On a serious note, Jon Stewart interviews Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss the middle east situation.  It was an informative interview. 


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Its hard to sort out the Egypt politics. What should the US do? What position should we take? Is there any reason we would send our military into Egypt?

25 Thoughts to “Jon Stewart interviews Admiral Mike Mullen; discusses Egypt”

  1. Starryflights

    The President is handling the situation just right. A go-slow approach to democratic reform is what is needed. I know that pisses off a lot of Republicans, but the consequences of failure are too high for political fun and games. The Suez Canal is on the coast and is where a good chunk of mid-east oil flows. If oil flows were disrupted, it would have disastrous worldwide consequences.

  2. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Well, I do know this….we are discussing raising taxes and cutting services here at home, while we give billions and billions each year to Egypt, Yemen, the Palestinians, and God only knows how much we’ve wasted in Iraq for years and years with our little nation-building BS. I hear calls for Democracy, and the Egyptian people determining for themselves, yet I also hear “what should we do?” Well, this the Egyptian people determining for themselves. We should focus on protecting our own trading interests, seek to trade with whatever emerges in Egypt if they have anything they we want to trade for, but otherwise leave them alone. Oil? Absolute BS…..we are sitting on more oil than the middle east could ever dream of.

  3. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    As far as Obama, he’s not doing anything wrong that I can see, he’s just irrelevant in this equation. It’s the American Taxpayer (or China) that provides the money we give them….THAT’S what those folks care about (at least the Army). They could give a rat’s behind what Obama is/does/says.

  4. “A go-slow approach to democratic reform is what is needed. ”

    If that’s the case, why did Obama pick sides already, open his big mouth, and state that Mubarak had to leave office as soon as possible?

    Even the Egyptians are saying that those statements provoked the anti-Mubarak sides into being more aggressive. He through Mubarak under the bus.

    He should have, at least, shown conditional support and then proposed an orderly transition at the next election, or over the next few months. Now? The Muslim Brotherhood wins.

    Its that “smart diplomacy” we keep on seeing.

  5. “threw” not “through”

    edit, THEN submit.

  6. I dont think anyone knows the best approach. What did Admiral Mullen suggest? I don’t think he had a solution either.

    I am not sure democracy is compatible with that part of the world. I don’t think we can necessarily evaluate leaders in the same terms we do our leaders.

    Cargo, what is it you would do to stabilize the region?

  7. marinm

    MH, I’m glad you asked that question of Cargo and not me. I have a few smart ass answers that I’ll just keep to my self. 🙂

    The obvious problem is how this may mirror Iran or Pakistan where “democracy” takes hold and they vote in a regime that is anti-US. A progressive friend of mine took a very neo-conish approach by telling me that we should support their efforts for democracy in Egypt but park a carrier battle group outside Egypt to remind the citizens to “choose wisely”.

    My conspiracy theory on this – if you’ll indulge me – is that Mossad agents riled up the populace via social media (Facebook) to encourage rebellion so that the IDF could attack. 🙂

    It’s a steaming pile and Obama may go down in history as the POTUS that lost Egypt. 🙁

  8. Unfortunately, what I would do should have been done years ago. I would have supported Mubarak and kept the bribery, um, aid payments going, but pushed for actual liberty slanted reforms that would counter the muslim brotherhood.

    Now, its a wild fire. If I was president, I would have supported an orderly transition best determined by those involved. This revolution is also happening because global inflation has pushed food prices up by 50% in some countries. Between the fires in Russia and our burning our food for fuel, food prices for wheat and corn have shot up in non producing countries.

    Democracy is not a panacea and can be a tyranny. Instead of pushing democracy, we should be pushing liberty. HAMAS has democracy. Iran is democratic. Lebanon has democracy. What they are missing or losing is freedom.

    I actually don’t think Obama “lost” Egypt. I think it was tottering and Obama’s nudge helped it along, but he didn’t lose it like Carter lost Iran. I just think that Obama’s style of, well….not leadership, but…….well, actually his lack of leadership hurts on foreign relations. He goes along with the crowd or tries to organize them to support what he wants. However, he doesn’t lead. He advise, nudges, suggests, etc. He hates to take a firm stand on things before seeing which way things are falling.

  9. I like this take. The West has had a failure of leadership and a firm belief and conviction in the value of Western principles has declined with the advance of PC and multiculturalism.


    The old order in the Middle East is crumbling. Just as the officers’ revolution in the 1950s brought down the Arab monarchism that had relied on the colonial powers, the 2011 revolution in the square is bringing down the Arab tyrants who were dependent on the United States.

    The second process is the acceleration of the decline of the West. For some 60 years the West gave the world imperfect but stable order. It built a kind of post-imperial empire that promised relative quiet and maximum peace. The rise of China, India, Brazil and Russia, like the economic crisis in the United States, has made it clear that the empire is beginning to fade.

    And yet, the West has maintained a sort of international hegemony. Just as no replacement has been found for the dollar, none has been found for North Atlantic leadership. But Western countries’ poor handling of the Middle East proves they are no longer leaders. Right before our eyes the superpowers are turning into palaver powers.

  10. Is it really up to us to do anything other than encourage?

    Is the middle east able to uphold a democracy or is it incompatible with Islam?

    It seems that everyone has a colonial attitude. I am not saying it is bad. Just that it exists.

  11. Wolverine

    Even if some kind of democratic reforms can be brought into play in Egypt, I suspect strongly that the Brotherhood will continue to try to undermine them behind the scenes in a transitional period because democracy as we know it and Sharia are basically incompatible. The Brotherhood wil not abandon its ultimate goal of Islamic dominance.

    In my personal experience with Muslim countries, Islam takes a secondary role in governance only when forced to do so by superior and independent secular power. Watch the army in Egypt. People are tending to look at the army as the key stabilizing force, almost an independent entity in the political equation. Many look at it as an efficient and proud organization which will likely provide the key to the stability of the future parameters of governance. However, something which should be watched closely, in my opinion, is how successful the senior officer corps has been in preventing penetration of the ranks by the Brotherhood — perhaps even penetration of the junior officer corps. Any split in the armed forces could be a disaster, perhaps even winding up in imitation of Iran with both a politicized “revolutionary guard” and a regular army locked unwillingly into a subservient position. Given the nature of Egypt, that could mean a long period of political instability.

  12. The Brotherhood isn’t the only bad guy out there. Not for a minute.

  13. The Brotherhood is the one out there that wants world wide sharia and is the forerunner of Al Quaeda.

    I’m just curious why President Obama felt it so necessary to demand that Mubarak step down now when he didn’t say a word about Ahmadinejad when he stole the election in Iran and the protesters were SEEKING US support.

  14. DB

    I watched an interview on CNN (I wish I could remember who it was) and the person speaking did not trust the motives of the brotherhood, however he mentioned that the Brotherhood and Al Quaeda do not like each other. Al Quaeda thinks the Brotherhood is not radical enough for Islam, and the Brotherhood thinks Al Quaeda’s radicalism gives Islam a bad name.

  15. @Cargo, America doesn’t give Iran $1.6 billion a year. That’s why he said nothing. And actually, Obama hasn’t demanded that Mubarak step down. Demanded is a strong word.

    Iran was not considered an ally country. What would YOU have done? I don’t see us in the role of ‘world rescuer.’ I also don’t think we can afford it. Iraq cost a billion a week. That is one reason we are in financial trouble.

  16. Is the middle east able to uphold a democracy or is it incompatible with Islam?

    Why is the aid money relevant? President Obama couldn’t give a speech supporting real democracy in Iran? And yes, ok. He SUGGESTED STRONGLY that Mubarack step down now. Obama has kind words for THIS revolution. I haven’t seen democracy yet, however, just riots. Its the very fact that Iran is NOT an ally that we should have pushed for democratic reform and regime change in that country. A few speeches and political sanctions would have helped. Egypt has a very good chance to become another Iran if the Brotherhood takes over.

    “Is the middle east able to uphold a democracy or is it incompatible with Islam?”

    It might be compatible with Islam. However, the rules put out by the democratically elected still restrict liberty. The closest thing to democracy in the Islamic world is Pakistan and Indonesia. Even Iran is TECHNICALLY a democracy. But, then so was the USSR.
    What Islam is not compatible with is freedom as we know it. Every Muslim country strives to be a theocracy. Even Turkey is heading that way. Any country with sharia as the rule of law is a theocracy. And sharia is incompatible with western freedoms.

  17. Cargo, I totally disagree on Iran. The protesters were already accused of colluding with the Americans. It really is up to them. Urging from us would have probably gotten more of them killed.

    I think Obama has been moderate in his speech about Egypt. They were our ally. Money has everything to do with it as far as saving face in the Arab world. The real comparison is Egypt to Iran 32 years ago. That is a lot closer.

    All sharia law is not interpreted the same. I am opposed to anyone’s church law being used in the public sector but lets not make the mistake of tarring everyone with the same brush. We don’t want to be so rigid that we start telling Catholics that their dispensations on divorce are invalid, just because divorce is legal in America.

  18. Its not rigidity. Sharia is not “church law.” Its an actual legal and political foundation and system. No, sharia is not interpreted the same by individuals. But by authorities, the law is spelled out. And its not compatible with freedom. There is no freedom of speech or of religion. Sharia demands the spread of Islam. It separates the world into the Muslim world: The land of peace, and everyone else: the land of war. It does not recognize any authority other than the Quran.

    1. @Cargo,

      Thats a pretty broad blanket. Pardon me, I should have said religious law. Again, I am seeing binary thinking and application of values. Different muslims have different varieties of ‘law’ the same as Christians and Jews do. Compare what orthodox Jews to compareed to reform. Not even close. Strict Catholics to liberal methodists. Not even close.

      Not all Muslims only recognize the Quaran as the only authority.

  19. Wolverine

    I would have to opine, Moon, that the ability of individual Muslims to have different “varieties” of religious law as we Jews and Christians do in America is something which is not permitted under true Sharia. Sharia is religious and secular law all wrapped into one seamless package. By its very nature it allows no variances, religious or secular. What we have seen in “Islamic” countries where Islam coexists with a secular state, where individuals can choose to be “cafeteria Muslims”, and where other faiths can still be practiced without official persecution (places where I have lived and worked) are situations in which Sharia has not yet completely trumped the power of the secular state. Think here old Iran under the Shah versus contemporary Iran under the clerics. Think, for instance, a place where Bahias were once able to practice their faith and then a transformed place where they have faced the noose.

    In my view, any attempt to impose true Sharia is but a reprise of our own ancestral experiences in Europe, where the 12th century theories of Pope Gregory the Great resulted in a transformation in which the church controlled the feudal world instead of vice versa. That brought us burnings at the stake, all kinds of Torquemadas, and a host of other painful things. It took the Reformation, chaps with ulterior motives like Henry VIII, and a decision by Rome to start reforming itself to get us out of that mess. Even that took a long time and was a very bumpy road. Need I mention the Puritans and their dunking stools and witchcraft trials?

    I just watched a video of two young adulterers, trussed up and blindfolded, being stoned to death in Iran. I am far from being a fan of adultery; but, for the love of Almighty God……!!!!

  20. All I am suggesting is that there are different degrees. The broad-brushing makes me uncomfortable. I prefer words like ‘some’ or even ‘many’.

    I know for a fact that some very devout people don’t feel the absolutism suggested by Cargo.

    As for Sharia law, it doesn’t belong in this country. I don’t like people’s religious beliefs being codified. All too many people want their own codified but not the other guys.

    That’s something for people to think about who want to tear down the wall.

  21. Wolverine

    So true, Moon. There are very devout Muslims who do not have a yen for seeing the absolutism of total rule by Sharia forced upon non-believers. Most of them, I would opine, are able to be that way because they live in a “protected” place where religious absolutism of any kind is banned by the most basic law of the land. The unfortunate thing is that, if they ever found themselves in an “unprotected” place, they would have to live with and give obedience to that absolutism whether they wanted to or not. They would have to bow to things which were against their inner conscience. Their very lives could depend upon it.

  22. El Guapo

    The other night I was talking to an Egyptian man. He said that his family lives in Cairo and that they are participating in the protests. He seems pleased.

    He said that he wants Mubarak gone, but he doesn’t want him to leave abruptly. He said he wants an orderly change of regime. He brought up Iraq. After the sudden topple of Hussein, different factors fought for power. He thinks an orderly exchange of power would avoid the type of turmoil that Iraq has experienced lo these many years.

    1. @El Guapo,

      Makes sense to me.

      I saw people out in those rallies with their kids on their shoulders. It must not be all that dangerous if they are bringing their kids to it.

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