Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I heart Egypt!

The American people demand information about Egypt, so why not let them eat cake?

The brief discussion, started in another post, has flooded over the banks of the Nile and is now threatening Cairo. As we at TLATL constantly meet the needs of our Dear Reader, we stand ready to provide. It is always hard to speak broadly, for example of the "media". Exceptions abound. It may be even harder to speak usefully of events in foreign cultures. For as much as Egypt is a neighbor in this global village, it is perhaps more important to point out that Americans seem more enamored with our interest in Egypt than in the actual country or people of Egypt. Whatever questions have been raised, they are usually with the devilish smirk of how to frame our position, our involvement. Buyer beware.


Roller said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure what to make of that video. I heard a few statements by the President over the last 3-4 weeks. In hindsight I suppose his stance did seem to change some, but I don't know that a person isn't allowed to change their stance as events happen. Who knows what happens diplomatically behind the scenes, but at least publicly I didn't get the impression that our government was meddling. Perhaps the most reassuring aspect of the news I read/saw/heard about Egypt was that it was almost all about Egypt, not about our nation's role.

Maybe it's a factor of to what media outlets we subscribe. I consumed most of my Egypt news from podcasts (BBC Global News, New Yorker's Political Scene). I have to admit that I don't watch much CNN or MSNBC, preferring more serious content (re-runs of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia or South Park).

Ryan said...

Yeah, Rollers, I can't make anything out of the video in terms of what to think about Egypt, other than the neat, tidy package the press is trying to sell is not accurate.

I haven't been following it either, and to me that vid just re-enforces the idea that the average press jockey is clueless. I am not necessarily saying that as a rip on the press, other than maybe suggesting they take a more measured approach when reporting on things they know nothing about. It appears perhaps our own government was caught flat-footed, so it's a complex deal...

I read an article recently that was lambasting Bill Kristol. Bill Kristol is the prototypical idjut on TV who says a bunch of really misleading and dangerous things, usually about how good we are (q.e.d.) and democracy is and how every other country and culture around the world, no matter how removed from ours in time or space, should get democracy and with our help. And that democracy (or in this case, revolution) preternaturally produces good fruit!


Coovo said...

Dudes, Egypt is so last week. Ive moved our mobile blagging camp to Bahrain, where the police are making it "bah"rain with tear gas. Good thing m y tear ducts dried up after that weekend I watched Beaches 5 times.

But seriously I did watch more about Egypt than I thought i would. Mostly on Charlie Rose. As someone who only knew how to walk like an Egyptian, I was surprised to hear that Egypt had a dictator. I even met someone from Egypt last year and when I asked him about his country, the topic of Mubarak never came up.

What i have kind of gleaned from this whole thing (and again I knew nothing of Egypt before this), not just the video, is that in the beginning, even if Obama wanted to come out and say Mubarak must go, he couldn't because Egypt has been ally forever. If somehow the protests dwindled and Mubarak stayed in power, now we have Obama on TV going, "Just playin' Hosni"

I saw Ryan's favorite TV personality, Steven Colbert, the other night and he was talking with Christiane Amanpour. And I thought his joke kind of summer up the quandary as best it could. He asked Amanpour, "So how can the United States help them get a democratically elected leader, who is not our puppet, but does everything we want him to?"

Roller said...

Funny comment, Coovo, and good point regarding Obama's stance.

Jim said...

i think i read a quote from kissenger (sp?) that was something to the effect of: we don't have friends in other countries, but rather interests. this whole middle east thing has certainly laid bare the "ugly" aspects of foreign policy and diplomacy and the deal we effectively cut with these autocrats. we'll see how it plays out.

and i couldn't watch more than 1:30 of that video. with few exceptions, almost all those cable news programs are a complete disaster.

Ryan said...

For those still confused as to why I bring any of the coverage of foreign affairs up not as being totally unimportant to follow but as being both less important that American events and possibly dangerous given our post-modern presumptions, here we go:


It must be difficult these days to have the natural desire to serve in our military, when your main responsibility will be getting involved in foreign wars that serve the special interests of our centralized government rather than our people.

G. Smith said...

The fact that this wave of revolutions is still playing out in significant ways may prove what I think Ryan's point may have been a while ago. The press doesn't know anything about the middle east or Africa - they're too busy pumping out news.

One story that I have yet to hear about the Libyian revolution our long history with Colonel Gaddafi. We've known for a long time about him - Back in the day, President Reagan referred to him as the mad dog of the middle east. However, his support for the terrorist bombings over Lockerbe was "forgiven" recently by the U.S. as he went from being the US's public enemy number one, to someone people pointed to as showing good leadership in Africa. It's a damn shame that Obama has fallen into lock-step with the narrative that Khadafi is some new problem that we have to deal with.

Of course he's got tons of oil money, and certainly doesn't share the wealth with a majority of his citizens, so he's been able to buy favor from many respectable countries. He even had a decent idea to form a United States of Africa type union to offer some kind of alternative united voice - but he then proclaimed himself King of the new USA, bought off a number of poor African countries, and then settled down in his tent.

The guy's clearly a brutal kook, and the relationship between the U.S. and him is an education history about our role in foreign affairs - I feel like the media's completely missing the boat on this one. No one should be surprised that he's not afraid to harm his own citizens - Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and convicted war criminal Omar El-Bashir of Sudan are among his greatest allies.

I'm glad that Obama and Europe finally decided to say that the Colonel should go - but the complete lack of regard for our history with him is misleading.

Anyway - I think I'm also agreeing with your last point, Ryan, that our role in foreign affairs is fucked up at best, and completely immoral at worst.

Ryan said...

Yes, G, you've got it. The fact that Gaddafi makes Rick James look tame is all one should need to know, but his real history is checkered with insanity and our own flip-flop involvement.

It's not just that our press doesn't know what they are talking about. This is both a cause and effect of our people not knowing either. Instead, our people believe that it's our duty to spread our belief systems around the world with military sneezes, damn the actual effects or costs.

It will be interesting to see if, down the road, anything important from an American perspective happens in northern Africa, Africa in general or the middle east. The idea that revolution always leads to democracy which always leads to better governments for us to deal with is a total fallacy.

The first elections held by the Palestinians brought Hamas to legitimate power. Good move.

Meanwhile, Ben Bernanke's beard is buried and those strange butter people in Wisconsin fight on. Maybe if Donna and Eric talk about it, it will get noticed. Or we'll stay sheepish and allow the Supreme Court to usurp more power.

Kevin said...

I learned all about Gaddafi's history today on NPR (part of the press).

Just sayin.

I have issues with the bulk of our media as well, but to cherry pick horrible Fox news clips or something like that isn't exactly the best way to view the value of our American Press as a whole.

Ryan said...