William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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TROUBLE ALL OVER – AT 8:36 A.M. ET:  By Friday we will have a new secretary of state.  Hillary is leaving, given a warm sendoff by a fawning press just yearning to see her president in 2017.  Coming in is John Kerry, best known as the failed Democratic candidate for president in 2004, and, earlier, for denouncing his comrades in Vietnam as war criminals.

Did you ever think you'd see the day?

And in the midst of all this, whole areas of the globe are descending into chaos, with American influence declining under the guidance of a president who, increasingly, cannot hide his leftist political views.  Egypt, hyped as the gem of the "Arab spring," is on the brink, and slipping into winter:

(Reuters) - Egypt's army chief said political strife was pushing the state to the brink of collapse - a stark warning from the institution that ran the country until last year as Cairo's first freely elected leader struggles to contain bloody street violence.

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, appointed by President Mohamed Mursi last year to head the military, added in a statement on Tuesday that one of the primary goals of deploying troops in cities on the Suez Canal was to protect the waterway that is vital for Egypt's economy and world trade.

Sisi's comments, published on an official army Facebook page, followed 52 deaths in the past week of disorder and highlighted the mounting sense of crisis facing Egypt and its Islamist head of state who is struggling to fix a teetering economy and needs to prepare Egypt for a parliamentary election in a few months that is meant to cement the new democracy.

Violence largely subsided on Tuesday, although some youths again hurled rocks at police lines in Cairo near Tahrir Square.

It seemed unlikely that Sisi was signaling the army wants to take back the power it held for six decades since the end of the colonial era and through an interim period after the overthrow of former air force chief Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

Oh really?  I wonder about that.

But his message sent a powerful message that Egypt's biggest institution, with a huge economic as well as security role and a recipient of massive direct U.S. subsidies, is worried about the fate of the nation, after five days of turmoil in major cities.

"The continuation of the struggle of the different political forces ... over the management of state affairs could lead to the collapse of the state," said General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is also defense minister in the government Mursi appointed.

COMMENT:  And what is the U.S. doing?  Well, we're continuing our military assistance to Egypt, as if nothing has happened.  I'm sure all those Abrams tanks will be used to advance democracy.

And we're kind of averting our eyes to the revelations of vulgar statements by President Morsi – statements that could've come out of the Third Reich.  Hey, he's evolving. 

A few years ago Egypt was an American ally.  Its government was problematical, to be sure, but it was a problematical government that leaned toward the West.  Now Egypt has a problematical government trying to establish an Islamic police state. 

Change we can't believe in.

January 29,  2013