Good Guys, Bad Guys, Egyptian Guys

It appears Egypt may be on the edge of a full-scale revolution. Heather Hurlburt has a good backgrounder at The New Republic for those of us who need a playbook.

The uprising in Egypt appears to be blowing holes in the Right’s simplistic good guys-bad guys worldview. The much-maligned Al-Jazeera is turning out to be the best source of information on what’s going on as well as the independent voice of the people on the streets. This doesn’t surprise me; Al-Jazeera provides some good reporting about the oppression of Buddhism in Tibet. It’s a genuinely professional news organization, from what I can see.

See also “Al Jazeera’s Egypt coverage embarrasses U.S. cable news channels.” U.S. cable news channels stopped being news channels many years ago. They are entertainment/propaganda channels. They’ve cut back news gathering, especially foreign reporting, and replaced them with mostly insipid “opinion” shows, because it’s cheaper to put some political hacks and gasbags in front of a camera than to maintain news bureaus. And through the Bush years all the cable outlets were way too obsequious to the Bushies and suppressed honest assessment of anything going on in the Middle East.

Other reactions from the Right are all over the map. Possibly the most surreal is by Jay Nordlinger, who seems to think the Egyptian protesters are being led (in abstentia) by George W. Bush. On the other hand, I understand Pam Geller is rooting for Hosni Mubarak, because she thinks the protests are the work of the Muslim Brotherhood. No one who has any clue what’s really happening thinks the Muslim Brotherhood are much of a factor, however.

The Telegraph — not always a reliable source — reports that the American government has secretly been backing the group behind the current uprising for the past three years. Jim Geraghty complains that the Obama Administration supports the Mubarak government’s attempts to crack down on the protesters. Um, in what alternative universe?

Taking a page from Cold War history, the genuinely evil Investors Business Daily accuses the Obama Administration of “losing Egypt.” I think the editorial writer thinks that the U.S. should prop up the Mubarak government, but it’s hard to tell. (IBD also seems to think that President Carter orchestrated the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, which is not how I remember it.)

Most knowledgeable commenters say that the U.S. can’t control what goes on in Egypt, one way or another. The Obama Administration has to signal to the people of the Middle East that we support democratic reform and liberation from oppression, while signaling to other Middle Eastern leaders that the U.S. does not support the violent overthrow of their governments. In other words, they gotta do nuance. And you know how righties hate nuance.