The Hanging of Hosni Mubarak

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BlaiseP

BlaiseP is the pseudonym of a peripatetic software contractor whose worldly goods can fit into an elderly Isuzu Rodeo. Bitter and recondite, he favors the long view of life, the chords of Steely Dan and Umphrey's McGee, the writings of William Vollman and Thomas Pynchon, the taste of red ale and his own gumbo. Having escaped after serving seven years of a lifetime sentence to confinement in hotel rooms, he currently resides in the wilds of Eau Claire County and contemplates the intersection of mixed SRID geometries in PostGIS.

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    We’ve got Blaise writing here? It’s about time!Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    There is a rumor that I have heard but cannot substantiate with a few minutes of googling that deals with some of the new and improved more religious folks in power discussing whether to destroy the Sphinx/Pyramids as being un-Islamic.

    This is one of those things that would strike me as an obvious slur if it weren’t for stuff like the Buddhas of Bamiyan (which has pushed me to merely hoping that it’s a slur).

    If this happens: the remaining tourist industry will disappear, like, entirely.

    My question: this is a slur, right? There’s no truth behind it… right?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      It’s Rumors R Us in Egypt these days.   Nobody knows anything for sure.   The Muslim Brotherhood is perceived as a bunch of old Fuddy Duddies for whom Islam is the Answer (that’s their slogan) for everything.

      I’m not as fearful of the Muslim Brotherhood as it stands today.   Let’s see how they behave when their promises aren’t kept.   They were great at running soup kitchens.   Not so sure how well they’ll run Egypt in toto.Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    Egypt’s revolution will run aground and another nasty dictator will take Mubarak’s place. It won’t take long. Like the seed that fell on stony ground in the Parable of the Sower, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. The groundwork for substantive democratic reforms in Egypt has not been done.

    I hope and pray that you’re wrong here, but I fear you’re absolutely right.

    Incidentally, my sister lives in Rabat in an area where there have been scattered protests. She asked some local friends if they believed there would be a revolution like there was in Egypt and their response was no, because they believed that Egypt differed from Morocco in that the Moroccan military has guns and they believe the Egyptian military does not. She found that more than a bit revealing about Moroccan politics.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Rufus F.
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      says:

      The Egyptian military has guns and plenty of them.   They’re certainly capable of using them.   See, here’s the problem faced by the generals and especially by the mukhabarat:  it’s the same one faced in Pakistan by the way, the military can only survive if the country itself survives in one form or another.

      The military will let these little Islamists run around and try to make things better for the ordinary folks, as long as those Islamists don’t try to boss the military around.    The Egyptian Army and the mukhabarat, (they’re not the same btw) have their own problems, internally.   Mubarak just wasn’t good for business.   Again, it’s the Asian and African Dictator joke:  if Egypt doesn’t get its act together, those crowds will stop turning up in Tahrir Square and take to jihadist attacks, the same sort of medicine applied to Sadat back in the day, and the generals remember that well enough.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        … yo, trader, you run the numbers on Egypt? How long’s she got?

        My friend the expert (on what? younameit) says that Egypt ain’t got long to live, and she’s the breadbasket of the entire region. Agriculture is dying there… Middle east is gonna go bust, sooner or later.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kim
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          says:

          Hard to say exactly when the honeymoon will end for the Muslim Brotherhood.   The fellahin will love them for a good long while, but not overlong.

          There’s Cairo and everywhere else in Egypt:  two separate dynamics.   The Egyptians call Cairo “Masr” which is the word for Egypt itself, but there’s more to Egypt, especially in the countryside.    Things are very, very bad out in the sticks.   Egyptians will start expecting results soon, though, and I don’t see how the Muslim Brotherhood will be able to give them much except for platitudes.

           Report

  4. Avatar E.D. Kain
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    says:

    Blaise – FYI I fixed some funny spacing in the formatting. Easiest to do that in the html editor. Welcome.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to E.D. Kain
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      says:

      Yeah, the composed text came over from my editor with much cruft aboard and wouldn’t paragraph correctly.   Thanks for straightening that out for me.   Took me a bit to work out the More HREF too.Report

  5. Avatar Elias Isquith
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    says:

    I hate the idea of killing Mubarak, though not because I find him to be anything less than contemptible. But there’s something unseemly and a little too Jacobin about the idea.Report

  6. Avatar Jason Kuznicki
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    says:

    When America had the chance to speak truth to power in Egypt, we didn’t. Dozens of dictators all over the world know we’re not serious about meaningful democratic reforms. Their calculus is simple: get a nuke. America doesn’t invade a country with a nuke.

    So very true.  My sense is that American foreign policy is very often based in decisions made many years ago, with little regard for conditions today. The Cold War saw us making friends with all sorts of dodgy regimes.  We can debate whether that was a good or bad strategy for the time, but one thing’s certain — when it ended, we were stuck with them, and we were far too slow to cut them loose.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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      says:

      Did you check out Matt Latimer’s article on DailyBeast, link above?   He lays out a damning case for why America just keeps on repeating this pattern.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        I did: “George, or Barack, or Jimmy, you may not like us, but you will hate the alternative.”

        Which is possibly true.  It’s too soon to tell.  But I’ve repeatedly seen pictures of American-made tear gas canisters used in Tahrir Square, and I cringe anyway.Report

  7. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    Sadly it’s behind a paywall, but I found this article in the New Yorker quite good:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/12/19/111219fa_fact_hessler

     Report

  8. Avatar Jeremy
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    says:

    Just wanted to say I really like the phrase “military aristocracy.” Never heard it before, but it sounds like it fits for so many third world (and even some “first world”) countries. Would you also argue that the Egyptian military is a sort of “state within a state”? I hear that phrase a lot.  I’m also wondering when we see our first genuine stratocracy, “rule by the military” (though I guess Burma–sorry, Myanmar–sort of fits that bill.)Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jeremy
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      says:

      There’s a whole big book waiting to be written about the dynamics of a Stratocracy.   I’ve lived in several:  Niger Republic, Egypt for a while, Nigeria to some extent, and of course Guatemala.

      Is the military a state within a state?   Insofar as the military reserves goodies for itself, and it does in Egypt, yes.   But Egypt’s military is well-respected internally, by the ordinary folks.  Though Mubarak was an autocrat, he kept a semblance of civilian control in place.   He needed that veneer of civil authority, though as he aged, the barracks plotters grew more numerous.   That’s the problem with a Stratocracy, political pressures arise in the barracks, the young officers scheme incessantly.   When Mubarak needed the military to act during the Arab Spring, they wouldn’t.

      Mubarak should have ceded power to younger men and gone off to a life of sybaritic luxury.   He couldn’t though:  his mukhabarat’s entire reason for existence was to keep an eye on those barracks plotters.   He was riding a tiger, much like the Soviet premiers rode the tiger of the KGB..   No sooner than one plotter would arise,off he’d go to prison:  the leadership Mubarak needed to replace himself never gained enough traction.

      While Egypt faced external threats (and was a threat all on its lonesome) Mubarak could bluff and roar and bare his teeth.   Faced with an internal threat to his own power, the military didn’t feel particularly threatened by that threat and stood aside.   Notice no military figures are on trial with Mubarak.

      No, I don’t think the Egyptian military is a state within a state.   At best, the military was a creature of the state, without which it couldn’t continue to thrive.   Egypt’s military is a parasite, but a subtle one:  it won’t try to kill its host.    The USA fed that parasite with billions of dollars in military aid.   Perhaps we should quit paying tribute to those military aristocrats.   That’s what Obama’s threatening to do, anyway.Report

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