Daniel W. Drezner

The delicate art of objective reporting on Egypt

The delicate art of objective reporting on Egypt

Your humble blogger has not posted about Egypt during the most recent phase of the Great Unpleasantness.  This is partly because Marc Lynch knows a lot more about this topic than I do, and mostly because there are only so many variations of saying "Egypt is pretty much f**ked, and U.S. foreign policy in the region is totally f**ked."

The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick, Alan Cowell, and Rod Nordland do report yet another layer to the worsening situation on the ground: 

The judicial authorities in Egypt have ordered the release of former President Hosni Mubarak, who has been detained on a variety of charges since his ouster in 2011, according to state media and security officials on Monday. It remained possible, however, that the authorities would find other ways to keep him in detention and his release did not appear imminent.

Egyptian state media reported that Mr. Mubarak would remain in custody for another two weeks under a previous judicial order before the authorities make a decision on his release. The outcome is likely to be read as a pivotal test of the new government installed by General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi and its desire to replicate or repudiate Mr. Mubarak’s rule.

The development threatened to inject a volatile new element into the standoff between the country’s military and the Islamist supporters of the deposed President Mohamed Morsi as Egypt entered the sixth day of a state of emergency following a bloody crackdown by the military in which hundreds of people have been killed. (emphasis added)

Now, not that there’s anything funny about it, but I confess that I laughed out loud when I read the bolded phrase in that story.  See, "threatened to inject a volatile new element" is one of those classic Timesian journalese phrases that occasionally highlights the absurdity of "objective" reporting.  I suspect 99% of informed observers would have written, "The development will worsen the standoff…" or "The development will inflame the conflict" or "the development is a massive clusterf**k" or some variation of such — but not the New York Times

So, anyway… Egypt is pretty much f**ked, and U.S. foreign policy in the region is totally f**ked.

Am I missing anything?  Seriously, is there any course of action that the U.S. could take that would improve the situation?  Because from David Kirkpatrick, Peter Baker and Michael Gordon’s fascinating backgrounder yesterday on ineffective US/EU pressure on Egyptian authorities, the answer appears to be no.