By JAMES ZOGBY, Counterpunch, Feb 11 – 13, 2011
When US politicians are forced to discuss critical Middle East matters, more often than not their remarks either display an ignorance of facts, are shaped more by political needs than reality, or are just plain dumb. Commentary about the popular revolt in Egypt provides a case in point.
There was no doubt that the events in Cairo were momentous and, therefore, deserving of response. In the case of most US political leaders, however, struggling to come up with the right TV sound bite didn’t require actually knowing anything about Egypt. All that was needed was to frame the issue through either the prism of partisanship or that of unbending loyalty to Israel. The result was a string of comments, some bizarre, others dangerous.
The new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for example, cornered the market on incoherence and contradiction when she observed that “Mr Mubarak should… immediately schedule legitimate, democratic, internationally recognised elections,” adding however that “the US should learn from past mistakes and support a process which includes candidates who meet basic standards for leaders of responsible nations — candidates who have publicly renounced terrorism, uphold the rule of law, [and] recognise Egypt’s… peace agreement with the Jewish state of Israel.”