Daily Archives: February 17, 2011

Lexington’s take in The Economist seems spot on to me: “crossed wires, close calls but a good result–until the next friend wobbles.” I believe, as  I’ve previously argued, that the scope for effective US intervention in the crisis was very much smaller than you would think from reading the US media, but the administration made no big mistakes and the outcome, so far, is all right. As Lexington says,

What counts is the result, and this has been no disaster. America remains on good terms with Egypt’s new military masters without having alienated its youthful pro-democracy demonstrators—a neat balancing act whether by luck or design.

That said, harder choices may lie ahead. By his actions in Egypt, Mr Obama has put other authoritarian allies on notice that this president does not buy the “our son-of-a-bitch” theory. He thinks that even pro-Western autocracies that fail to reform deserve to die. But how much reform? And when will he decide they are dying? Will Mr Obama abandon gradual reformers such as King Abdullah or King Mohammed as soon as enough people turn out on the streets of Jordan or Morocco? How many people are enough? To judge by the gale rattling the Arab world this week, he may have to answer such questions rather soon.

I also admired Gideon Rachman’s thoughts on the revolution–not least his aside that the role of social media, though important, is being overstated.

The commentary about the role of social media in Egypt has become so breathless that it is easy to forget that the French managed to storm the Bastille without the help of Twitter – and the Bolsheviks took the Winter Palace without pausing to post photos of each other on Facebook.

The Americans managed a revolution too, I believe, without benefit of the internet.

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

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