Sunday, June 17, 2012

Comments at The Monkey Cage (neatened up here). The links are all repeats, and repeats of repeats, for a new audience.
NYT
American military aid and personal relationships between American and Egyptian commanders give the United States great influence, and the two sides are in daily communication formally and informally, Mr. Sullivan said. But American military officials keep their messages private, as they should, he said.

"We should not make it look like we’re deeply involved in trying to solve this,” he said. “Most Egyptians would not appreciate that."
Reuters: “Israel shocked by Obama’s ‘betrayal’ of Mubarak”

Ted Koppel in the WSJ
The Israeli government is so concerned that America’s adversaries may miscalculate U.S. intentions that it is privately urging Washington to make it clear that the U.S. would intervene in Saudi Arabia should the survival of that government be threatened.
Adam Shatz in the LRB
Steven Cook at the Council on Foreign Relations has published a ‘contingency planning memorandum’ in favour of continued support to the regime, which, as he describes it, ‘has helped create a regional order that makes it relatively inexpensive for the United States to exercise its power’
The US just re-started sending arms to Bahrain.

Col. Patrick Lang
Our obsession with this kind of historic meddling is leading us down some dark paths. In Egypt we are pressing for the resumption of a democratic process that will create a government of our enemies. In Syria we are aligning ourselves with a medieval plutocracy (Saudi Arabia) and our Al-Qa'ida enemies.

Women in Syria and in pre-2003 Iraq have or had a great deal of freedom within the context of their societies. Now we are seeking to advance the interests of those who will put women back into the kennel of their kitchens and purdah.

The die has been cast. The US Government is now firmly behind the propaganda drivel generated by the insignificant liberal minorities and the lying spokesmen of the Islamists.

We HAVE met the enemy, and it is us.
Issandr El Amrani calls it [Pressman's] a good post with the caveat that it covers a range of opinions “within American academia”. I think it’s a waste of time. Academia has turned an explicitly value-laden pessimism regarding human behavior into an implicitly value-laden optimism regarding our ability to manage it. The result is that this post is self-regarding pabulum. It’s the same he-said she-said passivity of American journalism based on the same false claims of “objectivity.”

I have to assume you’re aware of popular sentiment in Egypt regarding Israel. You’re aware of the occupation and the expansion of illegal settlements. The US is partnering with Israel and the Saudis against Iran, and as a result with Sunni against Shia, in Bahrain and elsewhere. The important question (ignoring questions of morality) is if it makes any goddamn sense at all.

My favorite quote from Nir Rosen
“imagine if that one taliban commander had not screwed up my plans to go with them when they conducted attacks… wouldnt it make for a fun read?”
[Responding to Bing West, whose argument is clearly fascist.]

Moral earnestness is not the same as moral responsibility. Rosen would never claim to be a scientist; he would admit to being an adrenaline junkie, but he’s worth reading and taking seriously. I can’t say the same for the above.  [I don't have to agree with everything Pat Lang says either. The point is that that's not the point. Rosen is a journalist and Lang is a soldier and a spook. Tradesmen are empiricists]

Assuming powerful states’ desire for stability on their own terms, the difference between those leaders claiming to be “conservative” and those claiming to be “liberal” is in the tension between their stated idealism and their professional cynicism. There was a time when only liberals could be called hypocrites, but now all politicians want to be seen as idealists. But to understand the change politicians you’d have to understand the change in culture itself, including the culture of academia.

Exceptionalism is always a mistake.

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