Egypt and the “Experts”: How Wrong They Were

The fall of Hosni Mubarak isn’t just an occasion to cheer the demise of a dictatorship, it’s also a golden opportunity to celebrate the downfall of all-too-many “experts” whose complacency, deference to power, and complete ignorance of the situation on the ground led them to predict the dictator would survive.  Below, a list of the fallen:

Experts predict that Mubarak will survive the crisis” — that was the headline at USA Today on Jan. 28. The article quotes only one of these alleged “experts”: ”

“Jon Alterman, director and senior fellow of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the regime of Tunisian autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali quickly crumbled after his military withdrew its support. In Egypt, the security services are solidly behind the Mubarak government, he said.

“‘If I were a betting man, what I’d bet on is that the government gets through the current crisis,’ Alterman said.”

Here‘s another “expert,” cited in Le Figaro:

“Opposition to Hosni Mubarak has always existed, explains Jean-Noel Ferrie of France’s national scientific research center (CNRS). And though the criticism and public demonstrations have reached a new level, Ferrie cautions against quick comparisons to what happened in Tunisia. ‘It would be wrong to compare his unpopularity with Ben Ali’s.’  Mubarak came to power after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.  With his military background, and stature as a hero during the 1973 war, he won the army’s support, which has been a key element in the regime’s survival, right up to the present moment. ‘It is unlikely that protesters can oust him without facing the military first,’ says Ferrie.

 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

The Israelis –  “The Egyptian demonstrations, now in their third day, have been inspired by those who overthrew Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali this month, but the official said Israel saw limited parallels between the countries. ‘Mubarak is not Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. There is a huge difference. The Egyptian regime is well rooted, including the defence establishment. Their regime is strong enough to overcome the situation,’ he said.

“A second government Israeli official echoed that view. ‘The regime may be shaken by the troubles, and anything is possible, but it doesn’t have a serious air to it,’ he said …”

Daniel Larison, over at The American Conservative“The disagreement centers on the expectation of Mubarak’s fall. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is likely at all, which makes this one of the few times that I agree with the Netanyahu government about something.”

Larsison wasn’t just wrong, he was willfully and stubbornly wrong, conducting a weeks-long campaign against Egypt’s democracy movement. Echoing the neocons and the Israel lobby, he cited fears of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover and the demise of Egypt as a reliable ally. Mubarak’s overthrow, Larison claims, would not be in “American interests.”

16 thoughts on “Egypt and the “Experts”: How Wrong They Were”

  1. With few exceptions, the pundits are especially clueless when it comes to anything outside their own country – not that it stops them from spouting off… American politicians don't have a clue… and there's a long list of supposed Middle East experts who are, in reality, laughable – Christiane Amanpour and Thomas Friedman come to mind. But then there are Eric Margolis, Robert Fisk and Juan Cole, who actually know what they're talking about…

  2. The VP and army is still in charge
    So, as of right now, they are correct, and the regime has not been taken down

    1. VP Omar Suleiman has been relegated to a nominal role in the Military council that is ruling Egypt now, so he is no longer acting as head of state. The pundits predicted it would be Mubarak himself who would survive the protest movement and he didn't – so yes, they were wrong.

  3. At this point anyone who publishes anything on dead trees is part of the con.
    I canceled my subscriptions to the American Conservative and Chronicles a way back because of their Islam-bashing demagoguery and fear and war mongering. They had to join the howling mob of media-"democratism"
    Larison is certainly eccentric for some of his personal characteristics like the neocons he enthuses over autocracy, war, and the majesty of the state. Like them he played a lot of Risk when he was in a slightly more arrested stage of development

    1. Yep- Paleos are useless. Both those magazines are nauseating- and I to dabbled with them a bit- but their sickening embrace of every neocon cannard about Muslims- just differing in what the best course for the empire was and is just completely discredited in my mind and makes utterly beyond the pale to me. The last straw for me came with Pat Buchanan's revolting behavior during the "Mosque at Ground Zero" brouhaha.

      Paleos are not alies in anything. They are a tiny- bigoted- race obsessed- cult- who do more harm than good to any anti imperialist or big government cause. They are kooks- period- revolting kooks at that.

      1. The canary-in-the-coalmine was glancing at Alt-Right, when quite a while ago. Even a long time ago, they have been fearmongering Muslims as threats to western civilization; this is nothing new. Libertarians who thought paleos were somehow the ressurected "Old Right" have been playing a game of self-delusion, refusing to see what other libertarians could see plainly.

  4. >>Marie Antoinette even.

    Sorry, Marie Antoinette can actually be defended. Most of the slander against her has been again and again proven untrue.

    ( and that is not even friendly)

    Don't believe in myths, then you won't fall for democratic revolutions that replace a Mubarak with a Soleiman.

  5. Just a couple of rhetorical questions about these so-called "experts":

    1. Do any of them speak Arabic (and I do not mean fus'ha, or classical/Koranic Arabic that is the medium of mass communications and literature, but the regional vernacular that is the common spoken Arabic of the average person of the streets)?

    2. Have any of them spent any time in any Arab countries outside of embassy compounds or ex-pat enclaves, which, in those countries, are akin to Jamaican resorts where on never interacts with the locals?

    Just rhetorical questions, mind you.

  6. It's unbelievable: Raimondo thinks that just by wishing this were a democratic revolution, it will somehow magically become one.

  7. "That being said, of course he's wrong."

    And the evidence is for him being wrong is… nothing! The military is still in charge. Nothing has fundamentally changed.

  8. “A second government Israeli official echoed that view. ‘The regime may be shaken by the troubles, and anything is possible, but it doesn’t have a serious air to it,’ he said …”

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