Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The Best Defense verdict is in: You know, Obama did pretty well handling Egypt

I know, we’ve heard and seen lots of bellyaching about President Obama being caught in the middle on Egypt. But in retrospect, what’s not to like? President Obama supported the democratic movement but not so fast that he looked eager to throw overboard a longtime autocratic pal. And it all went down fairly nonviolently, so ...

Muhammad/ Flickr.
Muhammad/ Flickr.
Muhammad/ Flickr.

I know, we've heard and seen lots of bellyaching about President Obama being caught in the middle on Egypt. But in retrospect, what's not to like? President Obama supported the democratic movement but not so fast that he looked eager to throw overboard a longtime autocratic pal. And it all went down fairly nonviolently, so far. Aside from Frank Wisner going off the reservation in Munich and giving Mubarak a bit wet kiss, pretty well done. This is good change, brought about -- so far -- in a good way.  

If I were an al Qaeda bigwig, events in Egypt would worry me -- in two weeks, those crowds have brought more change to the Arab world than AQ ever did. And so I would say this is a quiet net plus for the United States. 

Meanwhile, a reader asks: For the last 30 years, Egyptian officers have studied at U.S. Army institutions. So, he asks, are they different from the "change resistant" Mubarak/Sadat generation, and if so, how? 

I know, we’ve heard and seen lots of bellyaching about President Obama being caught in the middle on Egypt. But in retrospect, what’s not to like? President Obama supported the democratic movement but not so fast that he looked eager to throw overboard a longtime autocratic pal. And it all went down fairly nonviolently, so far. Aside from Frank Wisner going off the reservation in Munich and giving Mubarak a bit wet kiss, pretty well done. This is good change, brought about — so far — in a good way.  

If I were an al Qaeda bigwig, events in Egypt would worry me — in two weeks, those crowds have brought more change to the Arab world than AQ ever did. And so I would say this is a quiet net plus for the United States. 

Meanwhile, a reader asks: For the last 30 years, Egyptian officers have studied at U.S. Army institutions. So, he asks, are they different from the “change resistant” Mubarak/Sadat generation, and if so, how? 

Nor did I know that Egypt has a draft. Shanker and Schmitt, the euphonious security duo at the New York Times, noted the other day that, “General Enan commands a conscription army — drawn by law from all sectors of Egyptian society and therefore tightly knitted with the populace. Every adult male is required to serve.”

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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