US Response Missing in Egyptian Government’s Mass Killings of Protesters

I just read this NY Times article on the mass killings in Egypt, and I highly recommend you take the time to read it: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/15/world/middleeast/egypt.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

This is incredibly disturbing on so many levels. I haven’t been keeping up to speed on current events in Egypt as much as now I think I should, so this was eye opening and I think a must-read. There is too much in the article to try quoting specific parts or recapping it; I think you just need to read the source, especially if you’re not up to speed.

There are so many thoughts and questions that this brings to mind… and I hope we can at least drive some critical discussion following these events.


Why are we still funding the military with $1.5b even though it appears to be legally required to cut funding after a coup, and as it’s become increasingly immoral to fund the Egyptian military in any case?

How does a government or military, whose sole purpose is to serve the people, and protect the people get so broken to the point of murdering at least 100 people (NY times literally called it a “mass killing”). Now it’s being reported on ABC news that “over 300” have died. Dispersing crows with bulldozers, tear gas, tanks, and finally live small-arms fire ? (NY times reports shots to the head and chest)

How does this compare to the “work” we are doing in Syria (*against* the government in that case) and the moral and legal justification for what we’re doing in Syria…? Is there a fundamental inconsistency in US policy, or are the facts and circumstances different enough to justify such divergent policy?

Has the current administration made their position clear? Have they drawn and committed to any red lines for pulling the aide, or are they even directly condemning the current “military-government”? If they have red lines, we must have crossed them… is the administration pushing the lines to delay taking promised action?

What the heck is even the way forward for Egypt? What should be be doing today, and in the next 2 – 4 weeks? At some point does it get so bad it’s a humanitarian crisis? At some point does it get so bad it’s a genocide?

It’s sad, frightening, disappointing, embarrassing, and in the literal sense mortifying that this is happening in Egypt, especially given the hand that new web technology like Twitter had in enabling the Arab Spring and it ultimately ending up here… (I don’t know and won’t say if it ‘lead to’ this)

We should have the most powerful platform for non-violent protest and incensing/inciting political change that the world has even seen. It’s beyond disappointing that we couldn’t do better with all the advanced notice, preparation, deliberate planning, and investment that went into Egypt. I think as new tools that can be used ‘by the people’ / ‘for the people’ are created, there’s an equal an opposite evolution in tools that can be used against the people. And certainly gunpowder is not going anywhere, and resorting to assassinating citizens at large scale in the name of ‘security’ is just indefensible, reprehensible, and truly sickening. Are the new tools actually empowering people so much (I won’t say “too much”) so that government feels the best/safest response is murder? Or maybe there really are just sociopaths at the helm, bloodthirsty and full of fear and hate, giving the order to point guns at their people. Does the fact protesters are throwing rocks and not firing guns mean it’s not a civil war?

I don’t see how this is anything but a complete failure of US intervention policy. I’m not saying the alternative is better, because we can’t known that. Is it theoretically possible that Egypt is on a better path with us, than without us? Arguing the point would be lunacy. But even if somehow that were true, when I say ‘intervention has failed’, it’s not even just because of the reality on the ground right now. It’s because the US gets blamed for what’s happening, it’s easy to present as the US causing a worst-case outcome, and by the way it’s after spending extraordinary amounts of of resources, it’s funded based on massive debt, and on top of it all it endangers US citizens, which then helps politicians violate the constitution and try to justify a surveillance state. It makes the US look weak and incompetent, it’s proof we can’t drive good outcomes even when we try. So even if this is somehow marginally better than how things would have looked under a hands off approach, it’s still not enough. It’s still utter failure.

I think, *maybe* it could even be worth all the risk, if the short term outcome was even remotely positive. I don’t think “we have to keep intervening and stay the course and eventually it gets better” is a viable policy or position going forward. After an epic policy failures like this, you better bring a lot more substance and accountability, self reflection, and self study, and proven tactics before embarking or continuing on the same path. I’d say that US risk aversion to interventional policy in Egypt should be at an all time high right now.

I’ve done “postmortems” in software development that went on longer than the US policy statements in the last week on Egypt. The political response is muddled, weak, watered-down, uninspiring, and wildly insufficient. For a president who’s made multiple visits the the country and area, I’m not seeing the focus and planning, or the nuanced, well thought, comprehensive response that I would expect from my government. We can do, and we must do much better than this, especially when shit hits the fan the way that it has here. For as involved as we are, Egypt deserves more than a canned sound byte right now, they need a major rethinking on our part of how to get this under control.

I would be really interested to hear a presidential candidate during the next election who talks about the failed approach in Egypt, what they would do differently (yes, an actual different approach), and even how mass murders at the hand of the government endangers US lives (US citizens and military actually) and leads to unconstitutional surveillance. That’s thinking differently, and I think that’s what people want, more than anything else, is someone who is extremely smart, more importantly who is able to drive smart policy, and extremely competent at leading, setting direction, and representing our country. Unfortunately, I don’t even know if the current system can even produce someone like that, even if enough people would vote for them.