The first draft of an orderly transition

The New York Times, in its role as state storyteller, spins a fine yarn about how the White House artfully engineered Hosni Mubarak’s removal. A pivotal place in the narrative goes to “Frank G. Wisner, an adroit ex-diplomat whom President Obama had asked hours before to undertake a supremely delicate mission: nudging President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt out of power.”

Senior officials say that as Mr. Wisner traveled to Egypt, Obama officials in Washington were working on his message to Mr. Mubarak: to announce that he would not run for re-election (he did that), and to promise that his son would not run for election (he did not do that).

“No one wanted it to seem as if we were pushing him out,” one administration official said. “That would not serve American interests. It was important for President Mubarak to make the decision.”

Two hours after Mr. Wisner’s plane left Andrews Air Force Base, White House officials sent an e-mail to more than a dozen foreign policy experts in Washington, asking them to come in for a meeting on Monday morning. “Apologies for the short notice in light of a very fluid situation,” the e-mail said.

The Roosevelt Room meeting, led by Benjamin Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and two other National Security Council officials, Daniel Shapiro and Samantha Power, examined unrest in the region, and the potential for the protests to spread, according to several attendees.

Significantly, during the meeting, White House staff members “made clear that they did not rule out engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood as part of an orderly process,” according to one attendee, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to talk publicly about the meeting. The Muslim group had been suppressed by Mr. Mubarak, and Bush administration officials believed it was involved in terrorist activities. It renounced violence years ago.

Several times, two other attendees said, White House staff members said that Mr. Obama believed that Egyptian politics needed to encompass “nonsecular” parties: diplomatic-speak for the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Orderly transition” is now the name of the game, but what remains unclear is whether Mubarak intends on sticking to the script.

After a half-hour conversation this evening, the only element of Mubarak’s thinking that Obama disclosed during his televised remarks was this: “He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place.”

That seems to leave open a wide range of possibilities — and one inconvenient fact: Mubarak is still Egypt’s president.

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7 thoughts on “The first draft of an orderly transition

  1. Carlos Toledolabarca

    We all think in the West, the Arab world as backward societies and anchored in the Middle Ages, that our world has experienced. We imagine that because we have developed and reached levels of cultural and social exchange, in which the focus is on individual freedom, they go after it.

    We are so shallow, that we have not fallen in mind that the Arabs religious fundamentalism provides an opportunity to reconcile the Western development and military power we have generated, our need for oil, with their aspirations to impose their religion on the whole world, neither more nor less than to recover the lost ground, which means converting all infidels to Islam.

    These revolts have no other objective than to unite the Arabs to wipe Israel and subdue the West!

    President Mubarak has been, is and will be a U.S. ally, is a man who has helped preserve world peace, has ruled strong, with errors, but the result is in sight, Israel and the West have been able to hold up today the “Intifada” or uprising in the Islamic world.

    The “Jihad or Holy War” against the Judeo-Christian West has never been abandoned by them, and the “Left Democrats” do not exist.

    The military, in Egypt and other Arab countries still America’s friends, the West and Israel, they are looking at the actions of our leaders … if Mubarak’s regime falls violently … sooner or later we’ll all regret it.

  2. Aaron Aarons

    Even if there had been no protests against him, what is the likelihood that Mubarak, who will be 82 years old in a few months, would have run for president again?

    The real threat to the people of Egypt, especially the poor majority, is that THERE MAY BE an “orderly transition” to a new shell for the neo-colonial capitalist shell game. Real social change that benefits the poor and breaks the power of the rich — domestic and foreign — never comes about in an ‘orderly’ or ‘peaceful’ manner.

  3. Ian Arbuckle

    -White House staff members “made clear that they did not rule out engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood as part of an orderly process,”

    Is this not the hight of arrogant self delusion, which is only topped by Obama’s imperious press conference calling for “orderly transition”, or in other words requiring that the strings running Mubarak be quickly tied to some new puppet administration charged with the protection of Israel’s security interests?

    Someone should tell these lily-eaters in Washington that this is a peoples revolution and they are not calling any shots anywhere and that nobody is interested in what they want or demand Like King Cnut the great they commanding the tide. Perhaps if the Obama administration could in fact catch up with events they might spin it to the naive local audiences of MSM that it was all really their plan in the first place, bringing freedom and democracy to the world and that they never really supported tyranny. They just thought Egyptians had been excellent students and practitioners of that absolutely necessary skill of “enhanced” interrogation.

    Egypt belongs to the Egyptian people, and even if American tax payers have unwittingly poured billions into that county’s security and armed forces, it does not mean Washington owns them or even rents them. The Egyptian army is after all a conscript army and they are firstly Egyptian. Even if there used puppet piper was paid, and pocketed most of the pelf with his family and cronies, he now has been told to get out of town quick and that means with his Zionist pay master’s entourage. All but a few paid mice are defiantly not following his tune.

    In any event I don’t think Washington will have too much time to focus on Egypt’s orderly transition before it has to switch to Jordan, Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia as they take centre stage, start boiling over. Then they may well be followed by the Caucuses and Eastern Europe. Take a look at Bulgaria.

    For a country that cannot even get special friends in Tel Aviv who are the government of 6 million Jews to delay settlement constructions for two months, they sure talk big to hundreds and hundreds of millions of Arabs, who are not listening and couldn’t even care less what America wants, across the whole of North Africa and the Middle East. Someone should tell Washington that a teacher in Egypt, earning 50 to 80 dollars a month, if he is lucky to have a job at all, is not too interested in who the White House will or will not accept as interlocutor to dictate their demands.

    I think Vincent you said it above more succinctly than I have.

  4. blowback

    You could be wrong about the legend of King Canute and the tide – there are those who would suggest that he knew what he was doing and was demonstrating to the sycophants around him that he was not the deity his advisers thought he was. Somehow I don’t see Obama as being as wise as Canute.

  5. Ian Arbuckle

    Blowback, Agreed. Cnut was no fool, having conquered England and handled some pretty sophisticated foreign policy issues in his time, I think he would probably run rings around Obama if he was in say Barroso’s position in the EU today. Unfortunately we have no such leaders in Europe nor the USA, certainly not ones that think laterally.

    But my point was more that although a Cnut or an Obama may use the demonstration of “imperium” for whatever spin they might, the tide is not bothered either way.

    Here I believe we have a tide of “birds coming home to roost”, if you don’t mind the mixed metaphors….

  6. Christopher Hoare

    Well, Toledobarca, I see you came in on one of Mubarak’s buses. “These revolts have no other objective than to unite the Arabs to wipe Israel and subdue the West!” Would that they were — because more than 75% of the world’s problems stem from the actions of Israel and its supporters.

    And what’s this Judaeo-Christian war bogeyman? While all three of the Abrahamic religions are self-created and self-aggrandizing gibberish, the two you are backing are not worth protecting from the third. The way to an honest secular world lies through an uprising like this to supplant the rule of thugs who use their ‘faith’ as a tool to control their people. (Just note who created the thugs that are preventing the Palestinian people from taking to the streets in support of their Egyptian brothers and sisters.)

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