February 25th, 2011

For neocons: Bolton’s democracy primer on Egypt

John Bolton has written an article suggesting ways in which liberal democracy (rather than the siren song of “one person, one vote, one time,” or Islamiscist control) could come to Egypt, and perhaps even other countries in the Middle East.

Neocon thought is often ridiculed as being the simplistic idea that all you need is the right to vote, and all will be well. That’s not it at all, as I’ve devoted quite a few words to explaining. Bolton offers quite a few more:

…[T]oday’s pressing question for Egypt is what steps the new military rulers should take. First, there should not be a rush to elections. It was a fatal mistake for Palestinians when the Bush Administration, reading supposedly irrefutable polls that Hamas could not win, scheduled elections in 2006 that allowed Hamas to do just that. Democracy is a culture, a way of life, as Mill and Kirkpatrick recognised, not simply the counting of votes. Any realistic assessment of Egypt’s “opposition” shows it to be weak, disorganised, and indifferently led. Moving to early elections, as the Muslim Brotherhood wants, will not bring the Age of Aquarius, but only benefit those factions with existing political infrastructures, which is a formula for domination by the Brotherhood. Far better to proceed when the true democrats are ready, which may not be soon enough for some, but which is unambiguously the more pro-democratic course.

Second, participation in the elections, whenever scheduled, should be limited to real political parties. From Mussolini to Putin, from Hamas to Hezbollah, terrorists, totalitarians and their ilk masquerading as political parties do not really believe in representative government. Banning such faux-democrats from participating in the legitimate political process until they become true political parties is entirely legitimate, and may well be critical to avert disaster. America did so for decades by outlawing the Communist Party, as post-World War II Germany did with the National Socialists. Thus, for President Obama to say, as he did, that the transition “must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table” is not only naive, but fundamentally dangerous.

Third, the West should provide material assistance to those truly committed to a free and open society. In days of yore, the United States supplied extensive clandestine assistance to prevent communist takeovers in post-World War II elections in France, Italy and elsewhere. Undoubtedly, the Obama Administration is too fastidious for such Cold War-style behaviour, but perhaps overt, democratic institution-building assistance is not too much to ask. Advocates of doing nothing will argue that Western assistance, overt or covert, will “taint” the real democrats, and should therefore be avoided. Of course, there are always excuses for doing nothing. At a minimum, we should let Egyptians themselves decide whether they will be “tainted” with outside assistance; if they can live with the taint, so should we.

Fourth, Egypt’s military must restore and extend stability, setting an example throughout the Middle East, thereby allowing whatever progress toward a truly democratic culture to emerge. Egypt’s military will require political space in the months ahead. The Pentagon’s continuing close relationship with Egypt’s military should give us confidence that the right message about civilian control over the military is getting through. One of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ first announcements was that it would honour Egypt’s international obligations, presumably including Camp David. This is important and reassuring internationally, but hardly dispositive of what future governments will do.

None of this is at all easy (even with behind-the-scenes pressure and influence), and none is bound to succeed. What’s more, Egypt is probably a walk in the park compared to Libya if the rebels manage to depose Qaddafi. Paradoxically, if the Iranian opposition were somehow successful in getting rid of the mullahs, Iran might even have the best chance of becoming the closest thing to a liberal democracy in a Muslim country in the region (including the nascent and tenuous democracy in Iraq), simply because its people have had such a long and gut-wrenching experience of enduring the opposite after a revolution that briefly promised otherwise.

27 Responses to “For neocons: Bolton’s democracy primer on Egypt”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    Given the key players behind things, the fix is in… its just a matter of time to establish the idea… the players in play will not let it be anything they dont want it to be. and we are hands off.

    i described how they operate..
    its not instantaneous but it does work

    they are firing into the crowds now, but we are not hearing whats happening behind the scenes, but standard operating procedure is standard…

    What you dont see are things like what happened in Hue during that last attempt in vietnam…

    Same as when things happened as in lebanon, i present below…

    i hope ALL the rebels are orphans, as i hope most protesters too… [if you read the catechism of a revolutionary… (rest omitted to save space, no one reads it to learn anyway)]

    here is what is DEFINITELY going on in behind the scenes now given the people they hired (and were sent)

    In October 1985, Alfa was dispatched to Beirut, Lebanon, when four Soviet diplomats had been taken hostage by a Sunni militant group.

    By the time Alfa was onsite, one of the hostages had already been killed.

    The perpetrators and their relatives were identified by supporting KGB operatives, and the relatives were taken hostage. Following the standard policy of ‘no negotiation’, Alfa proceeded to sever some of their hostages’ body parts and sent them to the perpetrators with a warning that more would follow if the Russian hostages were not released immediately.

    The tactic was a success!!!

    you let me know how long that can continue without the people complying… and that it will keep escalating until they give up.

    care to see pictures of such things from history?
    a favorite was to hammer nails in the heads of family, and mutilate the sex organs and other parts then leave them for the town to figure out who is who and bury them.

    in the US ms13 does dismemberment… so you can be sure that soon, such things will be happening here eventually… as it h as happened before (see my references to dems in Landry parish.. they cut the breasts of of a woman, killed her husband drowned her baby. she survived to testify that this was how dems thought it was ok to get blacks to vote democrat, not republican)

  2. Curtis Says:

    Reading Bolton is reassuring. None of that Solway “my rage borders on apoplexy.” I’m reminded of a Simpson’s character winding up his explication of what brunch is: “You get a very good meal.”

    I wish Bolton would run for President.

    I take it, Artfldgr, that you disagree with Bolton who does not say “the fix is in.” Although I tend to agree with you that the fix is in, and given the warships through the Suez canal and the latest Hamas attacks at Beersheba, and, well, it’s not looking good, but I’m sure open to other interpretations. And given the credentials, rationality, and arguments of Bolton, maybe something good might come of it?

  3. Occam's Beard Says:

    Banning such faux-democrats from participating in the legitimate political process until they become true political parties is entirely legitimate, and may well be critical to avert disaster. America did so for decades by outlawing the Communist Party, as post-World War II Germany did with the National Socialists.

    What happens when a formerly valid and sensible political party gets hijacked by faux-Democrats?

    ‘Cause that’s where we are now.

  4. Curtis Says:

    Damn good point.

    Democracy in Egypt?

    How about democracy in America?

    Outlaw the American Democratic party now!

    The awful thing here, is that it is so right on.

  5. LAG Says:

    The underlying theme in Bolton’s article is that our interests ought to be focused ultimately on US national security. If the Egyptians, Libyans, et al, get a liberal democracy, well and good. The main thing is from our perspective ought to be what’s good for the US. What part of that does our president not understand?

  6. rickl Says:

    Palin for President
    West for Vice President
    Bolton for Secretary of State

    Hopefully there will still be enough left of America to save by then.

  7. Parker Says:


    Here at home I’ll settle for the rule of law (the Constitution).

    LAG says, “What part of that does our president not understand?”

    A list of what he doesn’t understand is far, far longer than the typical Artfldgr post. In fact, Artfldgr probably has that list handy…. 5, 4, 3, 2,1

  8. Parker Says:


    I would love to see Obama debate an articulate black conservative (West or Cain or Watts). It would explode liberal heads to see that there are successful afro-Americans who don’t live on the democrat party plantation. The suburban ‘white guilt vote’ would disappear instantly and the closeted black conservatives (this group is larger than you might expect) would ‘come out’. Net GOP gain of 5-7% which would be a game winner.

  9. kolnai Says:

    Parker – bingo.

  10. LAG Says:

    Parker, thanks for the laugh (it was a rhetorical question, Artfldgr!)

  11. Occam's Beard Says:

    Here at home I’ll settle for the rule of law (the Constitution).

    Me, too. The color-, gender-, sexual orientation-, religion- and ideology-blind application of the rule of law would suit me to the ground.

    We can only hope.

    In online debates with liberals I’ve asked their views on an incident from which I’ve removed all obvious signifiers of race, sex, etc. The result is fascinating: they won’t commit to an opinion until they know these things.

    That says it all, really.

  12. Parker Says:


    Artflgdr lives for the rhetorical question. He’s ever ready to pounce. 😉


    You are a bit weird/obsessive, but I sincerely recognize you have a background of knowledge that is impressive. I value your ideas. Thank you for making me think about what I think I know and making me wonder about what I don’t know I know.

  13. Occam's Beard Says:

    Parker, all you say is true, but I’ve learned a lot from Artfldgr, and from reading the references he’s recommended.

    And for that, I am truly grateful, Art.

  14. Promethea Says:

    Bolton is wonderful. He understands that a democracy/republic must be built from the ground up.

    In college, I took quite a few American-colonial-period history courses, and the main lesson I learned was that our fabulous republic was built from the ground up. We must apply some of those lessons to the nations that need them, like Egypt.

    Bolton is one of the few public figures who is thoughtful and educated. He’s a national treasure (along with Rumsfeld and Cheney). All public figures figures don’t have to agree with each other–but they have to think and to care about the public good.

    As Americans, we shouldn’t be afraid to reward the good and smash the bad. Why are we even pretending that the Muslim Brotherhood is reasonable? They are our enemies. They must be destroyed in any way that we can.

  15. Gary Rosen Says:

    “Why are we even pretending that the Muslim Brotherhood is reasonable?”

    They are “authentic” because they hate Israel. That pretty much sums up how the left thinks, if you can call it “thinking”.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    Unconfirmed reports that Qaddafi has used poison gas against demonstrators in Misurata…

  17. TmjUtah Says:

    New York tea room, c. 1947:

    “Well comrades, if we can’t ride the proletariat wave, we’ll just have to ride a donkey.”

    Mark me down with Occam’s Razor.

    Don’t mistake any rhetoric or maneuvering on the part of Team O as having an eventual outcome congruent with US interests or even moral outcomes.

    Anything happening outside the mission to bring down the System is simply a distraction. Other revolutions are just that – OTHER revolutions.

    There are only two years left to complete the great work.

    We are in a lot of trouble.

  18. Artfldgr Says:

    I read Boltens paragraph above and ignore the contents specifics, and realize that this is a constant theme. that these critics with solutions seek to dictate what they think the parties on the ground should behave.

    Today’s pressing question for Egypt is what steps the new military rulers should take. First, there should not be a rush to elections.

    does anyone other than me realize that all this is, is noise? that what Bolten thinks should be done is no more important or valid to anything than what i think should be done?

    that whatever is going to happen there will not include the consideration of Bolten, or me (and in this pair only i am the one that realizes it)

    His whole discussion negates what brought them to the point where he can discuss what he things they should proceed from.

    as if he woke up in the morning, this was it, and now the people doing this are all going to sit around and decide, and administrate the outcome and he reasomably hopes that outcoem will parallel his ideas.

    what happened to the whole idea of a flow of history and so the force that created this, if not the force he believes (the people without some impetus), then his whole thing falls apart as the end is only the finality of created beginning in this case, not a spontaneous situation that gives some people with power the ability to decide where things will go.

    its as if human relations is a cake and everyone has a recipe for it.

    i mean we really dont have to discover it, its very old knowlege

    Too many persons involved in managing an activity can ruin it, as in Without a conductor, every player had an idea for how the music should go—too many cooks spoil the broth. This expression alludes to each of many cooks adding something to a soup, which finally tastes awful. It was already considered a proverb in 1575 (by George Gascoigne in The Life of P. Care).

  19. Artfldgr Says:

    If yesterday isn’t, then every new day brings forth the opportunity to attempt to administrate the future, as if that is living…
    (only in the most material sense)

    We would be better served by people who endeavored to give us facts and occasionally factual analogies, rather than prose with choice facts embedded here and there, and the lie of omission throughout, organized and designed to amplify their opinion or the opinion they are paid to have

    (in ignorance of whom they ultimately serve in a free society)

  20. Sergey Says:

    There was, indeed, a successful attempt to modernize a Muslim country: Kemalist revolution in Turkey. It all depended on obvious need to sideline Islam, and army was a natural institution to do so. In Egypt, too, army and Muslim Brotherhood are the only two well-organized political forces, who are rivals and have a lot bad blood between them. So Bolton’s scenario is at least possible, while in no way sure.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr: actually, that did occur to me about Bolton’s statements being words about what should happen, but with no force behind them. I decided that in the first parts of the article he describes what would be the best outcome, just as matters of principle. Later in the article (his third and fourth points) he describes a few things the US could actually do to help achieve it. I think his main point is that we need to be clear in our own minds about what things would be desirable, and then work through a combination of aid and behind-the-scenes pressure to try to make them happen.

  22. Artfldgr Says:

    its just the huge corus of them neo… not just him, and the details… but like leaves wispering in this huge forest, where little of it is informative, and a lot of it is misleading…

    I think his main point is that we need to be clear in our own minds about what things would be desirable, and then work through a combination of aid and behind-the-scenes pressure to try to make them happen.

    I think that what your missing is that we are forgetting MEANS in all these discussions.

    what kind of “behind the scenes” pressure do you think they should use? terse words? murder families? children ok? is it ok if they send people into our country and try to change things around with some “behind the scenes pressure” too?

    you see, in this they turn almost into a corus of statist prayers. if you were in a place to choose to act, and had such choices, the roaring of all these masses describing things to do which all almost beg some form of extension of power to accomplish but are almost all focused on wishes.

    what happens is that these wishes set up the idea and so make the justification for such things easier. the goals idea is so familiar to us we forget to as what they are going to do to have it, and the one Washington will pick is lost in all the noise of the rest of them. then when it doesn’t turn out the way people want, they can just point to some group who told he closest story as if they won and it was their advice followed.

    the main argument in the US must go is that the US twiddles to get certain outcomes. which makes other states twiddle to get certain outcomes and the small state is the taffy pull as each sides with and protects their favorite twiddler.

    right now african troops, and ex soviet mercenaries are doing the work to protect their sides main man… they are twiddling..

    the brotherhood is trying to topple it to grab it since it might be able to.

    and the US is pretty much neutralized in being able to do much twiddling at all, and nor does it seem that it doesn’t want the outcome. (given its overt attitude recently towards isreal)

    i dont know.. after a while of reading them they start to sound different… it starts to sound like pick the group that is giving you permission to act the way you want, if anyone dont like it, finger them as they have wished it. so many voices clamoring for them to do something, take your pick.

    nice thing about being pulled in every direction by others wishes, it lets you do what you want, and not be responsible for it.

  23. TmjUtah Says:

    That should have been “Mark me down with “Occam’s BEARD” back up there.

    Think. Then write.

  24. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Bolton’s smart. Like a surgeon with no knife. Listening to him is educational.
    Unless we have the will and the power to enforce our ideas, it’s good, clean fun to talk like this.
    The guys with the guns–the islamic nutcases–are going to take over.
    Wretchard’s Third Conjecture will have an expanded target list.
    Recall that after the Russiann Revolution, there was a proto-democratic body called the Duma under Kerensky. I say “proto-democratic” since I have no idea how the members where chosen in that chaos.
    Lenin, with his famous “battalion of sharpshooters” destroyed the Duma. It does not appear the Russians actually voted for what happened to them.
    Trick question: Who was the first black prime minister of Rhodesia? Bishop Abel Muzorewa. But he wasn’t lefty enough for his co-religionists in the west to support him, so when Nkomo and Mugabe took over, they were the heroes.
    Guys with guns, guys with guns….

  25. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Should be “battalion lf Lettish sharpshooters”.

  26. Richard Aubrey Says:

    “if” should be “of”.

  27. Consul-At-Arms Says:

    I’ve quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/02/re-for-neocons-boltons-democracy-primer.html

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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