March 15, 2011

Comment of the Day

The great Trudy Rubin, whose column I used to read while living in Philadelphia, weighed in on Egypt:

Having recently returned from Cairo, I say thank you, thank you, for
pointing out that what is going on in Egypt is the key to what happens
in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa.

The results of this week's referendum in Egypt on constitutional
amendments, the timing of elections, whether new political forces are
permitted the time to form parties before parliamentary elections - all
these are crucial to determining whether a more representative Egypt
emerges that can have a positive effect on its North African and other
Mideast neighbors.


Yet only the US military, not our diplomats, has links to the Egyptian
generals who will determine the country's future. Those links should be
used now to:


1) encourage the generals to give new Egyptian political forces a
chance to develop (lest the country wind up with a parliament controlled
by former regime elites and the Muslim Brotherhood - a sure
prescription for more unrest);


2) encourage the generals to immediately act on the Arab League's vote
for a no-fly zone vs Libya. Egypt should be taking the lead in
protecting Benghazi. That would give the US cover to help with supplies,
perhaps training, etc. until the rebels were organized enough to move
forward again.

The only thing I will add to that is, honestly, only the highest levels of our military leadership -- both uniformed and civilian -- really have any pull with the Egyptian military. So using our leverage with Egypt's military leadership will mean direct involvement by Sec. Gates and the CJCS.