On Egypt: Let’s be silent and keep the fleet ready…

Why should you care what goes on in Egypt? Think of $5-gasoline.

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It’s all very fascinating what is going on in Egypt, people in open revolt against an oppressive regime, and an at first largely peaceful rebellion and now one turned violent, but not as bad as it certainly could or will be. There have been deaths and injury, but solid numbers we do not have. But the bottom line for the USA is that we need the oil from the region and an open trade route through the Suez Canal.

So far, I would say the Obama administration is doing the right thing. While some may criticize it for all but abandoning, okay abandoning, Hosni Mubarak, who has carried our water, being paid off with military and other support (most or all of which the average Egyptian citizen never sees) for lo these past three decades, in the face of such a massive uprising of the people and with the fact that Mubarak apparently failed to enact reforms, preferring to keep rebellion and take over by Islamic extremists always imminent as a reason to keep him in power, what other choice was there?

Now the question seems to be is this a secular (non-religious) uprising or an Islamic fundamentalist inspired one? No clear answer, but it may well be a little of both. But there are signs that the usual suspects, Al Qaeda et al., don’t know quite how to handle themselves in this. Sure it’s their dream come true if the people rise up and overthrow what they would call a puppet or stooge of the west, Mubarak, but what if the people actually force the installation of a Western European-style parliamentary democracy? That would be the Islamic fundamentalists’ worst nightmare.

(Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has an active role and it seems to masquerade at least as a softer-gentler form of Al Qaeda — compassionate conservative? — but if you believe that…)

(A New York Times article made reference to the quandary the Islamic revolutionaries face: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/world/middleeast/03jihad.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&hp)

I still maintain the USA should basically lie low, but keep the fleet and the airborne ready for a real emergency. We get into trouble when we go beyond taking care of necessary business, such as keeping the canal open, and go into nation building. Nation building is for those in the nation or prospective nation in question.

If we were not so bogged down in the Middle East already, we could be a lot more nimble. But we are there, so at least we should know the territory by now.

I believe U.S. President Barack Obama has done the right thing so far by not saying a lot, but by calling Mubarak in private (well kind of private) and telling him his time has run out.

As Teddy Roosevelt said: “Speak softly and carry a big stick”.

We should only act militarily to take care of our immediate interests, though, such as keeping the canal open, not meddling with internal struggles or politics.

P.s.

Meanwhile we still have the possibility, an unacceptable one at that, of a nuclear-armed Iran. That is another place where we need to let them know in private we are willing to use that big stick.

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CLARIFICATION:

Over the past two days or so I have used the expression “lay low” and “lie low” interchangeably, because I like to say lay low, but maybe grammatically it is supposed to be lie low, and my dictionary (a real book) indicates it can go either way, being an idiomatic expression, but anyway, I try to use correct grammar when I can.

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