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February 14, 2011

Hosni Mubarak in a coma? (how about the Obama administration?)

Topics: Egypt, Political News and commentaries

Unconfirmed reports in both al-Arabiya and the Jerusalem Post report that Hosni Mubarak slipped into a coma after his speech resigning from power on Saturday.

On the other hand, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the 82-year-old Mubarak "is refusing to take medication or be examined by physicians."

The papers don't say how Mubarak, or anyone else for that matter, can be "refusing to take medication or be examined by physicians" while in a comatose state. Perhaps he slipped into a coma following his reported "suffering from physical health problems and psychological distress."

Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey says Mubarak's coma isn't the only one affecting Egypt, either, and points to Niall Ferguson, the new Newsweek/Daily Beast columnist who blasts the Obama administration for its feckless response to the crisis in Cairo, arguing that Barack Obama accomplished the nearly impossible task of alienating everyone:

In each case, the president faced stark alternatives. He could try to catch the wave, Bismarck style, by lending his support to the youthful revolutionaries and trying to ride it in a direction advantageous to American interests. Or he could do nothing and let the forces of reaction prevail. In the case of Iran, he did nothing, and the thugs of the Islamic Republic ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations. This time around, in Egypt, it was worse. He did both -- some days exhorting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave, other days drawing back and recommending an "orderly transition."

The result has been a foreign-policy debacle. The president has alienated everybody: not only Mubarak's cronies in the military, but also the youthful crowds in the streets of Cairo. Whoever ultimately wins, Obama loses. And the alienation doesn't end there. America's two closest friends in the region -- Israel and Saudi Arabia -- are both disgusted. The Saudis, who dread all manifestations of revolution, are appalled at Washington's failure to resolutely prop up Mubarak. The Israelis, meanwhile, are dismayed by the administration's apparent cluelessness. ...

This failure was not the result of bad luck. It was the predictable consequence of the Obama administration's lack of any kind of coherent grand strategy, a deficit about which more than a few veterans of U.S. foreign-policymaking have long worried.

As Ed Morrissey points out, Ferguson goes on to try to argue that Obama is less to blame than his staff, which certainly shares the blame for the incoherent response and the apparent utter surprise of the White House. However, Ed's not buying it, and notes that Obama runs that staff, and chose it personally.

He put Hillary Clinton in as Secretary of State despite having no real foreign-policy experience, and chose James Clapper as his DNI. Clapper distinguished himself in this crisis by apparently failing to realize that the "Muslim" in "Muslim Brotherhood" denoted a particularly religious (and extremist) ideology at work. Obama also chose Frank Wisner to deliver a message to Mubarak without apparently accounting for the fact that Wisner's firm represents the Egyptian government and its military, when the US ambassador, Margaret Scobey, was already on the ground for the past three years.
Needless to say, it appears that the Obama administration has brought new meaning to the word "cluelessness" ... i.e. comatose.

Posted by Richard at February 14, 2011 12:14 PM

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