1. Faced with a popular revolt of the type we’re seeing in Egypt, can an American president make a difference?
My sense is that, while we’re certainly not going to drop bombs, the American president (any president, not just Obama) is such a vast presence that both his silence and his speech matter. His bully pulpit is so large that, by appearing to support one side or another, either through silence or affirmative statements, he can affect the momentum within the other country. What’s your point of view? This is separate from whether Obama is being inept. After all, if anything he does is meaningless theater, his ineptitude, if it exists, is irrelevant.
2. What do you think will happen in Egypt?
I think that, while the average Egyptian on the street is not an Islamist (meaning he’s not committed to the Muslim Brotherhood’s jihadist goals), he really doesn’t know what he wants beyond not wanting the current situation. That vagueness creates a vacuum, and I think the MB is poised to fill that vacuum. If it does, I predict that, in four months, (a) Egypt will have sharia law; (b) Egypt will abrogate the treaty with Israel and attack; and (c) there’s a 50% chance that the Islamists will let their hostility to the Wets override their economic self-interest and shut down the Suez Canal. Of course, if Mubarek can hang on long enough for a peaceful transition, maybe something good will come of all this.