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April 9, 2011
Friends of Mr CairoBy Greyhawk
...Or "Another look through the dynamic multi-dimensional lenses, darkly." (Theme song here.)
(Wow, thought President Obama, good thing I solved that Egypt crisis! Now I better act fast to fix Libya before "the democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power." Hillary, where's my national security adviser?)
I know - Egypt is old news, but there are disconcerting reports from Cairo today:
According to the headline, just one protester dead so far. The story includes several elements designed to appeal to revolutionaries everywhere, like quotes from university students and car mechanics who've joined forces to combat tyranny - even though they're outgunned by the forces of evil.
Armed with sticks and other makeshift weapons, the protesters vowed not to leave until the defense minister, the titular head of state, has resigned.
It might need to be flushed deep down the (already clogged) White House memory hole, but there was a day not long ago when the relatively swift and bloodless "resolution" of the Egyptian protests (Mubarak resigned in favor of military rule, under Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi) was declared to be one of the greatest acts of presidential statesmanship in US history. Other observers (ahem) were less sanguine, noting it wasn't really about us, and it wasn't really over (among other things).
"The people want the fall of the field marshal," chanted protesters, in a variation on the chant that has become famous across the Middle East with protests calling for regime change. "Tantawi is Mubarak and Mubarak is Tantawi," went another chant, explicitly equating Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the defense minister, with the president who once appointed him.
Oh my, you might think, what will president Obama do? Or perhaps your response is more along the lines of "good thing we didn't get involved in Egypt! We don't need that mess on top of our Libya mess!"
Unfortunately, we are involved. Lets return once again to Tom Donilon's "dynamic multi-dimensional lenses" schtick from the opening days of our Libya op. Guess which Libya-neighboring country is most crucial to success there?
"Before getting into specifics," our National Security Adviser told the press, "I wanted to talk about Egypt as part of talking about the entire sweep of things that we're looking at here."
Along those lines, I spoke to Field Marshal Tantawi the day before yesterday, and I wanted to talk about that for a couple of minutes because I do think it's important. I thanked Marshal Tantawi for his leadership of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, and communicated to him that the world continues to admire the Egyptian people's transition to a democratic government; reiterated our commitment to partnership with Egypt in this project and in helping the Egyptian people achieve a successful transition.
He goes on for a few more paragraphs that can be summed up with the simple phrase "I piled on the sweet talk" before getting to the point: "And I thanked him for the government of Egypt's assistance in helping address the humanitarian situation in Libya -- where we've been working with them."
Got it - America, Egypt, humanitarian assistance to Libya, you're working with Field Marshall Tantawi. Understood. Now, pass the buck and move on:
The success of the democratic transformation underway in Egypt is absolutely critical. It's the largest Arab country. It is, again, at the center of events in the region and is a very tight and important focus for us, which is why, of course, Secretary Clinton will be going there next week as the highest ranking United States official to visit Egypt since President Mubarak left office.
And she did - touring Tahrir Square (scene of the Cairo uprising) and telling Egyptians they were an inspiration to America. She chatted with some of Egypt's new leaders, too.
"To the people of Egypt, let me say: this moment of history belongs to you," Clinton said following talks with Egypt's new foreign minister, Nabil al-Araby. "This is your achievement and you broke barriers and overcame obstacles to pursue the dream of democracy."
Unfortunately, the actual protesters refused to even meet with her...
But a big part of the hope that went into the planning for the Libya op is that once they saw us launching missiles in Libya they'd appreciate us more.
So, Donilon spoke to Field Marshal Tantawi on March 8th, and Hillary's visit came a week later. I think since then we've gotten a better understanding of what he meant by "humanitarian assistance" (nudge wink).
And yes, "this is something we have knowledge of," said "a senior US official."
Of course, everyone has plausible deniability here - and no doubt we're sending ham sandwiches and bandages, too. (Or only. And for the children.) So lets stick with "humanitarian assistance" as the polite term for what we're doing in Libya through Egypt's military government.
And now back to the latest from Cairo:
Someone might not have completely understood the "green light" concept. Since that "someone" is now an important ally in our getting humanitarian assistance to Libya (I certainly hope no one thinks we're cozying up to one ruthless dictator to combat another - that stuff gets ugly quick!), I expect something along the lines of a strongly worded rebuke to be forthcoming from Washington soon. (Perhaps combined with a call from Hillary to our hope-inspiring Egyptian protester friends to please be patient and peaceful, change is on the way.)
But whatever happens, I'm sure it will be declared the latest greatest act of presidential statesmanship in US history.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 9, 2011 12:20 PM | Permalink
Egypt junta bows to protesters, Mubarak and sons jailed.On Wednesday the government pounced, ordering Mr. Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, into custody for 15 days, while the allegations are investigated.A lot can happen in 15 days. From readi... Read More
Unbelievable! You might cry. Of course it is. (If it wasn't, it wouldn't be deniable.) But that doesn't matter. You're along for the ride... When it comes to Libya planning, I keep coming back to this cartoon.... I suppose I should explain it in full. ... Read More
Ever wonder what the fourth week of a planned one week war looks like? Wonder no more - it looks like this:Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other E... Read More
"The United States and its allies have entered a new stage of involvement in Libya," says this Washington Post report:France and Italy said Wednesday that they would join Britain in dispatching military advisers to assist the inexperienced and disorgan... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com