Saturday, February 19, 2011

Timely essay

Adam Shatz offers a perceptive yet skeptical account of the "revolution" in Egypt. Despite the exit of Husni Mubarak, the regime is still very much in place in Egypt.  I hope, and I am sure Shatz does as well, that Egyptians realize the freer, more responsive and more empathetic government that they so richly deserve.  Unfortunately, as I noted here two weeks ago, it is hard to imagine a new power arrangement that fails to accommodate the corporate interests of the Egyptian military.  Shatz makes this point as well.

Given that the military is invested in the geopolitical status quo--including peace with Israel and an annual subvention from the U.S. largess--the generals' tolerance for strategic debate will be limited.  That is probably a good thing.  In addition, the willingness of the military brass to tolerate a free and open political debate remains to be tested.  If reformists start to turn over too many rocks, it is easy to imagine senior officers being very intent to protect their privileges and prerogatives.

The regional upheaval has flummoxed Washington.  Shatz provides a pungent appraisal of the inadequacy of the U.S. strategic and conceptual response.  He also skewers Barack Obama for lacking a strategic vision to match the grandeur of his rhetoric.

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