Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt Crisis Shows American Incompetence

American foreign policy in the Middle East is a two-edged sword. On one side, we have supported with word and dollar the stability afforded by autocrats. On the other side, we talk of and praise democracy.

Obama did his best to demonstrate how little he knows about foreign affairs. Our State Department and CIA were not much better, caught off-guard by the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. We'd probably be better served by scrapping all of the bureaucrats and leveraging some political think-tank.

The West is happy for the Egyptian people and their 2011 revolution -- the ouster of a greedy dictator with little bloodshed in that part of the world is rare indeed. The post-celebratory task of governing will be difficult as best.

Obama spoke today about revolutions in modern history. There have been some 80+ revolutions in the recent past but less than half have resulted in what political scientists would considered democracies. Even with those that are considered democracies, there is little redeeming value in these nations. They are not bastions of industry. Few people, less some communist ideologues, would consider them places of destination or capital investment.

With over 30 percent of Egyptians on the government payroll, there is little hope for serious growth. Mubarak, earlier this week, promised a 15% raise for civil servants. That is Obama/Bernanke/Geithner policy at its finest -- just print more notes. Autocrats are good at playing the populist hand.

American leaders have no idea what will fill the Egyptian political void. There are few good examples of positives coming out of military coups. Military leaders know how to fight war, not lead economic development. Time will tell but history is not on the side of democracy as the West knows it in the Middle East.

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