“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, February 03, 2011

"Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who 'lost' Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled,"

US response to Egypt draws criticism in Israel

Feb 3, 7:26 AM (ET) Myway


JERUSALEM (AP) - President Barack Obama's response to the crisis in Egypt is drawing fierce criticism in Israel, where many view the U.S. leader as a political naif whose pressure on a stalwart ally to hand over power is liable to backfire.

Critics - including senior Israeli officials who have shied from saying so publicly - say Obama is repeating the same mistakes of predecessors whose calls for human rights and democracy in the Middle East have often backfired by bringing anti-West regimes to power.

Israeli officials, while refraining from open criticism of Obama, have made no secret of their view that shunning Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and pushing for swift elections in Egypt could bring unintended results.

"I don't think the Americans understand yet the disaster they have pushed the Middle East into," said lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who until recently was a Cabinet minister and who is a longtime friend of Mubarak.

"If there are elections like the Americans want, I wouldn't be surprised if the Muslim Brotherhood didn't win a majority, it would win half of the seats in parliament," he told Army Radio. "It will be a new Middle East, extremist radical Islam."

Three decades ago, President Jimmy Carter urged another staunch American ally - the shah of Iran - to loosen his grip on power, only to see his autocratic regime replaced by the Islamic Republic. More recently, U.S.-supported elections have strengthened such groups as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories and anti-American radicals in Iran.

"Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as 'the president who lost Iran,'" the analyst Aluf Benn wrote in the daily Haaretz this week. "Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who 'lost' Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled," Benn wrote.

Israel has tremendous respect for Mubarak, who carefully honored his country's peace agreement with Israel after taking power nearly 30 years ago.

While relations were often cool, Mubarak maintained a stable situation that has allowed Israel to greatly reduce its military spending and troop presence along the border with Egypt.

He also worked with Israel to contain the Gaza Strip's Hamas government and served as a bridge to the broader Arab world. Israeli leaders have said it is essential that whoever emerges as Egypt's next leader continue to honor the peace agreement.
For more than a week, Egyptians fed up with deepening poverty, corruption and 30 years of Mubarak's autocratic rule have massed across the country to demand his ouster. The backlash has forced Mubarak to announce he won't run in September elections, but that has not appeased protesters, who want him out now.

In the course of the turmoil, the Obama administration has repeatedly recalibrated its posture, initially expressing confidence in Egypt's government, later threatening to withhold U.S. aid, and lastly, pressing Mubarak to loosen his grip on power immediately.

"We want to see free, fair and credible elections," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday. "The sooner that can happen, the better."
Critics say the U.S. is once again confusing the mechanics of democracy with democracy itself.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments this week when he warned that "if extremist forces are allowed to exploit democratic processes to come to power to advance anti-democratic goals - as has happened in Iran and elsewhere - the outcome will be bad for peace and bad for democracy."

So far, no unified opposition leadership or clear program for change has emerged in Egypt. Historically the leading opposition in Egypt has been the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that favors Islamic rule and has been repressed by Mubarak throughout his tenure.
Many young people see the former director of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, as Egypt's democratic hope, but critics say he is out of touch with Egypt's problems because he has spent so many years outside of the country.
The calls for democracy inside Egypt have put the U.S. in an awkward position of having to balance its defense for human rights with its longtime ties to an authoritarian regime that has been a crucial Arab ally.

In Israel, critics say the U.S. has suffered a credibility loss by shaking off Mubarak when his regime started crumbling.

"The Israeli concept is that the U.S. rushed to stab Mubarak in the back," said Eytan Gilboa, an expert on the U.S. at Bar-Ilan University.

"As Israel sees it, they could have pressured Mubarak, but not in such an overt way, because the consequence could be a loss of faith in the U.S. by all pro-Western Arab states in the Middle East, and also a loss of faith in Israel," he said.

Raphael Israeli, a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, echoed a widely felt perception that before the unrest erupted, the Obama administration paid only lip service to the lack of human rights in Mubarak's authoritarian regime.

"If Obama were genuinely concerned with what is going on in Egypt, he should have made the same demands two years ago (when he addressed the Muslim world in Cairo) and eight years and 20 years ago. Mubarak didn't come to power yesterday."
"As long as there are no problems, the oppression works," Israeli said. "If the oppression doesn't work, suddenly it becomes urgent. That's unacceptable."


  1. He was a community organizer in Chicago. What could possibly go wrong?

  2. So, Deuce, you think that the US should support dictators to appease the Israelis?

  3. "political naif" is a very good discription of Nobama.

  4. Definition of 'Political Correctness':

    A doctrine, fostered by a delusional,
    illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.

  5. Losing Egypt is like "losing" a cancerous cancre on the rectum.

    Now, let's "lose" all the rest of them.

  6. Tunisia's Islamists have been shut out of the interim government, Islamist leader Rachid Ghannouchi said, calling for a cabinet that brings together all parties and for the dismantling of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's police state.


    "The constitution is cut to fit the size of the dictator. All the powers are concentrated in the hands of the dictator who is accountable to no one.


    "This revolution must dismantle the dictatorial regime, starting with the constitution and including the laws that limit media, limit parties and groups and the elections."

    Being Excluded

  7. Obama will be remembered as the President that lanced the boil that is the Middle East.

    That moved the whirled towards democracy, the rule of the majority over the autocrats of despotism.

    That allowed the US to escape the clutches of petty dictators and religious fanatics.

    Good on him, that the US abandoned a tin pot dictator.

    The quicker he moves in that same direction with regards the Sauds, Jordanians and Israeli, the better.

  8. As for Turkey, that "Loss" was on GW Bush. Remember when they refused passage to the 4th ID?

    That was when that country was "lost", not now, nor in the past 2 years.

    Israel sealed that loss, when they attacked Turkish commercial shipping, in the middle of the Med.

  9. These days, everybody’s in the business of panicking over the potential role of the Muslim Brotherhood. But rather than discuss where the Brotherhood has been in the past, I suggest looking to the future.


    Starting in the 1960s, a wave of Islamist violence rocked the Muslim world. It was a successor to and competitor with socialist and communist revolutionary movements, and a product of the same historical circumstances.


    Any post-Mubarak regime will have to incorporate not only the military’s interests, but reward the military (assuming the revolution succeeds, it’ll only succeed with military support). The same Egyptian military that gets $1.3 billion from the United States in aid every year doesn’t want to jeopardize that aid, for which reason it will look very suspiciously on any political agenda that wants to antagonize Israel and threaten a major source of its funding.

    Won't Turn On Israel

  10. Why do we "have" Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt in the first place"?

  11. To all those that have lamented the disposition of the Coptic Christians, under Mubarak, his departure has to be "good news".

    Or was Egypt really not all that bad, for the Coptic Christians?

  12. RICHMOND - Virginia will ask that the U.S. Supreme Court immediately review the state's constitutional challenge to the federal health-care overhaul, a rare legal request to bypass appeals and ask for early intervention from the nation's highest court, Attorney General Ken T. Cuccinelli II said Thursday.

    Cuccinelli (R) said that conflicting court decisions about the law's constitutionality have created sufficient uncertainty about implementation of the sweeping law to justify speeding Supreme Court review.

  13. "We" don't "have" them, T; They got's "Us."

  14. Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, The UAE, Qutar, Oman, Saudi Arabia -

    These are the countries that matter. They export oil.

    The rest (and, I sincerely mean "ALL" the rest) are just a collective, expensive pain in the ass. About as interesting as a brother-in-law sleeping on the couch.

  15. If there was ever any doubt, it is now clear that Obama is more a realist than a human rights crusader, even if he has tried to square this circle in recent days by repeatedly invoking “universal” rights and values.


    Ultimately, Obama will be judged by results. If the Egyptian uprising eventually leads to an undemocratic regime hostile to the United States and Israel, the president will pay the price.

    This explains his caution. But for now, he has room to maneuver, thanks in part to the very neoconservatives whose Iraq policies he so strongly opposed.

    Policy Revolution

  16. Lebanon, what does the election there have to do with the US?

    We never invaded that country.
    We did not radicalize the population, through occupation.

    Who do these Israeli Europeons think they are, to criticize US policies?

    Their country would not exist, as it is today, if not for US and the billions of dollars we have gifted to them.

    Their lack of gratitude is grating, to say the least.

  17. Ask every American you know:

    Would you pay $0.05/gal more for gas if it meant "Freedom, and Deemocracee" in Egypt?

    If you get more than 1 in a 100 that says yes, you're hanging around with too many liars.

  18. DR: Lebanon, what does the election there have to do with the US?

    Even Sean Hannity is running with that meme, that Obama is Carter on steroids, and he's "losing" Egypt and Lebanon and Yemen. What the frack is he supposed to do? Obama can't even bring home the Olympics. The Peace Prize was given to him for just not being Bush. If we "lose" Egypt we gain $1.55 billion a year. That's the payoff that goes along with the Camp David peace accords. If the Muslim Brotherhood cancels the peace treaty with Israel, then that money spigot turns off too.

  19. Christian Science Monitor -

    A GOP-backed House bill aimed at limiting federal funding of abortions used the phrase 'forcible rape,' suggesting that abortions for other kinds of rape would not be covered.

  20. Hewn into the rock underneath that structure is a network of tunnels that archaeologists believe were used by Jewish rebels fighting Roman armies in the second century A.D.

    Stone steps lead down from the floor of church to a small burial cave, which scholars suggest might have been venerated as the burial place of the Old Testament prophet Zecharia.


    Israel boasts an exceptionally high concentration of archaeological sites, including Crusader, Islamic, Byzantine, Roman, ancient Jewish and prehistoric ruins.

    Judean Hills

  21. There's only one subject that bores me, and that's abortion.

  22. And here I thought it a story about rape, more than abortion.

    As if the GOP believed there was unforced rape.

    Fits right in with boob's outlook.

    When is rape not rape?
    When it is unreported to the police.

  23. In her latest article for The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan develops her ongoing theme of examining contemporary sexual life by reading Karen Owens’ infamous (non-academic) thesis on her sexual conquests of several Duke athletes. “Hell hath no fury,” William Congreve once told us, and Flanagan’s hypothesis is that Owens’ “relentless descriptions of the anatomical shortcomings of various partners” is the latest bit of evidence that he was right.


    In her analysis of the story, Flanagan writes:

    Stephenie Meyer has re-created the sort of middle-class American youth in which it was unheard-of for a nice girl to be a sexual aggressor, and when the only coin of the realm for a boy who wanted to get lucky was romance and a carefully waged campaign intended to convince the girl that he was consumed by love for her.


    Yet at the same time, the uproar and continuing discussion of Owens’ mock thesis reveals just how deeply Flanagan’s narrative about the nature of sexuality still resonates. While the nation was simultaneously horrified and fascinated, like the fellow in Plato’s Republic who can’t quit looking at the corpses, its irreverently clinical attitude is precisely the sort response we might expect from a world that has attempted to disenchant sexual pleasure by industrializing it.

    Disenchantment of Sex

  24. DR, the subject of rape does NOT bore me, but womenfolk do not discuss it casually, just as menfolk do not discuss what happened to John Wayne Bobbitt as casually as womenfolk do.

  25. Sam, I always preferred a little mystery to the gynecological approach.

  26. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has told ABC America he would like to quit now but fears there would be chaos if he did.


    Foreign reporters have been harassed, beaten up and even stabbed as they attempt to cover large-scale protests against Mr Mubarak.


    "To date, we have seen them act professionally and with restraint. Again, it's a very fluid situation so we are watching every single day," said spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan.

    Chaos in Egypt

  27. Ash, if you haven't noticed, I do not always post what I believe in or agree with. I try and post what is news and relevant, worthy of thought and discussion.

    Then I post what I really think down here with you and the other unwashed.

    Over time, I have made it clear that I believe for too much US political energy has been wasted in the Middle East because of our absurd dependence on oil from the region.

  28. Mubarak is 82. He knows he has to go now. The situation could hardly be worse under any conceivable alternative.

    Americans accepted his seductive totalitarian 'either me or chaos' line for far too long before finally seeing through it in the last couple of weeks. Obama is no exception.

    Now Egypt only has the huge annual military subsidy as a lever. (The same as Israel plays the strategic asset card.) The only reason Egypt has 1.4m in the army and the police force is to subjugate the population. The US has paid its ally, Egypt handsomely and prolonged Mubarak's stay for much too long.The US balances aid to Israel to balance aid to Egypt and has been caught up in this unseemly mess for decades.

    I agree with those that want to lose more of these wards of the US state sooner, not later.

  29. There is no consensus on the right or left about what position to stand for. The other day I heard Glenn Beck talking as if he knew what he was talking about, and then Beck suddenly realized he was not sure if the Iranians were Shia or Sunni and had to google it. I laughed and listened to some music.

    As usual we also have our equally ignorant elected politicians arguing about that which they do not understand:

    Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak refused yesterday to bow to pressure at home and abroad to stand down immediately, claiming that, though he was fed up and would like to go, he feared chaos if he did so.

    Mubarak, in the first major interview since the protests began, expressed no sense of betrayal over President Barack Obama's call on Tuesday for him to begin the transition to democracy "now". But there was a hint of resentment when he said Obama did not understand Egyptian culture and the trouble that would ensue if he left office immediately.

    "I am fed up. After 62 years in public service, I have had enough. I want to go," Mubarak said in an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "If I resign today, there will be chaos."

    Mubarak, in a statement on Tuesday, promised he would not stand for election in the autumn, but insisted he would remain in office until then, a formula that satisfied neither the protesters nor the White House.

  30. The Foreign Office confirmed today it had chartered a second plane - which will depart Cairo on Saturday - because of the 'fluidity and unpredictability' of the situation.

    A spokesman renewed the advice to all Britons without a "pressing reason" to stay in the Egyptian capital to leave the city.

    Staff not immediately involved in dealing with the crisis have also been temporarily withdrawn, he said.

    pro-Mubarak Thugs