Egyptian civil war underway? And the Obama response is “fore?”

Posted by: Phineas on August 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

**Posted by Phineas

It’s hard not to think that after this news:

Clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters across Egypt have left nearly 100 dead and hundreds injured Wednesday, the country’s health ministry said, while police in riot gear and armored vehicles bulldozed two protest camps in Cairo.

Hamdi Abdel Karim, an Egypt Health Ministry spokesman, told Reuters that 95 people were killed and 874 were injured in the violence.

Khaled el-Khateeb, an Egyptian Health Ministry official, earlier told the Associated Press that at least 28 people were killed in Cairo, 25 in Minya province south of the capital and one each in the cities of Alexandria, Assiut and Ban Suef. Sky News cameraman Mick Deane and Gulf News reporter Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz were among the dead.

The violence prompted Egypt’s Interim President, Adly Mansour, to declare a monthlong state of emergency, ordering the armed forces to support the police in efforts to restore law and order and protect state facilities.

The camps that were cleared Wednesday in Cairo had been the catalyst of protests since former President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by the Egypt’s military on July 3, with thousands calling for his reinstatement.

Don’t forget, millions called for his overthrow.

It’s almost reflexive to blame the Obama administration for this, but we’d do well to remember that, most of the time, a nation that find itself in trouble has itself to blame for most of it. In this case, an inability to grow enough food to feed itself and not enough money to buy what it needs to make up the difference; a worthless education system that produces useless, unemployable (except by the government) graduates; massive public corruption; and a society dominated by an intellectually and culturally sclerotic Islam all combine to produce the modern failing state of Egypt.

That isn’t to say Team Smart Power doesn’t deserve a share of the blame; their response to events in Egypt since before Mubarak’s fall has been clumsy, inconsistent, ignorant, and destructive of American and allied interests. I earlier quoted Water Mead politely eviscerating Obama’s Egyptian policy. In the New York Times, Foreign Affairs’ Jonathan Tepperman argues that this is another illustration of Obama playing both sides and coming up empty:

In just the last few weeks, the Russian government has used a show trial to silence a prominent activist, Egypt’s junta has massacred protesters, Turkey has cracked down on peaceful dissent, and the rulers of Cambodia and Zimbabwe have stolen elections — again.

In each case, the Obama administration has done little more than mutter objections under its breath. Such seeming indifference has infuriated human rights and democracy advocates, who are dismayed by the mismatch between the president’s occasional stirring speech and his everyday lack of action. . . .

By trying to play both sides, the Obama administration is winning over neither. It’s left with the worst of all worlds, and both Americans and the people of Egypt, Turkey, Cambodia, Zimbabwe (you can go down the list) are paying the price.

(The Times site seems to be down right now. The quote is taken from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter. You should subscribe.)

I’m not arguing that Obama could have prevented what appears to be happening in Egypt –state failure– but a more intelligent, realistic policy would have encouraged Mubarak to plan for an orderly transition to a successor and also have seen that the only beneficiary of the quickly-called elections would be the very well organized and very anti-democratic Muslim Brotherhood. And then, possibly, we could have avoided the quickening collapse of what had been one of the linchpins of our foreign policy in the region.

Maybe then the President wouldn’t have to be annoyed with having his golfing vacation to Martha’s Vineyard interrupted.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

RSS feed for comments on this post.

5 Responses to “Egyptian civil war underway? And the Obama response is “fore?””


  1. Dana says:

    The best policy for the United States to follow in Egypt is to do nothing at all. If Egypt breaks down into civil war, and they kill a bunch of heir fighting aged men and waste billions of dollars, that’s great! It means that whichever side emerges victorious will have to devote its time and money and energy into cleaning up their mess, and won’t have the time, energy or money for foreign mischief.

  2. ALman says:

    “president’s occasional stirring speech and his everyday lack of action. . . .”

    My original objection to this man in his run for office. It takes more than a good speech to be a leader. His “everyday lack of action” harkens to his lack of background and experience for the presidency of this country.

    Better he be a do-nothing, because it’s clear that he and his adminstration don’t have what it takes. Moreover, the “mutter objections under [his] breath” is trademark of a weakling or a bully who has been confronted.

  3. Great White Rat says:

    Actually, I’d much rather have Obama spend his time golfing and vacationing. He does much less harm all around when he’s playing with his putter.

  4. Tango says:

    …don’t miss the putt, folks. Barry and his minions are workin’ dilgently. Lobbyin’ hard on behalf of Morsi, pushin’ for his (and the Muslim Bros) return to power in Egypt.

    Now, in fairness, it is almighty unlikely that will come to pass. Just as it is similarly unlikely that our SCM will bother to report same.

    You can’t make this up…

  5. Obhammud should rely on his default response in this situation as he has in others requiring real leadership: make a speech.