I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.
Egypt’s Military Leaders Face Power Sharing Test
Excerpt: The two military officers who have risen to power in Egypt are members of the very elite that benefited from the reign of President Hosni Mubarak. Now the question being raised here and in Cairo is whether they can figure out a way to share power with a restive population that for decades has had none. Both are members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has rarely met but will run the country at least until elections are held later in the year. Each gained credibility with protesters during the turmoil of the past three weeks by venturing out into the streets and mingling with the crowds, sending strong signals that they would not stand behind the president or order soldiers to fire on the demonstrators. Despite this nod to populism, American military officers who know them say that neither officer is fiercely pro-democracy; in fact one of them, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, is seen as a strident opponent of political change. Both are likely to have calculated that protecting the military’s status and credibility was more important than standing behind an increasingly isolated and weakened president. (An interesting look at the two top leaders of Egypt's military. Oddly, the new Vice President (who is also a general officer) isn't one of them. Ron P.)
Rudderless in the White House
Excerpt: Then of course yesterday, CIA Chief Leon Panetta said Mubarak was probably on his way out, right up until Mubarak said he was staying. Power, however, seems to lie with the Army and Vice President Suleiman — who has held the three-decades-vacant office by appointment for all of twelve days. One wonders if this is what Biden considers “meaningful” or “legitimate.” And then there have been things like the false assurance to Congress by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular,” and Biden’s insistence that Mubarak is not a dictator. Things didn’t get really bad, however, until Obama began insisting, quite publicly, that Mubarak take all those “concrete steps” to leave office. It’s a generally accepted rule of diplomacy that you don’t make demands in public unless you know in advance the answer is Yes, or that you have the means to enforce your demand if the answer is No. We saw this same behavior when the administration was young and still trying to find its footing. Remember when Obama traveled all the way to Denmark to win the Olympics for Chicago, only to get rejected in the first round of voting? Same thing now. If you’d been hoping Obama would grow into the office, those hopes just got dashed against the stones of the Presidential Palace in Cairo. (In the world of diplomacy, perception is everything. It is inconceivable the USA is now perceived as “more effective” than we were three weeks ago. No matter who “wins” now, we will be seen as the “losers” by both allies and enemies. Ron P.)