Two Paragraphs from The New York Times Capture the Problem With Egypt

By , January 31, 2011 11:43 am

Two paragraphs from The New York Times capture the conundrum that is the U.S.’s current policy in Egypt, a policy advocated by realist foreign policy experts. The first quotes an Egyptian with dual citizenship:

“I brought my American passport today in case I die today,” said Marwan Mossaad, 33, a graduate student of architecture with dual Egyptian-American citizenship. “I want the American people to know that they are supporting one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and Americans are also dying for it.”

The second refers to a report in Haaretz, an Israeli daily:

Jerusalem was also reported to have called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to mute criticism of Mr. Mubarak to preserve stability in the region, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The Times follows that with a rejoinder from a unnamed Israeli official, a rejoinder that essentially–though maybe unintentionally–supported the Haaretz report:

But an Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity following diplomatic protocol, said that the Haaretz report did not reflect the position of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu spoke cautiously in his first public remarks on the situation in Egypt, telling his cabinet that the Israeli government’s efforts were “designed to continue and maintain stability and security in our region.”

“I remind you that the peace between Israel and Egypt has endured for over three decades, and our goal is to ensure that these relations continue,” the prime minister said on Sunday as Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition united around a prominent government critic in hopes of negotiating with the Army for Mr. Mubarak’s departure.

And there you have it: The U.S. has been supporting a very oppressive regime, and that regime is supposedly essential to stability in the region. My question for the realists is and always has been: In the long run, is supporting oppressive regimes in the pursuit of stability the best way to achieve stability? I think not; to wit: the Philippines (Marcos), Iran (the Shah), Iraq (Saddam), and now Egypt (Mubarak)–and that’s just off the top of my head.

There is no long-term stability without freedom, and there is no freedom without democracy. The people must be sovereign.

It’s 8:48 AM, and I’m Already Tired

By , January 31, 2011 8:50 am

Understanding Mormonism

By , January 30, 2011 9:15 pm

If you want to understand Mormonism, you would do well to pay attention to probably the two most important Mormon publications of the last 15 1/2 years. On September 23, 1995, Gordon B. Hinckley, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Among other things, the Proclamation declares–in the first paragraph–that:

[M]arriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

In November 2010, in a Worldwide Leadership Training, church leaders introduced the new Handbook 2: Administering the Church, a manual of policies and procedures for church leaders throughout the world to follow.

Section 1 is titled “Families and the Church in God’s Plan.” Subsection 1.1 is titled “God the Father’s Plan for His Eternal Family.” Section 1.1.1–the very first paragraph of the manual–reads in its entirety:

The Premortal Family of God

The family is ordained of God. It is the most important unit in time and in eternity. Even before we were born on the earth, we were part of a family. Each of us “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” with “a divine nature and destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). God is our Heavenly Father, and we lived in His presence as part of His family in the premortal life. There we learned our first lessons and were prepared for mortality (see D&C 138:56).

Yes, marriage is an embattled institution. Yes, the divorce rate is too high. Yes, those failed marriages have almost exclusively been between a man and a woman (there having been very few same-sex marriages to date). But no, don’t expect the Mormon Church to surrender on this doctrine: Marriage is ordained of God, is between a man and a woman, and will–if worked at by the parties involved–continue into the Eternities. That is something worth fighting for.

The Chicken or The Egg?

By , January 30, 2011 8:46 pm

I know the answer

The chicken came first:

Then the egg:

The secret’s out.

The Working Group on Egypt – Then and Now

By , January 29, 2011 8:04 pm

The Working Group on Egypt, a group of foreign policy experts brought together by Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, sent a letter to Secretary Clinton April 7, 2010, encouraging her to promote democratic reform in Egypt “in advance of the upcoming . . . parliamentary elections [in 2010] and a presidential election in 2011 . . .”

To me the nut paragraph–the paragraph that virtually jumped off the page–was this one and especially the first sentence (bolded emphasis mine):

The choice is not between a stable and predictable but undemocratic Egypt on the one hand, and dangerous instability and extremism on the other. There is now an opportunity to support gradual, responsible democratic reform. But the longer the United States and the world wait to support democratic institutions and responsible political change in Egypt, the longer the public voice will be stifled and the harder it will be to reverse a dangerous trend. Already there are signs that the Egyptian government plans to restrict opposition candidacies and civil society monitoring of the elections.

Secretary Clinton quickly responded. In a letter dated April 10, 2010, she wrote:

The United States supports free, fair, and transparent elections in Egypt as in any part of the world. Although the decision of who will run in or win the elections belongs to the Egyptian people alone, we have consistently encouraged the Egyptian government to adopt further political reforms to open political processes to wider participation and representation. We also believe it is important for Egypt to expand public discourse and relax restrictions on NGOs, political parties, journalists, and bloggers. Such action would increase the space for greater political participation and lead to greater transparency in Egypt’s electoral process.

Senior Administration officials have engaged with the Government of Egypt in an ongoing, important dialogue with Egyptian civil society representatives and NGOs who share the desire for political reform and expanded democratic participation in Egypt. This Administration values its dialogue on these issues.

A month later, the Working Group wrote again, emphasizing the need to act now and to persuade Mubarak to “lift the state of emergency now, as the critical election period begins.”

That was then, now is now. Egypt is in an uproar, many of its citizens having taken to the streets. Today the Working Group issued a statement that, among other things, asked the Obama administration to press the Egyptian government to “publicly declare that Hosni Mubarak will agree not to run for re-election,” and for the administration to “suspend all economic and military assistance to Egypt until “the government accepts and implements these [and other] measures.”

According Laura Rozen at Politico, Kagan, has not been impressed with the Obama administration’s efforts:

“We are paying the price for the fact that the administration has been at least of two minds on this stuff, and we should have seen it coming,” said Robert Kagan, co-chair of the bipartisan Egypt working group, regarding what many analysts now say is the inevitable end of Hosni Mubarak’s thirty year reign as Egypt’s president.

Though the Obama administration has tried to look like it’s not picking sides in urging restraint from violence amid five days of Egyptian unrest calling for Mubarak to step down, “the U.S. can’t be seen as neutral when it’s giving a billion and a half dollars” to prop up the Mubarak regime, Kagan said.

I’m just getting up to speed on what’s happening in Egypt. In any case, I am not an expert on Egypt–or even the Middle East. Nevertheless, I’ve been concerned about Mubarak for a long time. I’ve been equally concerned that the Realists don’t get it: long term, guys like Mubarak are not good for their people–a given–and not good for the United States. We should have been encouraging him to retire a long time ago. We shouldn’t be supporting him now.

Mubarak Should Walk Like an Egyptian, Right Out the Door

By , January 28, 2011 5:26 pm

The problem isn’t the Egyptian government–though it’s certainly part of the problem. The problem is Mubarak and has been for 30 years. Just guessing here, but his people don’t want him to appoint another government, they would like a hand in the appointing. Legitimate governments govern by the consent of the people. Point. Game. Set. Match.

Tweetin’ Jimmer

By , January 28, 2011 9:32 am

Fed Watch – FOMC Statement

By , January 26, 2011 2:50 pm

Here it is

The two key statments:

To promote a stronger pace of economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the Committee decided today to continue expanding its holdings of securities as announced in November. In particular, the Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings and intends to purchase $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter of 2011.


The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period.

All emphasis mine.

Fed Watch – FOMC

By , January 26, 2011 11:55 am

Today, I begin watching the Fed. The FOMC began its January meeting yesterday and ends today. According to Bloomberg,

The FOMC announcement for the January 25-26 FOMC policy meeting is expected to leave the fed funds target rate unchanged at a range of 0 to 0.25 percent. Market focus will be on any update on the current round of quantitative easing and if there are any upgrades on the economy.

The announcement should come later today. Then we’ll see how the consensus holds up.

The Duke of the West?

By , January 25, 2011 11:01 pm

The Wall Street Journal thinks so.

Tomorrow is the big game. Go BYU.

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