Thursday, February 03, 2011


I woke up this morning and the New York Times home page greeted me with "Fewer Protesters Gather in Square After Violent Night," and I thought, well, this is how it happens -- here we are in America thinking some real change might be happening, as in Iran after the elections, and then suddenly the protesters who insisted that no amount of repression would keep them from taking to the streets were attacked by government goons, and then they took to the streets less and less, and eventually ... well, that was it. End of uprising. A thuggish government wins again.

It's not an exact analogy -- but this Foreign Policy blogger thinks the moment for genuine change in Egypt is simply gone, and what he writes seems persuasive:

...The so-called "pro-government" forces are actually Mubarak's cleverly orchestrated goon squads dressed up as pro-Mubarak demonstrators to attack the protesters in Midan Tahrir, with the Army appearing to be a neutral force. The opposition, largely cognizant of the dirty game being played against it, nevertheless has had little choice but to call for protection against the regime's thugs by the regime itself, i.e., the military. And so Mubarak begins to show us just how clever and experienced he truly is. The game is, thus, more or less over.

The threat to the military's control of the Egyptian political system is passing. Millions of demonstrators in the street have not broken the chain of command over which President Mubarak presides. Paradoxically the popular uprising has even ensured that the presidential succession will not only be engineered by the military, but that an officer will succeed Mubarak....

The president and the military, have, in sum, outsmarted the opposition and, for that matter, the Obama administration. They skillfully retained the acceptability and even popularity of the Army, while instilling widespread fear and anxiety in the population and an accompanying longing for a return to normalcy....

I wonder if it's even worse than that -- I wonder if Mubarak is going to bother to leave. A worsening crackdown, a Western world where the U.S. news anchors go home to cover snowstorms and the Super Bowl and the Oscars -- would Mubarak really have to go? And wouldn't President Obama, ever in search of conciliation, just go along?


And then, in America's media, will the usual hypocrisy kick in? Over in Murdoch Land, Obama is being accused of giving aid and comfort to evil Satanic Islamicists -- here's Sean Hannity trotting out Anjem Choudary, an Islamicist who has nothing whatsoever to do with Egypt (he's British born and lives in the U.K. today) so that Hannity can rail against sharia and play right-wing Geraldo ("You're one sick, miserable, evil S.O.B but thank you for coming on anyway"). Oh, and here's Hannity again, trying to goad John McCain into saying that Islamicism is imminent in Egypt and it's all Obama's fault. And here's Dick Morris on Bill O'Reilly's show saying,

"Clearly, President Obama, whether it's because of his words about radical Islam, his failure to condemn it, his failure to name terrorism as Islamic terrorism, and his appeasement and very possibility his outright efforts to encourage people to destabilize the Mubarak regime, broke Egypt and he now owns it."

But what if Mubarak allies cling to power, or Mubarak himself? Will these same Foxsters be able to turn on a dime and say that Obama failed if that's the outcome, because he didn't sufficiently support Bush's "freedom agenda"? Can they be that blatant?

Yeah, probably. They may need to give it a bit of a rest, though. They may just decide to come back with that line a year or so from now, during the presidential race. We'll be told that people yearning to breathe free rose up in Iran, and then in Egypt -- and Obama failed them. And the hypocrisy will mostly pass unremarked.

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