A very honest, very critical news reporter is CBS's Lara Logan who makes it very clear that the "maneuvering" of Suleiman is simply to crush the popular revolt. She makes it clear that Obama is doing nothing to push Egypt toward real democracy. Watch the video of Lara Logan on the Charlie Rose show. Notice that she says:
- She makes it very clear that she does not believe that Mubarak will leave willingly. She admits she may be wrong, but her "gut feeling" is that he will not willingly go.
- She clearly identifies the Mubarak regime's strategy: turn off the spotlight of news coverage so they can quietly suppress the people.
- She makes clear that the army is not truly neutral. It is not protecting the protestors. It is letting the police thugs come in a beat the protesters. She states: The army as an institution stands solidly with Mubarak.
- She makes it very clear that Egypt is a police state. She says she was shocked at not being able to identify a Mukhabarat agent, an 18 year old kid in a track suit who was clearly a long time leader of the secret police because he was giving orders while Lara Logan was being held for 16 hours for reporting "without papers". So much for "freedom of the press" in Egypt.
- She raises the obvious question about the Mubarak/Obama "plan" for Egypt: how can you give power to the head of the intelligence service, a spy, a police state thug?
- Notice that Lara Logan does not agree with me. I view Mubarak and Obama collaborating to "get past" the crisis. She claims that when Obama pressured Mubarak to step down, he made Egypt an enemy of America. She makes it clear that Mubarak will no longer play patsy to the US and do the dirty work of torturing and supplying shock troops for the war on al Qaeda. She is better placed than me to know this, but I'm cynical. I think Obama and Mubarak are collaborating. I think the White House image handlers are giving Mubarak guidance on how to "handle" this crisis and make it fizzle. I may be wrong. But that is my viewpoint.
Update 2011feb07: Here's a video that on the surface says that my interpretation above about Obama supporting the "not ready for democracy" as a US policy. But... as the Al Jazeera reporter points out, there are "mixed messages" from the US. The Obama admin pushback on "not ready for democracy" isn't a call for democracy. It is simply making sure that Obama doesn't look anti-democratic. In reality Obama and Mubarak are aligned in wanted to slow down the revolt, turn it aside, co-opt it into endless talks instead of a transfer of power:
The first rule of "political speak" is to realize that the works can mislead. To get the real message you have to weigh many factors and peer behind the curtain and think hard about who is doing what and why. The US is not interested in "democracy" for Egypt. The US only wants "security and stability" and for that they are willing to stick with Mubarak (under the "new & improved" version called Omar Suleiman). The only people in America who want Egypt to be a democracy are people on the left who truly love liberty and want it to be spread among all the nations on the earth. But those people aren't in the government. The Obama administration is centrist and a large portion of the government (the legislature and judiciary) is crammed to the gills with right wing fanatics who are very, very happy to have an autocratic tyrant run Egypt.