I wish all of US LUCK!

There are no spontaneous revolutions. Popular anger needs coordination, channeling, resources.

No outsider would have dared trouble the waters in a place like Egypt.  The US would have eventually found out and the whole thing become a casus belli.

The security apparatus in a place like Egypt could have put down any manifestation in a matter of hours.  The Egyptian Army must have been in.

If all goes well, Capitalism gets a new lease on life, long live democracy for capital!

Meanwhile, the West should hold together, yet the US will re-discover (the virtues of) nylon.


fCh said...

...and now we have Libya:

Our economic interest in the region is indirect at best. Our worldwide credibility is at stake. People figure out fast the facts. Do we want to give up even the pretension of 'soft power?' Are we so bankrupt that war is the only way out?

I'm also uneasy by the German reticence, in contrast to the French willingness, to start this war. Without seeing what has changed for worse in Libya since the US rewarded it for giving up the WMD program and playing by the rules, I have to rely on proxy views on the matter--and those would be Germany and France's. Except that Mr. Sarkozy has gotten so involved in Libyan affairs that I couldn't tell if it's not a personal matter of his by now.

To return to what's at stake, how do we want to grow our trade in goods and ideas with the world, on the wings of the values associated with democracy and markets, or at gun point? If the latter is the way, we may get ahead in short term, if at all, while risking a lot.

Yes, I'm also aware of the several back-stories (oil, French elections, nationalization of resources, etc.). However, I think the Iraq lesson must have been internalized by now.

Anonymous said...

As U.N. ambassador, Madeleine Albright pushed back against Colin Powell on a Balkans intervention — “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

Now, we have women again who take Ms. Albright's war-ineptitude to an even higher level, Clinton, Rice, Power...

fCh said...

Our luck is running out fast in this round.

"A new Pew poll was just released -- the first taken since the fall of Mubarak -- and its findings were summarized by today's Washington Post:

Egyptians are deeply skeptical about the United States and its role in their country . . . according a poll released Monday by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Most Egyptians distrust the United States and want to renegotiate their peace treaty with Israel, the poll found. . . .

The poll found that 39 percent of Egyptians believe the U.S. response to the upheaval in Egypt was negative, almost double the 22 percent who said it was positive. . . .

Egyptian attitudes toward the United States more generally stayed about the same between 2010 and 2011 -- with just 20 percent holding a favorable opinion of the United States this year, an increase of three percentage points from 2010, and 79 percent holding an unfavorable opinion, a decrease of three percentage points.

More Egyptians -- 64 percent -- said they had low or no confidence in President Obama in 2011 than they did last year, up five percentage points."

The assumption of the US/west could well have been expressed by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the head of NATO, when he stated at a seminar in the Polish capital Warsaw:

"When I look at central and eastern Europe I'm extremely optimistic about the future we can achieve in North Africa."


Ha, probably the west hasn't figured out that the peoples in the former Soviet Bloc aspired not only to the western material wealth, but also democratic and capitalist ideologies. While I'm not sure what the Arab street aspires to, beyond material wealth, the East-European history of the past 21 years must have informed even the naives that the west likes markets and natural resources more than anything else, and democracy is a smokescreen for pre-industrial exploitation oiled by local corruption.

Then, to think of our prospects, how will other leaders of the world trust the US/west into entering another agreement? They are certain to recall Yugoslavia's Milošević, Egypt's Mubarak, and Libya's Gaddafi; especially since the last one even gave up his nuclear program.

BTW, the late Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke had been called a great negotiator; however can anyone name another achievement of his after we turned on Milošević?

Robert Marvos from Bend, Oregon said...

I recall comments made throughout all of the wars the United States has been involved in ever since we first colonized our own country and nearly exterminated the native peoples living here. It is reflected in the Monroe doctrine that guided our expansion into Cuba, Central and South America; then into the Philippines to Japan and China. The underlying currents of racism and American exceptionalism are glaring once you remove your blinders (read "The Imperial Cruise” by James Bradley, the son of John Bradley who helped raise the flag over Iwo Jima in WWII and “Overtrow” by Stephen Kinzer). Most people commenting here forget that the boundaries of these modern “nations" were largely imposed on the region by European colonial force, ignoring the traditional boundaries of the people living there. And here we are today, our leaders still trying to impose an American sense of order on the rest of the world in order to assure them of a cheap, reliable source of oil to support our own empire. We will support any dictatorship that will do our bidding in order to maintain a sense of stability -- even if the people living under those dictatorships are disenfranchised and have to suffer. Our own history is not being taught to our children and the American people are now paying the price with the collapse of our economic and social structures because of the same greed that has driven the expansion across the American continent and then across the Pacific to Asia. The entire “Cold War” was the consequence of the U.S., Britain and France, and the Soviet Union dividing up the spoils of WWII between them and then fighting between each other for control of the rest of the world. Now here we are today, struggling to maintain control of foreign resources in the Middle East -- not for “democracy,” but for our own benefit. When will we learn?

fCh said...

NYTimes is running a story about the Saudis' buying social peace with money.

In Saudi Arabia, Royal Funds Buy Peace for Now

This oil-rich kingdom is spending $130 billion to pump up salaries, build housing and finance religious organizations, effectively neutralizing any opposition.

Here's my comment:

Spending to maintain social peace in the present is a no brainer. It's much more difficult to invest in the future.

Money can buy peace only for that long. Then, whatever will have been propped up comes down in violence.

Somehow I have the feeling of watching a big board game. Except that players round the table engage in different games. We do poker, others chess, and there are also the kibitzers.

Where is Saudi Arabia in all this? I'm not sure we've gotten that good at GO.

Anonymous said...

WTF! Is there wonder that gas price goes up in flames at the pump? Surely, they are blaming it on speculators this time, how convenient!

fCh said...

Veto a State, Lose an Ally

Jidda, Saudi Arabia

The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world. If it does not, American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.

Saudi leaders would be forced by domestic and regional pressures to adopt a far more independent and assertive foreign policy. Like our recent military support for Bahrain’s monarchy, which America opposed, Saudi Arabia would pursue other policies at odds with those of the United States, including opposing the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq and refusing to open an embassy there despite American pressure to do so. The Saudi government might part ways with Washington in Afghanistan and Yemen as well.

The Palestinian people deserve statehood and all that it entails: official recognition, endorsement by international organizations, the ability to deal with Israel on more equal footing and the opportunity to live in peace and security.

Israel should see the Palestinian bid for statehood not as a threat, but as a chance to return to the negotiating table and prevent further conflict. Recent polls show that up to 70 percent of Palestinians say they believe there will be a new intifada if the deadlock is not broken shortly; this should encourage Israel to seek peace with the moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The Obama administration has had ample opportunities to lead Israelis and Palestinians into bilateral peace talks, but American policy makers have unfortunately been more preoccupied with a deteriorating domestic economy and a paralyzed political scene than with finding a workable solution to this epic injustice. Because Washington has offered no viable new proposals, the least it can do is step aside and not hinder Saudi, European and moderate Arab efforts to advance Palestinian rights at the United Nations.

fCh said...

Even Israeli officials have recently admitted privately to their European counterparts that only Saudi Arabia will be able to give the Palestinians the required religious, political and financial legitimacy they need to complete a deal with Israel. Saudi Arabia had earmarked over $2.5 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority since June 2009, making it by far the largest single supporter of the Palestinian cause. But this money will not do much good until Palestinians are granted their fundamental rights.

The 2002 Arab Peace Plan must be the starting point for negotiations; a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders is the only realistic foundation on which to restart talks, seeing as how the Oslo Peace Process has proved fruitless.

The Palestinian statehood initiative is a chance to replace Oslo with a new paradigm based on state-to-state negotiations — a win-win proposition that makes the conflict more manageable and lays the groundwork for a lasting solution.

The only losers in this scenario would be Syria and Iran, pariah states that have worked tirelessly — through their support of Hamas and Hezbollah — to undermine the peace process. Saudi Arabia recently played a leading role in isolating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal government by demanding an end to the killing of protesters and recalling the Saudi ambassador from Damascus. The impending fall of Mr. Assad’s barbarous regime provides a rare strategic opportunity to weaken Iran. Without this vital ally, Tehran will find it more difficult to foment discord in the Arab world.

Today, there is a chance for the United States and Saudi Arabia to contain Iran and prevent it from destabilizing the region. But this opportunity will be squandered if the Obama administration’s actions at the United Nations force a deepening split between our two countries.

Although Saudi Arabia is willing and able to chart a new and divergent course if America fails to act justly with regard to Palestine, the Middle East would be far better served by continuing cooperation and good will between these longstanding allies.

American support for Palestinian statehood is therefore crucial, and a veto will have profound negative consequences. In addition to causing substantial damage to American-Saudi relations and provoking uproar among Muslims worldwide, the United States would further undermine its relations with the Muslim world, empower Iran and threaten regional stability. Let us hope that the United States chooses the path of justice and peace.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former director of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and a former Saudi ambassador to the United States, is chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.

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