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Another “Expert” Panel on Egypt That Includes No….Egyptians or Arab Americans! (#fail)

February 9, 2011

This time the panel will convene at the House Foreign Relations Committee.

They couldn’t find a single expert who has ever lived in Egypt or has strong cultural ties there?

But hey, you’ll be glad to know the so-called “pro-Israel” (pro-unsustainable, pro-status quo) lobby will be represented!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. brian miller permalink
    February 9, 2011 3:45 pm

    Selective Democracy! Once again, America is hypocritical! Obama where is your Leadership??

  2. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    February 9, 2011 5:31 pm

    I love the picture. That about sums it up.

  3. Lulu permalink
    February 9, 2011 6:56 pm

    It’s so typical and arrogant. WINEP is the sister organization of AIPAC btw.

    Ehys Barak is meeting with secretary Clinton & Bob Gates right now. Don’t these people have phones? An Israeli official is inDC every week.

    We’re gearing up for 2012 so there will be even more pandering than usual. There will be more excuses from Israel to not make peace, more request for money and security guarantees and more warmongering with Iran.

  4. Thain permalink
    February 9, 2011 7:12 pm

    That’s a great photo.

    These congressional hearings will just be political theater.

    I have a question- I know I’m not a huge Obama fan but he’s got no backbone. I dont know what the heck the guy stands for, does anyone know?

    Another question- why can’t we freeze Mubarak’s assets and business interests the US? The guy has stolen tens of billions. We do that stuff with Iranian officials and businesses associated with their military.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      February 9, 2011 9:27 pm

      This isn’t an answer to your question, Thain, which is a good one, but it set me thinking about a related issue…

      What exactly ARE those “US interests” referred to in the poll stacy posted — the one showing that a “majority of Americans support democracy in muslim world only if it advances U.S. interests.” I think the average American responding to that poll probably assumed “US interests” has something to do with our national security — especially if they’re listening to all those fear-mongering clowns on FOX and, alas, in subtler ways from our own State Dept. Less obvious to the average American but blatantly obvious to the people running our government is that an important “US Interest” is actually Israel’s interest. OK, got that (finally).

      But is that really the whole story? Isn’t it also about advancing our own financial interests? And by “our” I don’t mean your average American household but that top 1% of households who own 35% of all privately held wealth; the top 20% control about 85% of all wealth — and remember these statistics are three years out of date. Average Americans have been hit much harder by the recession while the rich are getting richer, so the wealth distribution is probably even more unequal than it was in 2007. And where is the wealth of that top 1% concentrated? In business equity and financial securities. Predator corporations and greedy financial institutions dominate our government, our Supreme Court, our society. Meanwhile, in Egypt, 35% of the wealth is held by the top 10% of the population. It’s the same scenario all over the world — globally, the top 2% control over 50% of the wealth. And the global rich are very invested in keeping things just the way they are. I suspect that’s a more important factor behind “our” wish to maintain the status quo in Egypt — maybe more important than the influence of the Lobby.

      • Thain permalink
        February 10, 2011 8:13 am

        I think there’s no doubt that maintaining the financial status quo is important, as is keeping the Suez Canal open for all the oil tankers. But I don’t think that’s necessarily more important than protecting Israel’s short-sighted interests. There is a reason every single official in Washington has said essentially that we supported Egyptian dictators after they signed the peace treaty with Israel- financial interests at the time had nothing to do with it. We didn’t start throwing money at them until they made peace with Israel. Same with Jordan. The Israeli Daniel Levy, former adviser to Ehud Barak during the Clinton years during those peace negotiators (he was one of the Israeli negotiators) said outright in the NYT that America’s emerging reaction to the Egypt crisis was based primarily on one thing- Israel.

        Do you really think it’s a coincidence our support for Sulieman and our call to now go slow on the transition and our efforts to push out certain Egyptian opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with Israeli fearmongering and the recent fear-mongering of the Lobby all over the media? Now Clinton is talking about only certain groups “having a place at the table” in Egyptian democracy and I think Stacy or Steve or someone pointed out that’s the same sort of line we started using after we didn’t like the election results in Gaza.

        Basically, I think we have an interest in maintaining the financial status quo for the top 5% of the population as you said, but it’s also about 30+ failed years of Middle East policy which has enabled Israel to put off making peace with it’s neighbors but we don’t want to admit that.

        BTW, when I talk about the “lobby” I’m not being some tin-foil hat antisemite- I know you haven’t implied that but I just want to make that clear. I don’t blame everything on the lobby (which also includes a lot of Christian Zionists) and I am not saying there is some grand conspiracy. They just have hijacked all debate about the Middle East and it’s clear their influence is having a negative impact on our foreign policy. They’ve become too powerful just like Big Pharma and other lobbies. The difference being the Israel Lobby represents a foreign government, which is questionable in my view, irrespective of which govt it is.

      • Thain permalink
        February 10, 2011 8:44 am

        This is sort of a case in point of what I was talking about with respect to the pressure to maintain idiotic policies in the region which is complicating our ability to actually promote our core values in Egypt:

        http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/20112893158270657.html

        Ok, gotta run, have an exam this morning…

  5. Tovah permalink
    February 9, 2011 8:30 pm

    So predictable.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that ever since Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia have registered their displeasure and ever since the Likud hawks have been so prominently featured in the media arguing that Egypt will become a hotbed of Islamist activity, the admin has started to hedge a bit.

    It’s funny- we lecture about democracy and then when people try to reform their system we say “whoa wait a minute not THAT kind of democracy” and when we call on violent groups to renounce violence and they eventually do we go “well, but we really can’t trust you because you USED to be violent…”

    • February 9, 2011 9:29 pm

      Ironic considering that Saudi Arabia is anything but secular. They fund and spread the Wahhabi fundamentalist Sunni belief system. I don’t think the Saudi royal family fears Islamist democracy. They fear independence in such a powerful neighbor and its impact on their own citizens’ tolerance for dictators…

  6. February 10, 2011 9:22 am

    I totally support a shift in our policies in the Middle East – a shift that is more pragmatic like the one articulated here:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saliba-sarsar/post_1703_b_820841.html

    The problem is, there is incredible resistance to any change in the status quo in our fopo community and that includes not only our leaders and the various lobbies but also the Think Tanks, which basically have a revolving door between Congress and the WH, various departments like State and Defense- it’s incestuous and self-serving. The main “thinkers” in the area of FoPo have been around forever promoting the same failed status quo policies- CFR, WINEP, AEI, Heritage, AIPAC, RAND, Brookings, CNAS, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies etc. Sure, some of them have some great people with some good ideas, but as I said it tends to be a revolving door. Many think tanks are also have very, very close ties with media organizations raising some conflict of interest issues in some instances.

  7. February 10, 2011 10:06 am

    Also, can I express my frustration at this article?:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-urges-u-s-to-reaffirm-support-in-light-of-egypt-unrest-1.342467

    Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday stressed the importance of U.S. support for Israeli security in light of the political unrest in Egypt, while Ambassador Michael Oren urged the Obama administration to reaffirm its commitment to that regard.

    [snip]

    The U.S. officials stressed their country’s “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, including through our continued support for Israel’s military, and the unprecedented security cooperation between our two governments,” the White House said in its statement.
    [snip]

    Israel envoy Oren later Wednesday conveyed a similar message when he urged the administration to reaffirm its commitment to Israel, in an address to the Congressional Israel Allies Сaucus reception on Capitol Hill.

    [snip]

    “We turn to the U.S. and send a message that we need your commitment to our security, especially today when the foreign aid for Israel cannot be taken for granted,” Oren added. “We call upon you to maintain the same level of commitment to Israel’s security”.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Barak met with the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and emphasized the importance of retaining the same level of assistance to Israel.

    I’m sorry, but as I have said over and over, the notion that the US constantly has to “reaffirm” our “unshakeable, unwavering” dedication to Israel’s security is preposterous because we have never done anything to make them question it. We are committed to their security, as we should be. But at times it sounds like they are baiting the administration and being manipulative as if to say “if you don’t constantly reaffirm your unwavering, UNQUESTIONING support for us we’ll turn on you, at great political cost to you…”

    This is flagrant pandering and it’s starting to sound like Israel never misses an opportunity to fearmonger, triangulate and request more stuff. They are taking advantage of the Egypt crisis and the US is playing right into it.

    I’d love to hear an Israeli official reaffirm THEIR commitment to the security needs of the US and instead of focusing on fearmongering, actually make public statements that express hope, a desire for peace and an ability to appeal to the best in people, not the worst. Instead all we get is “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” and manipulation.

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