Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chaos Strategy in Egypt?

It's looking more and more possible that the Mubarak regime is deliberately trying to make Egypt look more chaotic than would otherwise exist thanks to the uprising. There is consistent talk about "thugs" that are responsible for the lion's share of the looting and violence. There are also disturbing reports from journalists like Mona Eltahawy and activists like Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch that these "thugs" are a combination the secret police and hardened prison escapees.

(Who may have been deliberately set loose by the regime, though nobody's sure of that.)

So what would they have to gain from this? An excuse. If this is seen as a popular uprising, repression simply won't be acceptable in the eyes of the Egyptian public or world leaders. Public opinion everywhere will viciously turn against Mubarak in a flash if he becomes any more repressive than he already is. He's already probably done, but THAT will be the end of him in short order.

If it's "chaos", though, then that's a different matter. Then repression can be treated as simple imposition of order. Sure, most people will realize that it's nonsense, but it'll be enough of a fig leaf for Mubarak to hide behind. Everybody else who kind of prefers the idea of a convenient strongman in Egypt will rally to his cause as well: the neoconservatives who hate the idea of a democracy not imposed by American hands, the realists who are uncomfortable with third-world democracies in general, the market fundamentalists and business mavens who must be sweating at the thought of a middle east in the hand of Bolivian-style leftists...ALL of them probably want this to quietly go away.

(And that's not even getting into Bibi's lot.)

Seems like it won't work, though. Eltahawy figured this out very quickly, and made an impassioned plea for organizations like CNN to avoid the use of the word "chaos" to describe this popular uprising. It worked. CNN changed how they're describing it, and I can only hope that other organizations will follow their lead.

(By the by, Eltahawy's Twitter feed is a good tool for understanding what's going on from someone who's in a position to know and has a passion for the country. Highly recommended.)

1 comment:

  1. If you ever saw a translation or commentary on Bremer's 100 Orders in Iraq the game plan here looks the same i.e. Get rid of the Army and Police and anyone else who contributes to the infrastructure of government. Post-Saddam Iraq : Desert Crossing is a lovely model for 'decapitating governments all across the oil bearing regions of the Middle East' which was the objective of PNAC.
    If you think Mr. 'No Change' varies from the script established for him you may object to my thoughts as to the continuation of American Foreign Policy in the same vein over decades regardless of President or party.