Thoughts on Egypt

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, like many of you, has been thinking and observing and thinking some more about the situation in Egypt. Your Maximum Leader must be honest, he has no one clear line of thinking on the whole matter at all. He has decided though, since he has a blog, he’s just going to throw out some of those thoughts and see what sticks.

By way of a beginning, the Mubarak regime is oppressive, has been oppresive, and will continue to be oppressive if it remains in power in any way. Your Maximum Leader is pleasantly surprised by the (overall) restraint of the police and army up to this point. Apparently the situation is changing rapidly and pro-regime individuals seem to be escalating the level of violence today and one can expect in the future as well.

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how violent the situation will become. He frankly disregards anyone who says that they do know how the situation will proceed from here. Once these movements start there is no telling where they would go. (One doubts that anyone would have thought that convening the “Estates General” by King Louis would have lead to Napoleon eventually…) Your Maximum Leader certainly hopes that the situation will not devolve into mindless violence. It certainly could. It could also devolve into more “mindful” violence. By this your Maximum Leader means targeted killings of pro/anti-regime figures. Indeed, your Maximum Leader suspects (but it is only a gut feeling) that before all this is over there will be a number of very prominent dead Egyptians.

Your Maximum Leader is a little torn about the demonstrations. He certainly understands and sympathizes with the aspirations of the crowds of anti-regime demonstrators. They want to end the oppression and enjoy a measure of freedom. Your Maximum Leader is torn about this for a number of reasons…

If for a minute your Maximum Leader thought that the anti-regime demonstrators wanted to establish a open, secular, western-style democracy he’d not be torn at all. But let us all be completely honest. The demonstrators don’t want that. (Some of them might, but he doubts that even 10% of them want western-style democracy.) They want to be rid of the oppressors and to have the opportunity to select a new government. If given that opportunity they will likely select some branch of the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamist (or proto-Islamist) group to lead them. Egypt is not a participant in the development of the modern western world. As such we need to look realistically at what would come after Mubarak.

Since we can’t be sure what would follow the Mubarak regime - but can be sure it will not be a western-style democracy, your Maximum Leader is reluctant to throw the whole regime under the bus. (So to speak.)

While we’re being frank lets hit a few important things to remember. The Mubarak regime has been good to the US and has been good to Israel. We should all be for less oppression and more freedom in Egypt. But we shouldn’t be for a radicalized Egypt that will dramatically add to the unstable region and may be a net negative for the US (and Israel and Saudi Arabia and Jordan etc).

Your Maximum Leader recalls that way back in the early days of the G.W. Bush Administration (and before this blog), he was in favor of regime change in Iraq. He supported the invasion of that country. He supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his sons. But back then your Maximum Leader wondered if Iraq was “ready for democracy.” He concluded they probably weren’t and speculated that the US should set up a strong, multi-ethnic, provisional government and stabilize the nation and then leave. If the Iraqis went down the path of democracy that would be great. If they didn’t, well then they didn’t.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader also speculated that the US could establish a Constitutional Monarchy that would share power with the Army and with a Parliament. But that was his own speculation. He knew that the US, in this day & age, wouldn’t go around establishing monarchies. Also, you can see how well your Maximum Leader’s support for regime change in Iraq turned out. We really screwed it up… So much so that your Maximum Leader, if he could go back and do it again - he would be less likely to do so again… Your Maximum Leader was in favor of regime change in Iraq in part because he thought that by “shaking things up” we could affect positive change in the region. He believed at the time that the Bush Administration had a plan for the invasion and stabilization of Iraq. As we’ve seen, they didn’t. If - in the context of time travel - the Bush Administration HAD a reasonable plan for invasion and stabliziation and exiting Iraq then he’d continue to be for regime change in Iraq. If - in the context of time travel - the Bush Administration was going to do the same thing all over again; then he would obviously not support regime change in Iraq. Because we didn’t have a reasonable plan that we could execute in Iraq, we screwed up our one chance to “shake things up” and affect positive change. There are no second chances in these sorts of things and as such US led regime change in the region is out of the question in any circumstance your Maximum Leader and imagine.)

With this in mind, your Maximum Leader tepidly supports regime change in Egypt. He doesn’t expect Egypt to become a western-style democracy overnight - or even in a few years. What he does support is a change in government that will be secular, less-oppressive, and acceptable to the most people in Egypt. Of course, what your Maximum Leader wants doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world…

Your Maximum Leader can’t say he’d be terribly displeased if Mubarak resigned (before September) and left the country (for Saudi Arabia or even the US) and left behind some sort of governing committee that would manage the nation until elections could be held. This governing committee would likely consist of some of Mubarak’s people, some of the demonstrator’s people, and some key army people. The governing committee (a provisional government of sorts) would draft a new constitution and set up the terms by which political groups could participate in the upcoming elections. The new constitution should be guaranteed by the Army with some understanding that it wouldn’t be changed/scrapped/horribly amended after the election outcomes are known. Frankly the Army can write itself some governmental role if it wants to.

The preceeding bit assumes (as your Maximum Leader indeed does) that the Egyptian army is run as a largely secular institution that is not insane and understands Egypt’s long-term needs and role in the region. In a way your Maximum Leader posits that the Egyptian Army is much like the Turkish Army. Assuming the Egyptian Army is a gurantor of a “moderate and secular” Arab state; then it should has a major role to play in the transition from Mubarak to something else.

Your Maximum Leader personally believes that most of the demonstrators want “someone other than Mubarak or one of his chief cronies” to govern them. At some level your Maximum Leader believes that if Mubarak and his chief cronies were to depart and be replaced with someone the Army likes that would satisfy the great majority of Egyptians now demonstrating. After 30 years the people of Egypt likely want “change.” They might not want dramatic change. They might just want some “change.”

Your Maximum Leader suspects they will get “change.” He only hopes that they will not get too much change and become radicalized. He believes that the Egyptian Army can facilitate this change. He also suspects that the longer these demonstrations go on and the more violent they become the more inclined towards change the Army will become.

Carry on.

2 Comments »
Kevin Kim said:

It’s a sticky situation, no doubt about it. Regarding this:

Your Maximum Leader personally believes that most of the demonstrators want “someone other than Mubarak or one of his chief cronies” to govern them.

I seem to recall a prevalent “anybody but Bush” attitude in this country not so long ago. How has that worked out?



Kevin Kim said:

Well! Nicely predicted. And the violence was, overall, quite minimal. You can now add “prophet” to your list of titles. The question is, as you rightly ask, what comes next.



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