How Much Do We Know About Egypt?

February 13th, 2011 at 2:21 pm David Frum | 55 Comments |

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80 million people in the country. 17 million in Cairo. 200, pills 000 protesters in Tahrir Square. Only the ones who speak English appear on our TV.

When we talk about the reach of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian society – or conversely the appeal of democracy – we are talking about things about which nobody knows very much and probably nobody can know very much. One out of seven Egyptians cannot read. Half of them live on less than $2 a day. What do they think? What do they want? And it may be an equally urgent question to know: who leads, store guides and controls what they think and want?

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55 Comments so far ↓

  • red-menace

    There is an easy answer to these questions that has been well documented by
    Soros and his puppets lead, guide and control Egyptians, while working with the Brotherhood to bring it back to power. Is it so hard to believe that the self-hated Jew Soros wants the distruction of Israel. Is it so hard to understand that Israel is what stands on the way to building Soros’ New Word Order…?

  • Sean Linnane

    My first clue that somebody was pulling the strings on this so-called spontaneous Egyptian “freedom” movement?

    All the signs in Tahrir Square, written in the English language.

    I’ve spent a LOT of time in Egypt – those people speak Arabic, NOT English.

    Something is not right here – and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure it out.

    • TerryF98

      Usual far right Beckian nonsense from Linnane.

      These people many of whom are well educated wanted to appeal as much to the West as to demonstrate against their own government. Is that hard to understand. They had the intelligence to know that pressure from the West could be used against the government.

      You might have a dim opinion of Egyptians but they were building the pyramids before Europeans stopped living in caves. So don’t be so condescending and conspiracy minded. They are not about to declare an Islamic republic.

      Egyptians should be left alone to build whatever type of government THEY want. What they don’t want is Neocon fools from the USA trying to force something on them from outside. We learned from the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan that the last thing the USA should do is be imperialists.

    • PracticalGirl

      No, Sean, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure it. Read Terry above.

      Was the American Revolution led by the ignorant among us? No, Sean, it was led by the very best and brightest minds of that era. Why does it require “imagination” to understand that the Egyptians are no different in that their revolution was organized and led by extraordinary, well-educated people as well?

      Again, I’ll reference another poster-Traveler. The Egyptian revolutionaries were extremely savvy in their use of all available technologies. Why does it take “imagination” to understand that this group knew very well that they would need Western media support to publicize what they were doing and to help them embarrass Mubarak on the world stage?

      What really bugs you most about this? Could it be that this was a revolution that in no way benefits the American military industrial complex? Computers and cell phones were the weapons of mass destruction here. The Egyptians staged an organic, successful coup that in no way relied on US as either bully or negotiator.

      For neocons and those who see the US’s value primarily as the world’s cop, this has got to be pretty scary.

    • CentristNYer

      This is quite common during events when a western audience is being addressed. In the middle east it’s not at all peculiar to see English language signs written specifically for the camera. But I guess it’s easier and more fun to imagine a grand conspiracy of Beckian proportions.

    • ottovbvs

      You mean all those guys with no teeth holding up signs work for the Russian?

  • Watusie

    Wow – the desperation of the right to make a sows ear out of this is breathtaking.

    The following is from the Washington Institute, based on poll of Egyptians taken during the uprising:

    This is not an Islamic uprising. The Muslim Brotherhood is approved by just 15 percent of Egyptians — and its leaders get barely 1 percent of the vote in a presidential straw poll. Asked to pick national priorities, only 12 percent of Egyptians choose sharia (Islamic law) over Egypt’s regional leadership, democracy, or economic development. And, when asked to explain the uprising, the issues of economic conditions, corruption, and unemployment (around 30 percent each) far outpace the concern that “the regime is not Islamic enough” (only 7 percent).

    Surprisingly, when asked two different ways about the peace treaty with Israel, more support it (37 percent) than oppose it (27 percent) — although around a third say they “don’t know” or refuse to answer this question. Only 18 percent of Egyptians approve either Hamas or Iran. And a mere 5 percent say the uprising occurred because their government is “too pro-Israel.”…

    As for Egyptian views of America, a narrow plurality (36 percent vs. 27 percent) say Egypt should have good relations with the United States. And only a small minority (8 percent) say the current uprising is against a “too pro-American” regime. Nevertheless, half or more of the Egyptian public disapprove of how Washington has handled this crisis so far, saying that they do not trust the United States at all.

  • Traveler

    Red-menace, please crawl back under the rock you came from. People here actually think.

    Sean, there were plenty of Arabic signs and speakers on MSNBC. There were also tens of thousands of protesters in Alexandria and Suez as well. What channel were you watching? But I was also perplexed at the many signs in english. However, this is a savvy group, so not surprising that they aimed for their audience. The overall thrust of this event seems entirely secular, at least so far. Lets see how things shake out. The fact that there was minimal looting and so much cooperation is encouraging. But I do think it will be some time before we see the outlines of the opposition leadership emerge.

  • Rob_654

    What do Americans know about Egypt?

    Not very much at all – but that never stops Americans from forming hard-line positions and making grand pronouncements on what should and will happen.

  • red-menace


    Most people base their ‘thinking’ on facts. And facts speak loud and clear for Soros and his Crisis Prevention Committee involvement. Please do yourself a favor and find an article on that documents Soros involvement – I just cannot find the link right now. employs some of the best investigative journalists in the US.

    In comparison, MSNBC that you get your news from is simply a mouthpiece for Progressive Leftist Liberal Socialist Fascist agenda and yes, that includes Soros’ New Word Order agenda. I cannot take seriously anyone who gets his opinions from MSNBC – their only goal has been to brainwash you into Socialism and Gay support, and recently they added another objective – to restore Soros’ reputation and to present the NWO agenda as a conspiracy. Amazingly, Soros himself has been talking about Egypt events to Washington Post, and he was clearly expressing his favorable opinion about the Muslim Brotherhood, while also calling Israel an ‘obstacle to progress in the Middle East. Just Google Soros Israel obstacle, and you’ll find it.

    • TerryF98


    • mickster99

      Israel is AN obstacle to peace in the Middle-East. Not THE obstacle. They bear a significant share of the responsiblity for the stand off in the middle east.

      Have you not been watching TV for the last 50 years? Specifically it is the current leadership.

      Example: Netanyahu and the Saudis, in talks with Obama, were actively backing Mubarack against the demonstraters.

  • Traveler

    Red, you are welcome to your opinions. But we try to deal with facts here. WND “facts” are so far off the wall that they defy comprehension, and any links from there are highly suspect. Just because somebody said it don’t mean its true. Such Larouchean theories just don’t have any traction except among the true believers. So if you want to play the fact game, get with it. Find and present the clear linkage between Soros and whatever conspiracy you subscribe to, supported by independent observations. So far you are blowing hard. Unless you grow up, we will ignore you for the troll you are.

    BTW, I only mentioned MSNBC because they had an Arabic speaking correspondent doing simultaneous translation of the non english speaking protesters. I watched CNN mostly, along with ABC. So quit with the bull about MSNBC’s “socialist fascist agenda”. If you can’t communicate coherently, nobody is going to waste their time responding to you.

  • red-menace

    Some Americans know more than other, and not all Americans are as ignorant and some actually know a bit about the history if the ME. There was never a change in the Middle East resulting in Democracy. Even the future of Iraq is still TBD. The only democratic country there ever was is Israel, and that’s because it’s not Muslim. Islam is a dominate ideology (not religion) in the ME, including Egypt, and the Brotherhood is a dominant enforcer of that ideology. Their only goal is jihad, not the peace. That is why our dictator Mubarak has kept them in jail, to preserve Egypt from constant wars. And his ruling wasn’t that dictatorial towards regular Egyptians. Not much worth that the regime in Turkey. I was in Egypt about 10 years ago – the average folks there hate America and Americans as much as they hate them in Iran, and I doubt much has changed since.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this ‘revolution’ was triggered by Soros puppets and on his money with one specific goal: bringing Muslim Brotherhood out of jail.

    Also, none Soros’ triggered revolutions resulted in Democracy. Former Czechoslovakia is a good example. So I won’t expect anything democratic to come out of Egypt.

    • TerryF98

      Communist basher is that you?

    • jakester

      Are you impersonating a paranoid mental midget who blame everything on some boogeyman Soros led coalition of all your John Birch demons or are you really are one of those crackpots? Either way, your posts are tiring nonsense.

  • red-menace

    Sure, here are at least two articles where Soros involvement is clearly explained and well documented with links, names and places. There is no reason to smear – they have been right every time. They really dig into facts.

    Soros fingerprints on Mideast chaos: Billionaire tied to opposition leader, funded groups opposing U.S. allies

    Soros-paid Scribes Cover Their Tracks in Egypt

    If money can influence politicians then why can’t big! money influence regimes.

  • Shingo

    Firing all those with any intimate knowledge of the Middle East, or who are fluent in Arabic doesn’t help.

  • lessadoabouteverything

    “One out of seven Egyptians cannot read. Half of them live on less than $2 a day. What do they think? What do they want?”

    Um…why don’t you ask? When I lived in China it did not take me long after I learned to speak Chinese that the Chinese who did not speak English were pretty much the same as the ones that did.
    My parents in law can’t speak a word of English, in fact they came from peasant stock (stray dog was a dinner item at my wifes cousins when my wife was a girl).
    And yesterday I spent in Santa Maria Xidani, a very poor fishing village on the Laguna in south Oaxaca. These people are the same as far as poverty, but it is quite easy to talk to the people and understand them.

    Sean, as was pointed out the signs shown on Western TV were the ones written in English, why would CNN show signs written in Arabic? And it is kind of sad that Sean doesn’t realize that English is an international language, and that Egypt relies heavily on tourism, with English being a defacto language for my international tourists from the west. In Shanghai virtually all international businesses use English, I have known executives from many countries and all of them knew English better than Mandarin (with the exception of executives from Japan or South Korea)

    By the way Sean, I can show you a huge number of pictures during the protests in Iran with many of them in English, far, far, far too many to link to…with things like “we want democracy” or women carrying signs saying “we want our freedom.”

    Are you saying something was not right there? That the freedom fighters in Iran were nothing but American stooges?

  • red-menace

    About MSNBC:
    Any TV channel that devotes 90% of airtime to smear conservatives and capitalism, to defend the Socialist policies of Hussein Obama and hires openly Socialists and openly Gays to force anti-American propaganda upon its viewers … should be labeled as ‘socialist fascist’.

    You may as well watch the RT (Russian TV) Chanel. There is really no difference between MSNBC and RT. BTW, the RT channel employs every Progressive Liberal Socialist Fascist they can find in the US. Even the hard core Socialist Thom Hartmann has his show on RT now.

    • TerryF98

      You are Communists Basher.

      You spouted absolute nonsense under your last two identities on this site, and you have started here in the same way. Please stop being so completely stupid or just go watch Glen Beck , he should be right up your street.

    • ktward

      rm: About MSNBC: Any TV channel that devotes 90% of airtime to smear conservatives and capitalism …

      Soros, btw, is by any measure a remarkably successful capitalist. I only bring him up because you seem to have quite the crush on him. But my point, in case you might miss it, is that capitalists come in all political shades of liberal and conservative.

      … and hires openly Socialists and openly Gays

      Ah. The openly Gays. All that higher education invested on Rachel, such a waste, eh?

      But you’re so right- these FFers are all a bunch of socialists and fascists. Frum too! Have you read the communistic claptrap that he spouts? Sheesh. I can’t imagine why someone with your brand of smarts would stick around a backwater blog the likes of FF.

      So do feel free to move along to another spot more worthy of your astounding insights. I fear your particular gifts will be wholly unappreciated here.

    • Nolan Contendre

      Mr. Menace, for what it’s worth, MSNBC did not start out as a liberal-leaning cable network it most definitely is today, let alone the socialist/anti-capitalist network you accuse it (wrongly) of being. It was just another cable news operation, short on identity and personality, until Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes demonstrated that a “news” network that promotes a right-wing agenda could, in the narrowcast world, make a lot of money. MSNBC was thus transformed by its owners, who are capitalists, into its present form in hopes that it would achieve that fundamental capitalist goal: profit. Frankly, I think we’d all be better off if both FNC and MSNBC curtailed the editorializing and stuck to finding and presenting verifiable facts. But that’s the free market for you.

  • TerryF98

    The Leader of the Egyptian revolution ( the Google manager) On 60 minutes.

    Why did the secret police release you.

    Answer. Pressure, ask Obama.

  • ktward

    Among Frum and his fellow Israel-First compadres, the panic seems to revolve around the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Here’s what the MB have to say:

    [blockquote][A] senior member of the Ikhwan’s Guidance Bureau, Issam al-Aryan, has told the BBC that the movement would not put forward its own candidate in any forthcoming presidential election, and that instead it wanted the opposition to nominate a consensus candidate.

    “We want a civil state, based on Islamic principles. A democratic state, with a parliamentary system, with freedom to form parties, press freedom, and an independent and fair judiciary,” he added.[/blockquote]

    The statement above might not be enough, on its own, to allay fears. I understand. But the uprising’s environment has given no indication we should be overtly suspicious.

    - A large segment–the majority by most accounts–of the protesters were well-educated, and they gave zero indication they were seeking anything but a democratic outcome. Egyptians are conditioned and comfortable with secular governance, and despite the unknowns, there exists no reason to believe that any Egyptians would be willing to exchange the oppression of Mubarak’s regime for the oppression of a fundamentalist Islamic regime.

    - The drivers and organizers of the protest are all tech savvy and, clearly, capable of enlisting the power of sympathetic world opinion and western pressure to set the table for a free election and democratic leadership.

    Sure, there are no guarantees.
    But there’s a lot to be said for a ME democracy that is born of a country’s own citizens fomenting a non-violent uprising against their oppressive government, vs. the US ‘bringing democracy’ in the form of a mutually devastating war.

  • valkayec

    As has been noted, even today on Meet the Press, the educated students are already having serious discussions on the way forward, from creating new parties to telling the military that they want to be included in any discussions. Twitter is still afire with ideas.

    Out of this new activity will come leaders, and I seriously doubt they will allow the old “Wise Men” or military to hijack their movement. As least, they’ve said as much. They’ve stated they will return to the Tahrir Sq if they don’t get what they want: a new Constitution, free and open elections, reduction of military powers, reining in of corruption in both public and private affairs, job opportunities created through increased market competition, etc.

    BTW, has anyone been watching and reading Al Jarezza English or Al Aribiya? These networks have confirmed through their reporting that the protesters were driving not by an Islamic ideology – they firmly reject a government similar to Iran – but by democratic values.

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    Red Menace is trying to turn our attention to George Soros, the homomafia, and the problem of Kenyan tribesman fascist radical-Christian atheist Islamosocialism… but he is suspiciously silent about the threat from vicious Italian anarchists. Is he merely a Papist agent, receiving his orders and money from Rome?

  • rbottoms

    How Much Do We Know About Egypt?

    Brown people, who speak another language? Why zero of course, why do you ask?

  • armstp

    Actually, if you want to read analysis from someone who has actually studied Egypt for decades and can speak the languages, go to Juan Cole’s website. He is a professor at Michigan.

    He has some of the best and most informative information and views on Egypt.

    Here is the link to his website:


    Scenarios for Egypt’s Future: How Democratic Will it Be? by Juan Cole

    Hosni Mubarak is gone to the wild elation of Egyptian crowds. The country is now being run by a council of military officers. They say that they want a transition to a civilian elected government this fall.

    What do the people who made the revolution want? I argued in Detroit News that this movement is at its core a labor movement. The constant drumbeat on Faux News that the crowds want a Muslim fundamentalist dictatorship is ridiculous. Egyptians are religious, but the keywords of the protests have been secular ones– elections, parliament, the people, the army, the nation (watan, the secular word for nation, not ummah, the religious community).

    A communique issued by the “January 25″ leadership is consistent with that finding:

    * Repeal of the state of emergency, which suspends constitutional protections for human rights, immediately.

    * The immediate release of all political prisoners

    * The setting aside of the present constitution and its amendments

    * Dissolution of the federal parliament, as well as of provincial councils

    * Creation of a transitional, collective governing council

    * The formation of an interim government comprising independent nationalist trends, which would oversee free and fair elections

    * The formation of a working group to draft a new and democratic constitution that resembles the older of the democratic constitutions, on which the Egyptian people would vote in a referendum

    *Removal of any restriction on the free formation of political parties, on civil, democratic and peaceful bases.

    * Freedom of the press

    * Freedom to form unions and non-governmental organizations without government permission

    * abolition of all military courts and abrogation of their rulings with regard to civilian accused

    These demands are generally in accordance with the current state of human rights law in Europe.

    With regard to abrogation of the emergency laws, the military appears already to have agreed in principle, and this move is backed by the Obama administration. Some of the other demands seem utopian, including writing a new constitution before new elections and the proroguing of the present parliament. Likewise, if the rulings of the military courts were abrogated, then at least some terrorists from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad would be freed. Though, since thousands of prisoners have fled their cells in the chaos of the past 2 1/2 weeks (and some may have been deliberately freed by Mubarak’s secret police in order to sow chaos), the issue may be moot.

    What I said was that it seemed to me that three major outcomes are possible:

    1. The old elite of officers and businessmen around Mubarak survives him to remain more or less in power, and further protests over time are repressed.

    2. There are new presidential and parliamentary elections, but the Mubarak cronies take advantage of their experience in organizing and the wealth they have gained from their crony status to dominate these institutions, while the officer corps remains a power behind the scenes.

    3. There is a genuine social and political revolution, wherein substantial amounts of wealth and power are redistributed to new actors.

    Samer Shehata at Georgetown was asked to reply to my scenarios. His responses are well informed and cogent, but he misunderstood my first point, which no doubt I expressed too telegraphically. When I said that there was a (relatively small) chance that the military regime in Egypt would ‘pull a Khamenei’ and manage over time to repress the reform movement, I didn’t mean that I thought the Muslim Brotherhood would take over or do the repressing. I was just talking about a model where massive street protests don’t necessarily actually produce a big change in the top political actors, i.e., in this case, where generals like Gen. Muhammad Hussein Tantawi (Minister of Defense) and Gen. Omar Suleiman (Vice President) remain high in the government, and where many familiar faces in parliament are again returned to office. Given the events on Friday I think the likelihood of this development is now even smaller.

    I suppose I also don’t agree with Samer that the National Democratic Party is not better positioned to contest early elections than its rivals, especially the inchoate networks that represent the protesters. While the NDP may not be the best-organized party in the world, it still has advantages, having dominated parliament and provincial offices for decades, that its rivals lack.

    But, in neighboring Tunisia the old ruling party of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Rally for Constitutional Democracy (a descendant of Habib Bourguiba’s anti-colonial Neo-Destour or New Constitutional Party), has been dissolved. The same fate could befall the NDP, which would make it harder for its functionaries to dominate any new parliament. While parliamentary elections have been set in Tunisia, it is not clear when they will be held in Egypt. Presidential elections will be conducted this fall, but parliament was just elected in a clearly fraudulent process. The protesters are demanding that that parliament be dissolved and new polls for the national legislature be held. This step could be taken by the military council, but as far as I know that decision has not been announced.

    While a thoroughgoing social revolution may or may not take place in Egypt with regard to property and capital (such events are rare in modern history), I do not mean to in any way diminish the importance of achievements such as the rule of law and constitutional liberties. If the demands released Friday by the protesters are even partially met, especially with regard to freedom of expression and of unionizing and party formation, Egypt will certainly be a very different and far more democratic place. Since it is an opinion leader for the Arab world, moreover, its example may well prove crucial in spreading these freedoms elsewhere in the region, even to Iran.

    • ktward


      Yeah, I too have been following Cole’s commentary.

      Since you seem like the academically-inclined type, you might also appreciate a socio-anthropological take on the ME by Scott Atran, author of Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists. (I haven’t read the book yet. It’s in my on-deck pile.)

      Obama’s people consult with him. Recent interview transcript here:

      Fascinating stuff, gets to the deeper levels of the issue.
      Couple of excerpts:

      [blockquote]I mean, the [kids] right now who are out in the streets of Cairo and Oman are hopeful that a democratic change is possible and that they can, for the first time in their lives, not only achieve some kind of modicum of economic security, but hopes for their political aspirations, whatever they may be, and they see this as an opportunity. And the United States, regretfully, is not seeing that, or at least not seeing it in their terms. They’re seeing it through the old lenses of how the political structure of the world appeared to them on the even of 9/11 or before.

      [U]nfortunately, most of our political guys are still in a completely different world. It’s as if they’re in a world of, you know, buggies and carriages and horses. Then I hear them come out with their political proposals and it’s like saying, “Well, I have got a really good buggy stick. It’s really the best one we can find.” You ask yourself what is the relevance of a buggy stick in this new world?

      I see the vast possibilities of this world, of a social brain. Just think about the networking possibilities of knowledge and access to knowledge that people have now. I mean, again, people now in New Guinea can link up with what people in New York are doing and work together with their different experiences and come up with new possibilities for human life. And this is happening at an incredibly fast rate and it’s something that I don’t think our traditional political establishments are at all capable of dealing with and I think there will be huge upheavals as a result, economic and social.

      I’m reminded very much of Maximilien Robespierre’s statement to the Jacobin Club in the French Revolution, a statement he promptly forgot, which was, “No one loves armed missionaries.” No one loves armed missionaries. No one loves the fact that we have troops out there in the world trying to preserve or push democracy or whatever. As Jefferson said, “The way we’re going to change the world is by our example. Never, never can it be by the sword.” Now sometimes you have to fight things. When people want to kill you, when people want to blow you up, then you have to fight them. There may be at the time no opportunity.

      But that’s not the case with the vast majority of people who could possibly become tomorrow’s terrorists. That’s where the fight for the world will be. It will be in the next generation of these young people, the ones caught between should we go the path of happiness as martyrdom or should we go to the path of yes, we can. They’re both very enticing paths. I think one has a lot more to offer, but we have to show them it has more to offer, and we have to show them now. And that’s what they’re asking for right now.[/blockquote]

      • pnumi2


        “When people want to kill you, when people want to blow you up, then you have to fight them.”

        And when they want to kill you and want to blow you up because you killed part of their family in a drone attack in another country a few years back or because the Muslim Rush, Beck or Palin are telling them how heinous you are, does that complicate things?

        Just wondering.

        • ktward

          pnumi: And when they want to kill you and want to blow you up because you killed part of their family in a drone attack in another country a few years back or because the Muslim Rush, Beck or Palin are telling them how heinous you are, does that complicate things?

          The former is part of Atran’s larger point, though he doesn’t really touch on that specific scenario in the interview. He doesn’t speak to the latter, but I suspect that unless or until we might elect a GOP tribesman to POTUS, their chatter is nothing more than white noise in the Arab world. It seems remarkable that Atran manages to stay largely non-partisan in his discourse, but of course that’s a reflection of his academic ethos.

          My link is to the transcript specifically, but there’s audio available and it’s an engaging listen with rich content.

  • red-menace


    So let me understand. In your view, millions of Muslims who have been living under Islamic Law (some) or following the traditions of the Islamic culture for centuries, will somehow suddenly transform into peace loving, democracy appreciating, free-spirited individuals who will, by the power of their collective, install a new democratic government that will guide them towards Western like economic and social system … right?

    So, anything that has happened in the Muslim world in the last 10 years wasn’t real? The Turkey’s change into Islamist state via democratic elections, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the Iran’s Islamist regime, the Islamist takeovers and Christians genocide in Somalia and other African countries, including Egypt(!), the rise of Islamists in Pakistan by a ‘revolution’ similar to one in Egypt …, all of that never happened?

    So now, somehow a regime where America is hated as much as in every other Muslim country, will go democratic? Wow … American Progressive Liberals are delusional, indeed.

  • pnumi2

    red m

    So what do you think? Should we declare war on the entire Muslim world? (And us into the Chinese et alia for 14 trill.)

    And after we step on their necks, what? We police them ourselves? Or we find the despicable amongst them, the Kapos, and with Jeffersonian bribery and graft keep the population under our heel while we here in America debate the finer points of our Constitution and the Rights of Man.

    Or we can just hire the Hessians to do our dirty work.

    Sound familiar?

  • red-menace

    No, we shouldn’t invade or force them.
    But we shouldn’t buy their oil, send money to those who want to kill us, allow them to go nuclear either. We shouldn’t be forcing our friendly dictators out neither be optimistic about democracy in Egypt. We shouldn’t side with Muslim Brotherhood neither we should support Islam and Shariah in the US. Let them grow up or ‘eat’ each other. But when they asked for help like in Iran, we should have helped. In Iran, where there was a chance for a positive change just a few months ago, Obama didn’t help. But in Egypt, where there is a chance for things to get worth, he is helping. Why?

    • pnumi2


      ” We shouldn’t be forcing our friendly dictators out neither be optimistic about democracy in Egypt.”

      I guess the time is not ripe for us to tear off our Mask and reveal to the World our true self: the Phantom of Democracy.

  • Rabiner


    How do you suggest we get enough oil if we don’t buy Middle East oil? In an article regarding environmental policy you seem to be against any alternatives to oil such as ethanol, solar, wind, ect.

    • Carney

      Solar and wind are not alternatives to oil. Instead they are alternatives to coal, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydro-electric dams, which 4 between them generate 95% of US electricity.

      By contrast only 3% or less of US electricity comes from oil, but well over 90% of cars can only run on oil-derived fuel.

      If you want to break free of oil, talking about alternative electricity is a distraction. Instead you need to talk about alternative vehicle fuel.

    • dante


      1) We get very little of our oil from the Middle East. #1 is Canada, #2 is Mexico, #3 is Saudi Arabia, Iraq is #8, and Kuwait is #12. Aside from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait, none of the other top 15 countries in oil imports are in the Middle East.

      2) Oil is a fungible product. If we told Saudi Arabia we weren’t going to buy any more oil from them, they’d just turn around and sell it to the Chinese. Then instead of (say) the Russians selling oil to the Chinese, they’d sell it to us. It’s a zero-sum game.

      • ottovbvs

        True except you’re ignoring the fact oil is traded internationally. Any disruption of the market would result in wholesale price rises and since we represent 25% of the market it would have a massive effect on our economy.

  • ottovbvs

    Too true. I’ve been reading lots of opinionating from so called Egyptian experts telling us what the Egyptian “army” is going to do; the Egyptian “army” owns lots of businesses; etc etc. None of them mention that the Egyptian army is actually a conscript army of roughly 450,000 men. That if you have a degree you get a commission after a years enlistment. I think the term of service is three years. It’s also a mass of conflicting power centers that all protect their turf. The Egyptian army is a very unreliable instrument of repression which is why they very much sat on the sidelines during the upheavals of the past three weeks. Any idea that it speaks with one voice or would fire on mass uprisings is to treated with considerable scepticism.

    • ktward

      Well look who’s back! Nice to see you again. :)

      • ottovbvs

        I was missing the wit and wisdom of Linnane, Ragsdorf and co.

        • ktward

          I long suspected you had a masochistic streak. But who am I to judge?

          Wait. Ragsdorf? That’s a name new to me.
          (Way to shatter my illusion that I knew every name worth knowing.)

        • ottovbvs

          Even the most masochistic become tired of giving economic reality lessons to people who couldn’t balance their checkbooks. What’s most interesting is how few of the faces have changed. Maybe the name should be changed to the BDSM forum.

  • ‘Hatred is nothing more than cowardice’ (groovin on Egypt with Cornel West)

    [...] "a military coup" that will bring dangerous engagement of the Muslim Brotherhood, or David Frum, saying that the revolution was not representative of the people.)(This post was outlined by Ibn Tufayl). [...]

  • politicalfan

    “What do they think? What do they want? And it may be an equally urgent question to know: who leads, guides and controls what they think and want?”

    What do we think? What do we want” Who leads, guides, and controls what we think and want? I think your question should have been. ‘Do they like us?’ And can we stop being suspicious of everyone who thinks differently?

  • DFL

    We know that Charlton Heston started off as a prince of Egypt but ended up being a fire-and-brimstone heaver of the Ten Commandments and died just short of the Promised Land after wandering about Sinai for forty years.

  • Bilejones

    This line made me laugh
    “One out of seven Egyptians cannot read.”

    “According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 42 million adult Americans can’t read; “

    So with 20% of the US population being 14 years old or younger I reckon illiteracy is about 1 in 6.

    We should aspire to Egyptian rates of literacy!

  • Traveler

    Otto, Welcome back to the BDSM forum :) Still a few trolls, but good discussions for the most part.

    The more I read David’s blurb the more I am inclined to denigrate him to red-menace level for his totally brainless phrase: “who leads, guides and controls what they think and want?”. This is a totally sophomoric perspective. Its like “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”, one of the finest lines out of Hollywood. Such a perspective aspires to similar levels of delusion.

    The answer is we’ll just have to wait and see. These are not the stupid illiterate people as you characterize. Frankly, they are more informed than the typical American voter. That is not by way of a compliment to the typical Egyptian, as it is a slap at what passes for the electorate here stateside. Given that Egyptians are as literate at $2 per day, the fact that they conduct themselves as sensibly as they have so far is even more remarkable. You all can draw your own conclusions. We have the most spoiled and ignorant populace ever in our history. Bad combination if you want to get anything done…

    • ottovbvs

      Thanks. The great pretence of politics of course is that enormously complex issues are really simple if we just applied a little commonsense to them. Hence the plethora of juvenile metaphors like comparing the federal budget with domestic housekeeping (someone yesterday was comparing it with dieting for godsake). 90% of Americans at a minimum are clueless about the budget and they are even more clueless about Egypt which provides ample scope for the chattering classes to play on their various fears. Frum is a clever man but his prime motivation is to protect the interests of Israel and so as long as you view his comments through this prism one is reasonably safe.

  • jakester

    While I don’t buy the paranoid Beck right line that the Caliphate and Grand Jihad are right around the corner, with Soros & Code Pink pulling the strings,( a delusional paranoid goulash of all their bogey men in cahoots together) give me a break. This whole flop in Egypt reminds me of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” –
    “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old One.” Come on, this is getting to be some Obama November 2008 moment to some liberals, where they act like the blind are going to see and the lame will walk just because the Gyppos rioted in the streets and forced out one old dictator.