Friday, August 23, 2013

Sensible Thoughts on Egypt

One of my readers was a bit unhinged about my recent blog on Egypt. His criticism in a long email was worthy and reasonable, his manners were not. I will agree with him that my blog was highly idealistic and probably “pie-in-the-sky” thinking. Here’s better, more substantive thinking on Egypt and what’s going on there.
by Charlie Leck

Three recent columns in the NY Times give us a clearer understand of what’s going on in Egypt and how U.S. policy in intertwined with those developments. They take no political position and all three give us a better look at some very relevant facts. These articles will make us all much more conversant on current events in Egypt.

Steven Simon, writing in the NY Times, has some sensible thoughts on Egypt that are worth reading. Simon is the executive at the International Institute of Strategic Studies – United States. He also served for a time as the senior direct for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. Simon writes very clearly in this column and his lucid writing makes my simple ideas seem rather muddled.

Just as pressure from Presidents Clinton and Bush didn’t succeed in bringing about domestic change, the alleged leverage supplied by American assistance failed to compel Mr. Morsi to heed Mr. Obama’s repeated warnings to adopt a more inclusive approach to governing a deeply divided Egypt in the past year.” [Steven Simon]

Then there is a remarkable column by Eric Schmitt (
Cairo Military Firmly Hooked to U.S. Lifeline) in the same newspaper (a day later) that explains the remarkably close relationship between America and the Egyptian military. Our aid has enabled Egypt to equip itself with extremely efficient weapons.

“…a close look at the details of American military aid to Egypt shows why the relatively modest $1.3 billion may give the United States more leverage over the Egyptian military than it may seem, although still not as much as it wants.”
[Eric Schmitt, NY Times]

The pro and con question that Schmitt raises has to do with whether it would do any good to suspend military aide to Egypt. The question is one of both morality and general sensibility.

And finally,
There is another extraordinary column in the New York Times by award-winning columnist, Thomas Friedman (
Close to the Edge). Be sure to read this one. In it he shows us how very close to the edge of a dangerous cliff the Egyptian military is strategizing right now. Feinstein expresses some clear and wise advice for General Sisi, the current military leader in Egypt. The General should seriously consider this advice.

If the Egypt question is one of interest to you, these three columns will be very helpful.

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