I don’t get the sense from anything they’re saying or doing, or have done in the past, that the current administration has any idea what to do about Egypt. This is a PR administration that came to power on lofty rhetoric meant to mask a hard edged domestic agenda, and a “not Bush” foreign policy agenda. That obviously isn’t much of an actual foreign policy agenda at all, and as if to unintentionally underscore his own unseriousness on foreign affairs, President Obama can’t even keep the big wars straight in his own head.
Meanwhile, SecState Clinton seems to be in panic mode, calling a mass meeting of US ambassadors that begins today in Washington. Great. The 3 AM call is here, and she’s speed-dialing the entire diplomatic corps. Maybe some of the Foggy Bottom lifers will have some ideas for the First Lady turned carpetbagging senator turned head of US diplomacy.
It’s time to get ahead of events and influence where they lead. Here’s a suggestion. Since it’s clear that Mubarak’s days are numbered one way or the other — either by riots or by his age — and since we’re the scapegoats for providing aid to Egypt over the years, we do a few things. First, we work behind the scenes with the army and the secular intelligentsia to ensure stability and block the radicals, including ElBaradei, from power. Priority one has to be securing an Egyptian future that is as free of Islamists as possible. Second, we increase the public pressure on Mubarak to step aside, and cut off aid at an opportune time. Third, while all of this is going on, we’re working behind the scenes to discredit the Muslim Brotherhood as much as possible. Egypt’s protesters are mostly apolitical; the Brotherhood stands every chance of capturing enough of them for enough time to gain power, even in a one man, one vote, one time scenario. They are the independent voters in the situation. If we have to cut Mubarak loose to gain their trust or at least weaken the radicals’ hand, then that’s what we have to do. We have to prevent a radical takeover for the good of the Egyptian people, who would be trading one form of tyranny for a worse form of tyranny, and for the good of the world.
How do we discredit the radicals? I’ll leave that to the spooks. Now isn’t a time for playing nice. Perhaps a WikiLeak is in order. I do know that several years ago, I ran across a gray world tech firm specializing in digital animation that made Pixar look like pikers. I wonder whatever became of that technology.