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June 17, 2010


but the Iranian public does not blame the United States for propping up what are, in the case of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, corrupt and brutal regimes.

You mean they don't blame us for propping up the Iranian regime, the way the public in SA and Egypt blame us for their regimes? Sounds like you're saying that the Iranian public doesn't blame the US for propping up the SA and Egypt regimes in that sentence, which doesn't seem right to me.

And also, what kind of "influence" are we talking about here? Influence in the region among governments, the various populations, with the US? It's not clear to me from the post.

Alright, I may try to fix the syntax on that.

My son is teething, and sleep is not a part of my life right now.

As for influence, I should have been more explicit, and will edit for those purposes as well.

But influence is multifaceted: influence in terms of popularity and opinion shaping, and influence in terms of taking leadership positions on important issues (see, ie, Turkey's brokering of Syrian/Israeli peace talks, Turkey's brokering of a nuke deal with Iran, etc).

By virtue of Egypt and Saudi Arabia's relegation to mere parroting of US foreign policy, they are incapable of showing any initiative, offering creative solutions or inspiring much confidence from other regional powers in terms of new policy directions.

I know about teething so no worries (Ugh Jr's got his first 8 teeth but no molars yet, which we've heard can be awful).

And thanks for the note on influence.

Yeah, little E-Money's first 3 teeth came in last month (two front teeth on the bottom, and a canine). Now his two front teeth are coming in, and his sleep patterns have been whacky.

Alright, I think it reads better now (as in, actually makes a lick of sense)

Ironically, or not, while fealty to our agenda has drained the prestige of our putative allies

While I generally agree with this post, I think you should be a little more cautious on this point. The primary reason that Egyptians are angry with the Mubarak regime has nothing to do with us: they're angry because economic growth hasn't happened and because Mubarak is absurdly corrupt. They're also unhappy about broader events in the middle east, but none of that really compares to "my 35 year old son has to continue living with us because there are literally no apartments for him to move into" or "my son was rejected from medical school despite having top marks because I couldn't afford to pay a large enough bribe".

It is not always about us. Now, the fact that everyone knows Mubarak relies on US support to keep control of the country does cause negative feelings about the regime to translate directly into negative feelings about the US. But these are separate things. If the US told Egypt it could do whatever it wanted as long as it kept peace with Israel, Egyptians would still hate the regime and would still blame the US for propping it up because the economy would still be in the toilet and the regime would still be unspeakably corrupt.

Agreed Turb. I meant that more in terms of regional prestige, and less in terms of popularity within their own countries.

The full quote mentions the regional frame of reference, but it wasn't exactly clear from my wording:

"Ironically, or not, while fealty to our agenda has drained the prestige of our putative allies, opposition to our policies (and those of Israel) have led to increased popularity in the region for Iran and Hezbollah - who, rightly or wrongly, are seen as the only groups defending the Palestinians from Israeli oppression. "

Ah, thanks for explaining Eric.

Incidentally, I'll likely be talking Egyptian politics (amongst other topics) tonight with an Egyptian friend whose smart as a whip (The Century Foundation employs him at the moment). He writes on the subject occasionally, and is worth a brain picking, as it's not an area that I have paid to much attention to on my own.


Your Egyptian friend should write a post.

Our biggest mistake was not doing the following immediately after 9/11:

1. Jailing Rudy Giuliani for incompetence.
2. Impeaching Bush.
3. Cutting all foreign aid to Egypt.
4. Cutting all foreign aid to Israel.
5. Invading Saudi Arabia.

To show my true spirit of compromise and accommodation, pick any three :))))

Our Middle East posture could stand a complete overhaul, but as Lynch notes, Obama doesn't seem inclined to make a go at it.

"Complete overhaul"? Hell, he's doing his best to imitate his dim bulb predecessor in every detail.

He's sticking Clapper in as DNI -- a guy who pushed the "Saddam sent his WMD to Syria" b.s. -- using a recess appointment.

"Hell, he's doing his best to imitate his dim bulb predecessor in every detail. "

Maybe Obama just doesn't give a rat's ass about the drama queens of the Middle East.

A proper position IMHO.

Your Egyptian friend should write a post.

I made the case last night - at least, that he should write more and I'd link to it.

Still, you have to appreciate all the incredible concern Elliot Abrams brought to democracy promotion in Central America, such as denouncing a New York Times reporter's work as anti-ally ideology which exaggerated out of gossip the El Mozote massacre, because, you know, the Salvadoran regime was young and vibrant, as were many of its victims.

I'm so glad that such types as Abrams still have an important role in our public policy debates.

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