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Does Europe Have Something to Say on Egypt?

Prime Minister David Cameron, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint UK-France-Germany statement on the situation in Egypt:

We urge President Mubarak to embark on a process of transformation which should be reflected in a broad-based government and in free and fair elections."

Of course, the NYT finds a negative angle to report on this: "The statement by Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Cameron exposes the lack of any coherent and united response by the European Union as a whole, even though under the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, its reaction to major events was intended to be swifter and united."

Well, the EU foreign minister did produce a united response yesterday calling for a peaceful, orderly and democratic transition. The problem is not the lack of unity, but the fact that we don't have something meaningful to say.

As Jose Ignacio Torreblanca points out in the European Council on Foreign Relations' blog:

For too long, people have demanded the EU to speak with one voice. But this is an unfair criticism: we do speak with one voice, or at least we do it sufficiently often. In fact, the EU produces so many statements than it simply floods the market. The problem is that in these statements we say very little, or that what we say is completely irrelevant. So, our problem is not speaking, but people listening, which actually requires having something to say.

His colleague Daniel Korski calls for a bolder EU policy: "These are the real birth pangs of a new Middle East. Time for Europe to don a midwife's uniform."

Finally, Europe has worried about what revolutions - and even democracy - in the Middle East would bring. The cases of, respectively, Iran and Algeria have served as warnings from history. But today's demonstrations are different. For now, at least, they are secular, broad-based, and economically-motivated. For lack of a better word, they are Western. If they fail now, in part because European governments prevaricated, then they may of course happen again, as the region's rulers fail once more to make the necessary reforms. But if the history of revolutionary movements is any guide, the liberal, pro-democracy activists will soon be replaced by the hard men of the Muslim Brotherhood. The next set of revolutions will not be so benign in intent. Think Iran, not Tunisia. 
For these reason it is time for the EU to do what it did so well in Spain and Portugal - when even the US was worried about the speed of change - and what it learnt from its work more recently in Pakistan: namely, to act as a midwife of democratic change.

Korski opines "A bet on democracy looks safer and safer by the day," while at the same time reminding us "Revolutions oftentimes turn against the very ideals for which they have been fought."

Barry Rubin, however, focuses on the negative in the Christian Science Monitor: "Obama must back Egypt's regime, or face a disaster like US did in Iran"

There is no good policy for the United States regarding the uprising in Egypt, but the Obama administration may be adopting something close to the worst option. It seems to be adopting a policy that, while somewhat balanced, is pushing the Egyptian regime out of power. That situation could not be more dangerous and might be the biggest disaster for the region and Western interests since the Iranian revolution three decades ago.

Meanwhile Gillian Kennedy argues in atlantic-community.org: "Don't be Afraid of Egypt's Muslim Brothers"

The blog No Blood 4 Sauerkraut! (in German), one of Germany's strongest supporters of the Iraq war, has a whole series on "Bush is back" and assumes that the former president is looking like this – photoshopped?

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Marie Claude on :

actually, "Obama Urges Mubarak Not to Run Again" http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/world/middleeast/02transition.html?_r=1&src=twrhp

Joe Noory on :

Well, you can stop waiting for the mighty Quinn. Europe has already been speaking: [i]26-JAN-2011: EU to Cairo: respect 'legitimate yearnings' of citizens 27-JAN-2011: CAIRO — Political protests may be rocking Egypt with a new, nonideological force, but President Hosni Mubarak and his allies have not veered from a playbook they have followed through nearly three decades of one-party rule. As always, the government has responded to the unrest primarily as a security issue, largely ignoring, or dismissing, the core demands of those who have taken to the street.[/i] That's what I call [b]CLOUT[/b], bro. It's the velvet fist of soft power at work, peeps! Half the problem is that Europe has even underfunded INTELLIGENCE assets to the point where they were blindsided by the ousting of Ben Ali. The CIA had a great deal more awareness, and they are a wee bit further removed.

Pat Patterson on :

It must be devastating for the Europhiles at the NYT to have to criticize the EU or Europe.

Pat Patterson on :

Plus I now speak politicalese and can provide a translation. Please don't shoot any of our tourists, keep buying our weapons and it's ok to kill Egyptians but not on France 24 or BBC.

Zyme on :

:-D

Joerg Wolf on :

Really? When has the NYT ever praised EU foreign policy? Or Germany's?

Pat Patterson on :

The EU has a foreign policy? The general editorial tone of the NYT has been that the EU is categorically a good thing and the paper has been remarkably slow in ever criticizing the project.

Joerg Wolf on :

"the EU is categorically a good thing" Nobody in their right mind and basic understanding of history would deny that. Back to my question: When was the NYT commenting in a positive light on the EU? What evidence do you have at "Europhiles at the NYT"?

Pat Patterson on :

I'll provide a list: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/e/european_union/index.html And even as early as 1950 a glowing account of the Europeans attempt to confront their problems by integrating first thei economies then their political structures. http://www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/topics/eu/1950-05-10-NewsArticle.pdf While the many examples cited in the first link are generally favorable there is much negative coverage in the news section of the paper. But much along the lines of the EU not living up to its potential or promise. As to whether the EU was a good thing I'm actually hard pressed to imagine Europe any different today then if the EU remained a dream or it stayed within it original steel and coal cartel structure. The US would still have been a guarantor of European peace and in some way it could be argued that Europe might have been better off without some of the cooperative forms of its quasi-capitalist economy. Just imagine how much bigger the European economy could have been with Germany still guided by the economic foresight of Adenauer and less by the statist interference of DeGaulle?

David on :

How silly. A couple of links to favorable articles from a paper that averages 5 pieces a day on events in Europe. Actually, in the Fox News mindset, Europeans are godless cowards who have surrendered to Sharia, so any news outlet that reports objectively on Europe is "Europhile".

Pat Patterson on :

If you had bothered to check on the left side of the first article were hyperlinks going to the NYT archives which went all the way back to the 50's on articles about Benelux, then the ECC and then the EU.

Joe Noory on :

Find one occasion where Fox News reported that "Europeans are Godless cowards". Then again, you prefer invention. You also seem rather neutral, much as Joerg is, about some little example that sets you off - being eclipsed by decades of anti-American hate speech. This supremacist attitude of yours', the one that tries to silence anyone who you disagree with says quite a bit about you.

Joerg Wolf on :

A Fox News guy said Europeans are "a Pack of Pagan Losers" http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1383-Europeans-Are-a-Pack-of-Pagan-Losers.html

Pat Patterson on :

Stop watching these clips Joerg. That comment was by Stuart Varney who does not appear as a 'news guy' on Fox News but as a 'news guy' on Fox Business Channel. Whenever he appears on Fox News, such as this opinion show guest hosted by Laura Ingraham, he is there to offer his opinion.

Joe Noory on :

So someone said something once, or occasionally. Get over it. The non-commentary NEWS press implies nothing less that far worse things about Americans daily. Your example is 9 months old. Seriously, you need to develop a stomache of some kind for that sort of thing. If you can't, you do a lot to reinforce that characterization of cowardice. On the level of moral logic, is it suddenly the case that any person who ever watched someone commenting on Fox News Channel is somehow responsable for anything said on it? How about THIS for slander: [i]"The conservative media is scared shitless by this spectre and accuses Obama of turning the land of the free and the home of the brave into Russia/Europe/communism/socialism"[/i] How, from you perch in Miite did you arrive at that certainty? Otherwise, let me also ask you WHEN DID THE DOMESTIC AFFAIRES OF AMERICAN POLITCS BECOME YOUR BUSINESS?

influx on :

Seriously, Joe, how is someone who spends a good deal of his time running a blog about European affairs, taking pictures of dog poo in Parisian streets, and waiting (in vain) for the Euro to drop, in any position to lecture anyone else about being interested in the affairs of other people's countries?

Pat Patterson on :

The Euro is down something like 40% since its high in 2008 so that was a pretty good investment.

influx on :

It's been up since [url=http://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/2010/11/first-came-bail-out.html]November 2010.[/url]

Pat Patterson on :

But like I said it still down since 2008. If you start at say 10 then go down to 6 pointing out then an improvement to 6.5 is hardly going to help those that were holding Euros from before 2008.

Joerg Wolf on :

Why don't you compare dollar and euro for the last ten years?

Pat Patterson on :

The implication was that Joe had predicted an Euro decline but the fact is when he started mentioning it the Euro had indeed declined since that period. It's not germane to then bring in the dollar considering its decline was mostly before the start of the recession.

John in Michigan, US on :

@Joerg: Even without your proof, I would concede that Fox News is redefining traditional, Cronkite "cold" journalism back towards "yellow" journalism. But it isn't the end of the world, and it is only a phase or trend. They mostly do the yellow stuff when they have no real news to report. Curious, are you aware of any outrageous statements on Fox or elsewhere that compare with the vile filth documented at [url=http://climateofhate.blogspot.com/]the Climate of Hate Blog[/url]? OK, so some of the examples on that blog are just individual people, not broadcast personalities with access to millions of viewers...on the other hand, those examples document the sort of stuff that, on most US and EU university campuses, [i]is so routine as to be unremarkable[/i]. Which is worse: the atmosphere that TV sends right into the home, or the atmosphere that academia provides to the best and brightest, who are living away from home for the first time, at a very formative and influential time in their lives? Meanwhile, outlets like MSNBC keep trying to re-invent themselves as the left-handed mirror of Fox News. Why are they less successful? Could be because people on the left are less crazy, OR, could be because the market for demagoguery on the left is already quite crowded, indeed, well-served by multiple, smaller sources, that dominate most of academia. Where are the right-handed movies that mirrors Michael Moore's movies? Oliver Stone? Sean Penn/Susan Sarandon/Tim Robbins? Many other directors and actors? [i]They don't exist in the movies[/i]. In music, you could say that Country & Western somewhat balances college pop and rap, politically speaking. But as for outright filth, hateful language, violent images, pop and gangsta rap "win", it isn't even a contest.

Joerg Wolf on :

I would like to differentiate between individuals with an audience of maybe a few hundreds and TV channels with an audience of a few million. Thus, I am not going to comment on the guy who shit on the US flag, but I do express outrage at the crosshairs on Chris Matthews show.

Pat Patterson on :

Joerg-Most of these shows draw a million viewers once or twice a year and aside from the exciteable class they have virtually no effect except to its fans.

David on :

The O'Reilly Factor averages over 3 million viewers each day. Before he left MSNBC, Keith Olbermann's Countdown averaged 1 million+ views each evening. Funny how someone who spends most of his time googling Wikipedia keeps getting the facts wrong.

Pat Patterson on :

For a guy who can't be bothered to follow hyperlinks and doesn't know the difference between most and all I'm not sure if David really has a clue as to what is going on in the world. Perhaps one day he'll tire of adding only adhominem attacks to the thread and actually try to form a coherent argument.

Marie Claude on :

good luck America, you'll still have to pay with your paper dollars (though your taxes money) for sustaining any muslim power tyran in place, the after Mubarak will be of the same style !

Joe Noory on :

What makes you think that it can't be withdrawn? Bush withheld aid to Egypt for human rights reasons.

Marie Claude on :

any proof ?

Pat Patterson on :

Even just back to 1989 the US has withheld aid from Egypt sometimes because of budget constraints other times because of violations the Egyptians were guilty of in skirting the rules on how the money was used. Under Bush military aid to Egypt was cut more than 10%, not much but considering the rampant inflation in Egypt, very difficult on them. Just two years ago Bush withheld $200 million because of the declining number of Egyptians children in school and the arreat of an Egyptian blogger. Ony $100 million of that money was ever then authorized. Money appropriated for foreign aid has to be signed for release by the President and Secretary of Treasury. There is no mechanism that can be brought to force either to release the money. http://www.haaretz.com/news/egyptian-fm-says-israel-incited-u-s-congress-to-withhold-aid-1.237229

Marie Claude on :

OK BTW looks like the Egyptian army is opting for the anti-Mubarak protestors

Pat Patterson on :

An article in Bloomberg notes the contacts that are maintained between the US military and the Egyptian. Which seems to have shed most of its Soviet-era bad rep and become more like Turkey(before AKP) and the US in that they are neutral and try to act in the best interests of Egypt. But I sense that even if they don't like the regime they will not allow either the protestors or the MB to create country-wide chaos. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-02/three-decades-of-missions-weapons-training-for-egypt-keep-u-s-in-loop.html

Zyme on :

There is a very interesting article on how Germany approaches the various factions in Egypt, most notably the muslim brothers (are they called like that in English too?): http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,743563,00.html It is the first time ever I can recall that mass media have focused on the role of "party foundations" of the established parties in Germany. These foundations are funded both by the parties and by the state. In return, they assume the role of unofficial diplomats who help to establish contacts and exert influence on those the government cannot (yet) get into contact with for political reasons. That way there always already is a contact network in place, no matter which side wins in a civil war or revolution.

Pat Patterson on :

Der Spiegel is very careful not to notice the 800-lbs gorilla in the room. If Germany does indeed have such sub rosa conversations going on then why the heck were they just as much in the dark when the demos started as some cargo cultists in New Guinea? it would seem to indicate that Germany has been talking to and falling for the patter of the wrong people in regards to who is running the demos and who orchestrated them initially.

John in Michigan, US on :

Pat, I don't think the foundations are supposed to be espionage organizations, rather, civil society organizations (government funded, which to me is a contradiction, but I guess it makes sense in Germany). Therefore, it isn't clear that their inability to foresee the uprising is actually as big a failure as you suggest. An equally valid explanation would be: initially, the uprising was either spontaneous, or organized by a brand new group; none of the well-established Egyptian groups (Mubarak's National Democratic Party, the banned but well-established MB, etc) where behind the uprising (although, by now they are fully engaged). [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8289698/Egypt-protests-secret-US-document-discloses-support-for-protesters.html]There are apparently documents in Wikileaks[/url] in which a new group, called "April 6" (refers to a Youth Movement that emerged in April, 2008) , made informal connections to the US State Dept in 2008. This group told us it was planning something for 2011. I wonder if the German foundations had any knowledge of April 6? Perhaps they considered it too American and therefore off-limits? Perhaps April 6 is [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing]astroturf[/url]? I would be very interested to learn what Europeans know and think about April 6. [url=http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/50553/wikileaks-u-s-government-behind-egypt-revolution/]Death and Taxes Magazine (!? new to me) blogs about April 6 here[/url].

Pat Patterson on :

I certainly agree but on the other hand their responsibility is still to Germnany and to not warn of such an event seems counterproductive. Or more an indication that they were talking to the wrong people.

Zyme on :

Pat: These foundations are not primarily there to provide the government with information, which is only a side-effect. Instead their main use is to develop connections with all major factions in a country. As a result, no matter which major movement gains the upper hand after an interior power struggle, there are connections in place for the government to rely upon in either case. That is the main use of these "secret diplomats" as they are called in the article - which also means that in case extremist movements like the muslim brothers prevail, it does not necessarily mean we lose business contacts and influence. Instead, with other developed countries relying on the government or on one opposing movement only, we have a good chance of increasing our share by the extent of what those who relied on the wrong side lose. A vivid example would be Usbekistan: Up until 2005 lots of Nato countries (including the US) used airbases in the country as a convenient and economic relay point to send in troops and supply for Afghanistan. Then the regime decided to kill several hundred protesters in Andischan, upon which "the West" showed public outrage. As a consequence, all Western countries' forces were thrown out. All but Germany, which continues to use its base to date. As a consequence, among other "Western" countries we have gained a unique influence on the country.

Pat Patterson on :

Has this lessened the oppression of the Tajiks, cut the drug trade or stopped the trafficking of women?

Zyme on :

:-) No.

John in Michigan, US on :

Hi Zyme, It looks like Der Spiegel hasn't published that article in English (yet). In fact, [url=http://www.spiegel.de/international/search/index.html?suchbegriff=Andreas+Niesmann&suchbereich=autor&suchzeitraum=all]their search page cannot find a single article by the author[/url], Andreas Niesmann, so perhaps their search is broken? [url=http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.spiegel.de%2Fpolitik%2Fausland%2F0%2C1518%2C743563%2C00.html]Google translation here[/url]. The official translation of الإخوان (Al-Ikhwān) is simply "The Brotherhood". In English if you are referring to the organization itself, you would typically write "Muslim Brotherhood", while if you are referring to the members of the organization you could write "Muslim Brothers". An additional complication is, many Muslims refer to each other as brothers (or sisters), even if they are not followers of the MB. I did not know about German Foundations and will read more about them in general, and their role in this crisis.

Zyme on :

You would have to search the original part of SPON (not the international one) to find articles from this writer: http://www.spiegel.de/suche/index.html?suchbegriff=Andreas+Niesmann If you find a good page about the party foundations in English, please post it here!

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