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Egyptian Parliament Dissolved, Constitution Suspended

We now have some official word on the key issues of the parliament, the constitution and the basics of the military’s plans.

Via the BBC:  Egyptian military dissolves parliament:

In a statement on state TV, the higher military council said it would stay in power six months, or until elections.

[...]

A statement was read out on state TV on Sunday from the higher military council, saying it would suspend the constitution and set up a committee to draft a new one, before submitting it to a popular referendum.

Clearly for a transition to a more democratic system, the old constitution has to go.  As difficult as it has been to get rid of said document, the hard part come now:  figuring out who to invite to the table to negotiate a new document and, more importantly, determining what the new rules will be.

Our ability to truly assess what has happened will start only once those very fundamental issues are settled.

One thing does remain clear, as I have been saying for a couple of says now: the military currently govern Egypt.  I remain hopeful that they will, in fact, allow true liberalization.  I am simply cautious, however, the process.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steven; no one has ever, as far as I know, questioned the fact that the military now governs Egypt. What was questioned was your assertion they took power in a Cout D’etat. They didn’t. As this latest announcement reinforces they’ve been handed a leashold on power while the future ownership of the property is resolved. We’re going into six months of very confused horse trading. This is Egypt (I know, I’ve sold tractors to the Egyptian military) so it’s not going to be pretty but for the process to have any credibility at all the parliament, which Mubarak had packed, and the constitution, had to go. It’s probably reasonable to assume the military have seen the light even if for no other reason that they realize, to quote Lampedusa’s The Leopard, things must change to stay as they are. So they probably going to act in good faith although obviously protecting their interests along the way. At the end of it we’ll probably see something approximating democracy. Then it will get interesting.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    BJ: But how is this anything other than a military coup? The previous institutions have been shunted aside by the military, which now completely controls the tools of government. That’s a definitional coup d’etat.

    That they promise to hold democratic elections at some point is hardly novel. Military juntas do that as a matter of course. And they may even mean it. But it doesn’t change the fact of how power was transfered and to whom.

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  3. PD Shaw says:

    Good News: They’re getting rid of the constitution. My casual reading was that it was an illiberal document, centralizing power in the President with codified emergency powers and legislative bypasses.

    Bad News: They’re disbanding an independent source of national consensus that would be able to challenge excesses of military rule.

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  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    James Joyner says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 11:15
    “BJ: But how is this anything other than a military coup?”

    Jim: the definition of Coup D’etat is crystal clear. It involves a violent or non violent seizure of power. No such seizure (or shunting as you call it) took place. Suleiman appointed by Mubarak is still a major player. Mubarak quit because he realized he couldn’t go on, so HE handed power over to the army by default as a temporary arrangement and to provide a protective barrier for himself and his interests. And as every announcement makes clear everyone knows it’s intended to be temporary. Unfortunately, you, Steven and others here immediately started using the expression Coup and now feel impelled to defend a term that simply does not accurately describe what has happened. It may have been deliberate or inadvertent, but it’s wrong.

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  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Bad News: They’re disbanding an independent source of national consensus that would be able to challenge excesses of military rule.”

    I don’t think the constitution is regarded as a source of national consensus. It’s been merely another device to buttress the power of Mubarak and his clique. On the odd occasions when clauses have created potential problems for him he’s merely changed it by votes in his stooge parliament.

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  6. M1EK says:

    He meant the parliament, but that really wasn’t independent either – the last elections were widely regarded as a farce – the Muslim Brotherhood went from something like 80 seats to 0 or nearly so.

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  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    M1EK says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 12:01
    He meant the parliament,

    The parliament as I indicated was arguably worse. It’s a one party state. Mubarak’s parliaments were as much a source of independant national consensus as Brezhnev’s.

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  8. Unfortunately, you, Steven and others here immediately started using the expression Coup and now feel impelled to defend a term that simply does not accurately describe what has happened. It may have been deliberate or inadvertent, but it’s wrong.

    We insist on using it because it is the correct term.

    Since you give great stock to the Dictionary, let me note that my Roget’s New Pocket Thesaurus lists “take” and the first synonym to “seize” (the word you seem most focused on. I would note that one of the Oxford Dictionary definitions of “take” is “gain or acquire.” Are you going to argue that the Egyptian military has not gained or acquired the power of the Egyptian state?

    There, a wholly Dictionary and Thesaurus based argument.

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  9. matt b says:

    Mubarak quit because he realized he couldn’t go on, so HE handed power over to the army by default as a temporary arrangement and to provide a protective barrier for himself and his interests.

    This in no way invalidates the rational analysis that this was a bloodless coup. Nor does the fact that the events were set in motion by popular protests. What is abundantly clear was that the final decision/action was taken because of the explicit threat of military power/spectacular acts of violence upon his person. That the was able to make an arrangement was only because the Military accepted/approved of that arrangement (and note that he wasn’t even allowed to make a live statement).

    The fact is, if Mubarak still had (or at least thought he had) the military’s backing he’d still be in office. The Military allowed the performance of this to go down in such a way as to create an image of stable transition (so as not to further damage their economic interests). But to accept the performance as the fact is like accepting that puppets act on their own power (and ignore the hand firmly jammed up their rear).

    Put a different way, if the protests continue at the same intensity, do you think that the military won’t start to suppress them?

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  10. anjin-san says:

    OTB continues to push the coup/military junta meme. Meanwhile protestors in Yemen march on the presidential palace demanding political reform.

    Muslims are making a very clear statement that they are willing to put their asses on the line for freedom. How many years now has the right been telling us that they live only to kill Christians & Jews and turn the entire world into a theocracy?

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  11. Brummagem Joe says:

    BTW it would be very helpful if some of the original diarists knew something about the Egyptian army and its limitations as an instrument of repression against mass uprisings. It’s a largely conscript force (or it was a few years ago and I don’t suppose it’s changed much) of around 450,000 with a mixed regular and conscript officer corps. If you’ve got a university degree you get a commission after a year as an enlistee. I think the length of service is three years and then you go into the reserve which also about 450,000 in number. The fact many ordinary Egyptians serve in it accounts for respect it receives and its potential unreliability in a popular revolt. This largely accounts in my view for the neutral stance it took throughout the last three weeks. Once the police (who are basically government goons) were off the streets the army did nothing other than protect essential services, museums and the like because I’m sure the high command were fearful of the consequences of orders to fire on the general population. It’s also the case that many enlistees get some glimpse of the fancy life lived by regular officers (I’ve had my car valet parked at a club by a soldier) and this probably breeds some resentment. It’s not a complete basket case by any means but like any citizen army it has some limitations of competence and discipline. Any idea this army is going to move as one man like that of Frederik the Great on the orders of bunch of geriatric Mubarak cronies is nonsense I can tell you.

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  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steven L. Taylor says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 12:11

    Steven: a Thesaurus provides words that are more or less synonomous. I focussed on the word seized for the very simple reason it’s one used in the definition of a Coup D’etat. If I “seized” your house I would of course have “acquired” it but not by you voluntarily handing over the deeds. This is distinction obvious to tenth graders I would have thought. For someone who makes a bid deal about subtleties of meaning you seem curiously oblivious of them.

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  13. matt b says:

    Again, I ask why does anyone assume that there is a hard, bright-line binary implied by the use of coup here? Or that saying that a coup took place somehow negates the people who are “putting their asses on the line for freedom.”

    That seems to be attempting the same type of hard, bright-line binary analysis that the “right” has been attempting with, for example, the Muslim Brotherhood — that they can either have to be for Democracy (of the Western US, Motherhood and Apple Pie, “Christian” variety) or they must be for Islamofascist Rule (as in Iran but with 100% more Israeli and American baby eating).

    Likewise saying Muslims are making a very clear statement is playing into the same game. Which I understand it needs to be done from time-to-time — especially against what’s happened, largely on the Right, for the last few years. Islamophobia needs to be actively defused whenever it rears its ugly head.

    That’s said, equating the Middle East as the “Muslim world” or imaging that this is the majority of folks within these countries, is exactly the sorts of moves that causes us (or perhaps the US) to adopt simplistic public and foreign policy.

    For example, adopting the most simplistic of views of the popular movements going on — flattening the populations, ignoring local histories, and the behind-the-scenes flow of power — it’s pretty easy to argue that The Green Revolution, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, and other are proof/justification that the Neocon strategy of “Spreading the Seeds of Democracy”, as expressed in various “Project for a New American Century” (among other docs) and executed by the Bush II administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, was right — that all it takes is one “stable” democracy in a region to cause authoritarian governments to fall. My assumption is that this is already going on in Right Wing Radio and Blogs (I haven’t had any time to listen since the New Year). If not, I expect it to come soon, as it provides the best chance of reclaiming the narrative of the Bush administration and proving, that “as always”, they’re on the right side of history.

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  14. @anjin:

    I am honestly not sure what your point is. I applaud the willingness of these people to stand up for their rights.

    That does not change the fact that the military is currently in charge in Egypt nor does it change the method by which they achieved said power.

    You are going to have to explain to me why what I have written on this topic is offensive or problematic.

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  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Put a different way, if the protests continue at the same intensity, do you think that the military won’t start to suppress them?”

    You’re posing a strawman argument. They are unlikely to continue, at least on the same scale, because sizeable concessions are being made. A more likely scenario using your strawman is that as discussions progress the army attempts to avoid real reform and this sparks further demonstrations. For reasons I’ve outlined above at 12.47 I think the army will be very nervous about suppressing them. Which is why at bottom I’m optimistic of a semi reasonable outcome. Whatever that is the army will re-adjust to suit the new reality. “Things must change to stay as they are.”

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  16. How many years now has the right been telling us that they live only to kill Christians & Jews and turn the entire world into a theocracy?

    And for the record, I have never even come close to saying anything of the sort (just in case you were lumping me into that statement). I don’t think you can say any author at OTB has ever sais such things, either (commenters, yes, but then such is the result of a free and open forum).

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  17. @BJ:

    This is distinction obvious to tenth graders I would have thought. For someone who makes a bid deal about subtleties of meaning you seem curiously oblivious of them.

    Yes, it is rather annoying when people try to base an entire argument over looking up words in the most basic of reference works, isn’t it?

    Doesn’t make for an especially rich discussion.

    Funny that.

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  18. anjin-san says:

    Steven,

    I have always found you, James & Doug to be fair, informed and reasonable for the most part, and to the extent you are not, you are simply running into the same limitations we all face e.g. that we are not perfect and we don’t know everything. Why do you think I keep coming back here?

    That being said, I find the drumbeat behind the coup & junta meme here curious. Yes, you are factually correct, but the repetition of buzzwords with such negative connotations is a red flag in my mind. Go look at the foxnews.com homepage, then economist.com & csmonitor.com. Fox does what it does for a reason, and to a great extent. all roads on the American right lead back to Fox.

    How about a few posts diving into the broader implications of recent events in Tunisa, Egypt and now Yemen? The fact that millions of Muslims have made a clear statement that they want more freedom, without the religious overtones we saw in the Iranian revolution is deserving of our attention and support. And it’s a lot more interesting than yet another post about “the coup”.

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  19. Matt B says:

    Which is why at bottom I’m optimistic of a semi reasonable outcome. Whatever that is the army will re-adjust to suit the new reality. “Things must change to stay as they are.”
    But, in that case it’s the army (or rather a subsection that commands enough power to be a centralized force) is still making the choice to readjust, just as they made the choice for Mubarak. Again, I don’t think any of saying “coup” are suggesting that the army could necessarily weather a total national revolt.

    Or that “Army” there is the same as Army here (or in Steven’s case South America). But to go so far to the reverse, denying any power or agency of the Army in this seems deeply problematic. By the time individuals inside of it decided to take action, it seems that while they might not have wanted to fire on the crowds, there didn’t seem to be much problem firing on Mubarak (and a select few others).

    Your final point is why I think some of us are scratching our brows about this one part of the argument, as I think we’re all in general agreement – that things will change and stay the same. Unless I’m misreading Steven and James’ posts, among others, no one is suggesting that, once in power, the army can simply ignore the people (or complex negotiations aren’t taking place).

    My only point is ultimately, who is it that is controlling the scope and progression of change. I don’t see how that can be taken as “the people” and, unless I’m misreading that comment “Things must change to stay as they are.”

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  20. Brummagem Joe says:

    matt b says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 13:01

    The reason I’m being rather precise about this is because it goes to the heart of what has happened and that certainly isn’t black and white (or binary as you put it). It’s much more confused. There’s no doubt the army has been handed the official caretaker govt keys at present but the army is led by a bunch of Mubarak cronies and their role as of now is to oversee the establishment of reasonably democratic society. Their lease on power is wholly contingent on this happening although they could of course really attempt to seize power in Coup and install themselves permanently. I don’t think this is likely because “the army” is just not the monolithic power some seem to think it. Any more than the Republican Brotherhood is btw.

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  21. Yes, you are factually correct,

    Of the things that I honesty strive to be is correct in my usage of language. The only reason that I may be beating a drum on the term is that I honestly think that this is correct term to apply here. It is important to understand exactly what is going on. Ignoring the real power of the military and the real interests that will guide them along with over-romanticizing the power of the protesters will lead to incorrect analysis of these events.

    Yes, the protests are amazing and historic. I applaud that they have been peaceful and efficacious. However, my study of these types of events underscores over and over and over again that the linchpin of these situations is the actor that holds coercive power–whether that be the military of the state or some rebel force. This is an undeniable thread that runs through the history of regime change.

    As such, all I am trying to do is underscore that fact.

    Put another way: even if there is to be liberal democracy in Egypt, the military is going to have to allow it happen. This is simply a fact.

    Go look at the foxnews.com homepage, then economist.com & csmonitor.com. Fox does what it does for a reason, and to a great extent. all roads on the American right lead back to Fox.

    I can honestly say that in regards to Egypt, say for a segment on Fox News Sunday last week, I have watched zero Fox coverage and read zero on the Fox web page. I have gotten most of my news on Egypt from the BBC (and they, btw, have used the word “coup” as well), al Jareeza, NPR and to some degree CNN (the live feed from Tahrir they had on their iPad app). I have read a variety of other sources as well.

    I think you are over-reacting to what you see as the negative connotation of the word “coup” as well as your desire that things turn out well.

    Would it help if I said that likely the best thing that could have happened on Friday, given the way things were playing out, was for a coup to take place?

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  22. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steven L. Taylor says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 13:13
    “Yes, it is rather annoying when people try to base an entire argument over looking up words in the most basic of reference works, isn’t it?”

    Yes Steven I can see I’m going to have to steer clear of those basic works of reference in future. For the moment I’m going to assume most people can perceive the difference between “seize” and “acquire”…even the odd university professor.

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  23. @BJ:

    Setting aside the whole dictionary thing, let me ask you something: what do you think are the implications of calling this a “coup” versus calling it “an extralegal handing off of power that results in the abrogation of the previous constitutional order and gives the military the power to oversee the writing of new rules of governance?”

    In all honesty, aside from what I consider a misapprehension of what dictionaries are for, I am really not sure why you find this whole thing worth arguing over. What is the bottom line to you?

    And, more specifically: what term do you thing applies to what happened this week?

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  24. Brummagem Joe says:

    “But, in that case it’s the army (or rather a subsection that commands enough power to be a centralized force) is still making the choice to readjust, just as they made the choice for Mubarak. ”

    You’re making the assumption the army made a choice for Mubarak ie. went and told him you’re out. How do you know this? What is more likely to have happened I would have thought although I’m speculating as well is that he was told by the army leadership that they weren’t willing to suppress the revolt for him for reasons I’ve suggested. He then had the option of allowing things to continue, putting the goons back on the street and so on, but probably decided he couldn’t tough it out and threw in his hand probably after receiving some personal guarantees for his interests.

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  25. anjin-san says:

    @ Steven

    You are an honest actor who is used to operating in an academic environment where people tend to be informed and open minded. When you use a word like “coup” or “junta” it exists in a context that is a bit different than when it is used by say, Fox News.

    Fox News does not report the news. They market a carefully crafted version of the news that is designed to support a political agenda. Go back and look at their headlines over the last few days. “Obama Struggles with Egypt Crisis”. Hey, Obama is struggling (Pssssst. He is in over his head. He is an inexperienced lightweight.) Now what they were saying is factually correct, of course he was struggling. As would any President we have ever had in the same circumstance.

    Words have an emotional context as well as an intellectual one. What do most people think of when they hear coup & junta? Banana republic, Firing squads. Bad news. I would love to see a headline on Fox reading “Egyptians demand freedom, now what?”. But I don’t think I will. Would like to see it here as well. I am not calling your intellectual honesty into question. What I am saying is perhaps it is time to quit flogging the coup thing and talk a little about the aspirations of the folks in Egypt and the road ahead.

    Wish I had more time for this, but a large pile of work beckons…

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  26. Matt B says:

    I really think that we’re at a fundamental unwillingness to communicate here. Backing up with Steven and James have said, we’re using coup in a very specific way here, based on various experiences and disciplinary training (this is part an issue of “expert” language, theirs poly sci, mine anthro).

    And whats a bit frustrating for us is that I feel like we’ve all really tried to understand and frame what we’re saying as logically and openly as we can – and done everything that we can to recognize and work with your position. And also explain why and how ours is constructed – i.e. to map with the ways that power/control flows at the highest levels and at times like these.

    So then we get to a point like this:
    There’s no doubt the army has been handed the official caretaker govt keys at present but the army is led by a bunch of Mubarak cronies and their role as of now is to oversee the establishment of reasonably democratic society. Their lease on power is wholly contingent on this happening although they could of course really attempt to seize power in Coup and install themselves permanently.

    Here are our problems with the above:
    1. Regardless of whether they are/were cronies or not, it seems pretty clear that Mubarak is not in power and that it was not his choice to leave power. Therefore, it was through the actions of these cronies that he was made to leave. Which means, though they might have been associated with him then, they acted against him now. Contract this to, say, the relationship between Putin and Medvedev, where by most accounts Putin is still in control of the Government.
    2. Coups are not necessarily permanent. While you might continue to say that this is contingent upon that they “oversee the establishment of reasonably democratic society”, who has set that as the dominant criteria?
    3. If you final point is that nothing is going to change, then its really not about 2, but rather creating the appearance of 2. Which means that some people are going to be in control of shaping that appearance, who is it? Who controls that power? And if it’s not the army then who is it?

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  27. You are an honest actor who is used to operating in an academic environment where people tend to be informed and open minded. When you use a word like “coup” or “junta” it exists in a context that is a bit different than when it is used by say, Fox News

    Which is why I have gone to great pains to explain what I mean and to engage commenters on the topic.

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  28. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steven L. Taylor says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 13:44

    Steven: I’m generally in sympathy with the opinions you express here but I’m also inclined to be ultra precise in my choice of language particularly in very muddy situations like this. The military in Egypt did not seize power, they had it handed to them, and there were probably factions in the military who wanted Mubarak to go on. Hence, I suspect that there is currently considerable confusion in the army leadership about where things go from here. And this is why the word Coup is completely wrong in this context and blurs our understanding of what is going on. I’m bound to say a typical example was that piece you linked to by some professor in Seattle I think who wrote as if were talking about a monolith that is completely clear about where it’s going. Normally militaries that mount coups are quite clear about their goals.

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  29. Matt B says:

    What is more likely to have happened I would have thought although I’m speculating as well is that he was told by the army leadership that they weren’t willing to suppress the revolt for him for reasons I’ve suggested.

    Just out of curiosity, how do you reconcile the radical shift between the 10th and 11th with this? Did Mubarak give the speech on the 10th and only after that discover that he didn’t have the support of the army? And then why not just let Suleiman deal with it? Why then, within 24 hours, make an announcement, through his second, that instead of succession control is turned over to the Military? And finally, why didn’t he make the final announcement himself?

    Until those 24 hours or so can be accounted for, I think its really difficult to not imagine that the military played the deciding role in making the decision to shut things down and how that shutdown would happen.

    Further, if that is the case, what’s so bad about it?

    Which also gets to the issue of being afraid of the word “Coup” because of it’s possibility for co-option. I can’t buy into that argument, as at least in that case, it’s ceeding way too much ground and seemingly advocating for a sort of “Newspeak” — ie the hope that any word can’t be coopted or corrupted.

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  30. Normally militaries that mount coups are quite clear about their goals.

    Upon what do you base that assertion?

    An example comes to mind: the Chilean coup of 1973. Several aspects run counter to your assertion, but a specific illustration comes to mind: the original plan was for a junta of officers to rotate executive control. However, withing a year of the coup, Augusto Pinochet emerged at the sole leader of Chile, evetunally leading to the naming of himself as President, a role he held until 1990. This was not the original plan of the coup plotters.

    And in re: precision of language: out of curiosity, what are you basing your knowledge of these types of events apart from the OED?

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  31. anjin-san says:

    > Which is why I have gone to great pains to explain what I mean and to engage commenters on the topic.

    You have. But not all of the audience is interested. A significent percentage just sees the headline and parses it into its lowest common denominator. The modern American right could not exist without this phenomena. Nuance does not hold a lot of fascination for the masses. Not your fault, but it is something to take into account when you are creating content.

    From my perspective, when I see themes emerging in media and culture, I always ask myself what the drivers are and were the wellspring is. (my work involves understanding these things). What drives editorial decisions @ OTB? Who are the influencers?

    Let me give you an example. A short while back, OTB went berserk over TSA searches. An issue worthy of discussion to be sure, but what happened here was pretty (very) over the top. And at the same time, Fox was running op-ed pieces telling us that TSA patdowns are “a dry run for tyranny”. (Pssssst. Obama is taking your freedoms away.)

    So I asked myself then, as I am doing now, what is driving this? Are honest actors being co-opted here?

    Republican opinion makers are masters at messaging. Democrats are rank amateurs by comparison. When I see message overlap, I always wonder what the source is, an what the ultimate goal of the opinion shaping that is taking place is. We recently saw an example of Doug being completely played in his postings regarding the START treaty (Obama screwed the Brits). It happens.

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  32. Nuance does not hold a lot of fascination for the masses.

    Indeed. But what else can I do but honestly analyze the events as I see them?

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  33. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steven L. Taylor says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 14:15
    Normally militaries that mount coups are quite clear about their goals.

    Upon what do you base that assertion?

    You’re mixing ends and means Steven in a way that is in all honesty I find lamentable . The goal of the military’s overthrow of Allende was for the military to take long term absolute control of Chile and eliminate democratic institutions which they believed to be dominated by communists. Who in the military actually was driving the bus thereafter was purely a matter of personalities. Assuming some general other than Pinochet had emerged it wouldn’t have made a cents worth of difference to their policies. When you have a real military coup and a junta is established one individual because of circumstances or personality tends to come out on top viz: Galtieri in Argentina, Neguib then Nasser in Egypt. It seldom means a change fo course.

    “And in re: precision of language: out of curiosity, what are you basing your knowledge of these types of events apart from the OED?”

    I’m not a post modernist who believes language can mean more or less whatever you want ti to mean. Coup D’etat has a very precise meaning and what happened in Egypt doesn’t fit it and gross simplifications like yours obscure what’s happened/is happening. I thought Greenberg’s piece fell into the same trap. While based on my knowledge of Egypt and it’s military (which while not immense is based on extensive had business contact in the 90’s) I wouldn’t disagree with his comments about their entrepreneurialism and interest in preserving the status quo except that he ignores the extent to which this mitigates against their military effectiveness and desire for social calm so their businesses can keep ticking over. You’d also never know from his piece it’s largely a conscript army whose willingness to fire on fellow citizens might be suspect if push came to shove.

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  34. anjin-san says:

    > Indeed. But what else can I do but honestly analyze the events as I see them?

    Not sure I have the answer for that. But I do have the soundtrack:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHJL5Eh9wZo

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  35. Brummagem Joe says:

    Matt B says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 14:03
    “Just out of curiosity, how do you reconcile the radical shift between the 10th and 11th with this?”

    Still in the realms of speculation of course but it might have been because he’d had assurances from people like Suleiman that “The boys are with you” but over the next 24 hours it increasingly became apparent that while some factions were with him, some weren’t because they were fearful of mutinies if they asked the lower ranks to open fire. And I’m not afraid of the workd Coup, it just doesn’t represent what has happened here.

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  36. @BJ:

    The point I was trying to makes that a) the exact goals of a transitional government are often not as clear cut as you are making them out to be and that b) we often don’t understand what those goals were, or were not, until well after event have unfolded.

    I do not see, by the way, how I am trying to make coup d’etat mean whatever I want it to mean.

    Let me try to get at this from another angle: in your line of work would you consider the dictionary to be the final word on concepts/terms of art within whatever broad discipline you are part of? I remain nonplussed at your insistence on the final nature of this enterprise (especially when you considered an appeal to a thesaurus a juvenile exercise–which it rather consciously was).

    Tell me: do you go to the doctor and argue with him if you think what he is saying isn’t exactly what WebMD says even if he h

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  37. Ben Wolf says:

    Joe,
    I understand where you’re coming from regarding your desire for precision, but words simply don’t develop their meaning due to committee.

    Once you get to the post-graduate level (and you may be there, I’m just relating my own experience), the meaning of many terms becomes more fluid. Academics do continue to debate the definition of words like coup, junta, police state, etc.

    Hell, I can remember debating whether or not Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union really qualified as “totalitarian” systems according to the dictionary definition (I believe they did not). Those debates continue among historians and political scientists today.

    From what I can see Steven is addressing this because it is an area of interest in his professional life and enjoys feedback from others, not due to any kind of agenda.

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  38. Sorry..hit post on accident.

    To finish the thought: if you have a doctor who has spent ~25years of schooling and practice on a specific specialty and his views aren’t exactly what WebMD says (or pick your basic layman’s medical reference) is he, too, being a post-modernist?

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  39. [...] We have now been told by the Egyptian military that they are going to respect civilian control of the military and will only hold power until election can be held under a new/reformed (this is unclear at the moment)…. [...]

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  40. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steven Taylor says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 15:48
    @BJ:

    “The point I was trying to makes that a) the exact goals of a transitional government are often not as clear cut as you are making them out to be and that ”

    Steven if you think I’m suggesting the exact goals of the current caretaker military govt in Egypt are clear cut then my powers of explanation must be faulty indeed because I’ve said repeatedly above that they are very confused as distinct from what is usually the case with real military coups such as that which occurred in Chile and which you produced as evidence and which apparently you didn’t understand either since you mixed up goals and personalities.

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  41. Brummagem Joe says:

    Ben Wolf says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 15:51
    “Once you get to the post-graduate level (and you may be there, I’m just relating my own experience), the meaning of many terms becomes more fluid. Academics do continue to debate the definition of words like coup, junta, police state, etc.”

    I’m well aware of this because I’m aware of the phenomenon of post modernism where words can mean whatever you want them to. The reason I’m so adamant, nay strident, about this is because as I’ve tried to explain it over simplifies and thus blurs our understanding of what has happened. The situation in Egypt is not a academic debating society but a bit of raw power politics that doesn’t lend itself to fuzziness about how we characterise it. If you’re interested in any of these themes you might be interested in Richard Evans’ In Defense of History. Btw I’m a retired businessman educated to masters level. Not that it bore much relation to selling tractors in Egypt.

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  42. @BJ:

    And yet, you have consistently argued that the likely outcome is something in the direction of liberalization. While I hope that that is the case, there is absolutely no way to determine if such optimism is warranted.

    Further, you are quite certain that Mubarak handed power to the military.

    All I have been arguing from the beginning is that we know that the military is in charge and that acquired power via an extralegal transfer that has resulted in suspension of the constitution and the dismissal of parliament (something that is called a “coup” amongst political scientist who study such things, but never mind about that).

    We can surmise that they did not want a confrontation with the protesters, but we do not know why nor do we know what they will do and how they will get there.

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  43. @BJ:

    If accuracy is what you are after, then I would suggest you think about the possibility that what is going one here isn’t “postmodernism” but rather it is a combination of a narrow focus on ONE source (being used improperly) alongside the fact that we are discussing complex social phenomena. It is not about making the word mean whatever one wants it to mean.

    I’ve tried to explain it over simplifies and thus blurs our understanding of what has happened

    No. It does not. It focused simply on one aspect of a broader set of activities. You say you want precision, but you are the one blurring the situation (you have not even provided an alternative term or concept to describe what happened). We have to treat with the discrete elements of the event. The transfer of power was illegal. It may have been for the best in a normative sense, but it was illegal. Whether it was Mubarak’s idea, or Tantawi’s idea doesn’t really matter.

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  44. The situation in Egypt is not a academic debating society

    No, but we aren’t in Egypt. We are in the US discussing this on a blog’s comment section which is, after a fashion, a debating society (how academic it is varies, I will readily allow).

    but a bit of raw power politics that doesn’t lend itself to fuzziness about how we characterise it.

    Like gets exercised in a coup? :)

    I’m a retired businessman educated to masters level. Not that it bore much relation to selling tractors in Egypt.

    So let me ask you this: how would you have reacted to some political scientist telling you that all you needed to know about some aspect of business (with which you had spent decades) could be reduced to a single line definition from the OED?

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  45. Here’s a simply one: all you need to know about tractors is:

    “a powerful motor vehicle with large rear wheels, used chiefly on farms for hauling equipment and trailers.”

    Really, what else is their to know?

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  46. mandarin says:

    It doesn’t matter who stays on the Foreground.
    The matter of fact is who stays on Background and controls the ARMY.
    “WITHOUT THE PEOPLE’S ARMY, NOTHING PEOPLE’S CAN EXIST”
    Mao Ce Dun

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  47. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steven L. Taylor says:
    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 17:04
    “And yet, you have consistently argued that the likely outcome is something in the direction of liberalization.’

    What I’ve consistently argued is that the odds currently favor a muddled and untidy progression towards something that approximates to a pluralistic democracy. Not that this outcome is certain but as of now the odds favor it. And yep Mubarak handed power to the military as the best of some bad options. The military have had power unexpectedly dumped in their lap (who expected Mubarak to fall four weeks ago, and the military certainly had no plans to mount a coup against him) and now they are trying to figure out where they go from here. Obviously, an ill educated, retired businessman whose actually had dealings with the Egyptian military, couldn’t possibly begin to understand either the meaning of the expression Coup D’etat or events in Egypt in the same way as a professor of political science at an elevated seat of learning like Troy, so I’ll pass on responding to your subsequent comments.

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  48. What I’ve consistently argued is that the odds currently favor a muddled and untidy progression towards something that approximates to a pluralistic democracy. Not that this outcome is certain but as of now the odds favor it.

    I hope that this is true. However, to assume that even that is to be optimistic.

    Obviously, an ill educated, retired businessman whose actually had dealings with the Egyptian military, couldn’t possibly begin to understand either the meaning of the expression Coup D’etat or events in Egypt in the same way as a professor of political science at an elevated seat of learning like Troy, so I’ll pass on responding to your subsequent comments.

    First, way to stay classy with the attempt at a personal jab. My ego can take it. Would you prefer I quote someone from Harvard or some other Ivy on the topic? I suspect that could be arranged.

    Second, I never said you were ill educated, nor have I made any personal attacks.

    I would note that all you have done, though, it tell me that a) the OED is the final word on word meanings and b) that any attempt to demonstrate that perhaps it is more complicated than that is to be falling into some sort of postmodernist trap.

    Third, if you wish to no longer engage, no problem.
    Third

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  49. One last parting note: I have not questioned whether you might have some local knowledge. Of course, the fact that your business dealings put you in contact with the military would seemed to give some credence to the argument that the military has tendrils into the economy and might be motivated by economic interests.

    However, you really haven’t made any arguments based on experience, as your experiences are not relevant to what happened to Mubarak, unless you are telling me you know something about the high command of the military that you have not shared.

    And perhaps you missed my point about tractors above. It was not to denigrate your business experience, career or your education. It was to point out that all professions tend to have specialized knowledge (indeed, life does) that goes beyond a line in the OED.

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  50. anjin-san says:

    @ Steven

    The comments on Fox within this clip are worth a look:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41542564#41542564

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