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May 26, 2005



Marvellous isn't it, how state departmentese lets you go on for several minutes without saying anything. Complete and utter BS. "Different speeds in the Middle East" sounds an awful lot like colonialist rhetoric about how the natives simply can't be expected to have the same things as the civilises do, like democracy.


She sounds just like "Al"!

Catherine Tamer

Pathetic answer indeed. Here there was a great chance of real change..And the US government gives green light for Mubarak to destroy it.
How hypocritical!

Nur al-Cubicle

Le Monde reports massive abstentions in Cairo:

Voter turnout was very light in Cairo where one-quarter of all Egyptians live. In the polling stations which AFP reporters visited, lines of voters were non-existent and unused ballots were piled high on tables. The referendum took place in an tense atmosphere in Cairo as police prevented a Kefaya demonstration with billyclubs. NPD thugs intervened to beat up activists urging a "No" vote and to trample their signs and banners.

Meanwhile, the opposition estimates that there were widespread voting irregularities. Voter lists included the deceased and expatriate Egyptians, who are not permitted to vote in abstentia.

President Bush issued a mild condemnation, saying only that events in Egypt do not correspond to the USA's notion of democracy. The Egyptian government praised the referendum as a "celebration of democracy".


What is this 'forward leaning' phrase? If one leans forward enough, one invariably falls flat on one's face. If Condi & the boys really want change, there should be more talk of 'being & acting like a democratic society' as well as threats of losing foreign or military aid funds. That might get some attention. Of course the current administration would have to set the example of 'being & acting like a democratic society'

Will Martin

The administration has to answer the question:
How do you institute democracy in a country whose citizens have a fundamentally different regional agenda from the US and the country's current leadership, without risking that the country actually stop supporting the US agenda?

The answer:
Very slowly.

It's an honest answer for what it is. A good way to further pressure the US is to force it to answer publicly both that it wants _slow_ democratization in countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and then force it to answer publicly _why_ it wants _slow_ democratization.


Note that Dubya's "this does not correspond to the US notion of democracy" sounds an awful lot like his "this is not the America I know" response to the Abu Ghraib revelations. Translation: yes, this is against our principles, but we're doing it by proxy anyway to serve our interests. Good point, Will Martin, on the administration needing to explain its desire for "slow democratisation." I would add: why do they think this will work in Egypt when they would never have expected another dictator, like Saddam, to respond to their sweet reason?


Heh... you guys do nothing but bitch and moan about everything the United States does, everything the Bush Administration does, everything the US military does, everything that happens in America... and then you act as if what was done to the protesters was AMERICA'S fault, and you start demanding that AMERICAN media condemn what happened to your people, in your country, at the hands of YOUR government.

Face it. Everything that ever happned that was bad for Egypt was the fault of everybody except the Egyptians.

The only question I'm left with, is why - with that attitude - would anybody have the least bit of interest in helping you? Last month you guys were ridiculing the idea of the Bush administration thinking it had any influence at all in Egyptian or other middle eastern politics, and now, here you are, demanding that the Bush administration step up to the plate and DO SOMETHING about what has happened here.

Do you guys even have an idea what you want in Egypt, instead of what you have now? How on earth do you expect the Bush administration to support your political aspirations WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE ANY?

The United States has toppled by force or destabilization dozens of dictators in the last 200 years. We have experience in this. Most of the time, the resulting anarchy (and that's what Egypt is on track for if Mubarak's government falls at this point)puts up a new dictator even worse than the old one.

It's a BAD IDEA. Decide what you want. Come up with a plan how to get there. Find some leaders, that you TRUST, which is really not easy, then shop your ideas around and see what kind of outside help you can get. As rampant as the anti-Americanism seems to be in Egypt, I'd suggest trying to get support form the Europeans - because it would be pretty damned stupid for America to support replacing a friendly dictator with some kind of virulently anti-American regime, in an Arab country.

Or, just keep doing what you are doing - blaming the rest of the world for Egypt's problems. Oh, yeah, don't forget about that one guy who did something shitty to Egypt 200 years ago... Napoleon or something like that. I'm pretty sure it's all about him.

By the way, "forward leaning" is an aggressive posture. Watch two boxers, or a fist fight, or any other kind of athletic activity, for that matter. People always shift their weight forward onto the balls of their feet when they are engaging in any kind of demanding physical activity. It's opposite is "being caught flat footed" or, worse, "rocked back on your heals" - but that's not important. I'm not really sure why somebody who claims to be pro-democracy would thing a "forward leaning" attitude from the US on democracy is a bad thing, but I guess on this blog, everything to do with America and American policy is bad, eh?

I'm really sorry for being this negative in my comments, it was not my intent when I got here, but... I'm pretty damned steamed. I came to this place because I wanted to hear Egyptians attitudes about what happned to those protesters, only to find out that it's all my fault for having the audacity to be American.


Dude... not an Egyptian. American.


Craig - I'm not an Egyptian either. Something that I am struck by in Egypt (as someone who has always lived in democratic countries - and you might not realize this till you live in a real live police state) is how effectively the fear of the secret police and state crackdowns works to stop Egyptians, who WANT change and democratization, from going out to agitate for it. You can be arrested off the street, disappear and be tortured, and no one would be any the wiser. It's amazing that so many Egyptians go out there and fight for change anyway. Would you, in the circumstances?

And why is the regime able to do this? For two reasons: one, as in any authoritarian regime, it has been able to buy off or get the support of enough Egyptians who want state government jobs and the goodies that the regime selectively doles out to supporters, and these people in turn participate in or support the repression of others. Two, it has enough money - from oil and gas, but also from US military aid - that it CAN buy votes or hire enough poor lads from the countryside to beat up and torture dissenters. And, just like you, the American leadership has bought Mubarak's line that "it's me or chaos," and keeps on supporting him. The $2 billion a year that the US gives to Mubarak can buy a lot of repressive power, which is why people point to the American role. Mubarak stays on the right side of the US because he knows he needs that money to stay in power.

America has played a positive role sometimes in pressuring Egypt to liberalize and could do so again. It would be more productive to do this without name-calling and accusing Egyptians who are doing the best they can under the thumb of a dictator of "blaming the world for their problems." Egyptians have lots of good ideas and trustworthy leaders, only they get thrown in jail and tortured every time they become too popular. I don't suppose you would have blamed the Iraqis for not overthrowing Saddam themselves? Mubarak is more subtle but he's still a dictator.

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