May 10, 2005

Egypt Extravaganza

Everyone's favorite Aardvark has more on the upcoming Egyptian presidential elections. International monitors? Nein. Rules that allow for a real campaign? Nein! Crackdowns on Islamists? Ah, but of course. Now we see what Bush and Rice do. Meanwhile, what is with this AP lede: "CAIRO, Egypt -- In a major step toward multi-candidate presidential elections, parliament Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment…" Good god, people. On the other hand, this AP story on tensions within the Muslim Brotherhood is good.

Also, Knight-Ridder's Warren Stroebel has a nice overview of goings-on in Egypt. I still don't understand, though, why people are worried that a more democratic Egypt might one day elect an "anti-American" government. Who cares? No, really, who cares? It's not like they'll shut off the oil spigots. And yeah, they might not be as supportive of the "road map" between Israel and Palestine, but I figure that's not going to get resolved anytime soon anyway. Now on the military side, it's true that we have two CENTCOM facilities in Egypt, a series of naval and air bases, and use Egyptian airspace and port facilities quite frequently. But eh, we'll live. The worst thing an Islamist government in Egypt might do is not let our little petroleum boats use the Suez Canal, pushing up oil prices—in theory, they could choke off transport of 3.8 million barrels/day. But since I think that higher oil prices are better in the long run, that's a risk worth taking!

Well, maybe this is all too glib. But I don't see an anti-American government in Egypt as that big a catastrophe for us. And at any rate, if the United States were to engage the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups right now, speaking out against Mubarak's mass crackdowns, that would sort of lessen the odds that an eventual MB government would hate us irreparably, no?
-- Brad Plumer 12:26 PM || ||