Our brothers and sisters in Egypt have taken to the streets
to mount a rebellion
against the corrupt regime of Hosni Mubarak. We don't know if their efforts will succeed. It's possible that the rebellion will be commandeered by forces even worse than Mubarak. Even so, one must applaud the bravery of an impoverished people who have tolerated dictatorship for far too long.
Interestingly, there are those who feel that the CIA
(and Mossad, natch) are behind the effort to topple Mubarak. He was always "America's man" in Egypt, and he allowed the CIA to establish its one of its largest stations in his country.
But things are different now. Just a few days ago, Elliot Abrams
The U.S. strategy for three decades since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 has been to bet on Mubarak for stability. That may have been a smart bet thirty years ago. But that cannot possibly be a smart bet for the next decade.
But if the people of Egypt were to rise up, and the orders to the army were to start shooting them by the hundreds, it's not inconceivable the army would say no.
There have been plenty of signals that the ailing Hosni Mubarak wants his son Gamal to succeed him. It won't happen. Gamal is popular with neither the public nor the military.
Well, as long as we're putting on our tin foil thinking cap -- does anyone remember this story
? It was all the rage back in 2002. Laurent Murawiec of the Rand corporation gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Defense Policy Board, under the auspices of Richard Perle. The PowerPoint file leaked out.
But then Murawiec lights out for the extreme foreign policy territory, recommending that we threaten Medina and Mecca, home to Islam's most holy places, if they don't see it our way. Ultimately, he champions a takeover of Saudi Arabia. The last slide in the deck, titled "Grand strategy for the Middle East," abandons the outrageous for the incomprehensible. It reads:
* Iraq is the tactical pivot
* Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot
* Egypt the prize
Egypt the prize?
Because none of the Defense Policy Board attendees are talking candidly about the session, it's hard to divine what "Egypt the prize" means or if Murawiec's briefing put it into any context. It sounds a tad loopy, even by Dr. Strangelove standards.
Murawiec is dead now, so we can't ask him what he meant.
We now know that the Iraq "pivot" did not work out so well -- and no-one is touching Saudi Arabia. Still, I wonder: Could the current rebellion in Egypt be part of some long-term scheme to collect "the prize"? What, exactly, makes Egypt (an oil-poor nation) such a prize?
It's fun to speculate about such things. But right now, I see no pressing reason to argue that the Egyptian uprising has been manipulated or engineered. (Although there is this
If this were a CIA thing, you would already know the name of the designated "man on a white horse" who would lead his country to freedom, yada yada yada. Spooks don't gin up a rebellion unless they already have a guy in the green room, waiting for his cue to walk out on stage. (Ahmed Chalabi was supposed to play that role in Iraq, but no-one in that country could take him seriously.)
No, based on current evidence, I think that what we are seeing is just what it looks like. The poor people of Egypt have finally shouted "Enough!"