Friday, January 28, 2011

Obama's moment

What Obama does here will mark his legacy as an international president. Egypt has just gone web-dark. The ruler, a US backed dictator in power for 30 years, is facing mass and popular uprising. He has dissolved his government but so far shows no sign of accepting his fate and stepping down.

He did want to make his mark I think on finding a peace between the Palestinians and Israel but fate has funny way of thwarting one's designs. Egypt, suddenly, conscripts him to the front.

He is bound because the security of Israel is bound up in the security of her neighbours, which in Egypt's case is underwritten by US arms, money, and tame dictator. He has to balance what I believe is his sincere belief in democracy and rights, with the US role as a guarantor of regional security suddenly dealing with the loss of one of those pillars. And he has to balance whatever he wants to do with the political reaction from the rightwing insane machine at home.

What will the Democrat, constitutional law professor, and US President do? Sit tight, say little, until the dust settles would be my guess. Whatever he says now may come back to haunt him should he and his advisors misread the outcomes.

Go Egypt.


Zorpheous said...

Egypt is,... was a sleeping tiger that the USA had by the tail. Now the tiger is awake,... This will not end well since there are so many ways for this to end badly. The people of power, political, religious and military will all be pulling for their own direction. The people of Egypt will just be the useful pawns in the power play that unfolds.

The biggest power right now is the Egyptian military, and depending on who or which way they choose to move will be the biggest factor.

Of course the USA could still do something incredibly stupid (shades of Iran cira 1970s)

Sixth Estate said...

I agree with your judgement: he'll stay where he has most of his administration, parked squarely on the fence.

The question ultimately is whether the U.S. commitment to democracy or to hegemony in the Middle East is stronger, and we already know the answer to that question. Staying vague now means he can try to make nice with the winner, no matter who the winner is.

Dana said...

Right out of the gate this admin got off on the wrong foot with Clinton calling the Mubarak regime "stable". That just came across like a booted foot.

There is little disillusion among the people on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria or Suez about US wants and desires. They know exactly where the US stands and they don't like it one teensy little bit.

Obama is fast losing any credibility or popularity he may have vicariously earned in the region simply by not being Bush.

And it may already be too late for him to gain any of it back.

All in all a failure of massive proportions that is going to cosrt the US and the rest of the west dearly.

Again another huge disappointment from this boob.

liberal supporter said...

Who cares what Obama says in these early days? Now is the golden opportunity for Sarah Palin to prove she has what it take to be the president.
Somehow, she'll make it all about her.

Mubarak will stay in power and try to make himself the elder statesman with much less power. Given that BuCheney would have already sent in the marines, Mubarak has a window of opportunity to cede power to Parliament without a lot of outside interference.

Obama, while seemingly ineffective to some, has the ability to galvanize many in a positive way. He speaks of moments. The US's Sputnik moment for this generation.

He will do all he can to make this Egypt's Magna Carta moment.

West End Bob said...

Obama's standing in the Egyptian situation is basically irrelevant as witnessed by his press secretary's presser today (Noon, PST).

When repeatedly questioned by the MSM reporters - to their credit, amazingly - if the Prez had talked to Mubarak or any foreign leaders the answer was vaguely: "No."

Gibbs referred to State Department and US government "professionals" opinions/analysis and their "monitoring of the situation" but not to conferring with foreign leaders. No doubt the US government's main concern is how to replace the $1.3B in arms shipments to Egypt to the US GDP rather than the fate of the Egyptian people. Governing and "leading" by the seat of their pants - Big surprise, eh?

Maybe it's time for some of the Tunisian and Egyptian rage to make it across the Atlantic to our continent.

One can only hope . . . .

Edstock said...

"No doubt the US government's main concern is how to replace the $1.3B in arms shipments to Egypt to the US GDP rather than the fate of the Egyptian people."
Lots of doubt for that, West End; in terms of US arms sales, 1.3 billion is nickle-dime, they can replace that lost market in a blink of an eye as Taiwan (or India or Korea or Canada, etc) bellies up to the counter to buy.

West End Bob said...

Check out the whole context of the quote, Ed.

If you've got "lots of doubt for that," what you're saying is that you think the US government is more concerned with the fate of the Egyptian people rather than the loss of arms sales.

Rather hard to believe . . . .

The Seer said...

I just figured out why the Arabs think the US Government is responsible for propping up their unpopular dictators.

Obama told Mubarak that unless Mubarak reopens the internet, Obama will cut off military aid to Egypt.

Mubarak's lifestyle does not depend upon US aid; Mubarak gets his toys from taxing the Egyptian people.

Edstock said...

West End:

Not to really argue the point, but
"what you're saying is that you think the US government is more concerned with the fate of the Egyptian people rather than the loss of arms sales.

Rather hard to believe . . . ."

You may indeed be right, considering US foreign policy history.

But, seriously, that kind of money is nickle-dime, and somehow, State is probably way more concerned about all sorts of things rather than filling out paper for some purchase of a couple of dozen used F-16's or whatever.

Just guessing, but "stability" is probably top-of-mind at State, right now. To the south of Egypt, there's Sudan and all that cluster-fuck.

Then there's Libya and Khaddaffy Duck, to the immediate west, along with Algeria. Both countries are seething. To the east, Lebanon and Syria. Lebanon is the definition of cluster-fuck, and Syria? How firmly is Bashar in the saddle?

The hits just keep on comin'. So, I don't think it is preposterous at all to assume that for now, arms sales to Egypt are off the radar, so to speak, certainly at State.