Egypt’s aftershocks shake the Washington debate

Mark Perry writes:

It is commonplace for historians to compare revolutions to earthquakes, but the metaphor remains powerful. The Egyptian revolution is much like an earthquake: its epicenter may be Cairo, but its shockwaves have reached all the way to Washington. Since the first crowds began to appear in Tahrir Square, the Egyptian trembler has so shaken the U.S. that small but perceptible cracks have begun to appear in the foundations of America’s Middle East policies — and in the comity of opinion that has guided U.S. views of the region for 60 years. The changes were first evidenced last week, when policymakers, pundits and government officials made the rounds of the Sunday morning television news shows.

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on CNN, interviewer Candy Crowley was blunt: which side is the U.S. on — “Mubarak or the people in the streets?” she asked. Clinton laughed slightly, then rejected the question: “Well, there’s another choice, it’s the Egyptian people,” she said. “We are on the side, as we have been for more than 30 years, of a democratic Egypt that provides both political and economic rights of its people, that respects the universal human rights of all Egyptians.” Of course, Crowley knew (as we all knew) that if Clinton had been asked the same question just the week before, her answer would have been entirely different: that our friendship with Egypt is based on its peace treaty with Israel, its opposition to Iran and its hostility to political Islam.

The difference between the two answers is less a reflection of America’s Orwellian relationship with the truth (“we are on the side, as we have been for more than 30 years, of a democratic Egypt”), than it is of the Obama administration’s realization that a new constellation of leaders will soon take office in Cairo — and we’re going to have to deal with them, like it or not. Washington’s pro-Israel lobby is scrambling to reverse this view, because talking to a new set of leaders means talking to the Muslim Brotherhood — which might be bad for Israel. This was made clear on the same day that Hillary Clinton appeared on CNN.

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6 thoughts on “Egypt’s aftershocks shake the Washington debate

  1. Vince J.

    The War Crminal Hillary Clinton call the USbacked miilitary coup in Honduras “A democracy”.

    She can “Democraticly (In her terms!), ordely and stablely” go to hell!

    Viva Zelaia!

  2. Christopher Hoare

    Quote former U.S Ambassador to Israel (and Egypt) Edward Walker. Wouldn’t a new government in Egypt be hostile to Israel? Walker was perceptibly irritated with the question, signaling a growing view that America and its values — and not support for Israel — must be at the center of U.S. policy in the region. “It’s up to Israel, actually, to make its case for a good relationship with Egypt,” he said. “It’s not really up to us to do that.” Close quote.

    Good Lord! Rational and independent opinions coming from Washington! And all this without the need for a million thinking Americans to take over the National Mall. Who knew the Arabs were to lead America out of its darkness?

  3. delia ruhe

    Don’t knock Hillary, she’s bending to reality–because she knows she won’t have any other choice. Now, if she can just bend a little further and junk her campaign for torturer-in-chief Suleiman . . . And that will happen, there is no other way.

  4. Idi Amin Dada

    I figured the jig was up on Wednesday night (our time) when it became clear the army would not move against the regime. Mubarak will go – and maybe pretty soon (he may cling on until the end of his term, but we’ll see) – but the regime is maintaining itself…though we can expect some of the new forces to be co-opted by the regime, and there’s my biggest worry…cutting a deal with the MB.

    This is, long-range, suicidal for any non-Islamist Egyptian government…trouble is, corrupt Ruling Classes never see beyond the nose on their face. They’ll only want to keep their place at the trough and won’t even consider what might happen in 10 years if the MB is unleashed while at the same time no one builds non-MB political organization which can gain the allegiance of the Egyptian people.

  5. Norman

    Seems that the Israeli contingent is having trouble adjusting to the reality of the situation. They will no longer be able to pull the strings that has allowed it to run roughshod over every M.E. country with the blessing of the U.S. This should have been abundantly clear when the U.S. didn’t kowtow to their wanting the U.S. to bomb Iran. This in no way should be construed as just a glitch in the dealings between the Egyptian People and the surrounding Arab countries, for it’s time to change, peacefully is hoped less the whole of the M.E. goes up in flames.

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