Michael Totten Interviews Eric Trager: ‘The Truth About Egypt’

Full post here.

The United States has done a very poor job managing perceptions in Egypt. The administration assumed if it wasn’t critical about Morsi’s behavior domestically, they’d win his cooperation on foreign policy. The problem is that Morsi was only willing to cooperate with us on foreign policy in the short run. The Muslim Brotherhood wants to consolidate power in Egypt and then create a global Islamic state. It’s a key part of their ideology and their rhetoric. They talk about it with me. They can’t be our partners.

Worse, by not speaking up and criticizing Morsi as he tried to create unchecked power for himself, it created the impression that the United States wanted to replace Mubarak with the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s extremely damaging in a place like Egypt with such tumultuous politics’

We didn’t support the Brotherhood. We failed to speak up and manage perceptions. In the future, the only way to address this problem will be to make sure we don’t put all our eggs in one basket. We have to spread our risk by making sure we engage everybody.’

What kind of chance does the idea of democracy and democratic process have in Egypt given the endemic poverty, the oppression, and the lack of readiness in most of the people for it?

Placed against the backdrop of a longer-term Islamist resurgence in the Middle-East, pushing against Arab nationalism, and the answer is not too much.

Such a vision of ideal and pure one voice, one vote democracy in the most stable of countries can become a vehicle for majoritarian rule, leading to a quid pro quo politics of corruption, patronage, and vote-buying.

In Egypt, the democratic process was merely a stalking horse for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and now the military has cracked back down hard on the Brotherhood, and it’s getting bloodier.

Related On This SiteNancy Okail At Freedom House: “‘Muslim Rage’ and the Politics of Distraction in Egypt’From Al Jazeera English: ‘Morsi Wins Egypt’s Presidential Election’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’…are we still on a liberalizing, Westernizing trajectory?, however slow the pace? Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

From The Online WSJ: ‘Henry Kissinger on China. Or Not.’

Interview here. (Link will not last)

Kissinger, at 88, has a new book out titled “On China“.  Interesting quote from the interview (unsurprisingly, Kissinger just wants people to read the book):

‘The remarks hint at what may be Mr. Kissinger’s fundamental view of U.S.-China relations—that they are already so fragile that it could be derailed by some candid remarks by him in a simple newspaper interview. Alternatively, he may simply have in mind his own opportunities for “maintaining influence.”‘

Also On This Site:  TED Via Youtube: Martin Jacques ‘Understanding The Rise Of China’From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’Repost-From The American Interest Online: Niall Ferguson on ‘What Chimerica Hath Wrought’

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From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

Part 1 here. (Originally posted 01/2010)

There are people animated by a vision of Islam that restores it to a place of central importance in the Muslim world (partly in response to the injustices of the autocrats and long-tribal/family rule and harsh punishment they inflict…partly from the relatively weak economies, high levels of poverty, low political freedoms…partly spurred onwards against the interests, involvement and injustices of the West in the Muslim world, sometimes involving military force, sometimes in ways which undermine sovereignty, and also in ways that can dramatically strengthen cultural ties, trade, education and opportunity).

There is a large pool of sentiment and longer trends in the Arab world toward such a revival (Hitchens also might argue like Ayan Hirsi Ali that most Muslims simply cannot conceive of separation of church and state) and there are actual thugs willing to carry it out violently in the form of Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba etc.  These people need to be stood up to as Hitchens points out, and challenged.  And if not by American citizens, then by default to our militaries and security agencies, but for Hitchens perhaps not so much by coalitions and diplomacy.

Hitchens has little patience for those in the West who don’t stand up to such thugs.  He criticizes those who lose the facts in a fog of cultural relativism, those who out of fear or culturally ‘sensitive’ reasons (see Yale) get those facts wrong and capitulate too readily.

Such folks are often part of the Left he’s renounced, and much like the religious believers he denigrates and the stupidity and ignorance he’s wont to highlight, all of those folks have potentially lost sight of their moral obligations and capability to properly reason in Hitchens view, and deal lowly with our freedoms out of guilt and fear.  This, of course, can lead to other problems.

A fair summary at the moment?

Addition:  Is he still a socialist?  A materialist?  On a neoconservative trajectory out of British/European Leftism?  Fully understanding of American traditions?

Related On This Site:  From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’……From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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Repost-Via Youtube: ‘George Will Discusses Metaphysical Concepts’

7:43 long.  The title is ‘George Will on rationality, principles, and reality.’

The same reader who sent the link wonders if there are some people who pursue the argument of free market economics with a zealous rationalism (not necessarily materialistic, but rationalist)..and if there isn’t there some Empiricist/philosophcial/political tradition relatively free of this metaphysical debate?

I’m not sure.  At the very end, Will states:

“It’s not the question of contradictions being true, but the questions of contradictions being real”

Link to a page on Aristotle’s metaphysics: being qua being.

From a Leo Strauss quote on Edmund Burke earlier posted (Strauss thought Burke too, perhaps, was succumbing to his definition of historicism):

“What ever might have to be said about the propriety of Burke’s usage, it is here sufficient to note that, in judging the political leaders whom he opposed in the two most important actions of his life, he [sic Burke] traced their lack of prudence less to passion than to the intrusion of the spirit of theory into the field of politics.”

Also On This Site:   Some Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’Peter Singer discusses Hegel and MarxA Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’

George Will on baseball: From Slate: ‘Old Moneyball’

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From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

Full interview here.

Nussbaum elaborates on her argument a bit.

Below, would this be a fair outline of Nussbaum’s argument, which I wrote in the comments section of the previous Nussbaum post:  From The Nation Via A & L Daily-’Back Talk: Martha Nussbaum’?:

“Disgust should not be used to make laws. It is an emotion that is potentially irrational and a cowardly withdrawal from our obligations to maintain and free and equitable society. It is also a way to project our own irrationality regarding the body, weakness and mortality onto others. In so doing, often we maintain unjust laws, or inequitable legal, social, and political structures.”

Mill’s harm principle is a better tool to maintain freedom and equality than the moral doctrines of Christianity…not only, but especially when, disgust is used to interefere into the lives of others through the laws (Gays and Lesbians in America, Outcasts in India…Bahai, for example, in Iran perhaps).

Also On This Site:  Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

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