Monday, November 21, 2011

Dear CSI, Tear Gas Manufacturer

The following is a letter I just sent to the manufacturer of the tear gas used by the Egyptian and other Arab governments. You can contact them yourself here. Feel free to borrow any or all of the letter below, if you like.

To the management of Combined Systems, Inc.,

I am writing to ask you to end your relationship with the Egyptian government and other authoritarian governments who have misused your products to kill their own citizens.

To be clear, I do not believe you have acted criminally. To the best of my knowledge, your company has followed every single regulation regarding the sale of military hardware to foreign agents. As of yet, the US government has not applied the Leahy Law to the Egyptian security forces for the violence it has committed against its civilians. Therefore, you have every legal right to sell your products to the Egyptian government.

Nor do I believe you have acted repugnantly. When used properly, your products have the potential to save lives by allowing security forces to respond non-lethally to security disturbances. You are not pigs for selling your products to American allies – though some have called you just that. After all, it is ultimately the responsibility of the Egyptian government to use your products humanely.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More on Egyptian-Americans

As many of you know, I just published an article at Foreign Policy's Middle East Channel on Egyptian-Americans and their right to vote in Egypt's elections. The fall of Mubarak has mobilized the community in unprecedented fashion. They have organized, protested, lobbied, fundraised, and broadcasted. In three weeks, it has been finally confirmed they will get to vote. They have done all of this to be part of the revolution which they claim belongs to them as much as every other Egyptian.

Because the article focuses on the debate over expatriate voting, its effects, and its importance, I'd like to use this blog to broaden the scope a bit to give a general sense about the Egyptian-American community post-Mubarak.

The days after the fall of Mubarak were filled with boundless optimism. Like their fellow Egyptians in Tahrir Square, Egyptian-Americans had risen up and caused the regime to crumble. Now they sought to harness the energy of the revolution to strengthen their community and thereby strengthen Egypt. But as we have seen in Egypt itself, reality has begun to encroach upon the magic of the revolution. The days of euphoria seem to have passed - the victory over voting not withstanding.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

UNESCO After Palestinian Membership

I just posted a guest blog over at Al Ajnabee on the recent controversy over UNESCO admitting Palestine as a member. In short, Obama is getting a lot of heat for voting no and cutting funds to UNESCO. Such criticism is unfair because domestic law required him to do what he did. I go on to suggest a few options about how to minimize the damage to US interests and UNESCO's important mission.