I realize that the average citizen has the memory of an Alzheimer’s patient with attention deficit disorder but indulge me with trying to use some of your brain cells. Although false claims about Saddam Hussein’s stash of weapons of mass destruction was used to whip up public support for going to war in Iraq, the underlying philosophy of the Bush strategy was to use force to impose democracy in Iraq in the naive belief that this would create a domino effect and usher in an era of democracy in the Middle East.

The crazed neocons who believe this nonsense are not stupid people–e.g., Elliot Abrams, Robert Kagan, William Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, to mention a few. Abram lit up the editorial pages of the Washington Post early this week pushing his theology that the chaos in Egypt proves that George W. Bush was right:

In November 2003, President George W. Bush laid out this question:

“Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even to have a choice in the matter?”

The massive and violent demonstrations underway in Egypt, the smaller ones in Jordan and Yemen, and the recent revolt in Tunisia that inspired those events, have affirmed that the answer is no and are exploding, once and for all, the myth of Arab exceptionalism. Arab nations, too, yearn to throw off the secret police, to read a newspaper that the Ministry of Information has not censored and to vote in free elections. The Arab world may not be swept with a broad wave of revolts now, but neither will it soon forget this moment.

Bush was right? Are you shitting me? Before we dissect the madness of this world view with respect to Egypt permit me a brief walk back to what has actually happened in Iraq.

We were once aligned with a brutal autocrat, Saddam Hussein. Saddam was a mean, greedy son of a bitch but he served our national interest by helping contain the threat of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Doesn’t matter whether you like that or not. It is a simple fact.

Enter the neocons. Their philosophy, born in the utopian fantasies of Trotsky (read Justin Raimondos excellent overview), insisted that forging a democracy in Iraq thru war would, in the words of Kagan and Kristol, produce an “eruption of democracy in the heart of the Arab world.”

We now know how that worked out. An elected government is in place in Baghdad and it is effectively controlled by the Revolutionary Guard of Iran. The United States’ policy in Iraq has facilitated the spread of Iran’s influence and power in the region. Ironically many of the neocons froth at the mouth at the prospect of Iran securing a nuclear weapon but turn a blind eye to their own efforts that have both emboldened and strenthened Iran. Go figure. America is not stronger or more secure because of our war in Iraq and the Middle East is not a better, more stable, more democratic region. But try telling that to the neocons.

So now the neocons are busy trying to light the fires of democracy in Egypt. Excuse me, but there is no virtue or inherent morality in a system of government that allows the majority to make the rules. Anyone care to take the position that because a majority of Germans backed Hitler’s National Socialists that there was a moral authority and right to exist for that regime?

Steve Clemons understood this point and wrote about it in 2005:

The Kristol-Kagan-Kaplan school of thought seems unconcerned with the fact that one election does not a democracy make. Richard Haass, a former head of the Bush administration’s policy planning staff at the State Department, warns that the White House is creating ballotocracies, not real democracies. A system of checks and balances, protections for minority rights, an independent judiciary and a genuinely free and respected media are only the beginning parts of establishing a resilient democracy, he suggests. And this may take decades.

Framing an election as a success to score political points will only blur the U.S. ability to see what is really unfolding in Iraq. Influential writers and pundits who engage in lop-sided analyses of the coalition’s role in Iraq are doing a disservice to all sides in the debate and need to get back to doing what Scowcroft did: put all the views, not just the best case, on the table and plan a course from there.

Let me suggest that we ought to know what a majority of people believe before we sign on to enabling them to take the reins of power. I am no Egypt expert but I have been to the country twice. Yes there are American friendly Egyptians but there also are Egyptians who favor female circumcision, female subjugation and the installation of Sharia law. Sorry, but I’m not down for that. I would rather back a tyrant/autocrat who would keep those crazies in check. I don’t want a nation controlled by a band of religious fantics that sits astride the Suez Canal and has control of the western border of Israel.

It is bad enough that the neocons are still trying to work their magic in the Washington policy world. Making matters worse is that the fools in the Obama national security team at the White House are inviting these clowns to step inside the tent. Elliot Abrams and Robert Kagan, two of the architects of the disaster in Iraq, were invited to the White House yesterday for a conference on Egypt. They turned down the invite but have continued to appear in public and push their view that Mubarak must go.

So last night Barack Obama appears on TV and announces, “Mubarak must go now.” Obama may not be a neocon at heart but he is certainly willing to carry their water. It appears there are no adults around Obama. He has now put his prestige and that of the United States on the line by insisting that Mubarak must go now. Unless the Army moves to oust Mubarak he is not going anywhere until his term in office ends. U.S. threats to cut financial support to Egypt’s military is self-defeating to the broader U.S. interest of keeping Israel’s western border secure and minimizing the ability of Hamas to infilitrate persons and munitions into Gaza. Obama has painted himself into a corner–if Mubarak goes then odds are high that Egypt will shift quickly to a policy opposed to being a proxy protector for Israel; if Mubarak stays he is a visible reminder that Obama is weak and others in the region will get the message that the U.S. is now a paper tiger. If you think Iran and Saudi Arabia are oblivious to these facts then you are qualified to be another empty headed pundit appearing on Fox or CNN to spout nonsense.

A popular uprising deposing Mubarak does not ensure that the ensuing regime will want to maintain Egypt’s treaty with Israel. If Egypt and Jordan fall to the will of the majority of their population we are likely to face a future where Israel’s security and survival will genuinely be in question. I for one am not eager for the United States to face the call of intervening militarily in a war to save Israel. Obama’s inept handling of this crisis may very well have set those forces in motion.

Mubarak sent an unmistakable signal today in Egypt–he ain’t going without a fight. Mubarak supporters have been ordered back into the streets and they will try to take it back by force. The key in all of this remains the Army. If they are reasonably confident that Mubarak will leave as promised come the fall they are likely to back his play and allow the anti-Mubarak protestors to be forcibly beat down. If they doubt Mubarak they will refuse to support the crackdown and will move to expedite Mubarak’s departure. This is still in play and remains volatile. Regardless of outcome the events in Egypt have exposed Obama as a paper tiger who has no vision for the region and only acts with an eye to his domestic politcal audience. Just as Iran sowed the seeds of Jimmy Carter’s one term Presidency, Egypt has become Obama’s Iran moment.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
  • John House

    This essay…is…if I were more Boehner-like, it’d bring tears to my eyes.  It’s just so great, so spot-on.  Every single douche on my Facebook feed I know who’s commented on “freedome for Egyptians!” needs to read this.

  • TeakWoodKite

    It was in a white house press briefing. I will see if I can find the transcript of it as it was quoted in another article I was reading.

  • Ferd Not-My-Site-(click to edit) Berfle

     I think we should end all aid to to israel & Egypt. Now.  
    And I think we should end all welfare, which means trolls like you would have to get a job. Why don’t you frequent another website more suited to your intellect prowess, or lack thereof specifically, like RomperRoom.com.

  • Ferd Not-My-Site-(click to edit) Berfle

    Excellent essay, LJ. Between the morons on the left who kiss the backside of a shiftless slacker currently squatting in the WH and the morons on the right who love them some Dubya, it is a wonder this country isn’t in even worse shape. Neocons and progressives are all part of the same gene pool commonly known as the shallows. Hopefully we’ll someday get an electorate that will backfill that end.

  • jj

    Hi Larry, i have to agree with Justin on this. Here is Justin schooling Rachel M from MSNBC. I think we should end all aid to to israel & Egypt. Now.

    Rachel Maddow Supports Aid to Mubarak
    February 01, 2011| News | Justin Raimondo

  • seattlegonz

    There weren’t 2 million people in Tahrir square…that’s the basis for the numbers that you’re quoting beginning to unravel.

  • Karma

    A couple of posts back I referenced an Egyptian courtroom scene with Zawahiri in the 80s.  My failed memory had him in a glass and wood prisoner’s cubicle within the courtroom and ranting.

    I was wrong.  He was behind bars with a bunch of his friends in an improvised courtroom.  That close up shot of him behind bars rant was the clip shown on the news at the time.

    Here is that clip.  I bet most of you who are old enough, will remember Zawahiri too.  @43:48

    The full courtroom is seen @43:33


  • TeakWoodKite

    From the link Noogan posted;

    “The Egyptian government, post-Mubarak, is not likely to attack Israel: indeed, the fear is that the Israelis may very well attack Egypt in a preemptive strike. And the Israelis, need I remind you, are armed with nuclear weapons: surely that is the wildest wild card in the Middle East mix, more volatile than anything the Brotherhood has in its arsenal.”.

    I am so amazed at the different “triangulations” , depending on the view of the person commenting, myself included, with the “going ons” in Egypt and what Israel might or might not do.

     ….across the spectrum there are those who will scapegoat Israel and praise the Obama astroturfing with an ME twist….
    and then there are peeps in the middle the expressing sobering insights of the near and far term consequences of meddling in a dictatorial Allys affairs, just for the sake of “hope and change”.
    Then the ones that raise the point of regional military balances and access to very sophisticated US weaponry by “other than Egyptian military….(on this point, I can recall seeing Jordanian weapons caches in the arsenal of Iraq.)

    Why is it Israels fault that this is occurring?
     While it is true that Israel is facing huge challenges (warts and all) even without this, it being bad enough that Syria, Lebanon, Iran and now Egypt represents a three front war scenario. (four if one counts the guerrilla/cyber/influence operations). and add in the recent rebuke that Obama delivered to the Israeli leadership, the invitation of the Brotherhood to his speech in Cairo, Hamas, Hezzbollah….

    How long will it be until the shit is REALLY in the fan and American lives are put in harms way to defend Israel, which are a direct result of an Obama influence operation gone wildly wrong?

  • +


    I do not know what you have been watching, but there were 2 million people. Where did you get the 250,000 number? FOX? Egyptian state television?

    More than two million Egyptians gathered Tuesday in Tahrir Square (Liberation) in downtown Cairo in the largest mobilization in eight days of protest against President Hosni Mubarak “


    If you add up all the protestors across the country, it is more like 5 million to 8 million people in the streets.

    “Over five million Egyptians have taken to the streets across the country to pressure President Hosni Mubarak and his government to step down. “


    ” ‘Al Jazeera’ channel reported on Tuesday that around 8 million people have took to the streets al around Egypt. Two million were reported in Tahrir Square and the surrounding area, the other 6 million protested in other areas of Egypt.”


  • +


    The Egyptian army receives billions from the U.S. The U.S. has influence on what the Army does.

    The Egyptian army made clear late Monday afternoon Cairo time that it would not repress peaceful demonstrations. A spokesman read out a statement on television: The military said it was fanning out through the streets to prevent looting and acts of sabotage. It said that the military recognized the legitimacy of the demands of the people and of the demonstrators who are asking for vast political and social adjustments. It said it would “never resort to the use of force against this great people.”

    Meanwhile, the newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman of military intelligence, offered to open negotiations with the demonstrators.

    Some analysts are interpreting these statements as a two-pronged strategy. But I wonder if they do not point to a split in the security forces. Suleiman is from military intelligence, not the regular army. The new prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq, is an officer from the relatively elite and pampered air force (like Mubarak himself).

    The statement about not using force on the people came from the regular army, which is made up of a combination of staff officers and thousands of conscripts. Army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Sami Anan (Enan) may have decided to preserve the unity of his branch of the armed forces, the closest to the people, by throwing the other three under the bus.

    As a smart Pakistani analyst put it:
    ‘ The Egyptian theatre now has four key players — Lt Gen Sami Annan, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Army, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Defence Minister, Air Marshal Ahmed Shafiq, Minister for Civil Aviation [and now Prime Minister], and Lt Gen Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief. Of the four, Lt Gen Annan commands 468,000 troops, Field Marshal Tantawi oversees 60,000 Republican Guards while Lt Gen Suleiman is rumoured to be ailing. ‘
    Thus, Suleiman’s offer to negotiate is probably a way of trying to keep the newly appointed military cabinet in power, perhaps with an eye to new elections, by reaching out to and perhaps bringing in from the cold at least some of the opposition. Lt. Gen. Anan, in contrast, seems not to care very much whether the Mubarak crew stays in power or not, as long as the institution of the army is safeguarded and law and order can be preserved.

    In a mass popular uprising of the sort now ongoing in Egypt, unity of the military and security forces, their backing for the ruler, and willingness to be ruthless, are key to a government remaining in power. This combination of factors was present in Iran in summer-fall, 2009. But the news out of Cairo late Monday and into Tuesday suggests deep divisions and diffidence in the military, which bodes ill for Mubarak.”

  • TeakWoodKite

    Don’t have much confidence, when it comes to the level of incompetence displayed by Obama.

    Even Condi Rice rues the day they pushed for “democracy” in Gaza….not that she would shed any tears over it.

  • TeakWoodKite

    Hey Obama, Hab SoSlI’ Quch!

  • armymom

    Thank you ! Thank you! I’ve been asking that same question about the cell phones. On $2 a day they can afford all the cell phones and such?

  • TeakWoodKite

    This whole event in Egypt is a “yes we can” Obama speech , right down to the Axelrod astroturfing lessons for ElBaridi.

    I have an very ugly feeling about where this ends up by June.

  • Larry Johnson

    But Justin drops the ball completely on this one. He buys into the bullshit that this is a PEOPLE’S revolt.  250,000 people in a public square is not exactly representative of the whole of 81 million people who live in Egypt.  We keep hearing about the impoverished masses but, somehow, miraculously, they have cell phones, twitter accounts and ready internet access before Mubarak pulled the plug.  So let me get this straight, THAT SHIT IS FREE IN EGYPT?

  • Andy

    Thanks LJ; that makes sense.

  • TeakWoodKite

    Huh? oowawa?  I have never used Obama’s nazi germany comparision to Hitler. Never mind that the Muslim Brotherhood were allied with Hitler….

  • NOOGAN!!

    Egypt: Battle of the Narratives
    Two conspiracy theories debunked


  • Hokma

    “Regardless of outcome the events in Egypt have exposed Obama as a paper tiger who has no vision for the region and only acts with an eye to his domestic politcal audience. Just as Iran sowed the seeds of Jimmy Carter’s one term Presidency, Egypt has become Obama’s Iran moment.”

    Unfortunately it will be more than Egypt. There is also Jordan and Yemen. I saw a former Israeli ambassador on TV tear apart Obama – calling his actions “reckless” referring to his immediate announcements that just cut-off a man who has been a staunch ally of the U.S. in the region. He said that U.S. allies now have to be concerned with Obama’s support (or lack of). He asked if Obama would have responded to same way if those demonstrations were in Tianmaman Square in China. He thought not.

    There were reports that the US had been having talks with the Muslim Brotherhood prior to the riots in Cairo.

    Carter may have allowed a state to be run by radical Islamists, but Obama may be responsible for the entire region.

    We can only pray that this situation works out for the better inspite of Obama’s incompetence.

  • AC

    I appreciate the “brain cell” exercises anytime Larry–Let the synapses fire!