Tarheeltalker

A Revolution by any other name is?

Events in Egypt are still unfolding. The anti-government protests are into day#14 and the final outcome is far from being determined.So, what can we say at this point? Therein lies a problem. What one says sort of “smells” like instant analysis. Although that is a staple of  our culture, it often misses the boat completely. As an illustration, look at how the Obama administration has reacted or spoken at various times since events began to unfold.

Remember vice-president Biden saying that Mubarak was not  a dictator and should not resign?  Then we have Secretary Clinton saying that we are not advocating any specific  outcome  but then urging an orderly transition. The President has spoken to Mubarak, probably more than once and has reportedly urged him to go. He has stated that we hear you in referring to the demonstrators. Today he said that Egypt was not going back to the way it was, although I believe the Egyptian military will have  a big say in that. He opined that the Muslim Brotherhood will have  a role but not a significant one. He accurately said that we cannot dictate to Egypt but  we want to see orderly change. By definition, that seems to be quite unlikely.

But what most grabbed my attention in the Associated Press article were the phrases “pro-democracy protests” and “pro-democracy protesters.” I don’t  know if those words came from Robert Burns or Kimberly Dozier who bylined the article. And I hesitate to comment to strongly but I firmly believe those characterizations are way off base. It would be wonderful to see a democracy in Egypt. But what ever form of government emerges, it will not be  a  democracy. If there were a way to ask a representative sample of those demonstrating if they were pro democracy you would get few if any takers. As an illustration walk backwards in  egyptian history ans see what you discover.

So we watch and we wait and we wonder and some of us demonstrate in support of Egypt. Those of us who are so inclined would also do well to pray.

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February 6, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Egypt be another Iran?

The ongoing turmoil in Egypt is in its sixth day with no obvious end in sight and it is far too early to know the outcome. Perhaps  even informed speculation is  premature. But speculate we do for many reasons. Egypt is a major American ally and has been for  several years, at least back to the Carter presidency.( More on the  Carter connection a bit later.) Egypt is the most populous and probably most influential Arab country with a very large army and air force and is  a very close neighbor of Israel. And so we  wonder about many things. How did this uprising or revolution begin? Was there a trigger event? What ( not if) outside influences are involved?  Vice-president Biden’s comments to the contrary, Mubarak seems unlikely to survive. If he goes, then what or who? Who do we  favor, the government or those opposing the government?

The UK Daily Telegraph has an article today  stating that we have backed Egyptian dissidents who have worked on regime change for at least three years, ostensibly trying to bring about a democratic government. Of course in its 6,000 year history Egypt has never had such  a government  and is unlikely to have one any time soon.

Much of the above referenced speculation is drawing parallels between this uprising and the Iranian hostage crisis  of 1979. The result of course was an Iran with which we still have issues. Some are calling this a Carter moment for Obama, i.e. Carter”lost” Iran and Obama could be well on his way to “losing” Egypt.

Meanwhile the turmoil, including  rioting, looting, organized prison breaks etc continues. And at least three countries, Israel, Turkey and the United States have begun evacuating their citizens with others preparing to do likewise.

The turmoil will eventually end  and answers to most if not all of our questions  will come. But what kind of outcome will that be?

January 30, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Secretary Clinton Overdid It

Want to know what she overdid ? Sure you do. She overdid her praise for Israel, of course and now she is having a bit of  a mea culpa. Madame Secretary was in  Marrakech, Morocco to speak to Arab concerns about the “positive reinforcement” she had provided Israel just 2 days earlier. (And you thought Marrakech was just part of a Crosby, Stills and Nash song).

The uproar relates its seems, primarily, to the  construction of Israeli settlements and their unwillingness to bring that construction to  a halt.  This seems to be a major stumbling block regarding Palestinian- Israeli  negotiations. Obama had earlier talked tough on the matter indicating that the construction would have to stop-period. She in fact repeated this assertion that the administration does not accept the legitimacy of the settlements. Unfortunately, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu seems disinclined to completely stop the construction. So, we have  a conundrum, No wonder, Mrs Clinton was reluctant to make the Middle East trip, anticipating all might not go well. Better watch that thinking or John Kerry might have her job.

Anyway, her new old statements seemed to satisfy a number of the Arab leaders in attendance including individuals from Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

To more fully reinforce her statements today, she will add a previously unscheduled trip to Egypt. There she will meet with President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday. As of today, there has been no report of what Israel thinks of this” Back to the Future “endeavor . Doubtless, we will hear more.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

So said Jesus in Matthew 23:37-39 in the days just before his crucifixion. it was the center of Israel in the days when He was on earth as it had been for many hundreds of years before. Located about 40 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea, it has often been described as the center of the world. Today, there are about 800,000 inhabitants or  about 10% of Israel’s population.

Those are some facts about the city. But, there seems to be much more to disagree about than to agree with when it comes to a city considered holy by so many. Jewish people claim it as their own, some dating their claim to the Biblical patriarch, Abraham. In 1967, after 20 years of division, Israeli military forces reunited the city, tearing down many physical boundaries. Today, over 40 years later, the furor has really not subsided. What to do about Jerusalem seems to lie dead center in any ” peace”  negotiations between Arab and Jew. It’s mine, no mine and on it goes.

American presidents from Eisenhower on to Obama have had to focus on Israel and Jerusalem in varying degrees in an attempt to be a mediator. Now Mr Obama has his opportunity to reverse what many(particularly Arabs) seem as a blatant United States bias towards Israel. Some Palestinian leaders even say that the President has promised a new Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Further , a senior adviser ( Nimer Hamad)to the Palestinian president says that the Obama administration says that this is in the American national and security interest. To add fuel to the debate, if such were necessary, Mr Obama is due to make a major speech aimed at the Arab world on June 4. It will given at  Cairo University  amid speculation as to what he will or will not say and what are the implications of his speech, its locale etc. Many  will applaud the effort and say it is high time reverse the excessively pro-Israel tilt under Bush. Geo politically, they are probably correct. But if Joel Rosenberg is correct( and he has been numerous times before )  the coming train wreck of United States-Israeli relations will resound far beyond the political.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

The peace of Jerusalem- Psalms 122:6

Shalom!

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Bible study, International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments