egyptian revolution caught president by surprise! oh yeah?

NYT: President Obama ordered his advisers last August to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday.

Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, these officials said.

The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

…Officials said Mr. Obama’s support for the crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo, even if it followed some mixed signals by his administration, reflected his belief that there was a greater risk in not pushing for changes because Arab leaders would have to resort to ever more brutal methods to keep the lid on dissent.

“There’s no question Egypt was very much on the mind of the president,” said a senior official who helped draft the report …. “You had all the unknowns created by Egypt’s succession picture — and Egypt is the anchor of the region.”

Read full article here


Let’s just look again at an extract from Niall Ferguson’s article in Newsweek:

“I can think of no more damning indictment of the administration’s strategic thinking than this: It never once considered a scenario in which Mubarak faced a popular revolt. Yet the very essence of rigorous strategic thinking is to devise such a scenario and to think through the best responses to them, preferably two or three moves ahead of actual or potential adversaries. It is only by doing these things—ranking priorities and gaming scenarios—that a coherent foreign policy can be made. The Israelis have been hard at work doing this. All the president and his NSC team seem to have done is to draft touchy-feely speeches like the one he delivered in Cairo early in his presidency.”

17 Responses to “egyptian revolution caught president by surprise! oh yeah?”

  1. 1 Sonjia Duncan
    February 17, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I really admire the President and how much work he puts into his job. After 8 years with a president who really was unengaged in what was going on in the world I feel so much better with President Obama and his team making decisions about our country. He has earned the respect of the world and now the people of this country need to get their act together.

  2. 2 June Cleaver 2.0
    February 17, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Newsweek has egg on its face.

  3. 3 EDP4BHO
    February 17, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Damn, he’s good!

  4. 4 Fred
    February 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

    they’ll never give the President credit 😡

  5. 5 Temp
    February 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    For this guy we need to pop the yolk and rub it in extra hard.

  6. February 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Niall Ferguson, a Britisher, 46 years old, born in Glasgow, Scotland, aggressive and pugnacious debater. His field is Financial and economic history, just the guy to shoot out opinions on the art of diplomacy. According to Wiki, he’s known for something called counterfactual history (seems to fit here) and Economic history.

    The most interesting question, though, is why Newsweek thought Ferguson would be a reliable or trustworthy critic of Obama’s meticulous handling of a possibly explosive Middle East situation.

    But then I read somewhere that Newsweek is slanted toward an audience of slightly more sophisticated readers than Readers’ Digest (8th grade).

    • February 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      “I read somewhere that Newsweek is slanted toward an audience of slightly more sophisticated readers than Readers’ Digest (8th grade)”

      Joan, you are a legend! 😆

        • February 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm

          Joan, do you have a blog? I’d love to read your thoughts on …. well, every issue. If you don’t have a blog and if you ever want some space to post your views on anything at all I’d be thrilled to post them here, you’re the business!

          • February 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm

            Thank you chipsticks, my blog is in my profile, dragongoose.com. It’s mostly about our gardens and orchards, the art of cidering, restoration (This 137 year old house we live in, The Granary, my daughter’s little house now), a little upper Cache Valley history,too, some book reviews. I’m way behind on my (projected) three-part description of Paeonia. We have a lot of them. I’m always glad and relieved when I’ve lived long enough to see another spring for the peonies, roses, lilies, iris, daffodils and tulips, and, of course the apple bloom.

            What am I doing, going on about this?

            The thing is, I don’t know how many people around here would be interested in my outlandish democratic ideas. This is bright red country, you know, Utah. But, since I’ve been reading your wonderful blog and my beloved blackwaterdog’s, I’ve been feeling the need to refute some of the uninformed, aggravating, blood-pressure raising comments abroad.

            Letters to the editor to our local paper are limited to one a month, though, and 450 words. You can only cover so much of the many crack-brained assertions around here in 450 words once a month. You should hear about our latest Senator — a tea partier deluxe. He’s even worse than Orin Hatch. People go to the polls here like zombies and simply vote Republican and I didn’t (and don’t) believe that those who voted for Mike Lee knew what his agenda was. So I told them, got a lot of nice telephone calls from like-minded friends, no death threats.

            The biggest hurdle is that I’m not sure how to solicit comments. I mean the technical know-how to set it up, although I could probably learn. But here in Crazy Country, I wonder if I even want comments! Eeek! I never read the online comments to my LTTEs, they’re so totally nuts.

            Thanks, Chipsticks, for you very kind words. I’ll go to bed tonight very happy.

            • February 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm

              Hi Joan, wow – I just checked your beautiful site again and I saw articles going back to 2000. Have you been running the site since then?? I thought I was a technological genius starting this blog as early as, um, late 2009!

              I’m guessing that it’s not overly pleasant living in bright red country, and I can imagine why you avoid reading online comments on your letters. It’s reached the point where I resize the window on my browser to block out comments before I look at a President Obama-related video on YouTube, they just leave me unhealthily angry.

              I think you’d be surprised by how many people would enjoy reading your “outlandish democratic ideas”! As I mentioned before, if you ever want space here for your thoughts on any issue – ie it would be ‘Joan’s Post’, not just a comment – you are more than welcome. Or if you need any tips on setting up your own blog I’d be thrilled to help. Actually, I’m not too sure how helpful I could be, other than recommending my blog’s host, WordPress – I’m still struggling with lots and lots of tech-y blog issues!

              Keep on writing Joan, your words are a joy!

  7. 13 Sue in Minnesota
    February 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I wish I had a subscription to Newsweek, for the sheer delight I would take in canceling it.

  8. 14 Theo67
    February 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I was mad last night when I first heard of the leaked report. But now, seeing it in context and side-by-side with the nonsense from Newsweek – I’m thrilled. This is the clearest evidence so far that the media has not one iota of intelligence. They don’t have a clue what’s going on. Their reports are based on their biased personal opinions and wild imaginings. They don’t realize that they don’t have access to information, they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, and they are clearly not even close to being as bright as the Administration, and specifically, the President. Their ignorant arrogance just makes my blood boil.

    • 15 Sue in Minnesota
      February 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      Theo67, my blood boils also….because of their arrogance. They seem to think that they can get away with anything. I hope Americans are increasingly becoming aware that their consumer product is lacking and not deserving of our consumer dollars.

      • 16 majii
        February 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm

        The media flies blind the majority of the time and tends to present the views and opinions of so-called experts who have no access to inside information that PBO and his different teams have just as Theo67 says. One of the latest polls showed that @66% of those polled believe that the president took the correct approach to handling the situation in Egypt, so yes, the players in the MSM, the pundits, and politicians deserve whatever scorn we can heap upon them. They really deserve to eat feces filled sandwiches the majority of the time because they keep getting so many things wrong about PBO. They are a group of lazy, disingenuous, personal-agenda pushing, attention-seeking, corporate-shilling loudmouths.

        • 17 Sue in Minnesota
          February 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm

          Yeah, they should have to take a bite of the “sh@t sandwich”…..it’s their concoction after all.

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