Heads on the Line


Thanassis Cambanis reports from Cairo:

At the northern end of Tahrir Square, by the National Museum, groups of men sleep in shifts beneath the treads of the army tanks that mark the northern perimeter of Revolutionary Egypt. Demonstrators allowed the tanks so the army could protect the antiquities in the museum, and ever since the army has tried to move them further.

Cambanis goes on to interview several of the sleepers. It's an interesting dispatch, and I recommend reading the whole thing. But the most remarkable part of the post is the photo that illustrates it:

headboards from hell

Bonus Egypt link: the most nuanced analysis I've seen of the competing interests at work in the country.

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  1. So, the VADOT work crew is also trying to prevent the asphalt trucks from oppressing us all summer? Thanks VADOT!

  2. Where did I leave those damned tank keys???

  3. “You ever wonder what happened to that guy in China?”

  4. When the Eastern European despots collapsed, the revolt was successful because the security forces identified more with those protesting than with their leaders. They could not turn on their own.

    It would be interesting to get inside the minds of the security troops, and see what they are thinking.

    In Burma, there is a tremendous amount of popular support for An Song Su Ki (not sure of the spelling!) but the generals have always managed to maintain the loyalty of the security forces.

    1. My understanding is the army is mostly conscripts while the police and government forces are well paid, and just got a 15% raise. (but I have a pretty narrow understanding of the socioeconomic conditions and that is second hand anecdotal evidence)

  5. US military-aid money does not buy loyalty to America; it just buys resentment.

    Gee, I wonder if this applies anywhere else, internationally and domestically…

    1. And here I was giving my resentment away for free all these years. Shucks.

      1. I know – we should start our own foreign country, and then tell the US we have a major drug problem, and need $2B in military assistance to solve it.

        1. I vote we make Michigan a foreign country.

          So I don’t have to move.

          “Have you seen Detroit? Flint? Teh drugz!! Please send money. kthxbai.”

          1. “Oh hai. Wur you using that citee?”

        2. Esteemed Sir:

          Ny father was a shop steward in Detroit Michigan, and I seek your acquaintance and assistance regarding $300 million in union pension fund assets that are rightfully mine . . . .

  6. I admire those people under the tank. That is COMMITMENT. Good luck, Egyptians…

  7. I’ll paraphrase all the hang wringing I’ve heard from the neocons in the last week: “We have to send in the military otherwise Israel won’t get what they want and that will be disastrous for the US”.

    1. I’ll paraphrase all the hang wringing I’ve heard from the neocons in the last week

      You’re a liar. It’s been the realists and Israel who want to support Mubarak.

      The neocons have been solidly lining up in favor of the protestors, on the other side from Israel, from Bill Kristol to Charles Krauthammer to Eliott Abrams.

      One of the things about this crisis is that’s it has demonstrated that the realists don’t reflexively oppose Israel nor the neocons reflexively support Israel, because on this issue, it’s been the realists with Israel (and specifically with Likud) in favor of “stability” and the neocons opposed.

      Both the realists and the neocons are taking the same position that they did on Iraq, Iran, and other countries where the anti-stability position was thought to be more pro-Israel.

    2. Bill Kristol has been taking the opposite position of your “paraphrase,” whereas it’s been guys like Glenn Beck and a bunch of realists (and Dick Cheney) doing the hand wringing.

      I’m not sure whether you’re a liar or just ignorant about who and what is a neocon.

  8. I have to admit, I’m not entirely clear on a how a tank would be used to protect a museum.

    1. Perhaps they’ll need to destroy the museum to save it.

      For teh childrun…

    2. It’s like unbacked currency, the polygraph machine, and political power: it only does its job if people believe it can do its job.

  9. “I want her to see and feel what it’s like to defy authority.”

    We need more of these fathers here.

    1. That does warm my heart.

  10. This reminds me of a scene from Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

    “Come off it, Mr Dent,” he said, “you can’t win you know. You can’t lie in front of the bulldozer indefinitely.” He tried to make his eyes blaze fiercely but they just wouldn’t do it.

    Arthur lay in the mud and squelched at him.

    “I’m game,” he said, “we’ll see who rusts first.”

    “I’m afraid you’re going to have to accept it,” said Mr Prosser gripping his fur hat and rolling it round the top of his head, “this bypass has got to be built and it’s going to be built!”

    “First I’ve heard of it,” said Arthur, “why’s it going to be built?”

    Mr Prosser shook his finger at him for a bit, then stopped and put it away again.

    “What do you mean, why’s it got to be built?” he said. “It’s a bypass. You’ve got to build bypasses.”

    1. “It’s a bypass. You’ve got to build bypasses.”

      One of the greatest lines form a book full of great lines.

    2. Utterly raped by that abomination of a movie, with Ford bringing a shopping cart full of beer to distract the workers.

  11. We may have to recalibrate our Balls! meter with this new benchmark. I know I wouldn’t be sleeping there.

  12. Its probably the safest place on the whole square.

    I would check to make sure they have the parking brake on, though.

  13. THAT is the new Tiannamen Square/One-Man-vs.-Totalitarianism-in-a-Tank picture for the 21st century.

    It’s pretty hard to be cynical about that.

    Thanks for the completely gratuitous alt-text, Jesse.

  14. Should the people in the front rows be wearing trash bag ponchos?

  15. the most nuanced analysis I’ve seen of the competing interests at work in the country.

    Excellent link, thank you.

  16. Just to lighten the mood: An awesome bluegrass cover of Walk Like an Egyptian.

  17. I’ve got one friend in Cairo going to the Tahrir Square protests every day. He said that the protesters are a mix of Muslim Brotherhood members, secular, moderate Muslims, and Christians. The protesters want term limits for the president in addition to replacing Mubarak.

    The Egyptian banks aren’t converting any money from foreign currency until March 1st. Small things like this are making life more difficult for ordinary Egyptians, but at least the banks are open again.

  18. That’s dangerous. A Tanker I know told me that even at rest, tanks move around on their treads a little bit, especially at night. It’s a response to the way the earth expands and contracts with temperature. The USA has had some gruesome accidents over the years from troopers sleeping too close to ( or even on top of!) the caterpillar treads.
    They better be careful or there’ll be an extra martyr they didn’t want over there…

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