Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wasting the Crisis

The function of the State Department is to present to the world a collection of highly polished, well dressed, smooth spoken masters of nuance of the sort we know in this country as used car salesmen. It should also be true that this collection of smooth talking individuals understands that at the end of the day, they are working for the United States, and no one else.

To this end, they should develop an understanding of the countries they get sent to closely akin to that of a native so that when they wake up one morning to the sound of automatic weapons fire and the smell of burning tires, they aren't very surprised. At this point, they should not only have a pretty good idea who's shooting at whom, but who is expected to be the last man standing when the gunfire dies down.

If there are multiple possibilities to that last equation, the U.S. diplomats should have a score card prepared in advance listing the relative preference for each party regarding benefit to the U.S. and a phone list to contact our favored winner. We should also have a list of actions we are prepared to take to help the eventual outcome fall in our favor ranging from quick diplomatic recognition to covert shipments of arms.

Unless there's something very subtle going on in Egypt right now, I would have to guess the diplomatic corps is staring out the embassy windows in slack-jawed amazement as the government goes down in flames.

Mubarik has spent the last 30 years or so putting down dissent so such as there was got pushed into the Mosques where he can't just march in and break heads. Inside the Mosques, the Muslim Brotherhood is the loudest voice. This outfit is the parent group for every terrorist organization in the middle east. Muhammed ElBaradi is a high-ranking figure in the M.B. and is telling everyone who will listen that they are not terrorists.

The army, in that part of the world, tends to be the more moderate force, and generally better armed, so they get listened to more closely. Having some Egyptian general or committee of generals come to power would be far from the worst that could happen.

My worry is that the U.S administration will stand in slack-jawed amazement while a committee of mullahs steps up to fill the power vacuum. Obama has never met a bloody-handed dictator he wasn't willing to bow to, and the State department has never convinced me that everyone there is, in fact, working for the United States.

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