12 February 2011

Yay!!! A Military Coup

Does this welcoming adulation from the west for what seems to be a run-of-the-mill military coup in Egypt not strike anyone else as odd? Isn't this more or less obviously the change-of-figurehead we worried about in the previous post?

Remember the Honduran "coup," where the removal of the president from office was blessed by the legislature, the Supreme Court and the Honduran constitution, but which was widely condemned as a military coup (by, among others, President Obama and Harry Eagar) because the military actually performed the removal, and sent him out of the country rather than to jail or internal exile?


erp said...

Apparently lefties don't like the orderly removal of a malefactor and takeover of by the constitutionally appointed successor.

They prefer rioting, violence and deaths with the ouster of a strongman.

It makes it so much easier to manipulate things when there are no rules to follow.

Harry Eagar said...

Who, exactly, is cheering this coup?

The lefties at NPR don't seem to be able to find anyone who'll do it for them.

Obama has welcomed the removal of Mubarak peacefully (despite erp's fantasies about red terror) but I didn't hear him welcoming the generals. I heard him take them to the woodshed.

Won't do any good, but that's another issue.

Harry Eagar said...

The Washington Post headline this morning:

Demands for democracy still not met, many say

erp said...

I am continually amazed that Harry knows my fantasies as well as my intentions.

Red Terror?

Islamists will be control when all the the shouting is over.

Harry Eagar said...

Hmmmm, erp. I think regine overthrow accompanied by indiscriminate and nearly unlimited violence has been a conservative franchise this century.

Bush is kinda forgotten, eh?

Susan's Husband said...

No, it's been an Islamic franchise. American conservatives have pioneered a form of war that is truly remarkable in its restraint and limited violence. One need simply contrast, say WWII or Vietnam with Iraq and Afghanistan. Indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations has been a leftists franchise in the last century.

Peter said...

The news today is that the military has dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution "to meet the demands of the protesters". Yay democracy!

I think a lot of today's left have a very pomo notion of what democracy is. Or maybe they look to Oprah for guidance. Unlike the old left with its endless fascination with workers' committees and politburos, etc, the left today seems bored with talk of structures and constitutions. If a mass of courageous souls are in a city square giving raspberries to the bad guy, that's democracy. The rest is detail, of interest to boring policy wonks. Of course, there have been heated arguments about what "true" democracy means for hundreds of years, but I really do think everybody agreed in the past that it had something to do with governing in accordance with the popular will and being accountable to it. Today it seems to correlate more with high collective self-esteem.

erp said...

Bush is kinda forgotten, eh?

Not by me. I miss him like crazy.

Harry Eagar said...

Could you point me to a leftist, or even a rightist, who has welcomed the coup?

So far as I have seen, the only enthusiastic statement came from the government of Iran.

David said...

I don't know, Harry, I don't think you've been scouring the Internets very hard.

Thomas Friedman, and the NY Times in general, has greeted the coup with triumphalism. Here's Friedman's contribution, They Did It.

Susan's Husband said...

What about Robert Naiman?

"People outside of Egypt who consider that inconvenient to their current policies may kvetch, but ultimately they can adapt and they will, because as it becomes increasingly obvious that democratic change is a fait accompli, adaptation will appear superior to any conceivable alternative."

Susan's Husband said...

Then there's Code Pink.

Harry Eagar said...

Timewarp anyone?

Naiman's prediction was posted Feb. 2. He's a bad guesser, but since the coup had not happened by then, it is disingenuous to suggest that he welcomed it.

Got anybody real?

Barry Meislin said...

...a lot of today's left have a very porno notion of what democracy is.

Well, I'm all for it.

erp said...

Porno or democracy?

David said...

How is Friedman not real?

He not only welcomes the coup, but he thinks that the Army is scared of the protesters.

David said...

Also, there is a strong argument to be made that this is all George Bush's doing, albeit almost bobbled by his successor.

The idea that we don't value stability uber alles in the middle East is US policy thanks to George Bush. Obama got a little weak in the knees, but in the end couldn't turn back history.

David said...

An argument made in, of all places, the Boston Globe.

Harry Eagar said...

So Friedman's a leftist now? Didn't know. News travels slowly out here, I guess.

If you want to give Bush credit, go ahead. I don't know why he would thank you.

Actually, my head is spinning. You were for democracy and protest last week, I thought; then against the result; now apparently in favor.

Am I to derive from all you've said you'd have preferred an outcome like Iraq.

From the US perspective, a military dictatorship at least has the advantage of not being antiIsrael.

Hey Skipper said...

Islamists will be control when all the the shouting is over.

I doubt it.

Something like 15,000 Egyptian military officers have attended professional military education in the US.

Based upon my experience at the Air Force's Air Command and Staff College in 1992-3, the environment must have been a complete revelation to them.

Therefore, I predict that the military will not allow Islamists to take over, and, because they understand the ultimate futility of military rule, will cede power to civilian democratic (by which I mean periodically accountable to voters) leadership.

Also, there is a strong argument to be made that this is all George Bush's doing …

Yes, indeed.

Contra Harry, I don't think there is any reason to believe anything the Iranian gov't says is true.

Therefore, I think the Iranian gov't is far more worried than they are letting on. But that is just me. Some people might find the utterances of theocrats trustworthy.

So Friedman's a leftist now?

IIRC, Friedman is the one who wanted the US to be China for a day, so as to enact all sorts of leftist chestnuts by fiat.

That was months ago. So, yes, it appears news does travel slowly out there.

From the US perspective, a military dictatorship at least has the advantage of not being anti-Israel.

As with the US, international policy is guided primarily, if not exclusively, by national interest.

Obama -- despite unctuous blather to the contrary -- continued virtually unchanged Bush's foreign policy.

For the same reason, Egypt's policy wrt Israel will not appreciably change.

David said...

In all fairness, Skipper, it's entirely possible for someone to be to Harry's right and my left. Indeed, that's a large, commodious space.

erp said...

Skipper, I stand by my prediction. The army leadership may be pro-democratic, but the rank and file are probably sympathetic to the Islamists and btw, unless and until a strong leader with democratic tendencies shows up, who'll be in charge?

Peter said...

C'mon now, erp, you should at least be giving us links as back-ups for these geo-political musings (as should Harry). None of us really know what the heck is going to happen, but we should be behind the spirit of the protesters. The City on the Hill isn't supposed to be illuminated by Klieg lights.

erp said...

Peter, I don't have links to my musings. It's my take on different things I've read about recent events plus what I think I know about past events. Here's a link to Impromptus. Nordinger thinks the protesters in Egypt might be favorably compared to the Tea Party rally.

I hope my take is wrong.

Harry Eagar said...

I don't believe Islam is compatible with democracy, so that's a starting point.

I am also skeptical that the people in Tahrir Square represent any broad spectrum of Egyptian political opinion. Should Egypt really try for popular sovereignty, and the fellahin vote, support for liberalism (19th c. sense) seems improbable.

Skipper's belief that attending US military schools teaches reverence for democracy is touching, but there's a whole continent south of Texas that says it doesn't.

Hey Skipper said...

I don't believe Islam is compatible with democracy, so that's a starting point.

Neither is Christianity.

Of course, it has yielded to reality.

As will, must, eventually, Islam.

I happen to not think Muslims are intrinsically indeducable; therefore, I am cautiously optimistic that Egypt will end up far more like Turkey than Iran.

Skipper's belief that attending US military schools teaches reverence for democracy is touching ...

I'm reasonably certain that I never used the word democracy.

Rather, there is an entire cultural milieu in US professional military education that is entirely like anything they have seen before attending.

Accompanying that milieu is an all pervading aura of success that is completely lacking in all authoritarian / totalitarian states.

Presuming the officers attending US PME are patriots, why do you think they would be in favor of a political and civil environment so utterly opposed to one that breeds success?

Susan's Husband said...

Uh, Skipper, Turkey is sliding in to Caliphascism while Army officers are being arrested. It's far from clear that Turkey won't end up like Iran.

Hey Skipper said...

That story you cited is a year old. And if some military officers in the US were to plot a coup, what do you think should happen to them?

Turkey has regular, openly contested and transparent elections. All citizens, including women, have the right to vote.

You are right, that is just like caliphascism.

Sure, it is possible that Turkey could become like Iran. But since the AKP achieved a parliamentary majority in 2002, the speed at which that hasn't happened is noteworthy.

Harry Eagar said...

'cede to democratic leadership' sounds almost like 'democracy' to me.

And if you think 'reverence' is too strong, then 'deference' might have been a better choice.

However, I have never seen any evidence of it. During the runup to the invasion of Iraq, I recall a milblogger writing about how Arab officers DO use the skill set they acquire from US instruction.

He used the example of an officer he knew (Egyptian, as I recall) who refused to pass on his knowledge of how to bore-sight weapons because as long as only he knew how, that protected him from competition.

This probably explains why Arab armies never win battles. The utter failure of the Arab Legion despite the tutelage of Glubb Pasha tells the same story.

Susan's Husband said...

Woops! One from 2011.

As for cheering, Jimmy Carter seems at least sanguine about it (which is probably the best argument against Skipper).

Hey Skipper said...

He used the example of an officer he knew (Egyptian, as I recall) who refused to pass on his knowledge of how to bore-sight weapons ...

The plural of anecdote is not data.

SFAIK, the Egyptian military's performance over the last several weeks has been pretty hard to fault.

That is data.

Whoops! One from 2011.

Fine, but you neglected my primary point: if these military officers were, in fact, planning a coup (which has happened), then what is the constitutional government supposed to do?

(Note: I don't know whether they were or not, and neither do you.)

As for cheering, Jimmy Carter ... is probably the best argument against Skipper.

I don't know of anyone so wrong as to be unable to occasionally imitate a stopped clock.

The big question here is whether the military is willing to fire on its own people.

My guess is not.

Harry Eagar said...

Sometimes, it's hard to tell the players even with a scorecard.

My view of Turkey is that it has never been a democracy, that it was a disguised military dictatorship, until it morphed into a disguised, creeping Islamist totalitarianism.

I think the Muslims told us so many times that time is on their side that they finally realized how to use time as a counter to force.

I will be amazed if Turkey is not openly Islamist, and does not abrogate all protections for women, within a few years. It doesn't get much attention in the west, but Erdogan has been Turkizing the Bulgars, as a sort of test run to see what the EU will put up with when he ditches the rest of western mores.

The EU has said nothing. The USA has said nothing.

I get emails from Bulgars, though.

Barry Meislin said...

The utter failure of the Arab Legion despite the tutelage of Glubb Pasha tells the same story.

Psst. Harry. The Arab Legion did win some battles.

(Cf. Old City of Jerusalem; Latrun salient; Etzyon Bloc. Note: I'm referring to 1948; if you are referring to 1967, then John Glubb can no longer really be faulted, having been canned by King Hussein in 1958, or thereabouts.)

Still, I appreciate the sentiment and hope it holds up---though October 1973 presents a bit of a problem, alas.

Harry Eagar said...

Heck, even the French Army won an engagement or two in 1940, but I would rate its performance as 'utter failure.'

I am similarly unimpressed by the Arab Legion.

It appears, since this thread died down a few days ago, that US-trained army officers will shoot their own citizens if asked. It must remain speculation (for now) whether the Egyptian army refused to shoot or just wasn't asked.