Has the Obama Administration Backed Off Its Plan to Reconsider Aid to Egypt?

In a press briefing on Friday, Robert Gibbs said several times the Administration would be reviewing its aid to Egypt in the upcoming days.

Q    You say these legitimate grievances have to be addressed.  I’m wondering:  Or what?  What can the President do if these matters are not –MR. GIBBS:  Well, look, first and foremost, this is a situation that will be solved by the people in Egypt.  I will say this, that we — sorry — we are monitoring closely the situation, as I’ve said.  We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events that take place in the coming days. So that’s certainly part of it.  But this is — this will be solved by the Egyptian people.  But it is important — and there’s a very important opportunity for the Egyptian government to address, again, grievances that have been in place for a number of years.

[snip]

Q    What’s the United States doing about aid and are reviewing –MR. GIBBS:  As I said a minute ago, obviously we will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events now and in the coming days.

[snip]

Q    And I believe earlier you said, “We’ll be reviewing our assistance posture depending on the events of the next several days.”  Could you elaborate on that?  Has that been discussed in the meetings with the President?MR. GIBBS:  It has.  It has.

Q    And what kind of change in posture could there be?  Are you talking about cutting off aid?

MR. GIBBS:  Look, I think at this point I would just leave it to the fact that there — we are watching very closely the images and events that you’re watching and how that could very possibly impact our assistance to Egypt.

[snip]

Q    Robert, beyond what you’ve said today about aid, how has it been conveyed to the Egyptian authorities that billions of dollars in U.S. help could be in jeopardy if they don’t change their ways?MR. GIBBS:  Again, Peter, I don’t know every conversation that’s been had at every level in this government, but suffice to say this is something that has been discussed and we’re monitoring.

[snip]

Q    And then just to follow real quick on the aid that you’re saying you’re reviewing, you’re confident that prior to you announcing it here, the Egyptians are aware that their aid is under review?MR. GIBBS:  Again, I want to be careful, Hans, that — I don’t know every conversation that’s been had.  But suffice to say, I think I was rather clear in what I said.

Q    Suffice it to say?  Could we call it a warning?

MR. GIBBS:  No, it’s — again, I think we’ve been very clear about what needs to happen.  Violence in any form should stop immediately, and grievances should be addressed.  We will monitor what is and what has happened and future events as we undertake a review of our assistance posture.

But this morning, Hillary seemed to back off that review of aid to Egypt.

Ms Clinton said there was “no discussion as of this time about cutting off any aid” to Egypt, adding “we always are looking at and reviewing our aid”.

Admittedly, these are not necessarily contradictory statements. When Gibbs said we would be reviewing our aid to Egypt, he may have meant it was a general plan to review aid, without the possibility that we’d withdraw that aid. It’s possible it was meant to be a generalized, empty threat. But it sure seems like Hillary is saying that any review of aid is not one that will result in Egypt losing that aid.

Update: I’ve added the clip from Christiane Amanpour’s question to Clinton about this–will work on transcript (my transcript below). It sure looks like the US did threaten aid, but in light of military restraint so far, they’re backing off that threat.

Amanpour: Has the United States Administration, whether yourself, the President, or Secretary Gates told the Egyptian government specifically that any military crackdown will result in a cut-off of US military assistance.

Clinton: No. Right now, we’re monitoring the actions of the Egyptian military and they are–as I’m sure your contacts are telling you–demonstrating restraint, working to try to differentiate between peaceful protesters, whom we all support, and potential looters and other criminal elements who are obviously a danger to the Egyptian people. We have sent a very clear message that we want to see restraint, we do not want to see violence from any security forces, and we continue to convey that message. There is no discussion as of this time about cutting off of any aid. We always are looking and reviewing are aid, but right now we are trying to convey a message that is very clear: that we want to ensure there is no violence and no provocation that results in violence, and that we want to see these reforms and the process of national dialogue begun so that the people of Egypt can see their legitimate grievances addressed. [my emphasis]

This seems to suggest that Gibbs’ comments on Friday were meant to serve as the stick that will not be used so far as the military shows the restraint they’ve shown thus far in Egypt.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. allan says:

    “no discussion as of this time about cutting off any aid”

    … but if anything approaching a democratic regime comes to power, all bets are off.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    I actually have some sympathy for ObamaLLP here. The end result is still very much in doubt and we need to be able top work with whomever comes out on top. And anything we appear to favor the street will likely oppose on principle.

    The best thing we can do is be quiet in public and work behind the scenes. I hope we’re working to “ease the transition”, but for all I know we could be sending Mubarak drones.

    Boxturtle (Thinks we should offer him safe tranportation, and maybe an apartment in Queens)

    • emptywheel says:

      I disagree. The now-2nd VP was in Washington on Friday. He got put on a plane just as the US was saying “restraint,” “may review aid.”

      ANd guess what? The military has shown restraint. That’s HUGE.

      That doesn’t make us the architect of the revolution. It means that we appear to have used the leverage we do have to at least prevent a massacre.

      • dark knight says:

        I’m not sure yet that was the cause/effect. The Egyptian generals could have also figured they may as well shoot if we cut aid as they would have nothing to lose? They crush the revolt and who do we deal with? Feeling I get was rank & file didn’t want to shoot.

        • eCAHNomics says:

          I’d point out only that this entire thread is nothing but speculation; both sides. We have no idea what is actually being communicated, nor as you point out, what the cause & effect are. I am skeptical that the U.S. had anything to do with Egyptian military restraint, but in reality, I haven’t a clue.

          • papau says:

            I agree

            I not only do not know what is needed to complete a revolution, I also do not know when those trying are close to succeeding – or being defeated..

            Add to that not really knowing what the powerful amongst us are doing, or what the effect of their doings is likely to result in, the result is just words that reveal my personal biases and desires – and advance the discussion by nada.

      • Mary says:

        Maybe, but I’m not super convinced that we had any role in preventing a military massacre. You can get a military to turn, wholesale, on its own population, but it’s a tricky thing that can backfire easily.

        If the Russian military had been willing to engage in wholesale slaughter of Russians, Glastnost might not have happened. In Tunisia, there was no, similiar, backdoor dealmaking opportunities, and yet the population there had an affinity for the military from the beginning. I think that had to be based on their personal relationships and interactions and not on a read from Hilary Clinton to Tunisian generals.

        I also tend to think that Egyptians know their own military better than we might and that there has been a reason why, even from the beginning, they have been focused on the police and secret police and not so much the military in their uprisings. The problem with militaries is you have a lot of mothers’ sons in a military.

        You can whip them into rages, or you can discipline them into being willing to “just follow orders” in committing atrocities (the path we’ve seen our own Exec branch leaders rely upon), but to openly and at home turn their weapons on the people living in the neighborhoods they grew up in is a huge thing to ask of them. Family, brothers, children, cousins, etc. live in those neighborhoods. It’s one thing to have American soldiers shell Iraqi hospitals, it’s something else to have them shell the hospital where their wife gave birth or where the ER doctor played soccer with them etc.

        A General who directs his military to kill their own people needs to be very very sure that his troops will murder their neighbors. If not, he’s got a huge problem. I might just not be well enough steeped in military tradition, but I have to think there wasn’t a race to the front of the line for “Egyptian Generals willing to turn the military on the populace” line.

        jmo,fwiw

        • kabuki101 says:

          If the Russian military had been willing to engage in wholesale slaughter of Russians, Glastnost might not have happened.

          Mary, Glasnost happened under Gorbachev (along with Perestroika), long before the brief, attempted putsch, where the military quickly sided with Yeltsin. It was by then a 6 year old process. Nevertheless, Russia still morphed into an autocracy/oligarchy pretty quickly, in spite of Yeltsin’s “firey democrat” credentials (which I think were genuine, and how things ended up the way they did remains a bit of a mystery to me).

          • papau says:

            I blame Harvard’s Jeff Sach’s fire sale economics for the rise of billionaires via gifts of state owned businesses in Russia that caused a 50% drop in the Russian GDP- there was a chance for a re-birth of democracy and regulated capitalism – and the no regulation, Greenspan team screwed the world in Russia as in other countries. Greenspan has a lot to answer for.

          • Mary says:

            Thanks for the correction, I never get all those named time frames right and it was an off the cuff comment. The fact that the military wouldn’t mow its own people down isn’t the same as saying it would help usher a real democracy in. The political question of what happens to a nation after an uprsiing is complex and is often as much an economic as political question. The question of what happens to a General who orders his troops to fire on their own people is, imo, less complex and most Generals won’t want to be in that position.

            And a nation where the troops faithfully, on orders, mow down their own people is still a very different outcome than the Russia of today. imo, fwiw

        • dark knight says:

          Plus others have made the distinction that the police (while also fellow citizens) were hated for the brutality, graft taking, etc, that they inflicted on their neighbors day after day. Army has “clean hands”

          • Mary says:

            That’s what I meant by “there has been a reason why, even from the beginning, they have been focused on the police and secret police and not so much the military in their uprisings”

            @31 – I think the shutdowns make them look afraid as well. It sends a message that they think the news they are shutting off would hearten the uprising. Intersting (in your later comments) about Sarkozy being taken aback. I know everyone is focused on Tunis as the first domino and I guess it mostly is, but I still think that a part of the chipping away came when Musharef had to relinquish control. Not that Pakistan got what it needed or stabilized, but it showed that a dictator could be forced out.

            @41 – I don’t think they have a clue either. One thing that is very interesting when you hear about all these uprisings is how often the word justice comes up and how often the lawyers and judges are involved. Both in Pakistan and now in Egytp. Not that this is always a great thing – Pakistani lawyers and judges have also been pushing hard to keep their really horrifying blasphemy laws. Still, the concept of lack of justice is what hits the lips over and over, even if the real motivator is economic.

            One other ripple effect is that, if the US did pull its “aid” from Egypt, with so much of it being military aid, we take another jobs hit and the Lockheed/Boeing/Gen Dyn etc. portion of the economy takes a hit. That’s another problem with our support of worldwide dictatorships – our economy becomes in part dependent upon those dictatorships and arming them.

  3. JohnLopresti says:

    I think the Mediterraneam rim is ready for sowing seeds of the acerbic process which aggregated an Iraq solution. Looking ahead and around at recent postbellum decades. And, glancing into history, AWACS arrived in Egypt early. There is lots of European history in these places, too. Gibbs*s scampered ideas seem appropriate so far.

  4. puppethead says:

    It would be unwise to cut aid now, especially if it’s buying the restraint of the Egyptian military. If Mubarak does fall, it wouldn’t be useful to have a messy financial aid situation until we see what replaces him. The US certainly would like to keep Egypt as a strategic ally, and aid gives us some influence along those lines.

    I suspect Gibbs’ comments were a threat to Mubarak to stave off a massacre in the streets, which thankfully has been avoided so far. We apparently can support dictators, but not if they’re openly slaughtering their citizens.

  5. lsls says:

    Anyone in any Egyptian government, who is told the US will cut any aid, will respond by telling the US government that, in that case, Egypt will reveal all regarding requests for torture, rendition, etc., and the aid will keep on coming.

    • kking says:

      It would be good for the USA citizen to get a look the alledged request for torture,rendition,etc.Maybe we could fine out if the people in charge of USA affairs followed the rule of law.Maybe thats what Hillary was talking about the people getting to much imformation.

  6. EdwardTeller says:

    HRC’s statement on CNN today, asserting that a good example of Mubarak’s sincere desire to reform was “He’s appointed a VP after 30 years, isn’t that GREAT!” (I’m loosely paraphrasing)

    The Egyptian military is showing restraint because they sense, as do many on the ground there, that Mubarak’s regime will certainly topple within the next few days. Were the situation more ambiguous, the military would be more hostile to the activists. IMHO, it has little or nothing to do with whether or not US aid is threatened.

  7. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Q Robert, beyond what you’ve said today about aid, how has it been conveyed to the Egyptian authorities that billions of dollars in U.S. help could be in jeopardy if they don’t change their ways?MR. GIBBS: Again, Peter, I don’t know every conversation that’s been had at every level in this government, but suffice to say this is something that has been discussed and we’re monitoring.

    Do you know of any conversations at any level of government about something Specific like Egypt loses its aid unless Mubarak resigns Is brought to trial for murder and torture?

  8. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Ms Clinton said there was “no discussion as of this time about cutting off any aid” to Egypt, adding “we always are looking at and reviewing our aid”.

    So Hilary still wants to run for President and she wants the Israeli money. Sec of State can play tough or they can grovel for the special interests hilary chose grovel after all she can always resign.

  9. JamesJoyce says:

    American policy makers suck! Shortsighted, myopic, obliterating long term results, for short term perceived interests and profit, which cost more in the long run.

    Like slave owners obstructing and manipulating law, to protect self interest. Myopic, self interest, profit, ways of doing business which, exploited people and took this country to civil war. Reminds me of a drunk/drug addict, in the lust for that short term fix? Meanwhile the liver is rotting and the whites of the eyes turning yellow. Never mind the moral contradiction/ considerations?????

  10. bmull says:

    I don’t understand why the U.S. can’t just put the aid in escrow. Why would you keep providing aid to a government that might use it against their own people?

  11. kabuki101 says:

    The only role the US despots and fascists should be playing at this moment is offering Mubarak (and entourage – all the government if needs be) refuge and money in the US, to extricate them from Egypt and allow a civilian government to take over. There’s no other offer to put on the table.

    But because the US is also run by fascist despots, this will not be on their mind.

    • papau says:

      I am at a loss as to the need to smear Hillary – never a fact behind the smear – just a pretend – Obama bots must really fear her in 2012.

      That said – it was a cute pretend Youtube video.

      • sybille says:

        I don’t think the video itself is a smear of Hilary. I think it’s a satire of US foreign policy, and a fairly accurate one at that.

      • TasteofFreedom says:

        You don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a smear and the truth. Hillary Clinton sits at the top of an imperialist leadership that has supported bloodthirsty dictatorships for decades, and illegally invades countries they don’t like. She voted for the Iraq invasion, or did you forget already? Obama is performing the same imperialist role now with his backing of Mubarak, not to mention what he’s done to the Palestinians. So if you’re looking for Obamabots and Hillarybots, look in the mirror. But glad you liked the little expose of official dissembling on YouTube.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Hillary Clinton sits at the top of an imperialist leadership that has supported bloodthirsty dictatorships for decades, and illegally invades countries they don’t like.

          In 2000, there was a contested Presidential election in the US. By one SCOTUS vote, GWBush took the election in what a person like myself viewed as a bloodless coup, a judicial coup.

          After that coup, Bush and Cheney implemented a deliberate policy of torture. And they did it via their newly created Office of Special Plans within Rumsfeld’s DoD. And it was operated by at least one man (Feith) who had, in the Reagan years, been removed from DoD on the basis that his allegiance to the US was questionable.

          To equate Hillary Rodham Clinton with the absolutely despicable filth of Bush and Cheney would require you to put forth a lot more **evidence** than you have.

          In addition, the US FBI refused to participate in the ‘interrogations’ (aka, torture sessions) conducted in the Bush Cheney years by what appear to have been ‘privatized’ entities paid for via black budgets out of ‘defense’ money authorized in the BushCheney years.

          I would remind you that the unbelievably fucked up mess that Obama inherited was not the result of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s decisions. True, she was a US Senator during the BushCheney years, but also remember that BushCheney **lied** to the US Senate, the the nation about WMD. They also sought to extract false ‘confessions’ to produce a basis for the Iraq War. They also used extra-governmental entities for a lot of their dirty work.

          LIke others, I fault Obama for not bringing criminal prosecutions for those dark acts; they are coming back to haunt us even now, as we see in Egypt.

          But to equate Hillary Clinton (who could easily be out playing golf, rather than in the pressure cooker of DoS) with the acts of GHWB, of GWBush, of Richard Cheney, of Donald Rumsfeld, of the neocon cabal, would require a lot more evidence than you have provided.

          There are people who like Hillary Clinton, and people who don’t.
          But to attempt to smear her with the actions of a Wolfowitz, a Feith, a John Bolton, a Condi Rice, a Richard Cheney is both ridiculous and insulting.

    • tanbark says:

      Taste: excellent link. I’m so glad that people are calling bullshit, and putting it on YouTube, where it can be seen by more people.

      As for “smearing” Hillary, she’s already playing the “Islamic extremist” card and pumping up the terrrist fear-doll. Any smearing she’s getting, she richly deserves.

      BTW, I think Obama might need to be afraid of her in 2012. If his approval numbers get into the 30’s, or possibly, the low 40’s, there will be democrats coming out of the woodwork (the republicans are already coming out) to challenge him. I don’t know if Hillary can resist that opportunity, as tricky as it would be, for her to bail out of State to run at him.

      That’s going to be one of the more interesting situations in the next 18 months or so.

  12. papau says:

    Our “Aid” to these countries – Egypt, Israel, etc. – is a con-job of the US “giving money” as Aid – but only to folks so they can give that money to US corporations for military toys – it is a round trip of funds that goes to our Military industrial complex – MIC. A welfare program for the MIC hidden from view and called “Aid”.

    So of the $1.5 Billion that goes out in “Aid” to Egypt, 1.3 Billion is toys for boys, and only 200 million even has a chance of actually helping folks.

  13. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Well, things have certainly changed since Friday (a whole 48 hours makes a big difference).

    We have sent a very clear message that we want to see restraint, we do not want to see violence from any security forces, and we continue to convey that message. There is no discussion as of this time about cutting off of any aid. We always are looking and reviewing are aid, but right now we are trying to convey a message that is very clear: that we want to ensure there is no violence and no provocation that results in violence, and that we want to see these reforms and the process of national dialogue begun so that the people of Egypt can see their legitimate grievances addressed. [rOTL emphasis]

    My interpretation:
    As long as there’s no violence, we don’t cut off aid.
    IF there is violence against the Egyptian people**, then we can reconsider cutting off aid at any instant we decide. But “as of this time” we won’t cut off aid.

    Note that since Friday: Twitter restored (a point that both Gibbs, on Obama’s behalf, as well as Pres Obama himself had made clearly on Thurs-Fri).
    Mobiles seem to be back on – again, something that Gibbs mentioned last week.

    Within the past 24 hours Mubarak’s group shut off Al Jazeera — which IMVHO just makes them appear completely terrified.

    And now, the world has the image of the dignified El Baradei (whom the neocons hate, who stood up to GWBush and Cheney and was proven correct) as one among millions of Egyptians articulating a determination for change that is remarkable.

    Are those troops really going to fire on a former Nobel Peace Prize winner and the countrymen that he’s tossed his lot in with?
    That would be an unmitigated disaster.

  14. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    The other thing is that of Sunday PST, the US government is calling for ‘orderly transition’. I interpret that as trying to buy time while someone lines up a plane out of Egypt for Mubarak.

  15. sybille says:

    From the Guardian:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2011/jan/30/egypt-protests-live-updates#block-72

    America’s highest-ranking military officer has praised the “professionalism” and restraint of Egypt’s armed forces, following a phone call with a senior Egyptian commander. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Lieutenant General Sami Enan, chief of staff of Egypt’s armed forces, of his “appreciation for the continued professionalism” of the Egyptian military. “Both men reaffirmed their desire to see the partnership between our two militaries continue, and they pledged to stay in touch,” a Pentagon spokesman announced.

    So the military commanders are BFFs. I guess that will help the Egyptians construct and elect the sort of government they prefer…

    • canadianbeaver says:

      Oh, catch some of CNN!! This afternoon, one of their reporters had “private access” to a meeting in Alexandria of some of the leaders of the protests. What a joke. This isn’t a populist uprising, unless the population has been lied to. These people are working hand in hand WITH the military in all stages of planning. This is closer to a military coup. After watching that little confab in a fairly nice apartment in Alexandria, there is NO WAY that this is the poor rising against the dictator. This is the military saying “time for a new” head general.

      • PJEvans says:

        I’d just almost bet that that meeting was a setup of some kind. I can’t see any protest leaders letting reporters into a meeting at a time like this. It’s really, really stupid, and these people seem to be very much aware of what their government can do.

  16. tanbark says:

    30 years, huh?

    That’s one hell of a conversation…public or private.

    Are there to be some constructive results from that, on THIS turn of the Kharmic wheel?

    Or is this just diplomatic shitspeak for:

    “First and foremost, we’re going to protect the mid-east status quo (and Israel) while asking Mubarak to make incremental and superficial changes to try to placate lots of pissed-off Egyptians.”

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In diplomatic parlance, putting a program “under review” is an implied threat that it will be cut or terminated far more likely than enhanced. If the latter were meant, a different phrase would be used.

    The inconsistency between Gibbs’ and Hilary’s comments is just that. It’s a disagreement about what policy to pursue. That’s useful in keeping Egypt’s army – the prime beneficiary of current aid – guessing about what we mean and anxious to please us, but it also tells them our support is conditional and that they’re on their own right now.

    Egypt’s top military leaders know the history of their country’s relationship with the US better than we do. The socialist and populist, the middle class status enhancing Nasser in the 1950-60’s was anathema to Washington. His neo-con, elite status enhancing, foreign private investment promoting successors were the opposite. (Juan Cole today has a nice summary of that history.) But times have changed.

    The military’s problem is that it has to have a country first before it can elicit foreign aid for it, whatever it is they do with that aid. They have a finite amount of ammunition. They have to have the willing cooperation of the multitudes who have thrown off caution and taken to the streets to publicize their demands that the government govern with their needs in mind, too.

    Odds are Washington hasn’t a clue how this will turn out and that it’s about as influential at this moment as the Muslim Brotherhood. (Its wishful thinking aside, its role now is unimportant.) The US is waiting things out, expecting to pick up the pieces whenever things sort themselves out. Mr. Obama reacts to events; he avoids shaping them whenever possible.

    • tanbark says:

      With all of the bushCo spinning plates that he’s sustained, Obama is going to have plenty of “events” to react to.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Odds are Washington hasn’t a clue how this will turn out and that it’s about as influential at this moment as the Muslim Brotherhood. (Its wishful thinking aside, its role now is unimportant.) The US is waiting things out, expecting to pick up the pieces whenever things sort themselves out. Mr. Obama reacts to events; he avoids shaping them whenever possible.

      I couldn’t have put it this well, but this is my sense.

      BTW, I think it was the guardian.uk that reported last week about how Sarkozy was caught completely unawares of the Tunisian situation. That blew my mind — the French reputation for superb intel smudged, if this is true. And weirdly, it seems to have been the US Ambassador’s frank appraisal of the corruption of the Ben Ami family that helped people push people over the edge (along with the utter tragedy of the young man who immolated himself). The French didn’t see it coming.

      And if the French didn’t see Tunisia coming, well….
      We’re living in a Black Swan world, methinks.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That is odd about Sarkozy, given France’s historic imperial ties to North Africa. The phrase, “Who’s minding the store” never seems to go out of fashion.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          So you think it’s bizarre, as I do?
          I thought it was one of the oddest things that I’ve read in awhile.

          And just as icing on the cake, evidently Ben Ali thought he could fly to a nice villa in France. But Sarkozy had the sense to refuse admission — assuming the guardian.uk is correct in this report. (With this kind of info, I’m inclined to be skeptical.)

          But it does kind of make sense that Ben Ali would assume that if the family was dining on take-out flown in from St Tropes, that he’d have been able to land safely in France. IMVHO, that would have been lethal for the French government.

          But a fascinating ‘tea leaf’, eh?

  18. Ryan says:

    Review it? Of course they want to review it — all this means to Hillary and the gang is that they clearly weren’t giving Egypt enough military aid! Maybe, if they had been giving them $2.6 billion instead of $1.3 for their ‘defense,’ this mass movement for freedom would have been snuffed out by now?

    /sigh

    Who do these people think they are? Maybe we need a little marching on the streets of our own.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The US’s abhorrence of Nasser is instructive and consistent with the priorities in the US’s relationships with countries in the Middle East (eg, the Shah’s Iran), the Caribbean and Latin America. It wants stability and a few leaders with whom “it can do business” in a Solozzo kind of way.

    Its primary focus is often a variant on the WWII slogan that what’s good for GM is good for America, applied to foreign policy. Access to key raw materials or a monopoly on fruit, sugar or oil often predate military relations. Cold War relations were an add on to that consistent priority.

    What US foreign policy is not known for is being “hated for our freedoms” – a typical Rovian inversion of the truth – or for consistently supporting a populous that wants more of them.

  20. WilliamOckham says:

    My reading of this difference is that the Obama administration told the Egyptian military (in person) that we weren’t paying for a Tiananmen square. They didn’t open fire and their toys are safe.

    I think Mubarak is done for. Heard the former Israeli amb to Egypt interviewed on BBC radio. Asked if Israel preferred that Mubarak stay or go, he said, “It doesn’t matter. Everybody knows his people don’t respect him, the Americans don’t respect him, his military won’t fight for him.” He is useless, even to the Israelis. We better be planning for what comes next. And the neocons need get over their aversion to el-Baradei. He looks to be everyone’s best bet at the moment.

  21. WilliamOckham says:

    By the way, Tunisia-Egypt-Yemen-whoever is a dry run for the coming convulsions due to climate change. The trigger for all this was rising food prices caused by a disastrous Russian harvest. This time around it is just the weakest regimes. Who knows what will happen when permanent climate changes take over.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      By the way, Tunisia-Egypt-Yemen-whoever is a dry run for the coming convulsions due to climate change.

      Yes.

      This time around it is just the weakest regimes.

      Yes, a second time.

  22. tanbark says:

    Well, if the Isrealis are signing off–REALLY signing off–on dumping Mubarak, then maybe he is gone.

    Now: How much of the treasury is he going to take with him?

    Some little Swiss gnomes will be interested to know…