No Egyptian Hostage Crisis for Obama
Posted in Foreign Affairs by Ken Thomas
There had better not be, after this $1.3 billion payoff
. But this is a great opportunity for other countries around the world, pre-election. Obama is imitating Carter but would rather avoid this Iranian hostage
comparison. "President Barack Obama asked that military aid to Egypt be kept at the level of recent years -- $1.3 billion -- despite [sic! because of] a crisis triggered by an Egyptian probe targeting American democracy activists."
3:14 PM / February 13, 2012
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I disagree. That sum is just contintuing our regular foreign aid to Egypt. If the president expects special favors, like the release of well-intentioned American nuisances, he will have to pay something (ransom) in excess of that sum. Maybe he could look at it like this, if he wants "reforms," like not taking hostages, he is going to have to pay for them.
ok, it's a downpayment on a bribe.
Just think what we could be in for; if we would cough up $1.3 billion to a tyrant like Mubarak, what will we "owe" whoever is in charge now to be our pal?
Where is Teddy Roosevelt, now that we need him?
Oh, Mr. Reeb, do you suppose our president could come up with a rallying cry for the freedom of these hostages along the formula of "This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!"? No. Maybe Mrs. Clinton will do it. Sometimes she seems to have the necessary ... energy.
We are all accustomed to Islam's hostages now. I hope it is not likely that these folks with meet with a fate like that of poor Daniel Pearl. Perhaps our downpayment on the bribe will forestall anything like that.
Or TJ: last time a north African Islamist demanded a ransom from the U.S. Jefferson (a demi-god to Ron Paul supporters) sent in the Marines and conducted a regime change.
To be technical about it Ron Paul opposes this aid because he sees it as corporate welfare. (and it is)
We sell weapons, and this foreign aid is basically a sort of factory rebate.
The Factory? General Dynamics. The product M1A1 tanks.
The Egyptian Military gets this as weapons, the money goes to american weapon manufacturers(General Dynamics), which in my private view of con law(broad entanglement) are more or less state actors (they can't sell without congressional approval, all the sales are to governments, they are subsidized by our government, the workers require security clearances, ext.)
So Ron Paul's libertarian ideology doesn't provide a great way of thinking about such entities, I am not sure what the austrian economics version of foreign policy is...But minus the labor law, essentially we are supposed to be german and not produce or subsidize weapons, or get involved in foreign entanglements. Almost seems sensible, only this is not our current reality, history or condition, and you have to play the hand you are dealt, not the one your private utopian ideology would give you.
The problem is that when you have these war industries, whose only clients are governments...
What if Egypt doesn't want to buy weapons? The way I understand it, it basically does not. Egypt has a giant bubble in its military. It has warehouses full of military equipment, it has trouble re-exporting it. Egypt has more tanks than the rest of Africa combined. The egyptian military basically tried to run the country and boost the economy by being a peaceful version of Hitler's germany, only the model doesn't work so well with the EU, UN and NATO who don't take kindly to deploying your forces for a conquest of africa. Inefficient or not, Egypt would be better off with solar panels (we would also be better off).
There is a god-damned bubble in weapons,(overproduction) no one is going to war enough. It is insane really. Now everyone is relaxing export quota's...Egypt might even look at it as if it is doing america a favor by buying our weapons (on the other hand it has a lot of ongoing contracts) Egypt keeps buying our stuff, potentially lying about how much they actually manufacture, and getting us to agree to do counter-purchases to keep them afloat. They have dreams of being big time, and they almost are...just not actually "profitable" in a sustainable way.
In certain key respects Ron Paul's economic ideology is not being proved wrong, it is just bad business to admit it.
Also the biggest question, always obfuscated by the blame Obama first tactical rhetoric. Who is the entity? Is it the Egyptian Military? The Muslim Brotherhood? Who are the democracy activists?
I am pretty sure that if you tried to break this down you would find that the 1.3 billion in foreign military aid is primarily leverage against a group of people (most likely the U.S. weapons lobby) that are pretty well removed from the democracy activists. Especially since the democracy activists don't like the U.S. weapons lobby. The "moderates" in Egypt still dislike the military, maybe even more than they dislike the muslim brotherhood (again not exactly a narrowly tailored entity).
I think Obama and the U.S. are going to have to pay for most reforms they want. But first they are going to have to identify the players, and right now in Egypt there are a lot of folks and factions who want to be players, and in all likelyhood they have totally different leverage points and interests.
Think about it this way, this is not some B grade english novel. There is no such thing as artsy irony.
1) The Egyptian Military is the primary force.
2) The Egyptian Millitary backs the Islamic Brotherhood
3) The Islamic Brotherhood is quasi-hostile to the moderates.
So, why are moderates in favor of the Islamic Brotherhood? Potentially, the Egyptian Military is the muscle/threat, if the Islamic Brotherhood is seen to control and be radical, the U.S. congress may cut off weapon sales and gifts to the Egyptian Military. (thesis)
Who also wants to cut off weapon sales to the Egyptian Military? The Democracy Activists.
Who might be holding the Democracy Activists? The moderates!
Who really knows?
Obama would have a clearer picture, as would Congressman Paul.
Have you guys ever stoped to consider that hateing Obama reflexively on every issue distorts conservatism, and creates independents?
On the other hand it would be good for Ron Paul. (who might still win in Maine).
Ron Paul is polling close enough to Obama nationwide that maybe he is even ahead of him on the weapons aid/export/foreign policy questions. (I wouldn't be suprised if that was the national mood).
And Andrew, Ron Paul is not only a visionary and a fearless politician, his explanations culled from austrian economics, and experience in the House, put him head and shoulders above most politicians. The only reason he is ridiculed is that he thinks for himself(and that is bad for business, and a bit narrow).
John, buddy, you've really got to learn to summarize as a guest commentor on a blog. Respectfully, it's not a matter of attention span - it's a matter of quantity when it comes to information ingestion in the great intellectual meat-market of the Internet. "Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good."
Nevertheless, here goes... Your initial point, regarding why Ron Paul opposes it: is that his actual position (that it's a corporate bailout), or are you assuming? From everything I've seen, Ron Paul would oppose this based upon his libertarian/isolationist view that if America were not involved in foreign nations' affairs, other than in trade, then we would have no enemies. Also, do we actually sell M1A1 tanks to other nations? That would really surprise me considering that is the top-of-the-line main battle tank. It would be like selling F-22 Raptors to India, but hey, maybe we are.
"So, why are moderates in favor of the Islamic Brotherhood? Potentially, the Egyptian Military is the muscle/threat, if the Islamic Brotherhood is seen to control and be radical, the U.S. congress may cut off weapon sales and gifts to the Egyptian Military. (thesis)"
The Egyptian military, under Mubarak, was the moderating force. President Obama forced our ally President Mubarak out. Now, the Egyptian military is their own force, sometimes subjecting themselves to the will of the Egyptian mob, sometimes subjecting themselves to the will of the Muslim Brotherhood (which has been voted into a super-majority in the Egyptian parliament by the Egyptian mob), and often times doing whatever it is they feel like doing. It is both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian population (76% based upon the most recent polling) who don't want our aid any longer, presumably because the aid is tied to Egypt's respecting the Camp David Accord's. Now, Paul's ideology would assume that nothing bad will come of us cutting off the aid we currently send to Egypt so long as we don't interfere and allow them to "self determine", however, the Muslim Brotherhood's own motto suggests otherwise: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
We're throwing our money into a sinkhole of anti-Western, anti-semetic tyranny of the majority. I neither advocate these payments nor do I suppose that with or without them Egypt will naturally become a peaceful and prosperous democratic republic. I simply brought up the fact that in 1801 Thomas Jefferson, supreme hero of the Paulians, sent in the Marines to conduct a *gasp* regime change in Tripoli without Congress ever having declared war.
Ron Paul is "ridiculed" because of his ridiculously naive view of human nature, and I contend that he is, in fact, widely respected by Republican and conservative Americans for his domestic views (myself included). However, Americans expect the Commander in Chief to understand that there are evil men abroad with big plans and the patience and the discipline to enact those plans. Such was the case in the Europe in the '30s and '40s, such was the case during the Cold War, such was the case during the rise of the Islamists, and such was the case when Jefferson was sworn in.
Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual godfather of al-Qaeda and a member of the early Muslim Brotherhood, was executed by the Egyptian government in 1966. These men are patient and dedicated and their objectives remain the same now as they did 50 years ago. The great boogeyman of the Left, the Military-Industrial Complex, has nothing to do with whether or not Islamists in Egypt want to establish a world-wide caliphate and possess the patience and cunning to make it happen if not opposed.
Point well taken. I do ramble on. I would appologize, but it is in my nature to do it again and again.
Mubarak was not a moderating force. At least not by american standards. Mitt Romney is a moderating force, Obama is a moderating force, in both case anchors who are not actually principled conservatives or progressives, but sensible and careful politicians. In fact both conservatism and progressivism have been swallowed by the copyright-Industrial Complex.
I don't have a problem per se with Ron Paul's view of human nature, don't really think it is drastically off or laughable compared to anyone else's. If anything I think Ron Paul might overstate greed as a motivator. I think human beings are better than that, or at least highly shaped by laws.
I can't agree with the idea that the Military-Industrial Complex is a boogeyman of the left, albeit I am less worried about the label, the notion of boogeyman or the idea of describing politics along a left right axis.
So lets replace the unclear term "Military-Industrial Complex" with a clear one Top 100 U.S. Federal Contractors.
As an aside it is actually interesting to read or listen to Eisenhower's speech. I happen to agree with most of its sentiments.
In addition I don't think you can even talk about Egypt without describing it as a Military-Industrial Complex. In fact if I was teaching comparative politics, it would be a form of government.
If there is a boogeyman of the right it would be that we are somehow in danger from patient and cunning Islamicists who will establish a world-wide caliphate.
I am not saying you can't point to some inflamatory words, but I can point to some moderate ones. One problem with Egypt is that it is so leveraged to war that it will always want to create unrest and export death. You can't make small arms unless folks are buying small arms, or at least long term you have to find an outlet for your industry. Spreading radical islam is good business, if it breeds demand for weapons (the weapons end up in Somalia and Nigeria)...So no I am not saying radical islam isn't real. If anything I am saying it is a business model of sorts.
I am a believer in american criminal law, so I believe in the actus reas and the mens reas. I am not trying to be a partisan democrat and sell you on the idea that guns kill people, nor am I trying to be a partisan republican and sell you on the idea that people kill people.
Rather it seems clear to me that people with capacity(guns) kill people when they also have the will (mens reas) to kill people.
All things being equal it is dangerous to spread ideas (will), but I think it is more dangerous to spread capacity.
If you spread ideas you are in the position of Mitt Romney carpet bombing the airwaves of Michigan. But if you spread manifacturing capacity, you have employees who create a product and must to maintain a job or livelihood adhere to the ideology that drives aggregate demand(unionism), of course Romney is about as close to its counterpart(capitalism) as possible.
Create a rightwing blogger with income tied to his capacity to manufacture ideas, and he will spread his ideas.
If you are egypt and you create weapons, you must sell weapons. Human nature in regards principle is really a question of what you produce or manufacture. Another reason why I consider our Copyright-Industrial Complex more dangerous than our dying manufacturing-industrial complex(with considerable influence in influencing the idea that ideas are "material")
The market is not so far off that there no real conservatives or progressives, but the real conservatives and progressives must market conservatism and progressivism, and so they will always end up more authentic than the politicians.
Both Obama, and radical islam are the best advertising campaign for the weapons industry ever. Obama because he is the domestic boogeyman that will take them away, and radical islam because it needs weapons to overthrow the "haram" western influence. Without a question radical islam is more dangerous.
The environmental movement is advertising for the green industry for companies like First Solar, for lawyers that work for the Sierra Club. There is no ideology or political speech that isn't in some sense commercial speech. In terms of foreign affairs I consider environmentalism to be German/western ideology, because most of the players providing solutions are western corporations.
Obama rightly understood does not believe in principle, or magical tooth fairy ideas, but rather in ideas which have a corporate nexus. Ideas which are also tangible products, with producers. Ideas which have jobs, and jobs which have ideas. He believes in Plato because there are platonist political philophers, he believes in Marx because there are Marxists.
This is why the egyptian industrial complex/weapons industry is more dangerous than radical islam. It will sell to the radical islamist, and it will do nothing to discourage the proliferation of this ideology, in fact it will encourage it to an extent, believing it can control it.
Are human beings really good enough to kill an ad campaign that boosts aggregate demand for the product they produce? (whose view of human nature is more misguided?)
Human beings are not evil, they are just often times self-interested in dangerous ways. The more productive they are in moral and virtuous modes of "production", the more they will focus upon defending good action.
Human beings will tell you anything they think increases the likelyhood that they will be able to sell you on a product they produce. More than ever Caveat Emptor.
Ron Paul and the Austrians are against government interference in business for this reason. They believe the market is naturally good (with limited legal checks), (businesses that make bad products die) but that certain business that could never win over the hearts and minds of rational human beings could establish a patronage, that would necessitate a distorting ideological justification to prop up its demand.
Furthermore Ron Paul believes we are suffering under such distorting ideological patronage and that Obama and even other republicans such as Mitt Romney are building such coalitions of waste and evil.
Ron Paul also believes that this has to an extent been the pattern of history and wouldn't be quite as dangerous if we audited the Fed and returned to a gold standard that prevented the government from unlimited spending (a rule broken because it arbitrarily constrained military spending, and served as a check upon executive and congressional discretion). Under Ron Paul's monetary system starve the beast would work!
Ron Paul actually believes as I do that under Fiat money there is no real deficit problem, there is only the debt ceilling.(that can be raised, and raised again, and that will be) The U.S. is monetarily sovereign and this scares the shit out of him. A good chunk of Austrians concede MMT. I think this promises a lot of fun and possibility and bold projects for good...But I am worried that Ron Paul is not naive about human nature.
I am very worried that Ron Paul is much smarter and wiser than we all are. The bulk of americans just don't understand monetary policy (I am not sure anyone does, except those for whom it is a business...and maybe just maybe they are selling an ideology that supports it (thus the Alex Jones derivative version of Ron Paul's political philosophy.) For what it is worth I think Alex Jones seems inaccurate enough to simply be part of the Copyright-Industrial Complex.
So some Ron Paul supporters are stark raving mad, some are highly intelligent and wise, and to make things worse there is some intelligence to even the mad ones.
"If there is a boogeyman of the right it would be that we are somehow in danger from patient and cunning Islamicists who will establish a world-wide caliphate."
Yes, and our boogeyman was the Soviet Union prior to their collapse. Do you think the Soviet Union was a toothless boogeyman? The tens of millions who died in the gulags archipelago probably though the threat of Soviet tyranny was very real, as did the hundreds of millions who lived behind the Iron Curtain.
You ignore the fact that these groups have been around for over 50 years and the only thing that has changed about them is the fact that they now have real political power in countries like Libya and Egypt. Their imperial ideologies and their explicit calls for patience and moderation while they gain power and influence in the countries in which they are active can be found in their speeches, documents, and websites. It is the lack of seriousness with which Ron Paul and his supporters shrug off such obvious warnings that cause the general electorate to ignore him as a serious candidate for the presidency.