egyptians seemed to think the Amendment/Referendum process was a joke and it did not matter if they participated or not.
Good stuff from an astute analyst of Egyptian politics. Thanks, Josh.
UPDATE 1:00: With the polls now closed, Al-Jazeera's Hussein Abd al-Ghani has assembled another, very impressive, panel to talk about the referendum - if yesterday's panel had strong NDP representation, this one is tilted more towards critical and independent voices (Abdullah Senawi, Salama Ahmed Salama, Abd al-Monim Said). Al-Jazeera has really done an excellent job with this, turning itself into an Egyptian domestic outlet for large stretches of the referendum and featuring a wide range of voices. But it's not the only media outlet that matters, of course. The liberal columnist Magdi Mohanna, who hosts one of the most influential Egyptian talk shows, had Kefaya's coordinator Abd al-Wahab el-Messiri on yesterday. At least those voices are being heard, despite the official Egyptian media's best efforts.
4:00 .... Everybody is reporting "very low" or "very weak" turnout... right now al-Jazeera reports turnout of 5-7%. According to Al-Arabiya, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights claims that turnout was about 2-3%, while the NDP is claiming 24-27%. Al-Jazeera just now interviewed various "civil society monitors" and voting station workers saying that nobody came to vote for hours; Hussein Abd al-Ghani presented estimates of turnout ranging from a semi-official 20% to an independent estimate of under 5%. Continuing his outstanding presentation of a wide range of Egyptian views over the last couple of days, Abd al-Ghani currently has in the studio an NDP deputy and the head of the opposition Karama party Hamdin Sabahi, and just took a phone call from a prominent member of the Judges association (which did not oversee the referendum). No word on results (which according to al-Jazeera are due within hours), but reports of fabrications and cheating are already circulating freely.
Final update: the Egyptian government now plans to announce the results tomorrow. It is still claiming the 24-27% turnout I mentioned above, while independent observers are still estimating much lower figures; the claim of 55-60% in some of the more remote districts seems fishy - since those are the ones most likely to be free of pesky independent observers. Al-Jazeera reports observers being driven away from the polling stations by security forces, as well as rumours of ballot boxes being switched... you know, the usual forgery stuff.
Here's a question which I may try to explore more fully tomorrow: what kind of Constitution can be changed by a party line Parliamentary vote followed by a referendum with even a 25% turnout (as per the government's exaggerated claim), much less the more credible 5-10% turnout? Does something changed so easily at the whim of the ruling party even deserve the name "Constitution", at least as conventionally understood by political scientists?
With the Egyptian referendum scheduled for tomorrow and a major demonstration scheduled for today, and international criticism mounting, all kinds of chaotic information is swirling about. Here's some of what I've heard, though I emphasize that little is really certain right now. Rumours swirled that Kefaya's former coordinator George Ishaq had been abducted by security forces; he later turned up unharmed in Port Said, but has since dropped out of contact - don't know where things now stand. It does seem to be the case that security forces confiscated the full run of the opposition paper al-Karama before distribution, probably because of its front page headline "overthrow Mubarak in Tahrir Square" (the site of a planned demonstration).
The major demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square called by a wide range of Egyptian political forces was supposed to start not long ago and continue through tomorrow, despite being banned by the authorities. According to this irregularly updated Kefaya page, several people have already been arrested and beaten, including well-known bloggers including Hossam el-Hamlawy (none of these reports are confirmed), while a number of Western reporters have had their cameras confiscated; al-Jazeera is currently reporting 15 people arrested on their way to the demonstrations. I'm not having much luck getting info about any of this right now, presumably because most of the people who would be providing it are currently out there. Will have more later, I hope.
On the other side, Shaykh Tantawi of al-Azhar earned his paycheck another day by declaring it a sin to not vote in the referendum - just the kind of useful fatwa in service of the state which one expects from official ulema in Arab dictatorships. Going a step further, perhaps, al-Jazeera Talk produced an image of a document which purports to be an official letter ordering state employees to "vote yes" in the referendum tomorrow: I'll reproduce it here so that amateur sleuths can start looking for typescript irregularities!
Source: al-Jazeera Talk
Al-Jazeera is currently airing an interesting roundtable discussion, featuring two senior constitutional law specialists who are harsh critics of the constitutional changes and two leading representatives of the National Democratic Party defending it. A range of other prominent figures are participating via the phone, including Essam el-Erian of the Muslim Brotherhood (on the line right now, to the visible consternation of the NDP reps).
Host Hussein Abd al-Ghani is thus far keeping things civil, allowing for a real debate to develop over the issue. The advantage of this approach is that the constitutional changes are getting a full, calm airing between legal experts; the disadvantage is that al-Jazeera's cameras aren't currently capturing live coverage from Tahrir Square (though there will presumably be many chances to do so over the next day). The merits of offering a "public sphere" for the issues to be debated versus lending its cameras to the protestors will no doubt long be debated by those of us who argue over the political effects of the Arab media.
Meanwhile, Rice apparently has toned down her criticisms after meeting with Mubarak. Why? Well, as I put it the other day "the bottom line is that Mubarak knows that Bush needs him right now and that the US isn't going to cut off his billions in aid. So he is free to go medieval on the Egyptian Constitution, and the US has to grit its teeth and smile through it."
Have to head out now for a while; I will update information when I can.
UPDATE - here's the best running tally. It all appears to be Kefaya people - I had seen an announcement of the protest on several Muslim Brother blogs, but now there's no information about any protests on the Ikhwan website, nor any indication that the MB put people into the streets. Anyone who knows about the MB's stance on the Tahrir Square protest, drop me a line or post a comment?
After a weeklong campaign to focus attention on this Monday's Egyptian constitutional referendum, I'm delighted to report some results, as Condoleeza Rice expressed serious disappointment in the constitutional changes during a press appearance, saying she was "seriously concerned" about "a really disappointing outcome". The Egyptian government is furious over this "rare public criticism", which is all to the good. I'm just going to reproduce most of today's Washington Times story by David Sands because of the fun bit at the end:
Under pressure from human rights groups and democracy activists, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday stepped up criticism of Egypt's plans to hold a referendum on constitutional amendments critics say will enhance the control of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
"The changes will stifle meaningful political participation in Egypt and encroach more on Egyptians' personal freedoms and rule of law in the country," said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of the Washington-based Freedom House.
Miss Rice, who visits with Mr. Mubarak in Aswan, Egypt, today at the start of a new round of regional talks on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, told reporters at the State Department before leaving yesterday she was "really concerned" about the constitutional changes. "This is a really disappointing outcome," she said. "We will talk about it and hopefully it will turn out better than expected." "As the Middle East moves towards greater openness and greater pluralism and greater democratization, Egypt has got to be in the lead," she said.
Egyptian democracy activists roundly criticized the State Department's initial reaction to the referendum. A spokesman Tuesday expressed concern over the amendments, but added the vote was a domestic Egyptian affair.
It was in Cairo in June 2005 that Miss Rice gave a widely noted speech on the need for democracy and greater political reform in the Arab Middle East, with some pointed passages aimed at Egypt, a key U.S. ally. Analysts say the Bush administration's commitment to the cause has withered as the need for allies in the Iraq war and Iranian nuclear showdown has increased.
The initial "tepid" U.S. reaction "is the latest evidence that the Bush administration has all but abandoned the policy of democracy promotion articulated by [Miss Rice] in Cairo in June 2005," Andrew Exum and Zack Snyder, researchers at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote in a new analysis.
But the referendum comes just seven days after the Mubarak-dominated parliament approved the constitutional changes. Secular and leftist parties have joined the Muslim Brotherhood in boycotting the vote.
Marc Lynch, a political scientist at William College and author of the influential "Abu Aardvark" blog on Middle Eastern politics, www.abuaardvark.typepad.com, called the referendum "a crude mockery of promises of political reform."
"Mubarak is about to do exactly what he always accuses Islamists of secretly planning: Win an election and then use his majority to abolish democracy," Mr. Lynch wrote.
This humbly influential blog on Middle East politics sends much more credit the way of Freedom
House, Amnesty International, the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, and the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy (sorry if I missed anyone) for focusing attention on the referendum and preventing Mubarak's constitutional power grab to go unnoticed. It's now being noticed, thanks to Rice's remarks and the Egyptian Foreign Minister's angry response. There are hundreds of stories now on Google News, compared to virtually none the last few days - the wave of negative international media coverage predicted by Scott MacLeod the other day has now materialized, including this scathing editorial in the Washington Post.
While Rice's public criticism of the Constitutional changes is very welcome, and something I'm delighted to have played whatever small part in facilitating, the next question is whether this increased international scrutiny will matter. In that regard, her statement is not encouraging. Here is her entire exchange with reporters over the Egyptian referendum:
QUESTION: Since we're headed for Egypt, I just wanted to ask you, Freedom House today put out a report where they said that this referendum that's taking place on Monday is a sham and actually sets back the cause of democracy in Egypt. What do you make of this referendum?
SECRETARY RICE: I'm really concerned about it. You know, the Egyptians set certain expectations themselves about what this referendum would achieve. And we -- the hope that it would be a process that gave voice to all Egyptians, you know, I think there's some danger that that hopes not going to be met. And the abbreviated timetable is a problem, and we will see what ultimately comes out of it. But, you know, I've said many times that we continued -- and by the way, I will talk about it when I'm there, meet with the leadership and with my colleagues because Egypt is an extremely important country in the Middle East; one of the key countries in the Middle East. And as the Middle East moves toward greater openness and greater pluralism and greater democratization, Egypt ought to be in the lead of that. And it's disappointing that this has not happened. Now some good things have happened. The contested presidential elections suggests to me that you will never have a presidential election in Egypt like the old elections. That is something that will never go back, and so we have to remember that there are ups and downs in these things; ebb and flow. But yeah, this is a really a disappointing outcome and we will talk about it and hopefully it will turn out better than is expected. But right now I'm concerned that it won't.
Hope is famously not a plan. If it doesn't "turn out better than is expected", will there be any further consequences or actions on the part of the United States to express its disappointment? Or will the administration just feel kind of rotten about it?
While I've been under the weather, I want to point readers to two important analyses of the Egyptian constitutional amendments:
Good, hard hitting analysis from both think-tanks. If only there were time for these criticisms to gain some traction. Look, the bottom line is that Mubarak knows that Bush needs him right now and that the US isn't going to cut off his billions in aid. So he is free to go medieval on the Egyptian Constitution, and the US has to grit its teeth and smile through it. That's the reality. But at least he should be made to pay some serious reputation costs through public exposure, scorn, and denunciation. It isn't much, but right now it's what we've got. And at the same time, if the Bush administration has made such a clear and overwhelming decision to ignore issues of democracy in favor of Realpolitik, after years of claiming to be on a freedom crusade, that needs to be exposed too, and costs paid. And finally, perhaps international exposure can help keep alive a space for public expression and public freedoms - the Sunday demonstrations planned for Cairo and Alexandria should receive a lot of international attention.
I've been home sick in bed all afternoon with a horrible bug of some kind. Ugh. Been feeling bad for a week but today it finally caught up with me big time. But at least let me link to all of today's stories about Egypt's constitutional referendum crisis in the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, National Review, Weekly Standard, CNN.com, FoxNews.com, and - for good measure - yesterday's Egypt-related questions at the State Department Daily Press Briefing. Oh. Ahem. Never mind. I wonder if Mubarak can stand this intense glare of American media scrutiny?
Friday morning update: the American media isn't the only place to point fingers. The major Saudi-owned media is also studiously ignoring Egyptian politics. Today, just like yesterday, neither al-Hayat nor al-Sharq al-Awsat has run an online story about the Egyptian constitutional crisis. In that time, al-Sharq al-Awsat has published only one column about it (Howeydi's); al-Hayat, none. And al-Arabiya's website has consistently avoided the topic; it was occasionally running one story down towards the bottom of the page about the confusion of the Egyptian opposition about whether to boycott, which is kind of a secondary issue all things considered and at any rate is now gone. It has plenty of space for a story about Jordanians arresting 23 Iraq Shia for proselytization and another on whether singer Sari al-Hani is as beautiful as the late Ismahan al-Atrash. It's hard to conclude anything other than that they are following official Saudi policy of backing Mubarak - which should be a prime lesson for anyone who believes that Saudi-owned media can ever be a reliable vehicle for pushing democratic reforms. Meanwhile, the American al-Hurra's headlines currently have no stories about Egypt. Al-Jazeera does.
judicial independence, which can uphold the society’s rule of law and hold other branches of government to account, has been “a strength of the Egyptian system,” citing recent judicial reviews of the country’s electoral process.
Does McCormack not know that one of the most controversial aspects of the proposed Constitutional changes is the removal of judicial oversight of elections? Does he not know that the Egyptian regime has been engaged in a brutal political struggle with the Judge's Association for the last year and a half? Of all the many infuriating parts of his comments on Egypt - "a general trend towards greater political reform"?!? - this statement about the judiciary is perhaps the most astonishing.
But there's a chance for something positive to come out of this. McCormack did say this:
Egyptians must “be able to freely express themselves and their views through the media and in public”... "you do fundamentally need to maintain the ability of people to freely express themselves in a system without fear of arrest or retribution. That is fundamental to any democracy.”
Okay. Can we agree, then, that should Egyptians find themselves unable to freely express themselves without fear of arrest or retribution, then the United States should begin to have a problem here? Should, say, the Kefaya movement organize a protest in Tahrir Square on Sunday afternoon, and should this peaceful protest encounter a harsh response from the security services... can we expect a State Department response?
UPDATE: The judges, whose judicial oversight the State Department values so highly, have announced a boycott of this referendum. Just in case you were wondering.
In five days Egypt is scheduled to hold a national referendum on changes to its Constitution. Even veteran Egyptian opposition figures, well versed in the regime's authoritarian ways, have expressed shock at the choice of March 26 for the referendum. This is a travesty, a crude mockery of promises of political reform, and something which deserves widespread international mockery and condemnation. Here's why:
Amnesty International has described the changes as "the biggest threat to Egyptian democracy since emergency laws passed after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat by Islamist extremists in 1981." That's exactly right. Except these aren't emergency laws: this revises the Constitution itself. I said this on Friday, but let me say it again, slowly. Mubarak is about to do exactly what he always accuses Islamists of secretly planning: win an election and then use his majority to abolish democracy.
The opposition, from the MB to Kefaya, has been placed in an impossible position. Participating in the referendum will legitimize the results, particularly since nobody doubts for an instant that the regime will falsify the results if they go badly. The most extreme option, a collective resignation from Parliament, seems to have been taken off the table: even the MB seems to feel that this would be going too far, and that this would only please the government which would be able to replace the troublesome MB deputies with more accomodating deputies. That leaves only boycott, which will not in the end have much impact - as above, even if only 10% turn out and vote, the regime will happily claim 70%.
The best and only real option: mobilize sustained, critical
international media attention to stigmatize and embarrass the Egyptian
regime. Al-Jazeera has been giving full voice to the Egyptian opposition, but the Saudi press is mostly ignoring it, probably because the Saudis don't really like democratic reforms and they are currently comfortably aligned with Cairo and Washington against Iran. Al-Arabiya currently does not have a single front page story about the Egyptian crisis (though this may change over the course of the day, of course), while between al-Hayat and al-Sharq al-Awsat there is exactly one story, a scathing opinion piece by Fahmy Howeydi, who can write whatever he wants to write because he's Fahmy Howeydi... except in Egypt, where al-Ahram refused to run this highly critical piece in his usual weekly column spot. Some Egyptian papers, like al-Masry al-Youm, are doing a good job, but it's often been noted that they have this margin of freedom precisely because of their relatively limited influence and reach.
At the end of the day, there's only one opinion which Mubarak and the NDP really care about: the United States. The Constitutional crisis has not been front page news here, and even where it has been covered, the criticism has been tepid. The State Department's spokesman took some questions about this yesterday. To his credit, he said that some of the changes "raised questions," and that Egypt didn't seem to be meeting its own benchmarks for reform - the statements which al-Jazeera chose to highlight - but he went out of his way to praise Egypt's general commitment to political reform and its progress to date. He even rather absurdly suggested that a week might be plenty of time for Egypt's citizens to become fully informed and vote. But he did make sure to say the magic words for which Mubarak's people were waiting: "I frankly don't want to insert the United States Government in the middle of what should be a domestic political event in Egypt."
So there you go. The United States no longer considers Egyptian or Arab political reform to be any of its business. As long as the
United States refuses to put any real teeth into international
dissatisfaction, its "reservations" can be safely ignored. In response to Amnesty International, Egypt's Foreign Minister declared that "It is not the right of non-Egyptians to
comment or simply pass an opinion on a purely internal question, that
is, on the constitution [of Egypt] and its national laws." The United States agrees. This isn't a surprise any more, but I suppose it's good to have the clarity.
At long last I'm free to publicly announce what some of you already know: this will be my last semester teaching at Williams College. This fall, I take up a new position at George Washington University, where I will have a joint appointment in the Political Science Department and the Elliott School of International Affairs. GW offers a near perfect combination for me. It's a first rate academic institution, with great strengths in International Relations and International Security. I'll be closely involved in a brand new Middle East Center launching next year. GW's School of Media and Public Affairs is strong in the area of public diplomacy (Alberto Fernandez will be in residence next year). And, of course, it's in Washington DC, which - housing market aside - is a phenomenally exciting place for the kind of work that I do.
I'll miss some things about Williams, where I've been for nine years. I've had some great colleagues, and will always remember the camaraderie around the G-level tier of Stetson (which isn't long for the world anyway, since Stetson will soon be demolished and replaced with a new building). I know that I'll never again enjoy a three minute commute between home, office, and child care. I deeply regret that my kids will never have the chance to take advantage of the amazing new child care facility which I spent many long hours helping design (though I will not in the least miss the absurdity I experienced during several years chairing the committee on child care). Most of all, I'll miss teaching the astonishingly gifted, engaged, and often brilliant Williams students... though it will be some consolation to see some of my former students at GW over the next few years!
What will this mean for Abu Aardvark? Other than temporary disruptions during moving, I expect to keep running the blog. But really, who knows... extra commuting time, new responsibilities, it all could take a toll. But that would be true with or without the move. This blog has been running at a fairly consistent pace for over four years now, which is a long time. But I'm committed to the kind of public contributions which Abu Aardvark lets me make, and I can't imagine not doing it at least in some form.
The bottom line is just that I'm absolutely thrilled about this change. It's the perfect move at the perfect time, both professionally and personally. I've got a lot of friends in the DC area, and to be perfectly honest I'm looking forward to being back in a city after nine years in the Berkshires... and the less snow I see, the better.