There are a whole lot of folks who have been flapping their gums and saying the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) should be welcomed into the “process” in Egypt. Two things – right now the “process” is an active attempt to overthrow the government in place. I’m not saying it shouldn’t go or that’s a bad thing. I’m just saying let’s be cognizant of what the “process” is at the moment.
Two, as I’ve pointed out in the past and will continue to point out, the MB is a wolf is sheep’s clothing and quite content to say whatever the West wants to hear in order to be considered a legitimate organization bent on the democratic ideal of Western democracy.
To put it bluntly, that’s nonsense. They are and always have been an Islamist organization, i.e. their ideology is rooted in Islam and their method of choice is violent “jihad”. You simply have to look around the net and you can find countless examples of where their Arabic writings and speeches have been translated to understand the point. Don’t look at their English language site – it is designed to placate you. Root out what its leaders have been saying to, shall we say, more local audiences. When they talk of “liberation” they’re not talking about the type of Western freedom you and I assume by the word. They’re talking about something completely different.
Here’s an example from a book by Mustafa Mashhur, entitled “Jihad is the Way”. Mustafa Mashhur was the fifth General Guide, the official leader, of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996 until his death in 2002. He makes no bones about the duty of all Muslims as far as he’s concerned – and he certainly would be seen to speak for the MB’s attitude given he was their leader for 6 years.
Jihad is the way. We need to be fully aware of this and to act and follow in its way. The faltering of faith has led the Muslims to their current state: one of laxity, disintegration, the dominion of Allah’s enemies over the Muslim’s resources, and the succumbing of some of them to abandoning their faith. The revival of the faith is the starting point for the revival and revitalization of the Islamic Ummah [nation], so that it can regain its power and be liberated and assume its rightful position which was intended by Allah, as the most exalted nation among men , as the leaders of humanity, and through this religion of truth they will deliver humanity from darkness unto light.
You can read the rest at the link, plus there is a link in the cite with the full pdf. Obviously, encapsulated in that paragraph are the fundamental religious beliefs of the MB as they apply to their politics. Notice how he uses the word "liberated". You are “liberated” if you come under the power of Islam. It certainly refutes the claim of a willingness to establish a secular government as we understand it.
I’m simply saying don’t be fooled by this organization’s expressed willingness to establish a “secular democracy” in Egypt. Like many organizations of its type, it is willing to say anything – and most likely do anything, at least for a while – to establish itself in power. Once there it will justify its takeover in the name of Allah – all things being fair when establishing a theocracy, since all moves will have been ordained by the religion’s all powerful being.
Together with the power of faith, there is no escaping from the power of unity among the Muslims to unify efforts. Then comes the power of arms and weapons, when nothing else will suffice, and this is the role of Jihad. The Imam (Muslim religious leader) and Shahid (Martyr), Hassan al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood) learned of the need for these three forces, from the biography of the Prophet [Muhammad], may Allah bless him and give him peace…
Fair warning – again.
I guess, perhaps, it is a function of being brought up during the Cold War and watching one "people’s revolution" after another – each promising democracy, freedom and enlightened rule – turn into murderous and oppressive regimes which has me highly suspicious of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt.
I’m also fascinated and perplexed by those who would accept at face value the MB’s declarations in that regard. Carefully reading the words of MB leaders doesn’t at all leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Instead I see much of the West falling hook, line and sinker for pernicious propaganda designed to fool them into believing something that isn’t at all in evidence.
For instance, Dr Muhammad Badie is the new leader of the MB. From their English language site (which I understand is much less inflammatory than their Arabic language site) he is quoted:
He concluded by telling reporters that the movement was open to new ideas hence their promoting of reform. The Brotherhood rejects violence and aims to achieve gradual reforms in a peaceful and constitutional way.
“We totally reject violence and denounce it in all its forms," the new leader concluded. [Emphasis mine]
Sounds great. Of course he is quoted as saying things like this on the MB Arabic website:
-Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslim’s real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded. Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States. “They are disregarding Allah’s commandment to wage jihad for His sake with [their] money and [their] lives, so that Allah’s word will reign supreme” over all non-Muslims.
–All Muslims are required by their religion to fight: "They crucially need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life." Notice that jihad here is not interpreted as so often happens by liars, apologists, and the merely ignorant in the West as spiritual striving. The clear meaning is one of armed struggle.
Mr. “non-violence” advocating … violence, as recently as October of last year.
Flip over to a little controversy of words between Conor Friedersdorf and Andy McCarthy. Friedersdorf is upset about the way McCarthy worded a particular claim in a recent article. In it McCarthy says, "Hamas is not merely colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood." . Friedersdorf responds with:
When Andy McCarthy says that The Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas, the point he’s making is that we can anticipate how the group will act if it comes to power in Egypt, because we know how Hamas acts in Gaza, and the two groups are the same. In contrast, Eli Lake doesn’t believe we can know how the Muslim Brotherhood will act in Egypt if it comes to power, he describes a moderate faction of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that is quite different from Hamas, and even in the clip you cite, he isn’t arguing that The Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas – he is arguing that one of its chapters – the one in Gaza – is Hamas, and that an Egyptian government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood might strengthen the hand of Hamas in its ongoing conflict with Israel.
Note the irrelevance of the argument in terms of the big picture. The fact remains, and even Friedersdorf admits it, that the Gaza chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas – a violent terror group (and one which fits perfectly in the new MB leaders “jihadist” framework, no?) We can quibble about whether or not that chapter represents the MB as a whole or not, but the fact remains, it gives total lie to the claim of the MB’s new leader eschewing violence (as do his own words, of course). You see, when it comes to Israel, the MB makes an exception to this declaration.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a translated clip of Muhammad Ghanem, Muslim Brotherhood Representative in London, calling for civil disobedience, including "halting passage through the Suez Canal … and preparing for war with Israel"
Here’s an interview with Khaled Hamza, the editor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website. He is described by the interviewer as “a leading voice of moderation within the party, and is central to its youth-outreach efforts.”
One of the things the MB has talked about is “secular government”. They’re for it, well, sort of. I mean that’s what they talk about, but what do they mean when they say it? Well, here’s what they mean:
So the Brotherhood would support the maintenance of a secular government?
When the Muslim Brotherhood uses the word "secular," it does not mean no religion — we are talking about what we call a "civilized state." [emphasis mine]
Uh huh … and what makes a “civilized state?” Read between the lines, people.
Here’s the former MB leader introducing the new MB leader:
Akef addressed a word to the press conference, which had convened for the historical announcement of the eighth Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement. He asserted that the movement was bound by a set of regulations however were and still are open to reform and progress suitable to specific incidents and specific times stressing that flexibility is a must for the success of any trend.
He called on the members of the movement to holdfast to its cause and not to waver or flinch in the face of possible oppression and tyranny. "Continue in your cause with head held high and follow through with integrity and reciprocated respect so that the banner of Islam may be raised. Support your leaders who are as one within your ranks". [emphasis mine]
There’s your “civilized state”.
Back to the Hamza interview:
Do you support the establishment of sharia (Islamic law) in the way the government of Saudi Arabia has established it?
The Brotherhood does not agree with the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, because it is simply not democratic.
So you believe that there has to be a certain way to put sharia into place, but that establishing it through monarchy or by force is unacceptable?
Yes, democracy is the only way.
So the veneer of democracy is to be used to install what they all know they plan on installing – sharia law as a part of a “civilized state”. Once sharia is “chosen”, then they have inoculated themselves against criticism from the West. And, of course, as long as they’re in power, sharia will never be “unchosen”. Democracy is very useful in this way as most of those “people’s revolutions” demonstrated during the Cold War era. Organize for the post-government era so that the MB has the best political organization out there, ban the opposing party (that would be Mubarak’s party which the MB says would be banned from running for office), and win the election. Then implement the agenda:
What role would the Muslim Brotherhood have in creating a new state if it participated in the political process?
We would take part in Parliament and run in the elections for it. [Under Mubarak's ban on the group, members of the Brotherhood must run for office as independents - Ed.) When people choose the Muslim Brotherhood, the West must understand that the people want it. [Emphasis mine]
There you go. And check out this sleight of hand in that same interview. The interviewer asks about the establishment of government in Egypt and whether or not the “Iranian model” is one the MB would follow:
What about the Iranian model?
The Iranians follow the Ayatollah; we do not believe Islam requires a theocracy. In our view, the ulema (clergy) are only for teaching and education — they are out of the political sphere. Iran has some good things, such as elections, but we disagree with all the aggression. We disagree also with the human rights abuses from the government and attacks on the population.
Remember, the former chairman invoked raising the banner of Islam, and this fellow has already told us that “secular” doesn’t mean “no religion”. And anyone who has studied Islam even a little bit understands there is no separation between the religion, law and governance. In fact, that’s how a country becomes a “civilized state”. So this statement is disingenuous at best. So is claiming that the clergy are only “for teaching and education”. And in fact, later on in the interview, he slips a bit. This in a discussion on the role of women in politics:
If the Brotherhood were in power in Egypt, what would be the rights of women to participate in politics? Could a woman serve in Parliament, or as President?
We believe in the complete participation of women in political life — except the presidency.
Except the presidency? Why is that?
Most ulema agree that the president must be a man. Women can run for any political office except president…In Islam there are ideas and options, and Islam says it is possible [for a woman to serve as President], but for now we choose the other option. We say it is a choice, from the religious thinkers or schools of thought. But there are other options and different choices. Some [Islamic] scholars say a woman can be President, but the Muslim Brotherhood, now, at this moment, does not agree with this. Maybe after some years they’d accept this. I think so. For myself, Khaled, I personally think a woman can be President, no problem. [Emphasis mine]
The “ulema agree”? Uh, if they’re just for “teaching and education” who cares? Or are they making "decisions” that government abides by? Sounds like the latter to me. And notice how casually he throws women’s rights to the political process under the bus with “but for now we choose the other option”. What’s to say “we” won’t choose any number of other options for the “civilized state” as decreed by the “ulema”? Stoning. Killing gays and infidels. etc.
Finally, on the subject of violence and Israel:
What about relations with Israel? What would the Brotherhood do regarding the situation between Israel and Palestine?
We think Israel is an occupation force and is not fair to the Palestinians. We do not believe in negotiation with Israel. As the Muslim Brotherhood, we must resist all this. They are an occupation force and we must resist this. Did you see what they do in Gaza, on the flotilla? Israel is a very dangerous force and we must resist. Resistance is the only way, negotiation is not useful at all.
So would the Muslim Brotherhood, if in a position of government, help groups like Hamas?
Do you recognize Israel as a state?
And this guy is a “moderate” and “modernist”.
Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing – the symbol of many a past “people’s revolution”.
Protests turned violent yesterday as "pro-Mubarak" forces clashed with "anti-Mubarak" forces (descriptions used by various media outlets) in Cairo.
The violence, though not really unexpected, is unfortunate but a fairly routine part of these sorts of confrontations. The question is – and I think we probably know the answer – were the "pro-Mubarak" forces real or recruited? I.e. was it a spontaneous grouping that finally came out in the streets to counter the other side, or was it an orchestrated "spontaneous" uprising on the "pro-Mubarak" side? I’m pretty sure most feel it is the former rather than the latter. If so, then Mubarak, et al, have decided to fight to stay on.
Speaking of orchestration, Robert Springborg is of the opinion that there has been some careful orchestration in the response by the Mubarak government, all aimed at seeing the military take control of the government when everything has run its course – thereby pretty much preserving the status quo with different leaders. While the administration has finally come out publicly saying Mubarak should step down, the best “realpolitik” foreign policy ending for the US could be such an outcome. But that means the death of any possibility of Egyptian democracy and the perpetuation of the autocratic “strongman” state under which Egypt has suffered for decades.
Egypt’s government hit back swiftly. The Foreign Ministry released a defiant statement saying the calls from “foreign parties” had been “rejected and aimed to incite the internal situation in Egypt.” And Egyptian officials reached out to reporters to make clear how angry they were at their onetime friend.
Separately, in an interview, a senior Egyptian government official took aim at President Obama’s call on Tuesday night for a political transition to begin “now” — a call that infuriated Cairo.
Not particularly surprising or unexpected. I’m not sure why Washington continues to fear this argument as it appears it does. It is going to happen at sometime during any event like this in the Middle East whether we sit on our hands or not. Even if its not true the US is going to be blamed. So we need to get over worrying about it and have our say.
Speaking of having his say, George Soros is out with a op/ed about how well Obama has handled all of this:
Revolutions usually start with enthusiasm and end in tears. In the case of the Middle East, the tears could be avoided if President Obama stands firmly by the values that got him elected. Although American power and influence in the world have declined, our allies and their armies look to us for direction. These armies are strong enough to maintain law and order as long as they stay out of politics; thus the revolutions can remain peaceful. That is what the United States should insist on while encouraging corrupt and repressive rulers who are no longer tolerated by their people to step aside and allow new leaders to be elected in free and fair elections.
About an mile wide and inch deep analysis Soros is trying to pretend that the army is a benign agent in Egypt and is claiming the Egyptian army is looking to us for leadership, which Soros claims Obama is providing. The alternate scenario, and the one that seems much more likely, is that one Springborg describes. IOW, look for an eventual government to emerge peopled by the military. And, of course, Soros buys into the charade involving ElBaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood:
The Muslim Brotherhood’s cooperation with Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who is seeking to run for president, is a hopeful sign that it intends to play a constructive role in a democratic political system. But despite his claims to the contrary, ElBaradei is not as popular as he’d like to believe and is seen as almost an outsider who has spent very little time in Egypt in recent years. He is, however, a convenient front man for the Muslim Brotherhood – at least for the moment.
The main problem ala Soros? The Joooos:
The main stumbling block is Israel. In reality, Israel has as much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East as the United States has. But Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests because the change is too sudden and carries too many risks. And some U.S. supporters of Israel are more rigid and ideological than Israelis themselves. Fortunately, Obama is not beholden to the religious right, which has carried on a veritable vendetta against him. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is no longer monolithic or the sole representative of the Jewish community. The main danger is that the Obama administration will not adjust its policies quickly enough to the suddenly changed reality.
Soros concludes that he’s very hopeful and enthusiastic about the probability of democracy and freedom breaking out in Egypt.
Speaking of ElBaradei, he’s now demanding Mubarak step down in 48 hours or else.
Egyptian uprising idol Mohammed ElBaradei has ordered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave the country by Friday – or he will be a “dead man walking” and not just a lame-duck president.
Nice – peaceful, civil discourse with a threat he has no way of backing up with action. Not something that aspiring leaders should be throwing out there if they want to be taken seriously.
And, as Springbork suggests in his piece, all of this orchestration of events and postures assumed have been done for a purpose, one of which is to get the factions and groups to want normalcy again and be willing to negotiate a “peace”. Not so our friends in the Muslim Brotherhood:
The radical Muslim Brotherhood has become more vocal in its calls for Mubarak’s resignation, drowning out several opposition groups that have accepted an offer by newly-appointed vice president Omar Suleiman to negotiate.
It is not in the best interest of the Muslim Brotherhood for there to be peace, negotiation and accommodation (the NYT still buys into the “benevolent Muslim Brotherhood” nonsense). But it appears the regime, via the newly appointed VP and the Army, are attempting the old “divide and conquer” tactic. The “pro-Mubarak” faction’s (thugs) violence have tempered the fervor of some of the members of the populist portions of the uprising. Negotiations begin to steal the momentum from the protesters by peeling them away. Splitting off the “fair weather” protesters allows the regime (via the security forces that Suleiman ran for years) to begin to identify the hard-core extremist factions involved and deal with them. The army, of course, remains above the fray (and seemingly neutral) and positions itself to be the choice of most of the people as the moderate successor to the Mubarak regime.
Result? Pretty much the same set-up as now (except with uniforms – the VP and PM are Army or former Army) but possibly more anti-American than before. Of course George Soros won’t tell you that.
Trust me when I say I’d love to see the next government in Egypt be a democratic and modern one dedicated to freedom and liberty. But I don’t find myself to be particularly cynical when I say I don’t think that will happen at all.
Let’s start with Richard Cohen’s points as a good foundation for why I believe that:
Egypt’s problems are immense. It has a population it cannot support, a standard of living that is stagnant and a self-image as leader of the (Sunni) Arab world that does not, really, correspond to reality. It also lacks the civic and political institutions that are necessary for democracy. The next Egyptian government – or the one after – might well be composed of Islamists. In that case, the peace with Israel will be abrogated and the mob currently in the streets will roar its approval.
It not only lacks the civic and political institutions necessary for democracy, it has no history or tradition of democracy. Given all of that, I’m constantly amazed by those who see what they choose to interpret as “people’s revolutions” in places like Egypt as precursors to a sunny day in the bright light of democracy and freedom.
David Larison points to something Jeane Kirkpatrick once said decades ago after Iran fell to the Ayatollahs.
Although most governments in the world are, as they always have been, autocracies of one kind or another, no idea holds greater sway in the mind of educated Americans than the belief that it is possible to democratize governments, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. This notion is belied by an enormous body of evidence based on the experience of dozens of countries which have attempted with more or less (usually less) success to move from autocratic to democratic government. Many of the wisest political scientists of this and previous centuries agree that democratic institutions are especially difficult to establish and maintain-because they make heavy demands on all portions of a population and because they depend on complex social, cultural, and economic conditions.
As legitimate as the grievances against the Egyptian government are, it is entirely possible that whatever comes after Mubarak and his allies could be dramatically worse. We seem to forget that political change can also be change significantly for the worse, and that empowering a dispossessed majority can lead to economic catastrophe, ethnic and/or religious violence, and contribute to an overall decline in the public’s welfare.
Exactly. And for examples of the point, we once again turn to Jean Kirkpatrick:
In Iran and Nicaragua (as previously in Vietnam, Cuba, and China) Washington overestimated the political diversity of the opposition–especially the strength of “moderates” and “democrats” in the opposition movement; underestimated the strength and intransigence of radicals in the movement….
Many of us simply cannot see past the fact that history doesn’t much support the contention that something “good”, as in a government that will be good for its citizens and a friend to the US, will emerge in Egypt or countries like Egypt. One of the results of oppression and repression are the withering and finally death of democratic institutions – if any even existed to begin with.
And the promise of “free and open elections?” As common and predictable as sunrise. Free and open elections only guarantee you’ll see them once. After that, you’re more likely to see Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Lebanon than you are Canada, the United States and the UK.
It is having those “free and open elections” the second time, and the third, and fourth, etc. that develop the institutions we’re talking about. Holding an election after the overthrow of a government doesn’t make what follows a democracy anymore than writing a Constitution means anyone will live by it or uphold it.
Dictatorships in countries with no democratic traditions or institutions usually beget a dictatorship of a different form when the current strongman is overthrown. And even if the revolution makes an attempt at democratic progress, it usually gets subverted and taken over by the country’s next oppressor as soon as he and his followers gather enough power.
Obviously everyone would like to believe there can be exceptions to the rule and certainly it would be in our, Israel and the region’s best interests if that’s the case in Egypt. But that’s not what we should expect, and it damn sure isn’t that for we should be preparing. Instead, it appears we’re in the middle of repeating our own disastrous history of dealing with such problems. Here’s Kirkpatrick again, talking about Iran – see if you’re feeling a little déjà vu as you read it:
The emissary’s recommendations are presented in the context of a growing clamor for American disengagement on grounds that continued involvement confirms our status as an agent of imperialism, racism, and reaction; is inconsistent with support for human rights; alienates us from the “forces of democracy”; and threatens to put the U.S. once more on the side of history’s “losers.” This chorus is supplemented daily by interviews with returning missionaries and “reasonable” rebels.
As the situation worsens, the President assures the world that the U.S. desires only that the “people choose their own form of government”; he blocks delivery of all arms to the government and undertakes negotiations to establish a “broadly based” coalition headed by a “moderate” critic of the regime who, once elevated, will move quickly to seek a “political” settlement to the conflict.
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the situation in Egypt.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
Misplaced optimism in the media and inaction by the White House’s characterize their respective reactions to the situation in Egypt
I’ve been reading everything I can about the fluid situation in Egypt (as I’m sure you have), and have come to the same conclusion about one thing as has Barry Rubin:
Experts and news media seem to be overwhelmingly optimistic, just as they generally were in Iran’s case. Wishful thinking is to some extent replacing serious analysis. Indeed, the alternative outcome is barely presented: This could lead to an Islamist Egypt, if not now in several years.
“Oh, now”, you say, “you’re just scaremongering”. Well, let’s put it this way, the chances of a Islamist Egypt are, in my opinion, much more likely than it was believed to be possible for Iran with its revolution that overthrew the Shah. I mean, ask yourself, what has been the growing trend over the last 30 years in the Middle East? Islamic extremism expanding and growing – nations put under its thrall.
So what’s the sense of the nation of Egypt. What is it Egyptians prefer? Well according to a Pew poll, not a secular or modern government:
What did Egyptians tell the Pew poll recently when asked whether they liked "modernizers" or "Islamists"? Islamists: 59%; Modernizers: 27%. Now maybe they will vote for a Westernized guy in a suit who promises a liberal democracy but do you want to bet the Middle East on it?
I certainly don’t. And the pictures Dale posted below tell a pretty damning tale, don’t they?
As with all “revolutions” like the one in Egypt right now, any number of factions are joined in one mighty bit of resolve – remove Mubarak. That’s it – that’s most likely all they agree upon. So they’re allies of convenience right now. But once the government falls, then what?
The Muslim Brotherhood has been a powerful dissenting voice in Egypt for decades. And anyone who has followed the Middle East for a while knows that the MB has its tentacles in a lot of areas and associated with a lot of extremist jihadist groups. Call the MB the non-fighting part of the extremist Islamic jihad that is presently underway.
What should the US do? I’m not sure what the US can do, but it has chosen to essentially vote present on this one. The President and his advisors are wary of the possibility that if they say anything it may be interpreted as the US meddling in Middle Eastern affairs (and in this case the internal affairs of a Muslim country). Of course that’s much the same “strategy” that was employed in the Iranian situation recently and that turned out exceptionally well, didn’t it?
It is clear that the US will not take sides in this and it should also be clear that neither side will forget it – and one of them is going to win this confrontation.
The administration did indeed inherit this problem, but then, in foreign policy, that’s true of every administration. And the policies the US has followed there have been essentially amoral because of the huge weight Egypt carries in the region and the importance of the peace-treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979. One of the obvious fears is that if the new government ends up being a radical Islamic government they may void that treaty. Obviously then, what Obama and the US have to hope for is a more moderate government that will live up to its treaty obligations. But there is no way to insure that and I think it is genuinely questionable as to whether that type of a government will actually emerge given the population’s apparent approval of a Muslim centered government. However, one way not to insure it is to sit idly by, refuse to take sides and expect the best and sunniest of outcomes.
Not. Going. To. Happen.
This is an important event – possibly the biggest foreign policy problem the administration could face. I’m not sure they understand that or that inaction is just as dangerous and the wrong action.
It’s difficult to have any sympathy for Hosni Mubarak, or any other member of Egypt’s current ruling elite. Egypt has been ruled by a succession of authoritarian dictators since 1954, when Gamal Abdel Nasser took control of the Government in 1954, a dictatorship continued by Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, in turn. One always hopes that a popular movement to overthrow a dictaror will be followed by a flowering of democracy, but, sadly, that rarely happens, historically, and is even less likely to happen if Mubarak is toppled.
In all probability what will follow Mubarak in Egypt will be a government run by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their allies. This means that Egypt’s most likely post-Mubarak government will be an Islamist, radical government, similar in many respects the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As Lawrence Wright points out in The Looming Tower, Mubarak’s jails have been an incubator for Islamist radicals. And why should we expect otherwise? The liberal, Western, Democratic states have been fairly supportive of Mubarak, and Sadat before him, ever since Sadat disavowed warfare as a method of destroying “the Zionist entity”, as Israel is generally known by the Arab states. Even among proponents of democratic reform inside Egypt, the support that the West has given Mubarak has made the West appear to be, at best, amoral, and, at worst, positively duplicitous. This has undercut the influence in the popular culture of Egyptian proponents of Western-style democracy.
As a result, it has been the Islamists who have seen their influence rise among the general population in recent years. Indeed, the Islamist influence on Egyptian culture is immediately noticeable by looking at the following pictures posted a year ago by Pajamas Media. The pictures are of the graduating classes of Cairo University in 1978 and 2004. Notice how the women are dressed.
The devolution from the modern era to a more conservative past is obvious.
The upshot of all this is that a post-Mubarak regime is likely to be undemocratic, Islamist, and hostile to the West in general, and the US–and, of course, Israel– in particular. With Egypt having such a large population and corresponding cultural influence on the rest of the Arab world, there is much reason to believe that that a post-Mubarak Egypt will be the cause of a significantly less stable, and more troublesome environment in the Middle East.
Our policy failures in Egypt have been bi-partisan, and made for ostensibly the best of reasons, but their results seem likely to be disturbing. Still, it’s difficult to see what other choices were available to us. Had we imposed too much pressure on the Mubarak regime to democratize, the end result would likely have been either a) much the same as we are facing now, or b) simply caused Mubarak to turn to China to replace the security and stabilization support provided by the West. Sadly, the policy options we faced were those presented by the real world, and not the idealized world we might wish for. Although, one notes, had we forced Mubarak into the arms of the Chinese, we might have more acceptable moral support to offer the proponents of Egyptian democracy at the present moment.
Now, we don’t even have that. The Egyptians are going to do whatever they’re going to do, and we have little choice but to sit by as passive observers.
In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss the dissatisfaction about President Obama’s competence, the oil spill, and the American stranded in Egypt.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
I have an article up at The Washington Examiner that explores whether or not the rights of Yahya Wehelie are being violated. Mr. Wehelie has essentially been deported from the U.S. without any charges being brought against him, nor any due process whatsoever:
Yahya Wehelie, 26, said Wednesday that after landing at the airport in Cairo in early May, he was told he would not be able to board his connection to New York and would have to go to the U.S. Embassy for an explanation. Embassy officials later told Wehelie and a younger brother with whom he was traveling that they would have to wait for FBI agents to arrive from Washington.
Wehelie, who was born in the United States to Somali immigrants, said U.S. officials took his old passport and issued him a new one that was good only for a one-way trip to the United States. But, he said, he was also informed by an FBI agent that he cannot board any plane scheduled to enter U.S. or Canadian airspace, leaving him in a kind of limbo.
You can read my take at The Washington Examiner.
As an aside, is there any doubt that if this had happened during the Bush administration that the hue and cry from the MSM would have been deafening?
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Obama “Muslim” speech, and the socialization of the economy.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.