Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let's Be Honest, the Army Decides These Things

Just a brief note about Egypt.  I'm hopeful for change, if the Egyptian government collapses and is replaced with a democratic regime (a big if, there's a long path between Mubarak stepping down and eventual elections, even if someone supposedly democratic steps in we won't know they've really democratized until there's been a transfer of power between democratically elected coalitions, the white knight not infrequently morphs into another tyrant) there's reasons to be optimistic about political reform both in Egypt and in other countries, these things frequently happen in waves.  Also, an article in the NY Times mentions that the Muslim Brotherhood says it will support El Baradei which lessens the chance of an Iranian revolution style transition.  These are positive developments but it's too early to make predictions.  In the end, the first deciding factor is whether or not the army shoots when ordered to do so.  As far as we know, it hasn't been ordered to do so yet, and until a new government is in place we don't know if it will receive these orders or how it will react.  Until then, this is all up in the air.

And after that, it's still up in the air till power changes hand between democratically elected regimes.


  1. I read that the army opened fire on the protesters. Does that change your analysis?

  2. Not essentially. I think it moves the essential decision to a test between the strength of army loyalists and the rank and file. Though I do think I should have been more specific about having the rank and file in mind, and not just isolated units. I had Yeltsin standing on a tank in Moscow vs. Chinese troops in Tiananmen Square. Like in Russia, you can get a few loyal units to act on orders, but the test comes when the stability of the regime depends on the loyalty of the rank and file soldiers and not just the upper brass and a few elite, or otherwise tested, units.