William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






FRIEDMAN IS RIGHT? – QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 9:32 A.M. ET:  We are not great admirers of Tom Friedman here, or of The New York Times, for which he writes.  But occasionally an energy-efficient bulb goes on over Tom's head and he says something very much worth noting.  Like today:

...what is clear is that no one in Egypt is having much fun these days.

The country is more divided than ever between Islamist and less religious and liberal parties, and the Egyptian currency has lost 8 percent of its value against the dollar in the last two months. Even more disturbing, there has been a sharp increase lately in cases of police brutality and rape directed at opposition protesters. It is all adding up to the first impression that President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are blowing their first chance at power.

Sometime in the next few months, Morsi is to visit the White House. He has only one chance to make a second impression if he wants to continue to receive U.S. aid from Congress. But the more I see of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, the more I wonder if it has any second impression to offer.

Since the start of the 2011 revolution in Tahrir Square, every time the Muslim Brotherhood faced a choice of whether to behave in an inclusive way or grab more power, true to its Bolshevik tendencies it grabbed more power and sacrificed inclusion.

COMMENT:  You may be sure that Obama will do everything possible to rehabilitate Morsi when the latter visits.  Obama has proved to be uncomfortably supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Maybe he thinks it's some great political adventure.  Or maybe he got the wrong idea from "Lawrence of Arabia." 

Egypt is, culturally, the most important and influential Arab country.  It is in chaos.  Syria, perhaps the second most important Arab country, is in the midst of a bloodbath.

And American influence is fading because Obama is essentially withdrawing. 

This mess did not exist when George W. Bush left office.

The next time we quote Tom Friedman will be 2018.

February 20, 2013