We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
“For the near-term, how the Egyptian military promotes, thwarts, and/or negotiates the inevitable redistribution of power among individuals and factions within the country is the most critical issue.” Bay then reviews the reduced power of the military in Turkey and Iran following Islamists rise to power. Bay ends: “At some point, the Militant Islamists will resort to terror and assassination in their bid to secure unrivaled power. It will take a resilient alliance of Egyptian secularists, moderate Islamists and the military to defeat them. Encouraging this alliance should be America's foremost diplomatic goal.”
Jed Babbin, a former United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense who served during the first Bush administration, writes in his column:
“given Egypt's culture and its military's low-paid status, it's entirely possible that a new Islamist regime could purchase the military's loyalty. That is the most likely scenario if radical Islamic influence - from inside Egypt and emanating from Iran and Syria - manage to tip the balance their way.” Babbin concludes with an alternative: “Many of our most senior generals have longstanding relationships with their Egyptian comrades, the kind of bond that can only be achieved by serving side by side in training and military exercises. These officers, if the president permits them, should be on the phone with their Egyptian comrades to offer assurances of aid and support if they choose to stand against a radical Islamic regime. That, and only that, would be an effective American influence on Egypt's immediate future.”
Rotsa ruck with that being pushed or permitted by the Obama administration. And, as Babbin also points out, the former Soviet Union’s influence upon Egypt’s military was insufficient when Anwar Sadat flipped allegiances to the US and the US started supplying billions of dollars of military aid and arms to Egypt. The Egyptian military followed the political leadership as long as its own supplies were assured or increased.
Readers know my dislike of historical analogies as being too often misleading as to current specifics. However, as seen in the example of Turkey where the military has been the decider to overthrow regimes that strayed from the secularist path, its power has been whittled down ( see here, here, here, and here) by the Islamist Erdogan administration. Meanwhile, the Erdogan administration has increased the military’s budget in 2010 and 2011. The Turkish military is, aside from being focused on its own supplies, focused on battling the Kurd separatist movement in its east.
Unless Egypt’s military intervenes soon and hard, it too will see its power eroded as either Islamist or Militant Islamist (hard to tell the difference) influence increases, as it surely will. As of now, there’s little indication that Egypt’s military leadership will do so, as it is accommodating to large-scale street demonstrations, the Islamists within and its ranks full of peasant conscripts (75% of whom enter the military illiterate) who yearn for the promises of being raised from abject poverty.
No one, at least publicly (the White House Correspondents Association asks why; can it be the Obama administration is befuddled? Yes, it can. Can it be our media and NGOs attention has been misdirected? Yes, it can), really knows all that’s happening in Egypt. One can hope for the best there either from true moderates who are not in the public eye or from Egypt’s military, but that is not the way I’d bet, though I would welcome being wrong as should the US, the West, and Arabs who may sincerely want democracy and personal freedoms.
P.S.: Don't miss this interview with an Iranian opponent of the Shah, on parallels of Iran to Egypt and his critique of US policies then (and now).