Now They’re A Virus…

by lizard

so…

if the spreading social unrest in the Middle East is like a virus, then what kind of remedy would Doctor McCain prescribe? I would guess whatever stabilizes the patient. And sometimes viruses must be treated aggressively.

Kudos to McCain for being upfront. But he’s not the president, so he can say what he wants, no matter how offensive. Obama can’t be upfront. Instead, he’s walking an oratorical tight rope, and if he fails, then the true nature of our foreign policy—duplicity, hypocrisy, and deceit—might get exposed, and that would be bad. The virus could spread anywhere, and it’s not clear if Americans have all been properly inoculated.

today Obama had this to say:

President Obama condemned the attacks on journalists in Egypt Friday amid mounting criticism that the assaults were being orchestrated by President Hosni Mubarark to suppress international coverage of bloodshed by pro-government operatives against peaceful protesters.

“We continue to be crystal clear that we oppose violence as a response to this crisis,” Obama said. “We are sending a strong, unequivocal message: Attacks on reporters are unacceptable. Attacks on human rights activists are unacceptable. Attacks on peaceful protesters are unacceptable.”

Where would Mubarak have gotten the idea that going after journalists is fair game? For some reason, this old anti-drug ad comes mind:

and then there’s this:

An air raid on the Al-Jazeera TV offices in Baghdad killed the journalist Tareq Ayoub and wounded a colleague on April 8, 2003. The network had shown civilian victims of U.S. bombings. Big banners marked “TV” hung outside the building. Six days earlier, the Basra Sheraton Hotel, whose only guests were an Al-Jazeera team, received four direct artillery hits, without casualties, according to the Arabic TV news channel. And in November 2001, U.S. bombs destroyed Al-Jazeera’s office in Kabul, Afghanistan, also without casualties. Before all three incidents, the network had notified U.S. authorities of the respective locations, a spokesman said.

Within three hours after the Baghdad bombing, a tank fired at the Palestine Hotel there and fatally wounded two cameramen: Taras Protsyuk, a Ukranian, of Reuters; and Jose Couso, a Spaniard, of the Telecinco network. The French Press Agency reported next day that footage by France 3 television “shows a US tank targeting the journalists’ hotel and waiting at least two minutes before firing.” The Department of Defense claimed the shooting was self-defense. Reporters Without Borders said that all the facts indicated “exactly the opposite.” The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), based in Brussels, accused the Pentagon of a “cynical whitewash.” Robert Fisk of the UK newspaper Independent asked if it was possible to believe that the twin Baghdad attacks were accidents. “Or was it possible that the right word for these killings … was murder?”

Tank fire also killed the Palestinian cameraman Mazen Dana of Reuters outside of Abu Ghraib prison on August 18, 2003. The U.S. Army claimed that soldiers mistook his camera for a weapon. But colleagues with him said otherwise. The Guardian, UK, next day quoted a Reuters soundman, Nael al-Shyoukhi, saying the soldiers “saw us and they knew about our identities and our mission…. We were noted and seen clearly.” They had filmed the prison and were about to go when a convoy led by a tank arrived; Dana stepped out of the car to film again, walked a bit and was shot. IFJ noted that it happened in broad daylight and that the camera team had made contact with soldiers to explain its mission and received permission to film the prison.

Dhia Najim, an Iraqi freelance cameraman working for Reuters, in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, was shot to death, evidently by a U.S. sniper, on Nov. 1, 2004. He had been filming clashes between marines and foes, but exchanges had ended when he was felled by a single shot. Najim’s colleagues and family said a U.S. sniper killed him. Military authorities denied it. Reuters noted that photographs taken two days earlier showed marine snipers taking positions in Ramadi. The news agency called for an investigation.

Duplicity, hypocrisy, deceit.

No, the people in the streets resisting their respective oppressors are not themselves a virus, but they are certainly suffering from some physically intangible malady, and, as usual, that aspect is NOT being explored by our MSM. How can they focus on what’s fueling this spreading insurrection when Anderson Cooper is getting punched in the head?

Luckily others are on the case, and not surprisingly some of the usual suspects are implicated:

The dramatic rise in food prices is fueling a great deal of discontent in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. It’s a deep undercurrent propelling many of the poor, who face prospects of starvation to resort to the streets and to violence. According to the United Nation’s Food Agency (Food and Agriculture Organization — FAO) world food prices are up for the 7th month in a row and are likely to surpass the record high reached in December 2010

though it may make some squirm, it looks like Wall Street and Clinton-era deregulation have once again played a destabilizing role, exacerbating global impoverishment.

In March 2008, a dramatic spike in food prices led thousands of people on the brink of starvation in Egypt to violently riot — sending a seismic shock wave through the Mubarak regime. After the Egyptian military was able to distribute enough wheat to dispel the rioting, efforts to stockpile wheat by the Mubarak government have failed, as food prices continue to hover at record highs.

The media is reporting many reasons for this problem ranging from soaring demand, cuts in food subsidies, droughts, and government mandates to use more grain-based biofuel. But, another significant factor is at play: unfettered speculation by investment banks. As noted in USA Today, in 2008, “the bulls may not be running on Wall Street, but they’re charging in the commodities pits.‰

At issue are the still deregulated commodity markets ushered in by the Clinton administration and the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Before this law, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) served as a cop on the beat, enforcing rules that prevent the distortion or manipulation of prices beyond normal supply and demand. But Wall Street banks and companies such as ENRON and British Petroleum were determined to make a lot more money from speculation by exempting energy-derivative contracts and related swaps from government oversight.

For this reason, the 2000 law allows entities that have no stake in whether adequate amounts of food and fuel are available for ordinary people and commodity-dependent businesses to make huge sums of money by gambling with other people‚s money.

Soon after passage of the 2000 law, “dark” unregulated futures trading markets emerged, most notably the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in London — created by Wall Street and European investment banks and several oil companies. A key practice involves “over the counter index trading” in which hundreds of billions of dollars of pension, sovereign wealth, and other institutional funds are used to flood “dark” commodity markets to buy and hold futures contracts without an expiration date or oversight. When it’s time to make money on a losing bet, these funds are withdrawn, causing commodity price crashes and economic instability.

These transactions don’t involve customary “bona fide commodity traders, such as an airline company hedging on the price of jet fuel by purchasing futures contracts. As prominent hedge fund manager Michael McMasters noted before a U.S. Senate panel in 2008, this amounts to “a form of electronic hoarding and greatly increases the inflationary effect of the market. It literally means starvation for millions of the world’s poor.”

There are underlying currents beneath what is happening half a world a way that connects all of us.

And not all attempts at inoculation are successful.

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  1. Craig Moore

    That conspiracy tinfoil hat is affecting you again. Let’s start with what McCain actually said:

    “Regrettably the time has come for President Mubarak to step down and relinquish power. It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people and its military.”

    “The best opportunity for a pro-democracy government and not a radical Islamic government is an open transparent process.”

    “This virus spreading throughout the Middle East proves the universality of human yearnings, and probably the only place where you won’t see these demonstrations is Iraq.”

    McCain sees radical Islam co-opting and operating through the growing social unrest as the virus. Right or wrong, that’s what he meant. Your attempt here to distort his meaning and suggest he is against democracy movements is either incredibly disingenuous or you lack the ability to analyze events outside of your conspiracy paranoia template.

    Now as to your patient analogy. Unless the patient lives there is no benefit in talking about the unhealthy habits that lead up to the current disease or how to live a healthier life. It’s a matter of sequence. First stabilize the patient.

    As to Obama’s tightrope walk, Chris Matthews was rather critical of how it will be perceived by our friends and allies. Obama is giving the appearance that he merely wants to be on the winning side, principles and relationships be damned. Obama is coldly transactional.

    • lizard19

      you ascribe this statement to McCain:

      This virus spreading throughout the Middle East proves the universality of human yearnings, and probably the only place where you won’t see these demonstrations is Iraq.

      where does he say this in the interview? i watched a longer clip, and didn’t hear him say anything about universality of human yearnings. can you please enlighten me where McCain made that statement?

      and Craig, nothing I have said in this post is even remotely conspiratorial. framing your response with that statement is yet again another misrepresentation of what i’m trying to say here. it’s getting old.

      • Craig Moore

        Actually Lizard, you did. Look at the title of your post.

        McCain’s statements go beyond just that clip. Do your homework.

        We went over much of this in your last disaster of a post. I’m going to combine the student letter quote with Rob’s link:

        Egyptian student letter: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/the_story_of_the_egyptian_revo.html

        Where Egypt will go from here is an enigma. In a sense everything will be the same. The army that has ruled Egypt since 1952 will continue to rule it and the country will still suffer from a huge vacuum of ideas and real political alternatives. On the other hand, it will never be the same again. Once empowered, the Egyptians will not accept the status quo for long.

        On the long run the Egyptian question remains the same. Nothing has changed in that regard. It is quite remarkable for people to be talking about the prospect for a democratic transition at this moment. A population that was convinced just two months ago that sharks in the Red Sea were implanted by the Israeli Intelligence Services is hardly at a stage of creating a liberal democracy in Egypt. But the status quo cannot be maintained. A lack of any meaningful political discourse in the country has to be addressed. Until someone actually starts addressing the real issues and stop the chatterbox of clichés on democracy, things will not get better at all. It will only get worse.

        Then there is this (h/t RK) http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/516/why-mubarak-is-out

        Many international media commentators – and some academic and political analysts – are having a hard time understanding the complexity of forces driving and responding to these momentous events. This confusion is driven by the binary “good guys versus bad guys” lenses most use to view this uprising. Such perspectives obscure more than they illuminate. There are three prominent binary models out there and each one carries its own baggage: (1) People versus Dictatorship: This perspective leads to liberal naïveté and confusion about the active role of military and elites in this uprising. (2) Seculars versus Islamists: This model leads to a 1980s-style call for “stability” and Islamophobic fears about the containment of the supposedly extremist “Arab street.” Or, (3) Old Guard versus Frustrated Youth: This lens imposes a 1960s-style romance on the protests but cannot begin to explain the structural and institutional dynamics driving the uprising, nor account for the key roles played by many 70-year-old Nasser-era figures.

        The rose colored binary lenses of “liberal naïveté” that leads to the “chatterbox of clichés on democracy” is just not helpful. Trying to frame the social upheaval as a democracy movement is inaccurate. There is so much more going on.

        The Muslim Brotherhood is reported to want to scrape the peace treaty: http://en.rian.ru/world/20110203/162433368.html

        Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood movement has unveiled its plans to scrap a peace treaty with Israel if it comes to power, a deputy leader said in an interview with NHK TV.

        Rashad al-Bayoumi said the peace treaty with Israel will be abolished after a provisional government is formed by the movement and other Egypt’s opposition parties.

        “After President Mubarak steps down and a provisional government is formed, there is a need to dissolve the peace treaty with Israel,” al-Bayoumi said.

      • Craig Moore

        and here is your McCain link. HIs comment is at the bottom: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/108570/20110203/egypt-reaction-mubarak.htm

        • Lizard

          thanks for the link Craig, but that comment does not match with the words coming out of McCain’s mouth in the clip, and your link fails to provide where and when John made that statement.

          I think McCain comparing these uprisings as a virus is dangerous language, because it’s dehumanizing language; but i’m sure it matches well with the apartheid state of Israel and how they’re perceiving this democratic threat.

          • The Polish Wolf

            “because it’s dehumanizing language;”

            Actually, by invoking the metaphor of sickness, isn’t McCain in fact invoking the humanity of those involved? He didn’t call any human a virus, but rather the ideal.

            But I’ll openly admit now – if it weren’t you who posted this, I think Rob, Craig and I would be a lot less eager to defend McCain. The man is right, of course – this is incredibly dangerous. Hundreds have already been killed, and if it really does spread throughout the Middle East, thousands or tens of thousands probably will join them. That’s impossible to disagree with. If your only criterion is preventing death, this spread of these protests is undoubtedly terrible.

            However, I think what McCain fails to realize is that it is also inevitable – using the governments in the Middle East to keep their people in check can only succeed for so long, and this is perhaps the best opportunity we have to make the inevitable transition a smooth one.

            • P-wolf, I disagree with you on only one point. I am tired beyond expression of disagreeing with Lizard. Not because he shouldn’t be disagreed with, but because the highest moral crime to him is disagreeing with him. Arguing with that kind of pompous righteousness is not fun, by any metric. That is why I’m tired of arguing with the right as well.

              At no point have I defended McCain, but he does, as is so rare, make sense here.

              • lizard19

                I am tired beyond expression of disagreeing with Lizard. Not because he shouldn’t be disagreed with, but because the highest moral crime to him is disagreeing with him. Arguing with that kind of pompous righteousness is not fun, by any metric. That is why I’m tired of arguing with the right as well.

                your depiction of me is off-the-charts bullshit.

                i have been wrong more than once, reacted in anger too quickly, missed things that should have been obvious, and will probably stumble again.

                BUT i have also put forth very unpopular perspectives that have and will continue to earn me derision and ridicule, but i knew that would happen from the get-go.

                the highest moral crime to him is disagreeing with him.

                you couldn’t be farther from the truth.

            • lizard19

              then let’s address the injustices of neo-liberalism, the IMF, the World Bank, and the inequity it breeds.

              and while we’re at it, let’s start addressing climate change, which is affecting crops around the world, which is a factor in driving up food prices, and a major factor in the virus spreading.

              my only criterion isn’t preventing death, and really things are getting so dire something significant must die to make room for something new to come into being.

              and what i think needs to die is the reckless, growth-obsessed cancer of unchecked global capitalism.

              • The Polish Wolf

                Lizard –

                I am apprehensive about addressing the myriad of broad issues you just raised, because they lend themselves to falling back on hackneyed expressions like ‘global capitalist cancer’, that free you from the necessity of gathering evidence that is so sorely lacking to support your convictions in this discussion thus far. But I’ll bite.

                Every country participating in global capitalism has grown its economy by leaps and bounds as compared to any pre-capitalist system it may have had. This has, in turn, led to higher literacy rates and longer life expectancies, lower infant death rates, and all around higher standards of living.

                That’s not to say it can’t be improved to make those increases more evenly distributed or longer lasting. I think Da Silva’s policies were some of the most effective in this regard. Chavez’s less so, or at least less scalable. But the key to achieving a high standard of living remains the same – successfully negotiating, not rejecting, international capitalism.

              • lizard19

                it doesn’t seem to matter how much source material i bring to this discussion, it’s always my side of the argument that is, according to you, lacking. fine.

                this is how i see it: institutions like the IMF and World Bank suck developing economies into their scheme of debt-induced servitude, which forces the privatization of public assets.

                that, combined with Wall Street’s proclivity to exploit anything for short-term economic gain, has produced an abysmal situation for the world’s poor.

              • The Polish Wolf

                Well this is how the facts see it – in the vast majority of countries, an embrace of free market capitalism has been marked by vastly increased standards of living, as well as making the conditions of those in poverty more apparent, thus spurring unrest.

                Here’s a summary of your arguments RE Egypt: McCain is bad for calling discontent dangerous. I can’t argue anything about the protests but somehow they are still inherently good. Obama is complicit in Mubarak’s regime despite openly calling for it to go, because he hasn’t chosen a different leader of Egypt, and because American soldiers killed journalists in Iraq during the Bush administration. It’s not our place to care if Egypt breaks its peace with Israel, as some abstract commitment to the Palestinians or anti-imperialism or something (it sort of breaks down here) is more important than preventing another war.

      • Craig Moore

        …and the Associated Press is in on the act as well with McCain quotes. Look at how they frame their story: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/108570/20110203/egypt-reaction-mubarak.htm

        The Associated Press

        Sen. John McCain says the U.S. has to do “a better job of encouraging democracy” in the Middle East in light of the public uprising in Egypt.

        McCain, who met with Obama at the White House Wednesday, said Washington must push for free elections, even if they result in lifting Islamist elements. McCain said that American officials also have to be concerned about “the threat of a repeat of the election in Gaza,” where Hamas, considered a terrorist organization, emerged with newfound powers.

      • JC

        “…that statement is yet again another misrepresentation of what i’m trying to say here. it’s getting old.”

        Craig is the master of the ad hominem attack. He has a very subtle way of turning the point around to making it all about you and… whatever it is you may have said here or in the past.

        So just call him on his ad hominem BS. And of course, now he’ll turn around and attack me for some reason. I guess accusing someone of using ad hominem attacks is using ad hominem myself, or some sort of rot, and therefore because I’m using ad hominem, then anything I say doesn’t really matter: the argument becomes all about me, instead of the point I’m trying to make.

        • mr benson

          That’s nonsense. Craig’s making great points.

          • Lizard

            you would think so.

          • mr benson

            The specter of theocracy hangs over the issue of “democracy”. Can’t have western style republic/democracy (both are pagan ideas) without the leavening of post reformation Enlightenment’s valuing individual freedom and rights.

            Just can’t convince me that women or gays or intellectual freedom is better protected in Islamic theocracies, no matter how “democratic” they are.

            • lizard19

              so just say they don’t deserve the chance to choose for themselves, because you, like most of our politicians, are afraid their choices won’t be what the west would choose for them.

              • Maybe I missed it Liz, but I don’t read where Mr. B said any such thing.

              • That was not a combative question, Lizard. It was asking for clarification. So, are you agreeing that Mr. Benson wrote no such thing as you claim, or are you simply refusing to discuss it, here, on a blog, where supposedly things get discussed?

              • lizard19

                i think he’s a big boy and can respond himself.

                it reads to me that mr. b thinks the ghastly specter of theocracy is all Egyptians are capable of because they aren’t enlightened like us westerners, so giving them the chance to choose is too dangerous.

              • The way I read him, he is correct. It is idealism full of hubris to expect western style democracy to organically grow from cultures outside of a western tradition. Perhaps that speaks to an unfair assumption that he’s making of your beliefs. Regardless, I haven’t seen him write of what anyone ‘deserves’ even if his concern about theocracy is warranted.

              • lizard19

                then it’s okay for western democracies to impose and support dictators who oppress their people?

                because that’s the alternative. either let people choose for themselves how they are governed, or try to maintain “stability” by facilitating the ability of a repressive government to murder and torture its own people.

                Obama is choosing the latter, by the way.

              • The Polish Wolf

                “Obama is choosing the latter, by the way.”

                How do you figure? He’s made his opinion clear – Mubarak must go, sooner rather than later. You love to see America as the villain, but Obama is clearly on the side of letting the people choose.

                But no, you assume hat since Mubarak is still in power, Obama must be standing up for him. If Obama did anything more concrete to topple the regime, guess what he’d be doing? He’d be using American imperial might to enforce our version of human rights. The exact thing you wrote a post condemning not a month ago.

                You can’t have it both ways. Not taking part in human rights imperialism means allowing dictators to stay in power.

              • lizard19

                no, i said what i said because Obama is throwing his support behind Suleiman as the transitionary figurehead.

              • The Polish Wolf

                Lizard – Obama is throwing his support behind Suleiman as a man negotiating a peaceful end to this. If Mubarak steps down, it is natural that his second-in command wills step up – exactly what happened in your beloved Tunisian revolution. The protesters are not ‘Democratic’, in the sense that they are not supporting a Democratically elected leader. Suleiman right now is that man, chosen by Mubarak. To choose someone else and use our influence to make him the transitional leader, that would be real imperialism.

                So, which makes more sense – to put your support behind the next in line to lead the transition, or to demand that the entire ruling apparatus be torn down and replaced with a crap shoot? Elections are already scheduled – Mubarak has promised not to run. How does removing the entire power structure before then serve any purpose?

        • Craig Moore

          JC, you are twisting yourself into a pretzel. I have no idea what point you are trying to make. This post builds on a false meme about McCain. Seems there are many far left Borg websites doing the same thing with the fabricated talking point.

          Don’t let the facts get in the way of shifting this phony attack on McCain to me. Fire away at your pleasure.

          • JC

            “you lack the ability to analyze events outside of your conspiracy paranoia template.”

            That is pure ad hominem. I know you can carry on a good argument, Craig, and you often raise good points.

            But by resorting to comments like the above, you attempt to discredit the point being made by attacking the integrity or intelligence of the person offering the point. That’s ad hominem, and you’re capable of putting up a good argument without resorting to it, so why do it?

            Just playing referee for a moment. As you were.

            • Craig Moore

              JC, I take your point. Thank you.

              As to why, because it’s been “game on” ever since Lizard wrote his ad hom post attacking me. Came out of the blue. Before that I didn’t say a word about his paranoid delusions. Others did take him to task. Most of it is somewhat entertaining as he can be observed swatting at . imaginary flies.

              I’ll quit now and do my best to stay more focused. However, if he issues another challenge I just might accommodate him once again.

              • lizard19

                hey craig, why don’t you quit making this about me, and respond to the fact your McCain link doesn’t correlate to the clip in my post.

                OR you can just ignore instances of you being wrong, and fall back on the GREAT INJUSTICE i committed against you.

                at least i admit when i make mistakes. you, on the other hand, flee from accountability with your own BS.

                sort of makes you look like a hypocrite, craig.

              • Craig Moore

                JC, the boy just doesn’t know and better.

                I will resist this time. It would be so easy…

  2. lizard19

    well, Obama has confirmed it: he doesn’t give a shit about democracy.

    yep, like the skeptics feared, General Suleiman, the CIA’s point man for torture (sorry, rendition) is finally getting the nod from Obama.

    duplicity, hypocrisy, deception.

    i hope this makes Israel feel “safe.”

    • carfreestupidity

      After reading the NY Times piece and Mother Jones’ live update for today (link at bottom, you have to scroll all the way down) it seems like Mubarak is President in name only
      and Suleiman and the Military waiting for what they think is the best time to remove Mubarak from the Presidential Palace.
      Columnist Issandr El Amrani @ The Aribist even goes so far as to call Suleiman’s political maneuvering a coup and the only reason Mubarak hasn’t been removed yet is to say that the military hasn’t undertaken a coup.

      Mother Jones:
      http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/01/whats-happening-egypt-explained

      The Arabist:
      http://www.arabist.net/blog/2011/2/5/the-ndp-shuffle.html

      • lizard19

        yeah, i’ve read similar reports. thanks for links CFS.

        so if Suleiman is already calling the shots, this NYT piece detailing the experience of two detained reporters means very bad things for the opposition.

        snip:

        We had been detained by Egyptian authorities, handed over to the country’s dreaded Mukhabarat, the secret police, and interrogated. They left us all night in a cold room, on hard orange plastic stools, under fluorescent lights.

        But our discomfort paled in comparison to the dull whacks and the screams of pain by Egyptian people that broke the stillness of the night. In one instance, between the cries of suffering, an officer said in Arabic, “You are talking to journalists? You are talking badly about your country?”

        so while our politicians try to create the window-dressing for a peaceful transition, our torture guy will go after those who embarrassed Egypt’s ruling elite.

        • The Polish Wolf

          Maybe now I’m being the conspiracy theorist, but does it seem a tiny bit naive to assume that these massive protests that could well bring Suleiman to power, and which were nearly untouched by the military, were totally spontaneous and had no encouragement from anyone?

          • lizard19

            there is lots of room for speculation. don’t limit yourself with the conspiracy label; that is the label used by close-minded people to shut down lines of thought that challenges their cultural conditioning.

          • As soon as Suleiman began to surface to the media, there were Egyptian people objecting because he was a “whore to the western media” who had “nothing to do with the revolution” and was merely jumping in to his advantage.

            That was probably a week ago – well before Obama surfaced with his Suleiman solution.

            I had hoped that wouldn’t happen, although I suspect it is born out of the fear that the situation was going to deteriorate towards fundamentalist chaos.

            I, too, think that wouldn’t be good.

            This really was an organic thing – I mean, this thing started January 25th and still there really wasn’t any one person or even any one group of people looking to be guiding the thing.

            I’m not saying that is bad.

            This morning, they are reporting that banks are opening and I can hear traffic in the background as Amanpour reports live this morning.

            So maybe Suleiman will truly work out? It is the world’s obligation – and now the U.S.’s since we had a role to play in putting Suleiman in to ‘temporary’ power – to make sure that an election is held ASAP and that it is a fair democratic election. That may involve a constitution.

            lizard, if you ask me, is completely right. Do you see how this shit starts? Because that is what just happened.

            You can’t just butt in and butt out. There are expectations and obligations on both sides part.

            • Kptrng

              That was probably a week ago – well before Obama surfaced with his Suleiman solution.

              I had hoped that wouldn’t happen, although I suspect it is born out of the fear that the situation was going to deteriorate towards fundamentalist chaos.

              I, too, think that wouldn’t be good.

              I’m a bit perplexed at the inner workings of the imperialist mindset. I see what you say – that Egyptian democracy should take a form that we like here, and not that they like there. I get that. That’s as old as gunships and embargoes. But I don’t see the thought processes that lead you to that conclusion.

              Are they (as I suspect) a mere automatic reflex?

              • I was not saying that Egyptian democracy should take a form that we like here.

                I find it interesting how truly organic it is. Leaderless, it seems.

                What i had hoped wouldn’t happen – but did – was that the U.S. inserted itself more than publicly saying that Mubarak should go.

                When the U.S. butted its self in there and worked to insert Suleiman they went too far. They did so (as I see it) out of frustration. When I said I get it, I mean that I know why they did it. I’m not saying that I agree.

                Now that we’ve inserted ourselves, we better damned well make sure that there are true democratic elections.

                From what I hear from Suleiman, it doesn’t seem like he’s too anxious to give the people what they want.

                A new Constitution and a new government.

  3. Kptrng

    Interesting. As a supposed ‘maverick’ McCain has the luxury of consistency – he can say publicly what he thinks privately. All the others, like Obama, have to pay public tribute to democratic aspirations while fighting it every step of the way behind the scenes.

    Washington Rules:
    • An honest answer could get you in a whole lot of trouble.
    • You can agree with any concept or notional future option in principle, but fight implementation every step of the way.
    • A promise is not a guarantee.

  4. then it’s okay for western democracies to impose and support dictators who oppress their people?

    because that’s the alternative. either let people choose for themselves how they are governed, or try to maintain “stability” by facilitating the ability of a repressive government to murder and torture its own people.

    Lizard, are you familiar with the fallacy of the False Dilemma? What you posit as an “exclusive or” isn’t. My opinion, of course, but it is not okay for western democracies to prop up dictators. That’s a problem we have with our government. But Craig has provided several links (which both of us have posted here before) showing that Obama’s posturing may have little or nothing to do with the end results in Egypt. There are other alternatives. For instance, in western parlance, we see the President as having the supreme authority over the military. That is not the Egyptian view. Regardless of whether it’s Mubarak or Suleiman, the military will likely call the shots in Egypt for some time, but only if Mubarak is replaced so his supporters quit inciting further violence.

    It would be easy to claim, from our western view, that Suleiman, hand picked by that bastard Obama, will continue the violence. This is where the links that Craig posted earlier become so very relevant. Both of them clarify that right now, the Egyptian people aren’t listening to Obama, or America either for that matter. The protests are continuing, and the Egyptian people will accept what they are willing to accept, not what western liberals are accusing Obama of imposing on them. Calling for western favorable stability, which is really kinda the President’s job, is not the same as forcing it down the Egyptian people’s throats (such a great Tea Party line as it is.) So, basically, you’re accusing the President of crimes against human rights that haven’t even occurred yet. (It is the ultimate of ironies that the right is currently accusing Obama of worshiping democratic riots so much that he favors the middle eastern people over his own country … TRAITOR!)

    Further violence is likely, but it also may not be ideological or necessary. Just because Obama offered support doesn’t mean that Suleiman is in control of anything. Last I checked, Mubarak is still President in Egypt. Yet, the protests continue as does the violence. If it is ‘President’ Suleiman’s (Obama puppet) fault, then we’ll talk about that then. But it will be in relation to our own country and our own leaders and it won’t be in terms such that we should have supported (forced) democracy on people without their will.

  5. lizard19

    My opinion, of course, but it is not okay for western democracies to prop up dictators. That’s a problem we have with our government. But Craig has provided several links (which both of us have posted here before) showing that Obama’s posturing may have little or nothing to do with the end results in Egypt.

    yes, we agree propping up dictators is a problem we have with our government; a problem that makes any claim of “spreading democracy” utter bullshit.

    and it’s not clear what “Obama’s posturing” actually accomplishes, but you better believe there is a lot going on behind the scenes, and that involves who will be the next puppet to steer the billions in “aid”.

    what Obama won’t do (because the Israel lobby will destroy his reelection bid if he does) is anything that gives the opposition any real shot at some form of democratic representation. after all, Obama doesn’t want to “lose” Egypt the way Carter lost Iran.

    as for the rest, we will see, but it doesn’t look good for the people who have risked everything to oppose their repressive regime. and it doesn’t look good precisely because a heavy authoritarian hand is what the US and Israel admire in their good buddies in Egypt and Yemen and Columbia for that matter.

    just remember, when Obama says he supports Democracy, he’s being a duplicitous hypocrite.

    • just remember, when Obama says he supports Democracy, he’s being a duplicitous hypocrite.

      Thank you for telling me what to think. I do so appreciate it. ~sigh~

      Lizard, you can’t define “the opposition”. When others try, you employ the false dilemma fallacy. Yet you keep asserting that Israel calls the shots for those that you somewhat agree don’t call the shots. And yet you afford the protesters supreme moral right without any understanding of what they want save Mubarak’s removal, which Obama may be facilitating. In short, my friend, you’re not making a helluva lot of sense here.

      • lizard19

        “the opposition” are the people putting their lives on the line to overthrow their dictator. they are not a homogenous group of people. one of the links craig provided was a GREAT primer for the complexity of the forces involved, and i’m not going to pretend to understand all the moving parts of this uprising.

        but i stand by my assertion that our elected leaders are duplicitous, hypocritical, and deceitful when it comes to claims of spreading democracy. i’m sorry if that doesn’t make any sense to you.

        • Well I’m so proud of you.

          Funny though, I don’t remember reading in the Constitution how our elected leaders (which to you has meant only Obama) are responsible or tasked with “spreading democracy” outside our borders. I do recall them being tasked with “common defense” and manipulating international affairs for the benefit of our nation and people. “They” may not often do it to your satisfaction of moral sense, but then you don’t get to make that call, do you?

          “The opposition” are still putting their lives on the line to overthrow their dictator. If you were half reasonable, you would admit that Obama is also trying to oust their dictator (Mubarak). But this seems unpalatable to you, because you want … what exactly?

          The situation in Egypt makes perfect sense to me because I and many of your “opponents” are willing to admit that we aren’t in Egypt and don’t get the choices they have. It is you who are in fantasy forcing the issue such that you get leadership you want, apparently that which punishes America for crimes you can’t even define. It makes perfect sense to me, Lizard. The one who isn’t making sense is you.

          • lizard19

            Funny though, I don’t remember reading in the Constitution how our elected leaders (which to you has meant only Obama) are responsible or tasked with “spreading democracy” outside our borders. I do recall them being tasked with “common defense” and manipulating international affairs for the benefit of our nation and people. “They” may not often do it to your satisfaction of moral sense, but then you don’t get to make that call, do you?

            hmm, did i say anything about the constitution? no, i didn’t.

            and i said elected leaders, which includes Bush, and his claims that we were going to spread democracy to the middle east. but we all know Bush and the neocons were (are) dangerous, self-serving, anti-democratic bastards.

            and i didn’t know manipulating international affairs for the benefit of our people was enshrined in our constitution. but there’s a lot i don’t know.

            If you were half reasonable, you would admit that Obama is also trying to oust their dictator (Mubarak). But this seems unpalatable to you, because you want … what exactly?

            yeah, out with the old boss, and in with the new boss. that’s change i can believe in.

            The situation in Egypt makes perfect sense to me because I and many of your “opponents” are willing to admit that we aren’t in Egypt and don’t get the choices they have. It is you who are in fantasy forcing the issue such that you get leadership you want, apparently that which punishes America for crimes you can’t even define. It makes perfect sense to me, Lizard. The one who isn’t making sense is you.

            defining the crimes is easy, rob. we support dictators who don’t recognize basic human rights. people get tortured and killed. what more do you want?

            you are seriously out of touch with reality, rob, but don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

            • you are seriously out of touch with reality,

              Lizard

              is the master of the ad hominem attack. He has a very subtle way of turning the point around to making it all about you

              Liz, enjoy your outrage.

            • The Polish Wolf

              Hey Lizard, here’s a challenge. What evidence do you have that the majority of these protesters are ‘pro-Democracy’? In many cases, Democracy is a label attached to a movement that really wants something much more concrete – better jobs, more economic opportunities, peace, etc.

              If they have to choose between a chaotic transition that destroys their economy, and an orderly one that slows the emergence of Democracy, and choose the later, who are you to tell them otherwise?

              And no, I can’t prove either side. But I think its a bit harsh to condemn Obama based on circumstances you are only assuming exist.

              • lizard19

                like i said to rob, the opposition isn’t a homogenous group of people. why would i claim or search for evidence that they are “pro-democracy”?

                everyone wants to fit this uprising into a more digestible package, me included, so we’re all making missteps in ascribing this or that label or characteristic when in fact none of us really know because we’re not Egyptians.

                one of the things in all these comments no one has really mentioned is the link of the mid-east “virus” to financial deregulation, commodity speculation, and wall street.

                i wish that connection meant something to people, but it’s not getting MSM attention, and it’s getting panned in this thread as some people waste their energy chipping away at my persona.

                If they have to choose between a chaotic transition that destroys their economy, and an orderly one that slows the emergence of Democracy, and choose the later, who are you to tell them otherwise?

                i wouldn’t presume to tell the protestors a damn thing—it’s not my country.

                i hope you checked out that link i gave you at your post. one of the comments from b’s latest post said this:

                Just spoke to my mom who spoke to a cousin in Egypt. She isn’t engaged in protests but is one of the many who supply the protesters with food, etc. She told my mom that morale is very high, the crowd very diverse as we all knew. But there is a problem if the square being a big shopping center and that the shopkeepers are getting angry that they can’t reopen.

                I wonder if the protesters could ask the shop keepers to return and then try to buy as much of their supplies as they can locally.

                Also, while they haven’t done it yet, there is a fear that the army will actively try to prevent people from supplying the protesters.

                Spoke to another cousin directly but she is a government employee in a fairly senior position and fears her phone could be tapped. Still she said anti Mubarak protesters greatly outnumber the pros.

                Speaking of which, there was supposed to be a big pro gov rally today. Haven’t heard anything about it, though.

              • The Polish Wolf

                Lizard – if you can’t even reasonably claim that the protesters are in favor of Democracy, how can you claim that Obama is harming Democracy by his actions or inaction?

    • The Polish Wolf

      “heavy authoritarian hand is what the US and Israel admire in their good buddies in Egypt and Yemen and Columbia for that matter.”

      Columbia is a college.

      Colombia has been in a state of civil war for decades before the US intervened. It is currently safer and more prosperous than at almost any time in its history.

      Yemen is the only even pseudo-Democracy in the Middle East. It would be better off except it too has been subject to decades of war (prior to US involvement), which Egypt has played a role in.

      Egypt is a military dictatorship, but it is consistently scored as being no less free than any other Arab country, excluding Lebanon and Morocco. Minority rights are better respected than in almost any Arab country, and since it started receiving US support it hasn’t been attacking other countries or participating in internal conflict with other nations.

      So, Lizard, I would say these strong-arm states arise somewhat organically from chaos preceding US involvement. The US, when pressed, generally supports elements in those countries most likely to bring relative peace and stability, and has at worst a mediocre track record.

      • The Polish Wolf

        Edit- Yemen is the only cosmetically Democratic country on the Arabian Peninsula, an area which unlike the middle east has a definition.

      • Kptrng

        Sycophant, thy name be Polish Wolf. You have systematically gone through the record, overlooking just about everything, and ascribed noble intentions as the eraser for every misdeed. The US is interested in “peace and stability,” and not US interests. “Peace” is the absence of a meaningful challenge to Israeli aggression, and “stability” is the repression of any airing of grievances.

        Tool.

      • Kptrng

        “Colombia,” by the way, is being used now for a staging ground for attacks against Venezuela, with massive infusions of US military aid to threaten that countries borders, and probably to run covert terrorist missions.

        Colombia is a terror/torture state that is facing a popular insurgency. The insurgents live in the hills and are difficult to root out. The government runs death squads that go ante them, but also attack and kill any local leaders that might present a challenge. Running for office in Colombia as an opposition candidate is a death warrant. Labor leaders have very short hail-lives.

        Our propaganda system recasts this as a “centrist” Colombian governance set between two extremes, with the insurgents on one side, the death squads on the other. The government and the death squads are both supported by the US.

        And of course, it is all done under the auspices of that Orwellian figment of imagination known as the “Drug War.” I do recall reading, however, that the Colombia operation had been moved from one Orwellian figment to another, and was not part of the “War on Terror.”

        Anyway, you got it wrong, top to bottom. Care to try another country? Want to talk about … say … Chile? Peru? Ecuador? Guatemala?

        • The Polish Wolf

          Mark –

          Nope. Lets stick to Colombia. Try blaming the US all you want, but ‘peace’ is not a trend in Colombian history. Colombia was at war well before the US cared. The violence has always included attacks against civilian and opposition leaders. Thus, nothing you’ve said can be ascribed to the US – the US didn’t create Colombia, the US didn’t create the precedent for Caudillos, the US didn’t create the liberal and conservative parties.

          What has changed? Only ever development indicator. Colombians are living longer, healthier, more prosperous lives. Does that mean the drug war was a good idea? Absolutely not. Does that mean the situation is sustainable? Not in my opinion. But I didn’t argue for either of those things. I argued that having a strongman in Colombia arose organically. It did – Uribe was no different than pretty much every other leader Colombia has had. The presence of US aid merely presented the possibility of the conflict actually being ended.

  6. lizard19

    says wolf:

    Here’s a summary of your arguments RE Egypt: McCain is bad for calling discontent dangerous. I can’t argue anything about the protests but somehow they are still inherently good. Obama is complicit in Mubarak’s regime despite openly calling for it to go, because he hasn’t chosen a different leader of Egypt, and because American soldiers killed journalists in Iraq during the Bush administration. It’s not our place to care if Egypt breaks its peace with Israel, as some abstract commitment to the Palestinians or anti-imperialism or something (it sort of breaks down here) is more important than preventing another war.

    that is a terrible summation. let me help you out.

    McCain’s comment comparing the spreading unrest to a virus is bad because it’s grossly simplifies and dehumanizes what is happening.

    you can argue anything you want about the protestors, and i have not said they inherently good.

    Obama is duplicitous and hypocritical when he calls for reforms and condemns abuses of human rights because he can’t enact meaningful reform here or roll back this country’s human rights abuses. he might talk pretty about supporting democracy, but when it comes to action, it’s clear stability is the goal, so he’s backing the torture guy to restore stability.

    as for peace with Israel, that’s a laugh. Israel isn’t interested in peace, and no matter what THEY do, Obama would never dream of calling them out, which makes his credibility in the entire region shit.

    Israel can murder unarmed peace activists in international waters, including an American citizen, and Obama just takes it. he tries to stop Israel from building settlements, and they throw it in his face, and he just takes it.

    and finally, that last bit about about abstract commitments to anti-imperialism or palestinians being more important than preventing another war is crap.

    for those actually paying attention, American imperialism is the real danger. expanding drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, increasing covert operations, saber rattling against Iran—all of that makes more war in the region an almost certainty.

    • Craig Moore

      for those actually paying attention…

      Translation: those people that agree with you. People who don’t agree with you are those that don’t pay attention.

      JC, isn’t that one of those ad homs?

      PW captures the heart and value of Lizzie’s arguments — the erroneous conflation of liberal values upon the social upheaval, and derision upon Obama or anyone else that doesn’t share his unsubstantiated ideological ramblings.

      • JC

        No Craig, that is not an ad hom. From Wikipedia: an ad hominem “is an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise…”

        Actually your translation is speculative. Even if true, it isn’t ad hom. To me “actually paying attention” would mean following the argument. And we can follow an argument without agreeing with it, and still debate it.

        • Craig Moore

          JC, I’ll let PW decide if he felt Lizzie’s remark was aimed at him for not agreeing with him. PW was right on the button with his analysis.

          In my opinion, Lizzie’s argument of “American Imperialism” relating to the Egyptian crisis or even Pakistan has not been established anywhere. To not accept that argument doesn’t make one not paying attention, but critical of blindly accepting unsupported claims by a poster who appears desperate for validation by relying on readers to accept his view or be criticized for not paying attention or worse as he did with his “Fuck Obama” screed.

    • The Polish Wolf

      “Obama is duplicitous and hypocritical when he calls for reforms and condemns abuses of human rights because he can’t enact meaningful reform here or roll back this country’s human rights abuses.”

      Obama is duplicitous and hypocritical because he can’t do what he says wants to be done? Then you, I, and the Dalai Llama are in the same boat with him. I would love for Mubarak to hand over the reigns to a caretaker government right now and hold free elections in the next few months. Does me not being able to make it so make me a hypocrite?

      What has Obama done so far? He has publicly called for the movement not to be put down violently. Amazingly, that call has been heeded by the Egyptian army. He has supported Suleiman’s attempts to negotiate a peace process. You condemned that, because you wanted him to choose someone else out of the blue because of Suleiman’s record on human rights. Nonetheless, Suleiman’s meeting led to the first meeting between the Muslim Brotherhood (still officially outlawed) and the Government in decades. Even if it comes to nothing, that’s progress compared to where the MB was a while ago.

      I know you hate Israel. I’m not a big fan, either. But they are a fact, like the House of Saud or Mubarak or anyone else in the Middle East we don’t like. But here’s a fact – the Camp David accord represented the biggest reversal of Israeli expansion ever. Warfare between Israel and its neighbors has without exception led to misery, not salvation, for the Palestinians. I don’t see how you of all people can’t see that their future is dependent on Israel achieving peace with its neighbors. And so if the US has to choose between a Mubarak style government and one that will go to war against Israel, how can you argue that we are doing any favors for Egypt or the Palestinians by choosing the latter?

      • lizard19

        For sending Frank Wisner to “negotiate”, Clinton and Obama are either incredibly incompetent, or complicit in trying to keep Mubarak in power.

        read this shocking look about Wisner by Robert Fisk:

        Frank Wisner, President Barack Obama’s envoy to Cairo who infuriated the White House this weekend by urging Hosni Mubarak to remain President of Egypt, works for a Washington law firm, Patton Boggs, which works for the dictator’s own Egyptian government.

        Wisner’s astonishing remarks – “President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical: it’s his opportunity to write his own legacy” – shocked the democratic opposition in Egypt and called into question Obama’s judgment, as well as that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

        The US State Department and Wisner himself have now both claimed that his remarks were made in a “personal capacity”. But there is nothing “personal” about Wisner’s connections with the powerful Washington law firm and lobby shop Patton Boggs, which openly boasts that it advises “the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and has handled arbitrations and litigation on the [Mubarak] government’s behalf in Europe and the US”. Oddly, not a single journalist raised this extraordinary connection with US government officials – nor the blatant conflict of interest it appears to represent.

        Wisner is a retired State Department 36-year career diplomat – he served as US ambassador to Egypt, Zambia, the Philippines and India under eight American presidents. In other words, he was not a political appointee. But it is inconceivable Hillary Clinton did not know of his employment by a law firm that works for the very dictator which Wisner now defends in the face of a massive democratic opposition in Egypt.

        So why on earth was he sent to talk to Mubarak, who is in effect a client of Wisner’s current employers?

        that’s a damn good question. do they know what they’re doing?

        as for Israel, i don’t “hate” it, but i certainly don’t think the extremists who run that apartheid state give a damn about peace.

  7. According to Wikileaks, Israel picked Suleiman back in 2008.

  8. Craig Moore

    For all the hyperbole damning our country there appears to be some success in Sudan: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/02/sudan-splits.html

    • lizard19

      being highly critical of this administration’s foreign policy is not the same as “damning our country.”

      i happen to strongly believe that pushing forward with the previous administration’s full spectrum dominance mentality makes us less safe.




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