Finding out Pres. Obama’s special envoy to Egypt, Frank Wisner, has economic conflicts is causing a flurry of understandable rhetorical indignation and all around sputtering. Mr. Wisner’s conflict of interest on Egypt and his Mubarak message doesn’t forward the theme of Pres. Obama’s “orderly transition” beginning now. However, given how the old guard has responded to Egyptians demanding the clearing the decks of Mubarak I think the outrage is ridiculous.
Does anyone think after being a member of the 20th century Mubarak policy diplomatic corp that Mr. Wisner would have had any other response than what he did, business conflict of interest or not?
To recount, Sect. Clinton began it with calling the Mubarak regime “stable,” which I critiqued straight out, unlike many who took a week to notice. One reason she could forward this Administration talking point was because she believed it had to be true, because the alternative was impossible for her to imagine. We are talking about Egypt after all, the most important alliance the U.S. and Israel has in the Middle East. Clinton would never ever stray to far from that primary coupling.
V.P. Joe Biden continued this theme on PBS. Former British PM Tony Blair upped the rhetoric, with former V.P. Dick Cheney seconding the trios acclamation on Mubarak.
What you’re seeing play out now is the forwarding of Henry Kissinger’s realpolitik, circa 21st century.
Foreshadowing of the next installment was seen in Christiane Amanpour’s interview with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman. He played nice with the American media super star, while getting in a shot that radicals inspired the protesters. Message received?
The anti-regime protesters have won Pres. Hosni Mubarak’s pledge he will not seek the presidency again. Major concessions are being reported, but I remain skeptical that they’ll manifest, but the fight will go on for a very long time for the future of Egypt.
All of these signs point to a different Egypt, which is why realpolitik is rearing it’s pragmatic head.
The earthquake in Egypt will have aftershocks for months and years to come, but in the short-term the 20th old guard and the people who run the world can only accept so much change at a time.
This is Egypt we’re talking about. Egypt.
It’s the beginning of a whole new reality in the Middle East, which for the U.S. is going to be difficult. One step at a time, let’s be practical, shall we? At least that’s the Obama administration’s message, which injects a dose of realism against the Egyptian people’s idealism.