January 05, 2006

The Slow Rot of Hosni Mubarak

I still intend to finish the pyramids story I started yesterday, but first I need to send you over to my new piece at TCS: The Slow Rot of Hosni Mubarak. I never liked the guy in the first place, and now that I've seen what he has done to his country I truly can't stand him. And neither should you.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 5, 2006 02:59 AM
Comments

Great passion; important insights. Wonderful quotes from Big Pharaoh.

But how to stop supporting Mubarak?

Naturally, I have a solution; or at least an idea balloon. The USA should begin funding secular housebuilding companies as 10% of the "aid". And each year, they should increase their direct funding of small, private companies providing housing, food, and clothing, to the domestic Egyptian market.

You could also have been a bit more honest -- the payments to Egypt are due to Carter's Camp David accord. The US buys "peace" for Israel.

I love that Israel is a democracy; I support their fence (except why did they extend it a few hundred meters out, so often?); I hate the Palistinian terrorists. But the US pays extortion money to Egypt; and the corrupt yes-men kleptocrats who oppress their people in the name of US-supported stability.

The USA has a two-term limit (after power-grabbing by FDR); all "democracies" need some time-limit on top executive authority. The kings need changing before they die. Perhaps 10, 12, 15, 16 years? After which the USA reduces its gov't aid dramatically, preferably by re-directing it at opposition businesses.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at January 5, 2006 03:51 AM

I have a lot of hope for Egypt.

However, it's difficult to disagree with what you write.

I think this is one of the best pieces from you I've read. It's full of Hitchen's style outrage that pervades every sentence.

Posted by: lebanon.profile at January 5, 2006 04:21 AM

I was chatting to a guy from Morrocco a few months ago. He lived in the US, was well educated with a Ph.D.

He said most of the infrastructure has not been maintained since the Ferench left. He spoke of mail boxes that fell apart so people just used the one which was not broken.

It seems as if Egypt is not the only country with infrastucture problems.

Posted by: davod at January 5, 2006 06:15 AM

I was chatting to a guy from Morrocco a few months ago. He lived in the US, was well educated with a Ph.D.

He said most of the infrastructure has not been maintained since the French left. He spoke of mail boxes that fell apart so people just used the one which was not broken.

It seems as if Egypt is not the only country with infrastucture problems.

Posted by: davod at January 5, 2006 06:16 AM

I was chatting to a guy from Morrocco a few months ago. He lived in the US, was well educated with a Ph.D.

He said most of the infrastructure has not been maintained since the French left. He spoke of mail boxes that fell apart so people just used the one which was not broken.

It seems as if Egypt is not the only country with infrastucture problems.

Posted by: davod at January 5, 2006 06:16 AM

"Josh Stacher explained how it looks to Egyptian eyes. “Mubarak’s NDP [National Democratic Party] fires tear gas at people who line up to vote. ‘Made in the USA’ is stamped on those canisters."

I doubt that very much. Sounds like typical leftist blame America first:

"The National Organization for Military Production within the Ministry of Military Production supervises a number of manufacturing plants, which were usually named after their location. These plants included the Abu Zaabal Company for Engineering Industries, which produced artillery pieces and barrels; the Abu Zaabal Tank Repair Factory, which overhauled and repaired tanks and would eventually become the producer of Egypt's main battle tank; the Al Maadi Company for Engineering Industries, which produced light weapons, including the Egyptian version of the Soviet AK-47 assault rifle; the Hulwan Company for Machine Tools, which produced mortars and rocket launchers; the Hulwan Company for Engineering Industries, which produced metal parts for ammunition, shells, bombs, and rockets; the Heliopolis Company for Chemical Industries, which produced artillery ordnance, bombs, and missile warheads; and the Banha Company for Electronic Industries, which produced communications devices."
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/egypt/industry.htm

Posted by: sanborn at January 5, 2006 08:34 AM

I seem to recall reading that, adjusting for inflation, the median wage in Egypt is now below what it was under the British occupation. This seems plausible, but I wonder if anybody knows of a resource for backing this up?

Posted by: SWLiP at January 5, 2006 08:55 AM

I liked your article about Lebanon the Model. I am Proud American of Lebanese origin and currently working in Saudi Arabia. I do frequent trips to Lebanon and live first hand on how hard the Lebanese are trying to be free and build the country, even though the Syrain regime is not giving up their war on Lebanon. Thank you

Posted by: Akram Rabah at January 5, 2006 09:13 AM

all i wanted to say is that i cantt belive that u have the same surname wiked!!!!!!! Im thomas Totten by the way.

Posted by: thomas totten at January 5, 2006 09:34 AM

Another great article! But what do you mean, "never liked him from the first"? When was that?

Posted by: Solomon2 at January 5, 2006 12:16 PM

Solomon,

When I said I never liked him in the first place, I just meant I never liked him before I went to Egypt (even though he's supposedly a "moderate" and an "ally") and I dislike him even more now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 5, 2006 12:24 PM

Michael, I am not mentioned anywhere. Where is the love? sniff..sniff

Great article though. You think Bashar will let himself be interviewed by the UN?

Posted by: The Sandmonkey at January 5, 2006 01:06 PM

Sandmonkey,

I'll get to you on the blog. :)

I couldn't include everything and everyone in that piece. I even interviewed the MB, and couldn't fit them into that one.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 5, 2006 01:18 PM

Nice column. Your observations regarding Mubarak's repressive tactics remind me of how the Shah of Iran cracked down hard on liberal and leftist opposition to his regime, thereby leaving the mullahs as the only political opponents capable of wielding broad support among the masses. All the while the US made half-hearted attempts to get the Shah to loosen his regime's grip on political life. We all know how that story ended. And this was in spite of the fact that unlike Mubarak, the Shah was delivering a measure of socioeconomic development for his country, and could use his oil wealth to buy some support.

Posted by: Eric at January 5, 2006 04:04 PM

You the man Michael, unlike that PRO syrian RAT Joshua Landis!!! You speak the truth and not one sided like baathist Joshua...what a loser.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK...GOD BLESS LEBANON!

Posted by: lebanesepride at January 5, 2006 04:17 PM

"In early 2005 he announced that he would allow candidates other than himself to run for president. "

Funniest sentence! "he would allow" ... well, isn't that downright sporting of him. LOL

Fascinating article, Michael. I guess I always had this impression that Egypt was a modern and 'with it' society. So much for public education.

I wish the U.S. would stop aiding and abetting ... Egypt AND the Palis.

Posted by: megs at January 5, 2006 06:06 PM

YOu make a mistake in saying Egypt's economy is moribund. Far from it, Egypt has actually had the best performing stock market in the world over the last 2 1/2 year period. Furthermore, Egyptian corporations like Orascom and Oriental Weavers are expanding abroad and turning into large multinationals. Now is an upswing in Egyptian economic activity. Furthermore, the affluent suburbs of Cairo, like Heliopolis, Zamalek, and Maadi, are very nice and vibrant places. So is downtown. I'm surprised you found it boring, as Cairo is in fact very full of life. Anyone who has been to Tahrir Square in downtown or the Corniche along the Nile can attest to that.

Posted by: Patrick at January 5, 2006 07:22 PM

One thing's for sure...Cairo is heee-uge! Check out this panaramic shot (sans pollutions)

http://www.molon.de/galleries/Egypt/Cairo/Views/img.php?pic=2

Now check it out with the smog pushed back a bit.
http://www.molon.de/galleries/Egypt/Cairo/Views/img.php?pic=1

Did I say Hee-uge! Reminds me of Mumbai or New Delhi. How much fun would it be to navigate those streets on a motorbike?!

Posted by: Natasha at January 5, 2006 11:40 PM

you probably don't want to read a derranged rant packed with personal insults, but then again it's always bracing to encounter counter arguments. Does this guy make any valid points at all? (over and above the straight economic data he quotes).

http://www.aqoul.com/archives/2006/01/on_leb_land_and.php#more

Posted by: luis enrique at January 6, 2006 01:10 AM

Luis,

He's right that corruption is rampant in Lebanon and that the economy is a mess. I could go on and on about that myself. But in order to attack what I wrote he had to pretend I was writing about economics when in fact I was writing about politics.

He loves to insult me and others using the most hysterical ad-hominem language possible. He's also a fan of Moammar Ghaddafi and thinks the liberal democrats in Lebanon are a bunch of spoiled brats. So fuck him. He absolutely is not worth reading.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 6, 2006 01:22 AM

As an American expatriate in Cairo (part housewife, part consultant), I can attest to the vibrancy mentioned above, but only to a very limited extent. You have to work hard, dig deep, and resort to tourist traps to find the contemporary jewels -- the performances at the 3/4 empty Opera House, the dervishes and belly dancers, and the late, late, late (too late for us Maadi moms, unfortunately) performances of local music. I also have wondered about that "Made in USA" comment concerning the tear gas cannisters on Election Day -- the accusation has gotten thrown around with no real support, and I appreciate the facts offered by the comment above.

Everything else you say, though, is true, especially the part about the horrifically misguided U.S. support for the thugocracy. I challenge you to dig deeper on that, Michael. The cynicism in the $1.8 billion U.S. military support and development assistance industry runs very, very deep.

Finally, about the Sandmonkey: He is the very best blogger in Egypt, and if you will not show him the love, then I will!

LDW

Posted by: LDW at January 6, 2006 04:11 AM

To Sanborn and LDW,
When I was covering the parliamentary elections (9 Nov-7 Dec), I was tear gassed four times in Damanhour (Behaira), Dakhila (Alexandria), Bosaat al-Talkha (Daqahilaya), and Zaqaziq (Sharqaya).
Each time I was speaking to voters who were not being allowed to vote by the CSF when they shot gas to disperse peaceful crowds gathered. Also, each time, I was given canisters with the "Made In USA" by Egyptians standing there.

Here is a photo I shot in Bosaat al-Talkha (click on it to see an enlarged version where all is legible):

http://homepage.mac.com/jstacher/Stacher/PhotoAlbum31.html

I resent Sanborn uninformed allegation about my comment being "typical leftist blame America first" because it questions my credibility. My statement was based on first-hand field research and what Egyptians immediately deduced from being tear-gassed by their security services. After-all, they were the ones who declared they were "being occupied".

As an American, I was shocked to see "our" negative participation in the Egyptian Elections. Now, I am certain the American government did not order or condone the use of tear-gas, but we irrefutably sold it to them.

I suggest Sanborn take a trip to Egypt in order to conduct research - rather than relying on the internet - before making derougatory claims about a researcher's character.

As for LDW - should you like to see a canister, I have one. I would be happy to show it to you in person.

Best,
Josh Stacher
PS. Nice job Michael.

Posted by: Josh Stacher at January 7, 2006 11:49 PM

Josh -- I believe you! I have read the allegations, but yours is the first substantiation I have seen. Thanks.

Posted by: LDW at January 8, 2006 12:04 AM

Josh -- I believe you! I have read the allegations, but yours is the first substantiation I have seen. Thanks.

Posted by: LDW at January 8, 2006 08:48 PM

You said, "I’m not religious, and if I were religious I would not be a Muslim." Why do you feel that way? It seems to detract from the rest of the article -- it has nothing to do with Mubarak.

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Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
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