Egypt: It’s the Economy, Stupid

January 29th, 2011 at 7:30 am David Frum | 47 Comments |

| Print

The Tunisian ruler has fled into exile. The headquarters of Egypt’s ruling party were lit on fire. The police have been withdrawn from the streets.

So — another regime toppled? Should we be worrying about a Muslim Brotherhood takeover?

Maybe. But despite the arresting images on TV, regime survival remains the better bet. The army still supports the regime, and the army has determined the outcome of Egyptian power struggles since the Mamluks of the Middle Ages. So it’s also worth considering: What if the regime survives? What then?

This week’s protests remind us that dictatorships do not deliver stability. Dictatorships do not make reliable allies over the long term. Egypt’s friends should be planning — should have planned long ago–for a transition to a more representative form of government.

Other poor countries have made such transitions: Mexico in the 1990s, for example. Egypt is poor, yes, but so were the Baltic republics at the time they made their democratic transition after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Western world should be urging the regime against its plans to bequeath Egypt from Hosni Mubarak to his son Gamal, like some kind of family estate.

Above all, what’s needed is pressure and aid to accelerate Egypt’s already impressive transition to a more open economy that grows faster and creates more jobs.

Egypt’s GDP per capita has almost doubled since the advent of Hosni Mubarak after the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat — an achievement all the more impressive because Egypt’s population has doubled over those same 30 years, from almost 42 million to almost 81 million.

Growth has been especially rapid over the past decade, boosted by discoveries of oil and gas, now Egypt’s most important exports.

But since 2008, Egypt has been hit hard. The Egyptian pound is linked to the dollar. As the dollar has declined against other world currencies, food prices in Egypt have risen.

Egypt is not more corrupt than it was a month ago. The Mubarak regime has not become more authoritarian. But the price of bread and cooking oil has been rising, and rising faster than wages.

If the regime survives, so will all those problems. It will be tempting to the Mubarak regime to buy a little temporary popularity with populist-nationalist economic policies: more food subsidies, more hiring of college graduates by already over-staffed government bureaucracies, less privatization of state industries. That’s the path followed by the oil states of the Persian Gulf, and their rulers lead quiet, wealthy lives.

But Egypt does not have enough oil and too many people for that solution to work for very long. It cannot afford to buy acquiescence. It must earn consent. And that means gradually bringing more and more of the population into politics.

The New York Times reports on how power is monopolized in Egypt: “In local council elections in 2008, there were 52,000 open seats. Government decisions to disqualify candidates meant that 43,600 seats were uncontested and awarded to the ruling party. Out of a total of 51,546 seats, the ruling party won 99.13%.

“In midterm elections for one-third of the Shura Council, the upper house of Parliament, held in 2007, the first elections to be held after the constitutional amendments removed judges from supervising the electoral process, a total of 88 seats were open. The results: 84 seats for the ruling N.D.P., 1 seat for Tagammu, a small opposition party, and 3 seats for N.D.P. members who ran as independent candidates.”

And that is in addition to Egypt’s notoriously rigged presidential elections. Honest council elections would constitute an important first step toward reform. So would a guarantee that Gamal Mubarak will not succeed Hosni as president. But nothing would help more than a U.S.-led global recovery, more open trade, more demand for Egyptian exports and a surge in Egypt’s food-buying power.

Whether this time next week we are facing a new Egyptian regime — or a bloodier version of the existing regime — either way, Egypt will face those continuing challenges of political and economic reform.

Originally published in the National Post.

Recent Posts by David Frum



47 Comments so far ↓

  • tommybones

    The economy is the final straw, actually. U.S.-backed dictators are in deep trouble. How ironic that Bush/Cheney’s incompetence, which led to massive economic despair, may well end up leading to true political reform throughout the Middle East?

    Let’s recap:

    Bush enrages the Muslim world.
    Bush economic policies cause world crisis.
    U.S.-backed dictators get overthrown by angry populations.

    The only worry is the fact that the U.S. government wants no part of a truly democratic Middle East and will do everything in its power to prevent it.

  • Slide

    The army still supports the regime

    and that contention is based on what exactly? I think we’ll have to wait and see who the army supports.

    In the city’s main Tahrir Square, at the center of Saturday’s massive demonstration, there was only a light military presence — a few tanks — and soldiers are not intervening. Few police were seen in the crowds and the protest began peacefully. Then police opened fire on some in the crowd near the Interior Ministry and a number of them were wounded by gunshots. It was not clear whether they used rubber bullets or live ammunition.

    One army captain joined the demonstrators, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against President Hosni Mubarak. The officer ripped a picture of the president.

    “We don’t want him! We will go after him!” demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: “Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!”

    There have been no clashes reported between the military and the protesters, and many seem to feel the army is with them. On one tank was scrawled black graffiti: “Down with Mubarak.”

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/world/police-fire-on-protests-in-cairo-at-least-1217616.html

  • gobsmacked

    I tend to agree…if people are safe and comfortable they don’t see the need to rebel.

    Take a look at how Obama’s short speech is being reported internationally:

    http://politico-junkie.blogspot.com/

  • PracticalGirl

    Beautifully written as always, Mr. Frum, but I had the same thought Slide does:

    On what do you base your assertion that the army is with Mubarak? The reports I’ve seen, heard and read all point to an army that, while not in open coup, isn’t exactly hot to crack down on their own citizenry.

    Is this a situation where there are real, live human beings in those tanks who are waiting a chaotic political situation out and are loathe to attack fellow countrymen but will eventually do whatever Mubarak orders? What do we know about the military leadership in the Egyptian military? Is there a General/commander or two that might have aspirations of his own or a beef with Mubarak? I’d love to hear more about this, if you’ve got the insight.

  • PracticalGirl

    YO, FRUM TECH GODS:

    Thanks for the blog modification which will make our quotes/insertions easier to detect in our text.

  • ProfNickD

    Democracy will happen in the Middle East when they change their tribal-based, religious culture — not before.

    (Did tommybones blame all this on Bush? Good grief.)

  • JonF

    You know, the Middle East didn’t George Bush to enrage it. It rather seems to have been in a state of permanent rage since at least the days of Sennacherib King of Assyria.

  • Slide

    the key will be how the Army responds. This doesn’t look good for the regime.
    ______________________________________________

    CAIRO — Egypt was engulfed in a fifth day of protests on Saturday, but an attempt by President Hosni Mubarak to salvage his 30-year rule by firing his cabinet and calling out the army appeared to backfire as troops and demonstrators fraternized and called for the president himself to resign.

    While some protesters clashed with police, army tanks expected to disperse the crowds in central Cairo and in the northern city of Alexandria instead became rest points and even, on occasion, part of the protests as anti-Mubarak graffiti were scrawled on them without interference from soldiers.

    “Leave Hosni, you, your son and your corrupted party!” declared the graffiti on one tank as soldiers invited demonstrators to climb aboard and have their photographs taken with them.

    “This is the revolution of all the people,” declared the side of a second tank in downtown Cairo.
    ___________________________________________________

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/world/middleeast/30-egypt.html?_r=1

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Democracy will happen in the Middle East when they change their tribal-based, religious culture — not before.

    Why should they? We sure haven’t.

  • tommybones

    “Democracy will happen in the Middle East when they change their tribal-based, religious culture — not before.”

    History lesson:

    President Bush wasn’t the first President to ask, “Why do they hate us”? President Eisenhower posed the same question to his National Security Council, which outlined the basic reasons: The U.S. supports corrupt and oppressive governments and is “opposing political or economic progress” because of its interest in controlling the oil resources of the region. The interest in controlling the resources of the region, which the State Department dubbed the “greatest strategic prize in history,” as explained by then Head of the State Department Policy Planning staff George Kennan, was to have “veto power” over our industrial rivals.

    Later, in 1953, the CIA, in what would be one the first of numerous post-WWII acts of foreign subversion for imperial gains, backed the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Iran, which led to the installation of a ruthless dictator, who catered to U.S. oil companies while brutally repressing the native Iranian population until his overthrow in the 1979 Islamic uprising. Thus began a long and consistent policy of U.S. support of ruthless dictatorships for strategic advantage, which gave birth to the violent by-product known in intelligence circles as “blowback.” The Iranian revolution resulted in the infamous hostage crisis, which was at that time the most famous example of “blowback.” But as we now know, it was merely prologue.

    U.S. “Democracy Promotion” (a partial list):

    1947 – CIA-backed electoral subversion in France.
    1947 – CIA-backed electoral subversion in Italy.
    1947 – US Military intervention against populist movement in Greece.
    1948 – Military coup by CIA-trained Manuel Odria in Peru.
    1948 – CIA subversion of elections in Columbia.
    1948 – CIA-backed military coup in Venezuela.
    1953 – U.S. & U.K. overthrow elected government of Guyana.
    1953 – CIA-backed coup removes democratically elected Iranian parliament, which resulted in the installation of a brutal dictator (and CIA puppet) who repressed the Iranian population while catering to the United States multi-national corporations for the better part of 25 years.
    1954 – CIA-backed coup overthrows elected government in Paraguay.
    1954: The CIA overthrows Guatemala’s government, ousting the elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, and installing the military dictatorship of Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas.
    1960 – CIA-backed overthrow of government in Congo.
    1962 – CIA-backed military coup in Laos.
    1963 – CIA-backed military coup in Ecuador.
    1964 – Military coup by CIA-trained René Barrientos Ortuño in Bolivia.
    1965 – CIA-backed army coup in Indonesia.
    1966 – CIA-backed military coup in Ghana.
    1966 – CIA-backed coup to remove democratically elected government in Dominican Republic, preferring yet another ruthless dictator who would serve the U.S. while repressing the native population.
    1967 – CIA-backed coup that brought Suharto to power in Indonesia and took perhaps as many as a million lives.
    1967 – CIA-backed military coup by the Colonels in Greece.
    1969 – CIA-backed military coup in Cambodia.
    1973 – After Chileans elected Salvador Allende president in 1970, Henry Kissinger declared, “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.” Three years later, General Pinochet, supported by the CIA, engineered a coup and, for two decades, led one of the bloodiest regimes in the history of South America.
    1973 – CIA-backed military coup in Uraguay.
    1976 – Military coup by CIA-trained Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina.
    1980 – CIA- subversion of elections in Jamaica.
    1983 – U.S. invasion of Grenada
    1980′s – Contras’ US-backed terror campaign that took the lives of over 30,000 civilians
    1980’s – After a universally acclaimed free election in El Salvador, the U.S. began CIA operations meant to destabilize the elected government. This resulted in yet another ruthless dictator, the destruction of a democratically elected government, the repression of millions and the death and imprisonment of tens of thousands more.
    1984: Panamanian Presidential election of May 6 is a fraud arranged by Reagan Administration operatives and Noriega. Nicolás Ardito Barletta, former official of the World Bank, wins. Secretary of State George Shultz attends inauguration of his protégé (Ardito Barletta had been an assistant to Shultz when Shultz was a University of Chicago professor) to praise the rigged election as democracy in action.
    1987 – Military coup by CIA-funded Sitiveni Rabuka in Fiji.
    1993 – US-backed military coup by Sani Abacha in Nigeria.
    2002 – CIA-backed military coup that temporarily overthrew the extremely popular democratically elected President of Venezuela.
    2003 – illegal invasion of Iraq has resulted in the violent deaths of a reported 1.2 million civilians and the homelessness of several million more.

    This is but a sample of our illegal interference in the political processes around the globe. One could delve into our governments support of the likes of Marcos in the Philippines, Chiang Kai-shek in China, Syngman Rhee in Korea, Diem, Ky, and Thieu in Vietnam, Batista in Cuba, Apartheid South Africa, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Kasavubu and Mobutu in Zaire, and so on. The M.O. remains the same.

    What U.S. planners really want is another puppet government, which will cater to U.S. corporate interests at the expense of the native population.

    Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s dangerous, Nick. Democracy has erupted all over the world, only to be crushed by the U.S. repeatedly.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s dangerous, Nick.

    If that’s true then Nick should be on the FBI’s most wanted list.

    Thanks for your excellent post. Do you have a source for that? I’d like to reference it on my blog the next time I hear some blinkered neo con talk radio host say that the “Muslims only hate us because we’re not Muslim”.

  • tommybones

    ProfNickD in a nutshell:

    The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
    George Orwell

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Or worse: he hears about them, approves, and calls you a traitor for disapproving.

  • The American Spectator : AmSpecBlog : The Egyptian Military Will Save Egypt -- and the United States

    [...] Egyptian military will play a major role in Egypt's next government, just as it has ever since the Mamluks of the Middle [...]

  • ProfNickD

    tommy,

    Stop reading Chomsky. Your brain has turned to mush.

    The world is full of dictators because most people in the world are intolerant — they like their guy to suppress people not like them, i.e., having a differing religion or a different tribal affiliation.

  • tommybones

    As I said before, Nick:

    The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
    George Orwell

    Tell me, did Democracy reach the Middle East in Iran in 1953? Then what happened?

    (notice you didn’t bother disputing my very long list, instead choosing to bring Chomsky into the discussion for some reason, as if invoking his name is enough to scrub the historical record)

    And I truly enjoy the explanation as to why so many dictators have existed, which blames the native populations and ignores completely the fact that the U.S. installed many of them.

  • jakester

    tommybones
    I am the last person to whine about Bush bashing, but to blame the Mubaraks on the world on Bush is total BS. This Mubarak has been in power since the MB murdered Sadat 1981! That is making Bush the scapegoat for all our policy blunders and conniving, which started under Truman and been done since.

  • lessadoabouteverything

    I am with practical girl and slide, well written essay but Frum is missing the essential point, without US military aid to bolster Mubarak, there would be no Mubarak. It won’t be a coup as much as a much delayed retirement for Mubarak if Obama does pull the plug.

    As to what happens when he goes (and at 82 it really is a fairly short matter of time in any case) I have no idea. I am not afraid of Democracy, but I worry for the Coptic Christians in Egypt. I think it is important for the US embassy to be prepared for a flood of asylum seekers. If things get ugly they are likely the first to suffer.

  • ProfNickD

    tommy,

    You list 32 instances of the US disrupting democratic governments over the past 60 years.

    Taking your list at face value (which would be erroneous, given that you claim the US in some way prevented democracy from occurring in Iraq by toppling its fascist Baathist regime, among other absurdities) your list is statistically insignificant.

    There are 192 countries in the world today. Even in 1947 there were over 70 countries in the world. So, let’s take the median number of an average of 125 countries in the world in any given year since 1947 — meaning that over the last 60 years there have been just over 7500 possible permutations of countries available for the US to have overthrown. But you list 32 instances.

    So what accounts for all the dictatorships that exist aside from the 32 that the US, you claim, imposed?

    I say that an awfully good explanation for the pervasiveness of dictatorships around the world is the fact that these countries’ cultures are intolerant tribal and religious-based cultures that are amenable to dictatorships — indeed, their cultures that make it highly unlikely that anything other than dictatorships could exist.

    Do you have another explanation, one that does not revolve around conspiracy theories?

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Jakester,

    I’m sure tommybones can speak for himself, but his posts did not seem to place blame for dictators on Bush. Instead, he blamed U.S foreign policy for its long contributions to dictatorships across the world.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    ProfNickD: “Taking [tommybones'] list at face value . . . is statistically insignificant.”

    It’s only insignificant if tommybones is trying to make the point that U.S. foreign policy causes all dictatorships. Of course, that’s not the point he was trying to make, but since you can’t refute his point you’ve created a different point to argue against.

    His list was for the purpose of refuting your claim that democracy in the ME will occur only after tribalism and religious culture change. Obviously, democracy has and would exist in certain parts of the ME had the U.S. not intervened.

    Your inability to acknowledge these basic facts undermines the credibility of your posts.

  • Nanotek

    this is one of the tear gas canisters and very clearly written in English on it, it says “Made in the USA by Combined Tactical Systems from Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

    can’t even

  • lessadoabouteverything

    nanotek “Made in the USA by Combined Tactical Systems from Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

    Well, its good to know we are still making something.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Your inability to acknowledge these basic facts undermines the credibility of your posts.

    Or, rather, would if he had any.

    So what accounts for all the dictatorships that exist aside from the 32 that the US, you claim, imposed?

    This “argument” is analogous to claiming that because some car accidents are not caused by drunk drivers, that drunk driving doesn’t cause car accidents.

    indeed, their cultures that make it highly unlikely that anything other than dictatorships could exist.

    This is utter BS, but even if it were true, then it begs an obvious point. If the cultures in the Middle East make it impossible for democracies to take hold, why do we waste our childrens’ lives and their economic future on pointless wars to try to install them?

    Do you have another explanation, one that does not revolve around conspiracy theories?

    The examples he gave are all documented. The better question would be what do you have to back up your claims?

  • ProfNickD

    talkradio said,

    This “argument” is analogous to claiming that because some car accidents are not caused by drunk drivers, that drunk driving doesn’t cause car accidents.

    Ah, but drunk driving wouldn’t be a very good explanation for car accidents if it accounted for far less than .5% of car accidents — which is exactly what tommybones is trying to assert with respect to the prevalence of US-imposed dictatorships.

    In other words, other explanations(s) for the cause of dictatorships have far better explanatory power than does the US-is-to-blame explanation. It just isn’t very insightful.

    The left’s whole mindset on this point lack imagination — the left can’t think about religious- and tribal-based oppression because that would immediately deflate its multicultural, all-cultures-are-equal outlook.

    To make it simpler: what caused dictatorship prior to the existence of the US?

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    ProfNickD: “In other words, other explanations(s) for the cause of dictatorships have far better explanatory power than does the US-is-to-blame explanation.”

    No one is saying the U.S. causes all dictatorships. Instead, we’re saying that (1) you are wrong when you claim democracy is impossible until there’s a change in tribalism and religious culture, and (2) democracy has and would exist in parts of the ME, but for U.S. involvement.

    I’ll repeat my earlier post:

    [tommybones'] list was for the purpose of refuting your claim that democracy in the ME will occur only after tribalism and religious culture change. Obviously, democracy has and would exist in certain parts of the ME had the U.S. not intervened.

  • tommybones

    Jakester,
    I never blamed Bush for Mubarek.

  • tommybones

    “… which would be erroneous, given that you claim the US in some way prevented democracy from occurring in Iraq by toppling its fascist Baathist regime… ”

    You mean the Bathist regime the U.S. helped install and then supported for decades? That one?

    “So what accounts for all the dictatorships that exist aside from the 32 that the US, you claim, imposed?”

    I clearly called it a “partial list.” Secondly, nobody ever claimed the U.S. is responsible for EVERY dictator in the 20th century, thus making your rebuttal a strawman. I merely responded to your idiotic assertion, which blamed the native populations for a) not being able to form democracies and b) for falling under dictatorships. Both assertions are flat out false.

    And once again you ignored the 1953 Iranian example, which proves you wrong on both counts quite clearly.

    The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
    George Orwell

    “In other words, other explanations(s) for the cause of dictatorships have far better explanatory power than does the US-is-to-blame explanation. It just isn’t very insightful.”

    A better explanation? The list I gave is the factual historical record which proves without a shadow of a doubt that the U.S. government OVERTHREW democracies and INSTALLED dictatorships throughout the world numerous times in the past century.

  • Nanotek

    lessadoabouteverything@”nanotek ‘Made in the USA by Combined Tactical Systems from Jamestown, Pennsylvania.’ Well, its good to know we are still making something.”

    lol I stand corrected … disoriented by my jaw hitting the floor

  • politicalfan

    CNN just showed a woman in Egypt speaking (protest) wow! Amazing.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Ah, but drunk driving wouldn’t be a very good explanation for car accidents if it accounted for far less than .5% of car accidents — which is exactly what tommybones is trying to assert with respect to the prevalence of US-imposed dictatorships.”

    Um, what? That’s not at all what he was saying. Maybe you should try reading it again before chiming in with knee-jerk reactions.

    “In other words, other explanations(s) for the cause of dictatorships have far better explanatory power than does the US-is-to-blame explanation. It just isn’t very insightful.”

    That argument doesn’t hold water when many of these dictators were directly installed by the US.

    “To make it simpler: what caused dictatorship prior to the existence of the US?”

    Of what possible relevance is this? Again, you fail at logic. The point is not what other causes of dictatorship exist other than the US. The point is that we are directly responsible for many failures of democracy in other countries, because we care more about our own interests than theirs.

  • jakester

    Sure the US supported some bad customers, but the Soviets and Red Chinese supported far worse ones. As well as most of the countries we supported were or managed to mature into fairly decent democracy like South Korea and South Africa. Great powers have always meddled in the affairs of smaller countries. Would Greece or South Korea be better off if we just let the Communist grab them or did Iran improve when the Islamo-crazies took over?

  • tommybones

    Jakester wins the “Most Cynical Post Of The Day” award with that one.

    Another history lesson re: Iran

    In 1953, the CIA backed a military coup (with help from the British Secret Service) that deposed the democratically elected Iranian parliament, which resulted in the installation of a brutal dictator (and CIA puppet) who repressed the Iranian population while catering to the United States multi-national corporations for the better part of 25 years. It need not be mentioned how we would react if another country backed a coup that overthrew our own democracy, forcing us to live under a ruthless dictator for several generations, while systematically stealing our precious resources. In any case, the years of repression led to a rise in Islamic fundamentalism. Religious extremism relies on anger and hopelessness as its greatest recruitment tool, and the decades of U.S.-supported repression took its toll on the Iranian people. The Islamic revolution in 1979 removed the United States puppet and resulted in the much talked about hostage crisis. Once again, looking in context at the egregious U.S. meddling in Iran, can we really complain about the taking of our embassy in Tehran? Especially when one considers the fact that the President Carter, in the midst of the uprising, sent a General to the embassy in Tehran to help facilitate yet another military coup, to re-install the Shah. I’m not condoning the hostage taking, but merely putting into correct context.

    Anyway, the new Iranian government was deemed a United States enemy, with a stated goal of “regime change” happening almost instantaneously. We then backed Saddam Hussein with military supplies and know-how, massive financial “grants” and logistical support in his illegal invasion of Iran a few years later. Close to a half million Iranians died in the war with Iraq, in large part due to the U.S. support. It need not be mentioned how we would feel if another country supported a massive illegal invasion of our homeland, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead Americans.

    As if backing the illegal Iraq invasion wasn’t enough, the United States added insult to injury by escalating the conflict and therefore the massive death count by playing both sides of the war through the illegal selling of arms to Iran during what came to be known as the Iran/Contra scandal. The funds acquired from the illegal arms sales to Iran were used to pay for yet another illegal endeavor; the proxy war against the peasants in Nicaragua, who were guilty in the eyes of the Reagan administration of having the audacity to want to control their own natural resources, instead of merely catering to U.S. multi-national corporations, as is the correct “order of things.” This war resulted in the United States being condemned as a terrorist State by the United Nations.

    In 1988, the United States shot down an Iranian commercial airliner, killing all 290 passengers. Vice President George H.W. Bush later stated at a news conference that he “will never apologize for the United States of America—I don’t care what the facts are.” Need we articulate what the reaction of the American public would be had the reverse happened to us?

    After the attacks on September 11th, 2001, the Iranian government proved to be a great ally to the United States in its attempts to bring al Qaeda to justice. They volunteered intelligence information as to the wherabouts of al Qaeda operatives, as well as turned over captured al Qaeda prisoners to U.S. officials for questioning. The Iranian public took to the streets in vast numbers in solidarity with the American people.

    Later, George W. Bush thanked the Iranian government after they helped the U.S. topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan by infamously labeling them part of an “axis of evil,” along with Iraq and North Korea. This absurd charge ignored the fact that those three nations had little contact with one another and what contact they did have, especially in the case of Iran and Iraq under Saddam, would not qualify as friendly and therefore could hardly be termed an “axis” of any kind. This double-cross created an enormous firestorm in Iran, as the hardliners used it as leverage against the moderate Iranian President, pointing out that they had always stated that you could not trust the United States government.

    Nevertheless, in 2003, the moderate Khatami government in Iran offered to completely suspend nuclear enrichment as well as open all areas of disagreement with Washington to negotiations. This included all nuclear issues, the Israeli/Palestinian issues and support of Hezbollah. The only condition placed on such negotiations was a halt to the threats of attack by Washington and removal of Iran from the “axis of evil.” Not only does the Bush administration reject the offer, they didn’t even respond to it, and reprimanded the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer. One has to question the true motivations of an administration that rejects such a pragmatic offer with such blatant contempt.

    The real question is whether they would have been better off with a Democratically elected and secular Mossaddeq regime in 1953? Or the ruthless, U.S.-installed dictator, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi?

  • Gramps

    tommybones // Jan 29, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Our history with dictators is replete…with almost unbelievable FUBARS…!

    • After eight years of war, Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh defeated France in May 1954.

    • The Vietnamese assumed they had achieved independence from predatory nations – until the Power Elite met at Geneva to divvy up their country.

    • The June 1954 Geneva Conventions divided the country at about the 17th parallel as previously approved by Harry Truman at the Potsdam Conference on July 24, 1945 for military purposes.

    • Elections to reunite Viet Nam were to be held by July 1956.

    • The U.S. installed American-educated, Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem, who considered himself a “benign dictator” south of the 17th parallel.

    • The CIA used covert psychological and physical terrorism to intimidate and frighten a million panic-stricken Catholics to move south into a predominantly Buddhist area.

    • The government insiders in America, Britain and France knew the secretive specifics and motives behind this so-called “spontaneous” mass exodus.

    • U.S. media deceptively claimed the “refugees” were fleeing from northern communists in order to kindle humanitarian support for some kind of U.S. intervention in Viet Nam.

    • The CIA used planes and naval ships to transport reluctant “refugees” south. Later, those planes would transport drugs, a control device to demoralize thousands. Addicts rarely oppose their own enslavement. They focus on the object of their addiction: sports, sex, alcohol, video games, trash TV, etc.

    • Southern residents, also weary and impoverished by war, justifiably resented this mass influx in the same way that Americans resent the “spontaneous” influx of illegal aliens into the U.S. Both situations are the orchestrated machinations of the Power Elite to incite anger and resentment.

    • Diem and the CIA appointed thousands of these favored “refugees” to key government positions, some “to keep tabs on dissenters.” Likewise, illegals in the U.S. are favored by a cash-compromised Congress, the banks and big business – all against U.S. citizens and constitutional law.

    • Diem and his Saigon-based CIA backers began to view the “refugees” as friends and the long-established southern natives as “problems.”

    • The U.S. set up managers and “experts” to “advise” Ngo Dinh Diem towards the hidden agenda of destroying the viable, traditional village society.

    • The CIA’s Saigon Military Mission, with its effective propaganda apparatus continued to foment economic, social and religious chaos and dissension.

    • The arrest and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm, then president of South Vietnam, marked the culmination of a successful CIA-backed coup d’état led by General Dương Văn Minh in November 1963. On the morning of November 2, 1963, Diệm and his adviser, younger brother Ngô Đình Nhu, were arrested after the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) had been successful in a bloody overnight siege on Gia Long Palace in Saigon. The coup was the culmination of nine years of autocratic and nepotistic family rule in South Vietnam. Discontent with the Diệm regime had been simmering below the surface, and exploded with mass Buddhist protests against long-standing religious discrimination after the government shooting of protesters who defied a ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag.

    When rebel forces entered the palace, the Ngô brothers were not present, as they had escaped the night before to a loyalist shelter in Cholon. The brothers had kept in communication with the rebels through a direct link from the shelter to the palace, and misled them into believing that they were still in the palace. The Ngô brothers soon agreed to surrender and were promised safe exile; after being arrested, they were instead executed in the back of an armored personnel carrier by ARVN officers on the journey back to military headquarters at Tân Sơn Nhứt Air Base.

    While no formal inquiry was conducted, the responsibility for the deaths of the Ngô brothers is commonly placed on Minh’s bodyguard, Captain Nguyễn Văn Nhung, and on Major Dương Hiếu Nghĩa, both of whom guarded the brothers during the trip. Minh’s army colleagues and US officials in Saigon agreed that Minh ordered the executions. They postulated various motives, including that the brothers had embarrassed Minh by fleeing the Gia Long Palace, and that the brothers were killed to prevent a later political comeback. The generals initially attempted to cover up the execution by suggesting that the brothers had committed suicide, but this was contradicted when photos of the Ngôs’ bloodied bodies surfaced in the media…

    tommybones, you missed just a small bit-o-history…
    But yah did a damn fine job…!

  • Gramps

    Dang…
    Given and considering, the continuing “historical record”, we the good olde US of A and our established, intelligence community and political leadership…

    We haftah, be the absolute, dumbest, “MFKERS”… on dah whole damn, worldwide, block…!

    Do we grow these “dimbulbs” locally, or do either Harvard or Yale, contribute to this obvious vacuum, of good, olde, common sense…?

  • jakester

    Gramps
    you have a point, we have done some criminally stupid things in the name of democracy.

  • jorae

    Emergency laws in Egypt have been continuously extended every three years since 1981.

    1952 less than six percent (6%) of Egypt’s population owned more than 65% of the land in Egypt.

    By 1980, land reform only resulted in the redistribution of about 15% of Egypt’s cultivated lands.

    The official removal of the reform was done in 1997 as the population of Egypt moved away from agriculture.
    ——————————————————-

    Many protesters are young men and women.

    Two thirds of Egypt’s 80 million people are below 30 and many have no jobs.

    About 40 percent of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day.
    ——————-

    Ambassador Margaret Scobey in a May 19, 2009, memo to State Department officials in Washington – (I could not find the full memo, and this is something that is stated to have come from WikiLeaks)

    “We have heard him [President Mubarak] lament the results of earlier U.S. efforts to encourage reform in the Islamic world.”

    “Wherever he has seen these U.S. efforts, he can point to the chaos and loss of stability that ensued.”

    Unknown author – added this to sites running her comments…
    “He can harken back to the Shah of Iran: the U.S. encouraged him to accept reforms, only to watch the country fall into the hands of revolutionary religious extremists…”
    ——————-

    Did America encourage Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to change how he was running Iran? And when he didn’t, got extremists rioting who pushed him out and was replaced with an Islamic Republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

    President Mubarak resists change and gets just what he points out would happens?

    ————————-

    The harder the US pushes leaders to become more democrat…and then don’t, is when we see the people finally get fed up.

    No jobs…and no safety nets

    This is The New World Order…

    How about taking our relief money and starting up community farms in Egypt. Most of these unemployed come from the farm life. Cut out the middle man (aka their government) and make jobs.

    Jobs that don’t rely on the government or the business world. Because you cannot rely on employment in the New World Order…which America has proved.

  • tommybones

    “you have a point, we have done some criminally stupid things in the name of democracy.”

    Except it wasn’t for democracy. It was to destroy democracy.

  • larry

    Profnickd — “the world is full of dictators….” How many dictators are there in the Western Hemisphere? In the Eastern? Actually, the world is not “full” of dictators, absent an eccentric definition of the term. Of course, Egypt is not a tribal society. Nor are most citizens intolerant. If Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and others can be vaguely democratic, so can Egypt. They are descendants of the librarians at Alexandria.

  • larry

    Whether a vague democracy can emerge in Egypt depends on the composition of elites. The society is urban, sufficiently educated, ethnically homogeneous, all good signs. There are well-known cleavages among elites: secular vs. MB. The latter is a minority and over several decades has renounced violence, to the chagrin of OBL The army will be critical. It may well be a modernizing force. There’s a chance for a hopeful outcome. It’s up to the elites, as in Malaysia. India, Indonesia. One poster remarked that the world is “full” of dictators. Not true.

  • Traveler

    Gramps,

    Great post. Few realize that our OSS and Ho were fellow fighters against the Japanese, and there was a very high degree of mutual regard. But as you note, we drop kicked him to give Vietnam back to the French after the war. Like they deserved it, having earned virtually nothing from their abject failures during WWII. Standing up for our ally led to perhaps our greatest foreign debacle (the history isn’t all written on Iraq). That domino theory sure didn’t turn out the way they all anticipated, with Vietnam now being another exporter to the US.

    As thanks for that clusterf***, DeGaulle and the French spited the US and NATO at nearly every opportunity. They were exporting to Saddam all through the sanctions, even after we spent the Soviet Union into oblivion to defend their sorry asses. Not much to admire there.

  • ProfNickD

    They are descendants of the librarians at Alexandria.

    I snorted my Diet Coke out my nose at this one.

    No, I’m afraid that the Egyptians would be living in a dictatorship even if the US didn’t exist. They’re simply too intolerant, given that 84% of them believe in the death penalty for apostasy.

    http://pewglobal.org/files/2010/12/2010-muslim-01-13.png

  • nhthinker

    History?

    It was the Bush administration that had non-military aid to Egypt be directly tied to Mubarak loosening his grip on elections and reducing his intransigence to democratic efforts and principles.
    Obama came in and quickly reversed the Bush’s strings to non-military aid based on the long-shot hope that Mubarak’s help could make Obama the peacemaker in Palestine.

    Now Obama and Clinton are pointing to weasel words in various speeches saying they were for hard pushing toward democracy in Egypt all along while Biden says Mubarak is not a dictator.

    Betting on Mubarak: just another Obama administration foreign policy failure.

    Bush was willing to push allies toward democracy… Obama? not so much.

  • Gramps

    In a futile attempt to stage a peaceful demonstration; we also failed today, at Rancho Mirage, CA. Apparently at least 25 were arrested…?
    http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/riot-police-guard-against-anti-billionaire-

  • Primrose

    “No, I’m afraid that the Egyptians would be living in a dictatorship even if the US didn’t exist. They’re simply too intolerant, given that 84% of them believe in the death penalty for apostasy.”

    Our forefathers and mothers burned people as witches. Democracy is not impossible with a populace that is religiously intolerant. It is democracy that smooths down that intolerance.

    There is no such thing as being culturally unable to have democracy since the model of all nations had no cultural background either, meaning us. We had to look way, way, way back into the past (Greece) and then mythologize it.