The ending no one wants

This was the closing article in last week’s The Week magazine.
Talking about dementia and more specifically the issue of long term care for a longer living generation that is racked with life changing diseases/illness/whatever you want to call it.

Thinking about this and the unwanted and often not needed encroachment of the federal government into our lives, why don’t they encroach benevolently in an area that can use it? Make it a requirement at age 40 that each citizen has on file a completed, legal and ethical living will that also addresses the matters of diseases/ailments such as dementia. This way family and friends no with certainty how to proceed and the individual can possess more control of their fate if their life deteriorates gradually or suddenly.

Missing the point

2 cents: A good article but Friedman is either missing the point deliberately or out of ignorance. The point being in the last paragraph which I have highlighted in red; note the context of the paragraph – it is a mandate, if you will, written by and for Arabs on principles that they believe they need to address and improve in order for their nations and people to thrive. They – the Arab so-called intellectuals and leaders – do not believe Friedman’s insertion (text in red) are principles that need to be adopted and embraced in their countries. My point being that the Muslim Brotherhood in order to fulfill their agenda and beliefs CAN NOT actually allow Friedman’s insertion to be a reality or even seriously entertained by the citizens of Egypt or other Arab countries. Therefore the text highlighted in blue will not be realized as long as they are in power.

June 26, 2012

The Fear Factor


If there is one thought that summarizes the strength and weakness of the Arab awakenings, it’s the one offered by Daniel Brumberg, a co-director of the democracy and governance studies program at Georgetown University, who observed that the Arab awakenings happened because the Arab peoples stopped fearing their leaders — but they stalled because the Arab peoples have not stopped fearing each other.

This dichotomy is no surprise. That culture of fear was exactly what the dictators fed off of and nurtured. Most of them ran their countries like Mafia dons operating “protection rackets.” They wanted their people to fear each other more than the leader, so that each dictator or monarch could sit atop the whole society, doling out patronage and protection, while ruling with an iron fist. But it will take more than just decapitating these regimes to overcome that legacy. It will take a culture of pluralism and citizenship. Until then, tribes will still fear tribes in Libya and Yemen, sects will still fear sects in Syria and Bahrain, the secular and the Christians will still fear the Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia and the philosophy of “rule or die” will remain a potent competitor to “one man, one vote.”

You would have to be very naïve to think that transitioning from primordial identities to “citizens” would be easy, or even likely. It took two centuries of struggle and compromise for America to get to a point where it could elect a black man with the middle name Hussein as president and then consider replacing him with a Mormon! And that is in a country of immigrants.

But you would also have to be blind and deaf to the deeply authentic voices and aspirations that triggered these Arab awakenings not to realize that, in all these countries, there is a longing — particularly among young Arabs — for real citizenship and accountable and participatory government. It is what many analysts are missing today. That energy is still there, and the Muslim Brotherhood, or whoever rules Egypt, will have to respond to it.

Precisely because Egypt is the opposite of Las Vegas — what happens there never stays there — the way in which the newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, ultimately learns to work with the secular, liberal, Salafist and Christian elements of Egyptian society will have a huge impact on all the other Arab awakenings. If Egyptians can forge a workable social contract to govern themselves, it will set an example for the whole region. America midwifed that social contract-writing in Iraq, but Egypt will need a Nelson Mandela.

Can Morsi play that Mandela role? Does he have any surprise in him? The early indications are mixed at best. “As Mohamed Morsi prepares to become Egypt’s first democratically elected president,” Brumberg wrote on, “he will have to decide who he really is: a political unifier who wants one ‘Egypt for all Egyptians’ as he said shortly after he was declared president, or an Islamist partisan devoted to the very proposition that he repeated during the first round of the election campaign, namely that ‘the Quran is our constitution.’

“This is not so much an intellectual choice as it is a political and practical one,” he added. “Morsi’s greatest challenge is to unite a political opposition that has suffered from fundamental divisions between Islamists and non-Islamists, and within each of these camps as well. If his call for a government of national unity merely represents a short-term tactic for confronting the military — rather than a strategic commitment to pluralism as a way of political life — the chances of resuscitating a transition that only days ago was on life support will be very slim indeed.”

It is incumbent on the Muslim Brotherhood to now authentically reach out to the other 50 percent of Egypt — the secular, liberal, Salafist and Christian elements — and assure them that not only will they not be harmed, but that their views and aspirations will be balanced alongside the Brotherhood’s. That is going to require, over time, a revolution in thinking by the Muslim Brotherhood leadership and rank-and-file to actually embrace religious and political pluralism as they move from opposition to governance. It will not happen overnight, but if it doesn’t happen at all, the Egyptian democracy experiment will fail and a terrible precedent will be set for the region.

The U.S. has some leverage in terms of foreign aid, military aid and foreign investment — and we should use it by making clear that we respect the vote of the Egyptian people, and we want to continue to help Egypt thrive, but our support will be conditioned on certain principles. What principles? Our principles?

No. The principles identified by the 2002 U.N. Arab Human Development Report, which was written by and for Arabs. It said that for the Arab world to thrive it needs to overcome its deficit of freedom, its deficit of knowledge and its deficit of women’s empowerment. And, I would add, its deficit of religious and political pluralism. We should help any country whose government is working on that agenda — including an Egypt led by a Muslim Brotherhood president — and we should withhold our support from any that is not. 


Interesting comment (see highlighted):

from Debka

The Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt will have pushed aside Iran and energy as top issues when Monday, June 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin on a short visit to Israel meets Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. On this at least they have common ground:  The Muslim Brotherhood governments rolling out along Middle East shores with US encouragement – Libya, last year; Egypt, yesterday; and Syria, tomorrow – are seen as a threat to regional stability rivaling even the menace of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Putin counts US President Barack Obama’s sponsorship of Muslim Brotherhood power as a strategic threat to Russian national security because of it could be the match which lights the flame of radical Islam in the Caucasus and among the Russian Muslim populations of the Volga River valleys.

2 cents: the CES’ mark

rest of article here

Putin speaks with Netanyahu

The high point of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s noteworthy 90-minute talk with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Monday, June 25, was Putin’s firm assertion that Iran will not get a nuclear bomb. This is disclosed exclusively by debkafile’s Jerusalem and Moscow sources.
He also dismissed reports that the third round in Moscow of six-power talks with Iran (June 18-19) led nowhere, stressing they were serious and substantial. The next round taking place in Istanbul on July for technical discussions is, according to the Russian president, of prime importance. For the first time, he explained, the nuclear negotiations with Iran will get down to the core issues and would therefore of greater significance  than the “Ashton-Jalili” sessions.
(He was referring to European foreign executive Catherine Ashton who chairs the negotiations and Saeed Jalili, senior Iranian negotiator.)
Putin corrected the general impression that Russia has confined itself to the role of passive bystander in the bargaining with Iran: Quite the reverse, he said: Moscow has been proactively working for accord behind the scenes and its “input” to the process “is considerable.”
Although the word “intelligence” was not mentioned, it was clearly intimated by the Russian visitor when he said, “We [Russians] know more about what is going on with regard to Iran’s (nuclear) capabilities than the Americans.”
It was Putin’s way to scoff at Israel for investing so much time and strategic assets in endless wrangling over how to handle the Iranian threat with American security, military and intelligence chiefs, when the Netanyahu government would be better served by sparing a fraction of that time for talking to Moscow.

In conclusion, he stressed to Netanyahu that it was unnecessary for Israel to use military force against Iran’s nuclear program. Israel knows exactly how much Russia has done to prevent Iran building a nuclear weapon,” he said. “A nuclear weapon in Iranian hands would be contrary to Russian interests, and so it will not get one,”  he stressed.

article link

Muslim Brotherhood has achieved the goal

2 cents: Egyptians thought they had it bad under Mubarak, wait till they experience the future. CES got what he wanted.

from Debka:

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has achieved the goal set at its foundation 84 years ago. Its candidate Mohammed Morsi was declared Sunday afternoon, June 24, victor of last week’s presidential election runoff with 51.73 percent, beating his rival, Ahmed Shafiq, former prime minister under the ousted Hosni Mubarak. Brotherhood supporters massed in tens of thousands at Tahrir Square set up a great cheer. Before the results were announced, they called for the Supreme Military Council ruling Egypt in the interim to step down and are now preparing to fight the generals to win for their president the sweeping powers assumed by the generals ahead of the election.
Although elected more or less democratically, Morsi and his party are expected to turn the Egyptian revolution into the cornerstone of an Islamic state more closely akin to the Islamic Republic of Iran than the democratic, secular state envisioned by the revolutionaries when they fought for Mubarak’s overthrow.
In time, Israeli will discover its three-decade old peace pact with Egypt is also destined to go by the board as the Islamist majority in parliament gives Egypt a new constitution broadly based on the Sharia.

The military council, though widely charged with usurping power, proved helpless against the Islamic tide which polarized rather than sweeping the country. The close election results showed Egypt to be deeply split into at least two large camps and this bodes ill for its future stability.
The generals will have no choice but to come to terms with the Muslim Brotherhood. But any deal they reach will be short-lived because the Islamists have the legislative power to enact laws for stripping the military elite of its privileges. Some of the generals may choose to retire rather than support the Brotherhood.

The first to read the writing on the wall was Mubarak’s former intelligence chief, Gen. Omar Suleiman, who dropped out of the presidential race at an early stage. The last DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources disclosed that Suleiman had boarded a flight to Munich, Germany last Wednesday, June 20. He was quick to foresee that the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by the Obama administration, was heading for rule over Egypt.

From the current issue of The Week

2 cents: note comments in blue – this is what I am referring to in prior posts. Muslim Brotherhood is not actually about democracy. BTW – The Week magazine IMO is the best weekly magazine on the market. It is fair, balanced and contains great stories and news.

A military power grab in Egypt

Tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square to chant the name of the Islamist who they say won the presidential election.
posted on June 21, 2012, at 8:46 AM
Current issue of magazine > Main Stories

What happened
An audacious power grab by the ruling military junta left Egypt in turmoil this week, as tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square to chant the name of the Islamist who they say won the presidential election. Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi claimed to have won 52 percent of the vote in the first presidential race since the toppling 17 months ago of former dictator Hosni Mubarak. Mursi, a U.S.-educated engineer, promised to build a “modern, democratic state” for all Egyptians, whether Muslims or not. But his rival Ahmed Shafiq—Mubarak’s last prime minister and a close ally of the generals—accused the Brotherhood of “organized and persistent election fraud,” and declared that he had won the runoff.

Whoever is eventually declared the winner will have little authority. The Supreme Constitutional Court, still mainly Mubarak appointees, last week dissolved both houses of parliament, which the Brotherhood and other Islamists control. The junta then announced a new interim constitution that gives the generals the right to pass laws, control the budget, declare war, and steer the drafting of a permanent constitution. “This is a military coup against the people,” said Galal Osman, a protester in Tahrir Square. “We want the president that we elected to have all the powers of his office.”

What the editorials said
Egypt’s revolution “looks increasingly like a mirage,” said the Chicago Tribune. Fearful that the Muslim Brotherhood would control both the presidency and the parliament, the generals gutted both institutions. Many ordinary Egyptians dislike the Islamists’ religious dogma, but they fear a return to the dark days of Mubarak-style military rule even more. If the military won’t ease its iron-fisted grip on power, there will be more mass protests and violence. “Egypt was a big part of the Arab Spring. But it may be facing a long, hot summer.”

President Obama better get tough with the generals, said The Washington Post. So far, the State Department has issued only gentle warnings about possible damage to Egyptian-American relations. “We hope this message is being stated more bluntly in private.” If the generals “suffocate Egyptian democracy in the cradle,” they should lose the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid they receive every year.

What the columnists said
This is a political masterstroke by the military, said Paul McGeough in The Sydney Morning Herald. The generals knew they could lose their top-dog status, wealth, and privileges if their man Shafiq lost and the Brotherhood controlled parliament, too. Now, the new president will be a figurehead; at the same time, the junta has “cleverly debased” the judiciary by ordering it to dissolve parliament—“so if anyone has a debate or grievance, where do they take it?” Egyptians are starting to lose faith in democracy, said Tim Lister in Many have soured on the Brotherhood, which used its parliamentary majority to bolster its own power rather than help ordinary people struggling in a broken economy. With the revolution flailing and leaderless, the military saw the perfect opportunity to regain control.

We should thank the generals for preventing a greater disaster, said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. The Muslim Brotherhood’s allies in parliament already sought to tighten Egypt’s strict divorce laws and roll back a ban on female genital mutilation—thus erasing gains by women and secularists. If the Brotherhood were allowed to control the entire government, it would have been free to pursue the ultimate goal expressed by the group’s de facto leader, Khairat al-Shater: “the Islamization of life.”

But what if this coup leads to civil war? said Jonathan Tobin in When the Algerian military overturned an election victory by Islamists in 1992, the result was a horrific, decade-long conflict in which some 200,000 people died. “If the Nile Valley becomes a war zone,” the violence could spill over into neighboring Israel and Gaza, further inflaming an already volatile region. That grim scenario makes a Muslim Brotherhood government—in an uneasy alliance with the generals—“look like an attractive alternative.”