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Belmont Club

A Crisis in Competence

July 3rd, 2013 - 4:11 pm

The overthrow of Morsi in Egypt is bad news for the Muslim Brotherhood. But is it good news for anyone? Austin Bay notes that the Egyptian military is now obviously on top. But he is unsure whether it will revert to its old Nasserite ways or become more inclusive. David Goldman (Spengler) endorses Austin’s view that the army is back in the cards and adds that some Islamists will come up on top  to displace the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the Saudis despised.

The reason the Saudi-backed boys will get a seat at the table is simple. Only the kingdom has the money to save Egypt from imminent starvation. The Egyptian military can hardly turn to Obama. Spengler notes, “Obama is all talk and no money … the administration cannot squeeze meaningful sums out of Congress for Egyptian aid. The only prospective rescuer with deep enough pockets to keep Egypt from disintegrating is Saudi Arabia.”

He’s all turban and no camels. Spengler writes of the military:

There is only one reason the military might do a better job than the Muslim Brotherhood or the liberal opposition, and that is because Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states (besides tiny Qatar) might decide to provide funding for a military regime that suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Saudi regime rightly fears as a competitor to its medieval form of monarchy. That is why Saudi aid to Egypt has been insignificant, while tiny Qatar has committed $5 billion–nearly a fifth of its total foreign exchange reserves–to keep Egypt afloat during the past year.

Egypt needs about $20 billion a year in external subsidies; a smaller amount would forestall the worst effects of the economic crisis. With $630 billion in foreign exchange reserves, Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country with the resources to give Egypt help on the scale it requires. But the Saudis will not subsidize their own prospective executioners. The Muslim Brotherhood is a modern totalitarian political party; next to the Saudi royal family, it looks like a meritocracy. For ambitious Saudis not born into the ruling family, it offers an attractive alternative.

Lee Smith of Tablet magazine examines the chances that the new Egyptian leaders will try to divert popular discontent by making war on Israel. But he rightly notes that the Egyptian army knows it will get its ass kicked.  Its chances at returning to economic power after such a defeat are diminished, and therefore a diversionary war with Israel, while possible, is probably irrational. The only thing keeping such a lunatic option on the table is the situation itself is irrational.

The big international losers in recent events are probably Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Obama administration. The big winners are the Egyptian army, Saudi Arabia, and, possibly, al-Qaeda. In a much re-Tweeted post, Kirsten Powers wrote, “Obama on the wrong side of history twice in Egypt.” Kori Schake at Foreign Policy writes, “U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has achieved the hat trick of alienating all factions in Egypt.”

Perhaps the most scathing critique comes from Josh Rogin and Eli Lake at the Daily Beast. “Obama Offers a Revisionist History of His Administration’s Approach to Egypt.” In other words, having lost in history’s accounting, Obama is now resorting to the pathetic exercise of trying to rewrite it.

But the most cruel cut of all comes from the New York Times, which notes that while Shi’a fought against Sunni, Syria exploded into flames, Egypt was riven by discord, and Lebanon was wracked by near civil war, the administration focused its efforts on things like stopping apartment construction in Israel:

The new secretary of state’s exertions — reminiscent of predecessors like Henry A. Kissinger and James A. Baker III — have been met with the usual mix of hope and skepticism. But with so much of the Middle East still convulsing from the effects of the Arab Spring, Mr. Kerry’s efforts raise questions about the Obama administration’s priorities at a time of renewed regional unrest.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, once a stark symbol and source of grievance in the Arab world, is now almost a sideshow in a Middle East consumed by sectarian strife, economic misery and, in Egypt, a democratically elected leader fighting for legitimacy with many of his people.

“The moment for this kind of diplomacy has passed,” said Robert Blecher, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program of the International Crisis Group. “He’s working with actors who have acted in this movie before, and the script is built around the same elements. But the theater is new; the region is a completely different place today.”

Administration officials no longer argue, as they did early in President Obama’s first term, that ending the Israeli occupation and creating a Palestinian state is the key to improving the standing of the United States in the Middle East. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now just one headache among a multitude.

In his obsession with trivia, as exemplified by the arrest of a Los Angeles filmmaker in the aftermath of the attack in Benghazi or the focus on gay marriage in a domestic political landscape littered with the ruins of his healthcare and economic policies, President Obama resembles nothing so much as the fictional Captain Queeg. Queeg, clicking his ball-bearings while hunting down crewmen with their shirttails out and looking for missing punnets of strawberries while the ship narrowly escapes danger after danger and nearly founders in a typhoon, has come to typify the leader who, the crew belatedly realize, is out of his depth.  The Egyptians came to the same conclusion about Morsi. And the NYT is very near to reaching the same realization about you know who. Indeed the main difference between Obama and Morsi may be that Obama hasn’t run out of money yet.

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Top Rated Comments   
When you betray your friends and appease your enemies, your friends turn into enemies but your enemies don't turn into friends. You can't buy friends. Respect cannot be bought. It must be earned.

The coup d'etat in Egypt is a body blow against the mystique of the Obama administration. Barack Obama's prestige is based upon the idea that the vast majority of foreigners love him, adulate him, and hero worship him. I think it can be said without equivocation that nearly all Egyptians hate him. Secularists and their allies blame Obama for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet, the Muslim Brotherhood will blame Barack Obama for the coup against them. He will be blamed by every faction in Egypt for being a perfidious coward.

Since the end of the Cold War, it has been a general rule that no nation within the American sphere of influence would have a coup d'etat. A coup was thought to be a throwback to the bad old days of superpower rivalry. This was a brazen coup. A coup against the orders of the State Department. A coup very clearly intended as a big middle finger toward Barack Obama, and there is little that Barack Obama can do about it.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Financial Times has an article titled "Obama and the crumbling of a liberal fantasy hero".

"In Europe, once the headquarters of the global cult of Obama, the disillusionment is particularly bitter. Monday’s newspapers were full of savage quotes about the perfidy of the Obama-led US. ...

The current European backlash against Mr Obama is reminiscent of a similar process of disillusionment undergone by American liberals in recent years. In one column, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times compared Mr Obama unfavourably to a fictional president, portrayed by Michael Douglas, in a film. This drew a sharp response from Mr Obama when, in a recent speech, he called out to Mr Douglas – “Michael, what’s your secret, man. Could it be that you were an actor, an Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy?”

The article correctly concludes: "It is not entirely Mr Obama’s fault that he became the vessel into which liberals all over the world poured their fantasies."

The liberals and their hero conned each other. Obama played to their dreamland and in return the gatekeepers made it seem like being a great President was going to be all so easy. Just like a movie. Consequently they both got in over their heads and now they are stuck with each other.

Alas, we and the world are along for the ride. My objection to my friend's tongue-in-cheek assessment of Obama as the accidentally greatest President in history was that he would cure everything, but only at the cost of killing nearly everybody in the process.

But part of me wants to say to Maureen Dowd, 'by gum you wanted him, you got him'. It's good for a laugh now, but I fear that by the end we'll all be laughing through broken teeth.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
"In his obsession with trivia...."

Don't forget, as some have pointed out, that Obama says he "Should not have to call Putin about Snowden" but that he did call Sanda Fluke to console her about being called a tramp by Rush Limbaugh.

His motto seems to be "Take care of the molehills and the mountains will take care of themselves." And indeed they will, but some are like Mount St Helens and will take care of you, too.

The group in the USSR that knew the truth was the intelligence people; it was, after all, their job. In Egypt it's the military. They can look at an M1A1 or an F-16 and realize all that implies; them infidels sure know how to build good stuff. And Egypt tried to build its own jet fighters over 40 years ago and gave up. Once again, DoD does the real diplomacy.

41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (78)
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We almost had a brief century of Pax Americana....
War has burned like underground fire around the Med as far back as we can see, past Rome, Carthage, Greece, Assyria, Israel, Egypt....
The Pax always ends, I just didn't expect it to happen this fast.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I live in a Midwest college town and see a significant number of dark-skinned female students walking around with a shmata (rag in Yiddish) covering their heads. Why don't they go to Saudi Arabia for their education? It's probably being funded by that country anyway. We have many more MB sympathizers in the U.S. than in Egypt as another poster has pointed out, including Hillary's "body woman', Huma Abedin (married to The Weiner, go figure).
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Competence? Obama? Let me see now, the first clue should he been he's never had a real job, but I guess that wasn't apparent enough for the reality challenged crowd that voted for him not just once but twice. Not only Obama has a competence problem, but then again what would expect from the majority of his voters that either work for the government, don't work or are to stupid to fill out a simple voter registration form, oh excuse me, low information voters.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dr. Mabuse:

No, I didn't vote for Obama. American Europhiles did. Europhiles took the cue of Germans. And Germans demanded. And demanded. And demanded.

Your attitude is expressive of something I see in at lot of domineering people. They demand demand demand demand demand demand demand and keep on demanding, but once someone caves in and does what they demand, the demander takes no responsibility for demanding it – no, that someone should never have caved in to those demands and must take responsibility for his own actions.

There is no nice way of saying this, but the American Left is colonized. It looks to Europe for all of its ideas and presumes that no legitimate idea can possibly come from anywhere but Europe – and certainly NOT the United States. Leftists refuse to even couch socialism in the rhetoric of Alexander Hamilton, for they want to see America as inferior in all ways to Europe. From Abraham Flexner to John Kerry to American philosophy departments, the pattern is the same – a terrific inferiority complex that defers to European masters.

There is a reason why Barack Hussein Obama made a major speech at Tiergarten during the 2008 presidential campaign. It was meant to underline to an American audience that Europeans – and particularly Germans – loved him, and that because he was so popular abroad, Americans should vote for him. It was a classic bandwagon effect. Foreigners went to a special effort to pester every American they could find to get Americans to vote for Obama. Sure, no German citizen I know of cast a ballot for Obama, but Germans – and a large number of them – voted for Obama in every other way. They got swept up in the Obama excitement, the Obama hysteria, and the messianic magical thinking at least as much as any American. The Nobel Prize represented a European endorsement of Obama.

So, is a majority of the American electorate stupid and degraded enough to vote for Obama? Apparently. There is something even more stupid and even more degraded about Europe and especially Germany that Obama would be even more popular there than he ever was in the United States of America.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
As I'm a Canadian, "domineering" is not a descriptor I'm used to have applied to me by Americans. My country was just as crazy about Obama in 2008 as Germany - did we push you poor little Americans up against a wall and force you to vote for him too? Whom will you blame next? The Freemasons?

YOUR attitude is one I've seen a lot in Americans - BLACK Americans. Namely, that whenever you screw up, there's some shadowy enemy at fault. Now it's the turn of Europe to play the Snake in the blameless, innocent American Garden of Eden. There's always some "real America" out there that doesn't vote for criminals and incompetents, but it never shows up on voting day.

Look, I'm not unsympathetic. I think Obama is a louse too. But it's very unbecoming for a country that is billed as the world's hyperpower to sulk and look for scapegoats for what can only be described as an incredible collapse in nerve, intelligence and simple decency. You're not the people you were; the populace you have today could not, in 1776, have won its freedom and built a successful society. Why such a large number of your countrymen are now garbage is a question worth debating; but I know that the answer is not "Because Europe made us."
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, but that population of Obama-voters were "made" by the Europhiles among us who can't imagine, let alone tolerate, having a "cowboy" running things....thus the media/academe groundswell that thrust an incompetent boob to the top of the heap.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Amen and amen. My opinion about the Americans is way down after they vote Obama into presidency the second time
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
But they DIDN'T... He was re-self-selected the C H I C A G O way.

He didn't win the vote... he gamed it.

Wake up.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another excuse. Just like when there's a riot, and the locals immediately blame "outsiders". It's never OUR fault, it's always some stranger taking unfair advantage. More than half of America has gone over to the side of the moochers and thieves. When you give garbage like this the vote, this is what you get.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Are we not all SHOKED that a community organizer is not respected by world leaders. Obama is after all very hip, cool, and a pretty good reader. Apparently Morsi just wasn't able to swoon his own media and strong arm the big money lenders . The Egyptian street has shown the way. Obama deserves as much.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
You missed it: the Qatar Emir was replaced just the other day. He was Morsi's benefactor.

Without the Qatari money teat -- the brotherhood was, and is, done.

THAT loss of funding -- and its replacement by KSA monies -- explains all.

41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
And it may be that, the return of the bust of Churchill provided them a clue, . . . some of them could have wondered if he was haughty and ungraceful, . . . I mean, sometimes, little things mean a lot, . . .
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
"... the tale of minorities struggling against authoritarian majoritarianism, a story in which the saga of the Jews plays only a small part. It is the Copts, Kurds, Druze, Maronites, Allwaites, Sunni and Shi’a (and perhaps even the secularitists) — all in their way struggling to survive against the tyranny of the majority — who provide the majority of the dramatis personae."
This is the history of "democracy" ... ruled by the ravages of human nature; that's why it doesn't work because "majoritarianism" is contolled by those that have money, influence and power that use the majority for their own nefarious purposes - like Morsi did, and of course Obama hopes to do even more. This is - in living color - exactly why we have a constitution and a bill of rights; it's our protective mechanism against human nature, which the Founders so wisely crafted. We have a miracle document which the entire world can use as a model of government. This is a wale-up call for Obama and he'd be a total moron and fool NOT to answer the phone.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a real shame the current occupant of the White House would love nothing better than to see those precious documents fed to the shredder and enact the "dreams of his father".
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would be the last person to defend the gross incompetence of Obama. However, I do think a larger perspective is needed (with respect to the Egyptian military coup.) What were the angry secularists saying about America under President Bush? It was all "let's blame America for imposing this dictator, Mubarek, on us! It is the fault of the U.S." For Egyptians it will *always* be the fault of the U.S. Whatever is wrong with their society, it's due to America/Jews, never with themselves. So, remember, even though Obama does deserve some of the blame for Morsi, America does not bear sole responsibility for the fiasco of the MB.
Also, Happy Fourth of July!
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Washington Post editorialized Tuesday: “For months, as the Morsi government has taken steps to consolidate power, quash critics and marginalize independent civil society groups, President Obama and his top aides have been largely silent in public. No effort was made to use the leverage of U.S. aid to compel a change of policy.”

But the policy has worked so well for the Obamadministration, why recommend a change?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Looks like there may be a Morsi tie to Benghazi.
Seems that the hit at Benghazi may have gone down something like this.
Obama regime gives money/arms etc.maybe instruction as well to Morsi/MB who then hires Ansar al Sharia to do the dirty work at Benghazi. Afterwards the video gets all the blame from both our side and Morsi.

Its alll here:

http://www.raymondibrahim.com/from-the-arab-world/libyan-intelligence-muslim-brotherhood-morsi-involved-in-u-s-consulate-attack/

Here's a snippet from the above:

According to a Libyan intelligence document, the Muslim Brotherhood, including Egyptian President Morsi, were involved in the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, where several Americans, including U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, were killed.


On Wednesday, June 26, several Arabic websites, including Veto Gate, quoted the intelligence report, which apparently was first leaked to the Kuwaiti paper, Al Ra’i. Prepared by Mahmoud Ibrahim Sharif, Director of National Security for Libya, the report is addressed to the nation’s Minister of Interior.

It discusses the preliminary findings of the investigation, specifically concerning an “Egyptian cell” which was involved in the consulate attack. “Based on confessions derived from some of those arrested at the scene” six people, “all of them Egyptians” from the jihad group Ansar al-Sharia (“Supporters of Islamic Law), were arrested.

According to the report, during interrogations, these Egyptian jihadi cell members “confessed to very serious and important information concerning the financial sources of the group and the planners of the event and the storming and burning of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi…. And among the more prominent figures whose names were mentioned by cell members during confessions were: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi; preacher Safwat Hegazi; Saudi businessman Mansour Kadasa, owner of the satellite station, Al-Nas; Egyptian Sheikh Muhammad Hassan; former presidential candidate, Hazim Salih Abu Isma’il…”

It should be noted that these findings are unsurprising: the supremacism of prominent Brotherhood figure Safwat Hegazi is such that he publicly declares the Brotherhood “will rule the world“; Saudi Mansour’s hate-mongering, pro-Brotherhood TV station repeatedly aired footage of the YouTube Muhammad movie inciting violence around the Muslim world; popular Sheikh Muhammad Hassan holds that smiling to non-Muslims is forbidden, except when trying to win them over to Islam; and Sheikh Hazim Abu Ismail is simply an openly anti-freedom, anti-infidel religious leader.

As for President Morsi, a video made during the consulate attack records people speaking in the Egyptian dialect: as they approach the beleaguered U.S. compound, one of them yells to the besiegers, “Don’t shoot—Dr. Morsi sent us!”










41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ever since Islam conquered Egypt, they have been destroying everything that is non-mulsim. The Copts were the majority population before Islam invaded. In fact, the whole of North Africa was christian, with over 600 Bishops serving the Byzantine populace. There were millions of christians and thousands of churches. Islam has destroyed all of that and what do American history books say about that? Islam = evil.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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