Image via MHA Online.
The military’s removal of President Mohammad Morsi opened up a can of worms from which the Egyptian polity is not likely to recover anytime soon.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood had been busy attempting to impose its socio-political will on a nation that was largely unwilling to go along with their agenda. The military was even more reluctant since it saw Morsi’s actions as destabilizing.
So, instead of waiting until new elections, the military did what it’s done repeatedly over the past 60 years. It deposed the existing regime and supplanted it with one favorable to its own agenda. After all, Nasser came to power in a coup. Sadat came to power from a coup. Mubarak came to power with the assent of the military, and the military then deposed Mubarak. Now, they’re facing an organized and militarized threat in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood is not backing down and yesterday’s clashes with police and security forces left more than 500 dead and thousands injured.
It’s only going to get worse from here because the Brotherhood’s leadership now believes that they have no other options in the political arena. The military’s effort showed the Brotherhood that they will not be allowed to wield political power, and that’s infuriating to the group, which actually won the right to govern in the historic elections following the coup that deposed Mubarak.
But what the Brotherhood doesn’t understand is that their heavy-handed wielding of political power was not without consequences. It was tremendously unpopular with a majority of Egyptians who saw it as an effort to impose social restrictions at a time when the economy continued to suffer from the very problems that led to Mubarak’s ouster.
The Brotherhood wasn’t dealing with the underlying economic and social conditions that led to an anemic economy, high unemployment, food shortages, and high costs for fuel and food.
The military’s brutal crackdown against the Brotherhood’s protest camps across Cairo forestalls any kind of reconciliation, as the lines in the sand have been drawn. The Brotherhood isn’t going to trust the military or attempts to bring it back into a political process, when their leader remains arrested and out of power. The military is losing in this as well, given that they overthrew a sitting government.
Worst of all, Egyptians are losing out because the political chaos is exacerbating the economic chaos and conditions are only going to get worse. Extremists are going to take advantage of the situation.
All of this presents huge challenges for foreign countries in trying to deal with the chaotic situation in Cairo. For the US, it means trying to remain above the fray but condemning the violence and a need to return to a political dialog. Critics of the Administration claim that it lost Egypt, but that ignores that the Brotherhood and the Egyptian military are the ones who brought this crisis upon itself. The US has little influence to play here, except perhaps as a mediator. The one area that the US has influence is on providing foreign assistance and military aid — withholding that aid could get the military to buy into reconciliation talks. But the Brotherhood isn’t going to go along with a deal that doesn’t end with Morsi back in the presidency.
So, until the sides see the futility of the continuing violence and shrink away from an open civil war, they will continue to run up the body count.
While so many Americans are busy enjoying the weather, grilling and barbequing or watching major sporting events, we should remember what Memorial Day is all about.
All gave some. Some gave all.
Remember those who fought in defense of the nation and those who made the supreme sacrifice. Words cannot fully explain what these men and women have left behind - both in terms of the loss to their family and friends, and what a grateful nation has gained from defending the freedoms that many still take for granted despite being born from the blood, sweat, and tears of these men and women.
So, while many of us sit back and enjoy the barbecues, the Indy 500, baseball, and other sporting events, take a few moments to remember all those who served and made it possible and who are no longer with us.
[Cross-posted at A Blog For All.]
So what’s the wingnut parrot’s chorus freaking out about today? A quick look at the right wing echo chamber reveals that they’re all lathered up about this idiotic story from Weekly Standard fake outrage peddler Daniel Halper:
Under gray skies and intermittent drizzle, President Obama boarded Marine One at 9:30 a.m. EDT in an open press event.
A few White House regulars were atwitter (and on Twitter) when the President walked directly up the steps of Marine One without saluting the Marine on duty. He soon came out of the helicopter, walked down the steps, shook hands with the Marine and engaged in a brief conversation.
They’re all slobbering over this one: Jim Hoft, Dan Riehl, Doug Ross, Breitbart, the entire moron squad, all shrieking in unison about “OBAMA’S DISRESPECT FOR THE MILITARY!”
The fake story apparently originated with CBS’s Mark Knoller:
Pres Obama chats with and shakes hand of US Marine whose salute he didn’t return on boarding Marine One today. twitter.com/markknoller/st…
This right wing fake outrage has come up before, of course, and it doesn’t smell any better this time around. There is no “tradition” of Presidents saluting military members, and in fact it used to be considered against military protocol — until Ronnie Reagan decided to play soldier.
As David Alexander of Reuters noted in 2008:
Reagan’s decision raised eyebrows at the time….
John Kline, then Reagan’s military aide and now a Minnesota congressman, advised him that it went against military protocol for presidents to return salutes.
Kline said in a 2004 op-ed piece in The Hill that Reagan ultimately took up the issue with Gen. Robert Barrow, then commandant of the Marine Corps.
Barrow told Reagan that as commander in chief of the armed forces, he was entitled to offer a salute — or any sign of respect he wished — to anyone he wished, Kline wrote.
Another day, another huge outbreak of idiocy in the right wing blogosphere.
Yesterday the direction of the upcoming Benghazi testimony by State Department “whistle-blowers” became clear, as the most damaging accusation emerged — that a four-man Special Forces team was at the US embassy in Tripoli, but was denied permission to go to Benghazi. NBC reports that the military has now confirmed this detail:
Gregory Hicks, then deputy chief of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, told investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that U.S. officials had persuaded the Libyan government to allow the Special Forces operatives to board the rescue flight from Tripoli to Benghazi. But an officer received a phone call telling them to stand down before they left for the airport, according to excerpts of his account made available to NBC News on Monday. That conversation occurred after the U.S. ambassador to Libya and another American had been killed in the initial attack, but hours before a second attack that killed two other Americans.
Hicks quoted a Special Forces commander as telling him, “I have never been so embarrassed in my life, that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military,” referring to his willingness to authorize the mission.
Mr. Hicks may be a fine public servant, but I have to say that in his public statements he’s coming off as a self-aggrandizing egomaniac. But swollen ego aside, is his story accurate?
First, note that if the four-man team had been authorized to go to Benghazi, they would have been the second group of US personnel to do so; a group of six Americans had already flown to Benghazi earlier, and two of those Americans were killed in a mortar attack.
Why would the military tell this additional group of Special Forces soldiers to stand down? That sounds pretty bad, right? If you read the right wing blogs and media, they’re hammering this talking point ferociously.
But it turns out there’s a good, simple explanation for it. A two-part explanation, in fact:
- The Special Forces team was not prepared for a combat mission; they were on a fact-finding tour of US embassies in the Middle East, gathering information on security, and they were armed only with handguns.
- At that point, the situation was still unclear and officials were worried that the embassy in Tripoli might also become a target.
U.S. military officials confirmed late Monday that a four-man Special Operations Forces team was denied permission to leave the US Embassy in Tripoli following reports that the consulate in Benghazi had been attacked.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the team was reviewing security at U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East and was not prepared for a combat assault mission, being armed with only 9mm sidearms.
They also noted that the situation at Benghazi remained unclear and there were concerns the Embassy in Tripoli also could become a target.
Now watch, as Darrell Issa and the entire right wing media machine proceed to take the “stand down” order completely out of context, and ignore these exculpatory details.
Guess who fell for that ridiculous “MILITARY IS COURT MARTIALING CHRISTIANS” persecution fantasy, helped along by Fox News “culture warrior” Todd Starnes?
Yes, it’s the dumbest man in Congress, our beloved Louie Gohmert from Texas: Congressmen Scalise and Gohmert Fall for Debunked Fox News Story on Supposed Plan to Court Martial Christians.
From an inadvertent humor standpoint, you gotta love Louie.
As Warren Throckmorton points out, the Defense Department guidelines on proselytizing and religious bias that has so enraged Starnes and others was actually put in place in 2008 during the Bush administration and the language clearly “draws a distinction between simply speaking about one’s faith and coercion.” Throckmorton also notes that Starnes twisted a statement from a Pentagon spokesman “to make it seem as though the outcome of religious proselytizing cases would be court martial.”
The Tennessean and Stars and Stripes have also debunked the story, but don’t tell Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who in an interview with Starnes said that Obama is trying to make Christian service members leave their faith:
“Under President Obama’s military you are no longer allowed to share your faith,” he said - noting that the policy is putting Christians in a tough position. “Do you follow President Obama or do you follow God and the teachings of Jesus?”
“That’s pretty tough when your commander in chief puts you on the horn for that dilemma,” he added.
“On the horn for that dilemma!” Louie is incomparable.
Meanwhile, breitbart.com just keeps churning out the outrage fodder for the conservative religionists, with this ridiculous distorted article entitled: PENTAGON MAY COURT MARTIAL SOLDIERS WHO SHARE CHRISTIAN FAITH!!!
We notice that this silly piece of agit-prop is credited to a certain Ken Klukowski, whose name we haven’t noticed at Breitbart “News” before. But they should have put his bio section at the top of the article instead of the bottom, so we’d have known up front that we were dealing with a religious right fanatic and professional persecuted victim:
The premise of this article is a crusty shell of falsehoods and phony victimhood wrapped around a tiny kernel of truth, which you probably already knew because Breitbart. And that kernel of truth is not controversial, unless you’re a fanatic who believes it’s your natural right to promote your religion to everyone around you; the Department of Defense is simply reiterating that proselytizing in uniform is not permitted, for ANY faith.
This is nothing new, and they’re not threatening to “court martial Christians.” And there’s a reason this rule might need to be stressed occasionally — because of incidents like this:
In Aug. 2011, in a victory for trying to extricate religion from military business, the Air Force suspended a course called “Christian Just War Theory” — which had been required for missile officers at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The PowerPoint for the class drew heavily upon Bible passages and Christian imagery to teach morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons. In the class students were taught based on a passage in the Book of Revelations that Jesus Christ is a “mighty warrior” who believed some wars to be just, according to truthout.com which broke the story.
The separation of church and state is one of the most vital principles of American democracy, and the religious right is constantly trying to subvert it. Their outrage over this fake story is a good sign — it means they’re losing. As they should.
You know that Republican “rebranding” that’s supposed to change their image to make it seem like they truly care about people? (Operative word: “seem.”)
Well, here’s the reality: GOP Senator: Take Away Health Coverage for 30 Million to Avoid Military Cuts.
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Graham suggested that the sequester’s across-the-board cuts to federal spending, including about a roughly 7.5 percent reduction in military spending, would be “destroying the military.” But rather than agree to President Obama’s proposed alternatives to the sequester, the South Carolina Republican said we should save money by eliminating health care for the 30 million people covered by the Affordable Care Act:
CHRIS WALLACE: Let me just ask you one more question about the sequestration before we let you go, Senator. You know if we go into the sequester, the president is going to hammer Republicans, the White House already put out a list of all the things, terrible things that will happen if a sequester kicks in, 70,000 children losing Head Start. 2100 fewer food inspectors and small business will lose $900 million in loan guarantees and you know, Senator, the president will say your party is forcing this to protect tax cuts for the wealthy.
GRAHAM: Well, all i can say is the commander-in-chief thought — came up with the idea of sequestration, destroying the military and putting a lot of good programs at risk. It is my belief — take Obamacare and put it on the table. You can make $86,000 a year in income and still get a government subsidy under Obamacare. Obamacare is destroying health care in this country and people are leaving the private sector, because their companies cannot afford to offer Obamacare and if you want to look at ways to find $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade, look at Obamacare, don’t destroy the military and cut blindly across the board. There are many ways to do it but the president is the commander-in-chief and on his watch we’ll begin to unravel the finest military in the history of the world, at a time when we need it most. The Iranians are watching us, we are allowing people to be destroyed in Syria, and i’m disappointed in our commander-in-chief.
That’s right — to avoid a 7.5% cut in the astronomical US military budget, Lindsey Graham and the Republican Party want to strip away the Affordable Care Act that Americans just voted for.
And if you’re tempted to believe Lindsey Graham’s risible statement that a 7.5% cut would “destroy the military,” just take a quick look at this simple chart showing the world’s top 5 military spenders in 2012.