Africa

Late-Night Gunfire in Cairo

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It's getting even uglier in Egypt:

Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak opened fire on Thursday on protesters camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square, wounding at least seven, witnesses said.

Al Arabiya television quoted a doctor at the scene as saying one protester was killed when a barrage of gunfire rang out across the square at around 0400 am (2 a.m. British time). Another witness said as many as 15 people had been wounded.

"People are too tired to be terrified," al Jazeera television quoted a 33-year-old woman in the square as saying.

But she said protesters who launched an unprecedented challenge to Mubarak's 30-year-rule last week would not give up. "We cannot go back at this point."

There is chatter in my Twitter feed about getting Washington to intervene, so I'd like to remind everyone that Washington is intervening. Egypt is the fourth largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world. You may well have paid for those bullets.

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  1. Here we go…

    1. Reason’s ABC’s correspondent Christiane Amanpour reports from Cairo that the army was shooting in the air to get the peaceful protest to calm down. Here is a picture of the calm on Jan. 28th before things got ugly.

  2. You may well have paid for those bullets.

    All together now, say it with me: money is fungible.

    Not so hard, was it?

    1. Right. Meaning that when the US gives money to Mubarak for X, you can’t avoid the fact that as a result he has more money for Y.

      You can tell yourself you’re not paying for the junky’s drugs when you give him money “for a sandwich”, but you’re an idiot.

      BTW, how about the US tanks the Egyptian army is using?

      1. You can tell yourself you’re not paying for the junky’s drugs when you give him money “for a sandwich”, but you’re an idiot.

        BTW, how about the US tanks the Egyptian army is using?

        Not to be picky here, but the Iraqi Army had Soviet tanks and weapons, and the U.S. was still responsible for “creating them”, too. So it seems kind of lose-lose all the way down.

      2. If a dictator can’t afford bullets with or without US aid, he’s really not much of a dictator, is he?

        1. Sheesh. First the Americans are killing all the Mexicans, and now they’re killing all the Egyptians. Pull your murderous troops out of Mexico and Cairo immediately.

          1. By this logic, no Mafia don has ever been responsible for a murder.

    2. Fungibility works both ways.

    3. $1.3B of that aid is earmarked for military aid, which must be used to buy American hardware. Those tanks are M1 Abrams, the jets you see flying overhead are F-16s and the tear gas canisters were made in the USA. We didn’t just give them the money to buy the hardware and the bullets, we sold it to them.

      1. You may well have paid for those bullets.

        H&R: Where America goes for self-loathing. You know, the Egyptians would not be killing each other if they had purchased Russian and Chinese bullets. And consider all the grain you sold them. Those killers are eating bread that you provided! How can you sleep at night?

        1. I don’t loathe myself — I loathe the crapsack politicians who decide to pass off my tax money to dictators to make their lives easier.

      2. The “may well” is there because of the possibility these particular shooters were using their own private weapons, not because I was unaware of Washington’s military aid to Egypt (or the fungibility of its other aid).

        Of course, even if the thugs were drawing on their own private stock of ammo, there’s a strong chance they purchased it with a paycheck from the Egyptian state.

  3. “There is chatter in my Twitter feed about getting Washington to intervene…”

    I doubt foreign aid was the kind of intervention they’re hoping for from Washington, and I don’t know who you’re getting those tweets from, but I can’t imagine the Egyptian people wanting Washington to intervene…

    Seems to me the Egyptian people are doing a good job of bringing Mubarak down without us. If I were marching on Washington to bring down some vicious dictator here at home? The last thing I’d want is some foreign government to intervene.

    1. I don’t know who you’re getting those tweets from

      From Americans, of course.

    2. I don’t know. My Persian friends tell me when they get calls from the Old Country, their relatives cannot believe that we haven’t invaded yet and wonder what the government has to do to get the US’s attention.

      1. Awesome. When people want our help, it’s good for the US to be the world’s cop; and when they don’t, it’s awful that we’re the world’s cop.

        How about we just not be the world’s cop at all?

        1. How about we just not be the world’s cop at all?

          You don’t really think that people wouldn’t bitch about that, do you?

          Now if our economy collapsed, then yeah, we’d get a pass. Maybe if the country broke up into a bunch of states?

          1. What if we all simultaneously had a case of explosive diarrhea?

        2. ISOLATIONIST!!!!

        3. If we were really the world’s cop, no one would blame us when we killed innocent people and busted up their property for no reason.

          1. If we were the worlds cop, no dog on earth would be safe.

            1. The world eats dogs. Just sayin’.

            2. Ouch again.

      2. We are keeping close watch on the fluid situation. My staff updates me by text messages while I’m out on the links.

    3. Like France? They gave us a statue too. Nice lads, them.

    4. If I were marching on Washington to bring down some vicious dictator here at home? The last thing I’d want is some foreign government to intervene.

      I suppose you’re out there protesting for the city of Fayetteville to be renamed, then? Also a few counties, townships, streets, warships, etc.

  4. Right. Meaning that when the US gives money to Mubarak for X, you can’t avoid the fact that as a result he has more money for Y.

    You can tell yourself you’re not paying for the junky’s drugs when you give him money “for a sandwich”, but you’re an idiot.

    BTW, how about the US tanks the Egyptian army is using?

  5. The gunfire was caused by Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.

    And if you don’t believe me, I’m gonna torch this fuckin’ place.

    1. You’re awfully fucking brave now that you actually have a time slot.

      I miss Keith. *sniff*

      1. Q: Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word, formerly airing at 10 P.M., now airs in Olbermann’s 8 P.M. slot. If O’Donnell is still the last word, what does that make Rachel Maddow?

        A: A lesbian.

  6. The world seems very complicated, with shades of gray and all sorts of ambiguities and uncertainties, but it’s really very simple, isn’t it, Jesse?

    1. Sweetiekins, leave those people alone. Come to my room and let Mommy give you a good schtupping with her special latex friend.

    2. Yes, the world is complicated with shades of gray, etc, but there is also black and white stuff as well. It ain’t all gray.

  7. Egypt is the fourth largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world. You may well have paid for those bullets.

    Well, yeah, whenever a SWAT team busts in the wrong door in a drug raid and shoots either the dogs, the residents or both, you paid for those bullets, too.

  8. There is chatter in my Twitter feed about getting Washington to intervene, so I’d like to remind everyone that Washington is intervening.

    If Washington announced that we were suspending all aid until Mubarak left, that would be thought of as “intervening” because it would be a change from the status quo. It would indeed have an impact.

    1. Intervening is intervening. Cutting off aid to a government around which its entire structure is dependent would be akin to economic sanctions.

    2. I agree.

      With Mubarak employing violence against the protesters, I think this is a perfect opportunity to suspend aid indefinitely.

      There is a risk to that…

      You may remember that Saddam Hussein’s first line of defense was Israel. He provided a lot of support to terrorists, and started some nasty stuff in Palestine every chance he got as we were preparing to invade.

      I remember it was openly discussed at the time about whether the U.S. should or could invade Iraq while Palestine was in full intifada mode.

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mubarak go that route–if we withdrew aid here and now. Just as we did then, we could talk to Israel about what they’d do if things went in that direction beforehand. I think Israel has shown restraint for similar reasons in the past…

      Regardless, beyond that one concern, now that Mubarak is apparently going all Tienanmen Square on the protesters and the world press, now would be the perfect time to try to get ahead of Egyptian opinion, condemn the violence and suspend all aid to Egypt.

      There probably won’t be a better opportunity. Obama should do it tomorrow morning.

    3. Doesn’t that imply that pulling troops out of Iraq would be intervention?

      1. According to some commentators, it would be.

        The US is criticized for intervening regardless of the action or inaction. Not always by the same people, so it’s not strictly irrational, but sometimes it seems that way.

  9. Sounds like a pretty scary place to be dude.

    privacy-tools.au.tc

    1. Really?! That’s the name ‘they’ assigned you? Sorry, dude. LOL

      Jess
      http://www.anon-4-life.com

  10. Good thing “the people” spontaneously organized to pat-down and make sure those anti-Mubarak protesters were unarmed. Imagine the bad press if a camel was harmed.

    1. I think the point of the pat downs was to make sure the protest wasn’t infiltrated by armed Mubarak supporters.

  11. “New York Congressman Gary Ackerman, the ranking Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, wants to suspend the $1.5 billion in aid the United States provides Egypt annually?most of which goes to that country’s military and security complex?until it is clear Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is on his way out.”

    Hmm, we already knew those bullets had our name on it. Put down the Mai Tai before you post.

  12. We paid for the bullets, but we also helped pay for all the education those young protestors got.

    1. I think Max has hit on the basic problem here: Fancy Book Larnin’!

  13. Carrot and stick Max. We failed to demand that Egypt engage in economic and political reform.

  14. Here’s a subject I’m waiting for Reason to examine:

    GWB reversed years of American ME foreign policy by sending US troops to unseat a fanatical tyrant, thus upsetting the “stability in exchange for freedom” strategy. Now one could argue the same for North Korea, but my point is that the Bush admin clearly reversed policy that had been a standard for 30 years if not more.

    Wouldn’t we be better off if Obama was continuing the Bush Agenda by supporting Iranian dissidents and Egyptian liberals instead of returning to the detente’ style strategy?

    I know, crazy.

    1. You know what I see the problem with that is?

      So many, among both the “Egyptians liberals” and the “Iranian dissidents”? Despise us because of the “Bush Agenda”.

      Nothing anyone has done has alienated the “Arab street” more than the “Bush Agenda”. If they hate us now, they hate specifically because of the “Bush Agenda”.

      1. Alright Ken, let me ask you this;

        Do you think the dissidents have a better or worse chance of liberation under the Bush Agenda or the “Arab Street”, which currently seems well, streetwise pretty undecided.

        The “arab street” is literally filled with people fighting for power. One of these groups is going to win said power. Our regime-supporting-in-exchange-for-stability agenda didn’t work in Iran in the 70’s and it won’t work now either.

        You still think the Bush Agenda is really that unpopular in comparison to our other foreign policy agenda?

        1. Doesn’t matter if it was popular or not, its too fucking expensive.

        2. “You still think the Bush Agenda is really that unpopular in comparison to our other foreign policy agenda?”

          Yes, I do!

          But I’m not basing that on who has what going for them; I’m basing that on Arabs I talked to every day for years!

          My understanding is that the “Arab street” thinks of George W. Bush in much the same way we think of Osama bin Laden. If we want to alienate the “Arab street”? I doubt there’s any better strategy than associating ourselves with the policies or thoughts of George W. Bush.

          I imagine some Al Qaeda operatives sitting around having this same conversation. Imagine one of them says, “Now’s our opportunity! Maybe now the American people are finally ready to listen to what Osama bin Laden has to say!”

          Uh…no. The American people don’t give a rat’s ass what Osama bin Laden has to say about anything! In fact, there’s probably no better way to alienate the American people than invoking the name or thoughts of Osama bin Laden…

          I think that’s the way the people in the Middle East and North Africa react to anything that smacks of George W. Bush…

          …with ridicule and disgust.

          1. Ken,

            I’m not basing that on who has what going for them; I’m basing that on Arabs I talked to every day for years!

            Some of the Arabs I talk to everyday would disagree with you. And ALL of the Kurds I talk to every day would definitely disagree with you.

            If we want to alienate the “Arab street”? I doubt there’s any better strategy than associating ourselves with the policies or thoughts of George W. Bush.

            I disagree entirely. You want to piss off the Arab street? Support Mubarak and the other dictators. That’s far more damaging from an “upset the Arab Street” standpoint than associating ourselves with a leader who got rid of Saddam.

            Your comparison of Bush to Osama is apples to oranges. Bush removed a roundly despised dictator from power that most Arabs were not too thrilled about. Osama hasn’t removed any dictators from power, and he certainly hasn’t improved the lives of anyone in the Middle East.

            I think that’s the way the people in the Middle East and North Africa react to anything that smacks of George W. Bush…

            …with ridicule and disgust.

            They have streets named after Bush in Kurdistan.

            1. “Your comparison of Bush to Osama is apples to oranges.”

              I didn’t say they were the same. I said the they both provoke ridicule and disgust in various audiences–Bush in the Arab world and Osama bin Laden here at home.

              “They have streets named after Bush in Kurdistan.”

              Kurdistan was effectively independent before George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq–it’s been effectively independent since 1992!

              Furthermore, I don’t believe Kurds are Arabs! Maybe I’m wrong about that, but even if I am? How much support can we count on among the Egyptian Kurds?!

              Do Egyptian Kurds even exist?!

              You seem to be projecting a lot of American politics circa 2004 onto the Arab world–and, as evidenced by your posts here, that world you’re projecting doesn’t seem to exist anywhere but in your head.

              If average Egyptians despise Mubarak more than George W. Bush? It’s only due to the immediate proximity, but whether they hate one or the other more is beside the point. The point is that George W. Bush is widely despised in the Arab world.

              P.S.

              Despised!

              1. I said the they both provoke ridicule and disgust in various audiences–Bush in the Arab world and Osama bin Laden here at home.

                Both do both in both places. There are plenty of Americans who despise Bush and there are plenty of Arabs who despise Bin laden. Your analogy is essentially useless.

                Kurdistan was effectively independent before George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq–it’s been effectively independent since 1992!

                Um, if you think “effectively independent” means that Saddam still was able to brutally repress anyone on the Iraqi-kurdish side, then yes they were “effectively independent”. There were Iraqi troops in Kurdistan when we arrived. Kurdistan may have had a “no-fly zone” but that didn’t stop Saddam from sending his thugs to remind everyone in Kurdistan who was still running things.

                Furthermore, I don’t believe Kurds are Arabs! Maybe I’m wrong about that, but even if I am? How much support can we count on among the Egyptian Kurds?!

                Kurds are not Arabs, this is true. There are Arabs in Kurdistan however. And they were happy to see Saddam be removed from power.

                You seem to be projecting a lot of American politics circa 2004 onto the Arab world–and, as evidenced by your posts here, that world you’re projecting doesn’t seem to exist anywhere but in your head.

                I don’t know what you mean by that at all. Please explain further.

                The point is that George W. Bush is widely despised in the Arab world.

                No, the point is that Bush had an agenda of reversing US foreign policy of the last 40 years which was to placate dictators so that they would brutally repress the groups we were afraid of. Bush reversed this policy by stating that the price of stability was not worth the returns. I’m not trying to say that Bush is a saint in the Arab world, but more importantly that Bush began a process of changing US foreign policy towards the region, one which abandoned the idea of supporting dictators who brutally repressed their own people as long as they kept down the Commies and the Islamists.

                Stability wasn’t worth the price in 70’s with Iran, and it isn’t worth the price now in Egypt.

      2. Nothing anyone has done has alienated the “Arab street” more than the “Bush Agenda”. If they hate us now, they hate specifically because of the “Bush Agenda”.

        Ah, so you’re arguing that we absolutely should have and should continue to support Mubarak, because supporting Mubarak doesn’t upset Egyptians anything near as much as calling upon Mubarak to hold free elections and release political prisoners.

        Me, I feel that the US backing down from its initial threats after Mubarak stole the parliamentary elections in 2005 alienated the Egyptians, as does our support for Mubarak.

        1. Going back farther and we did things in the context of the Cold War that didn’t make as much sense during the War on Terror as they did during the Cold War.

          I think we’ll probably find that we did things during the War on Terror that don’t make as much sense in the future as they did during the War on Terror.

          Everybody makes strategic mistakes, but I think George W. Bush pushed that to a whole ‘nother level. It’s not just what he did in Egypt either. It’s what he did in Iraq. It was the baloney about WMD. It was Abu Ghraib.

          I don’t think we should have supported Mubarak any more than it was in our best interests to do so, but given the context of the War on Terror, I can see how it might have been in our interests to work with the enemies of Islamist radicals–wherever we found them.

          Mubarak was the enemy of Islamist radicals. I think he’s thought of that way–by the Islamist radicals.

          Pakistan is another example of a place where the interests of the American people and the interests of the Pakistani people may not always be the same.

  15. Guns don’t kill Egyptians. Egyptians kill Egyptians.

    1. Idiocy doesn`t maginalize libertarians. Libertarians marginalize libertarians.

  16. If I kill somebody with my H&K P30, can I blame Germany?

    1. There are multiple levels of blame. Obviously the person who commits an immoral act receives full blame for it, but that doesn’t excuse the people who urged or ordered him to do it, or the people who provided him with the means to do it when they knew what he was going to do.

      In this particular case, there are far more people who buy guns for legitimate self-defense and sporting purposes than for criminal purposes, so a gun manufacturer deserves no blame for selling guns to random people. Now, if you’d written a letter to the manufacturer saying you really wanted a gun so you could murder innocent people, and they sent you a coupon for a free gun in reply, then they would be responsible for your acts.

    2. We can blame your employer, or the customers who enabled you to buy the gun.

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