June 19th, 2012

“New” Egyptian crisis

When I saw the headline for this article—”Egypt analysts warn of new political crisis brewing”—I clicked on it because I actually thought for a moment that it meant there was a new crisis brewing in Egypt.

But of course, it’s the same old crisis, building up again after what might have seemed to the casual observor to be a brief lull. Actually, this crisis has been going on for nearly a century. It is the leitmotif of Egyptian politics, and it can be roughly summarized as: will the Islamists or the military control the country?

I’m not an “Egypt analyst.” I’m not any sort of Egypt expert at all. But even a brief look at modern Egyptian history will tell you about the longevity and ubiquity of the struggle. And so it took no special insight on my part to predict, as soon as I heard the first rumblings about the revolution in Egypt, that the Muslim Brotherhood would be the likely beneficiaries.

As Khalil Al-Anani, described in the article as “a Middle East expert at Durham University,” says: “This is the beginning of another phase of the fight over the future of Egypt.” This phase is a very exciting one for the Muslim Brotherhood, no doubt. Banned by Mubarek, they get the last laugh—or at least, the most recent one:

“It would be the first time the Muslim Brotherhood ascended to the highest office in the land anywhere in the Arab world,” said Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center, a think tank in Qatar. “This would be a major (and) symbolic victory for Islamist groups across the region.”

The Obama administration appears ambivalent about the Muslim Brotherhood, which has espoused virulent anti-American rhetoric throughout the years.

I’m not sure on what that statement about Obama’s ambivalence is based. In terms of action, he appears to have done a lot to encourage the Brotherhood’s ascendence and little or nothing to discourage it. And he has a history of friendliness to the group; for example:

Obama’s first attempt at outreach to Muslims came when he chose the head of a Muslim Brotherhood-linked group that had been named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case to give a prayer during his inauguration ceremonies…Obama specifically invited representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend his notorious speech to the Islamic world in Cairo in June 2009…

Of course, Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place in Egypt, because—as in so many other third world countries—the choices there are among types of oppression. Even a neocon like me is well aware that revolution and democracy in such countries can lead to tyranny (look at Iran, if you need an example) if it is not accompanied by guarantees of human rights and liberty (see this for Bolton’s suggestions on how that might be accomplished in Egypt).

The neocon endeavor has often been ridiculed as naively promoting democracy no matter what the consequences, and/or as devoted to military endeavors to do so. But as I’ve tried to explain in many articles listed under the category “neocons” on the right sidebar, that’s a caricature that ignores the neocon caution about democracy vs. liberal democracy, and the neocon preference for non-military means. Here’s more from Bolton (and Jeanne Kirkpatrick) on the subject:

Advocating democracy and actually building it are two radically different things. Jeane Kirkpatrick’s 1979 Commentary article, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” which first brought her to the attention of prospective presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, deftly skewered Jimmy Carter’s handling of two earlier regime crises, which may have uneasy parallels with what is transpiring in Egypt. Kirkpatrick’s characteristic honesty made famous the argument that pro-Western authoritarian governments had at least the potential for a gradual transformation to democracy, something no repressive communist government had ever done. But Kirkpatrick’s thesis was more profound than simply a Cold War polemic; she explained eloquently why proclaiming support for democratic ideals in no way guaranteed implementing them successfully. Her case studies were the Shah’s government in Iran and the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, replaced, respectively by ayatollahs in Tehran and Sandinistas in Managua. We thus moved from two authoritarian, pro-US regimes to two even more authoritarian, anti-US regimes, partially thanks to Carter’s bungling. The lesson was plain.

Kirkpatrick quoted approvingly from John Stuart Mill’s magisterial essay, “Considerations on Representative Government”, in which Mill described three preconditions for such governments to succeed: “One, that the people should be willing to receive it; two, that they should be willing and able to do what is necessary for its preservation; three, that they should be willing and able to fulfill the duties and discharge the functions which it imposes on them.” Americans have their own version of this insight, a perhaps apocryphal tale occurring in Philadelphia after the secret, closed-session drafting of the Constitution in 1787. As the story goes, a woman approached Ben Franklin on the street and said, “Well, Doctor, what have you given us, a republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin reportedly replied, “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Today’s world is filled with failed efforts at democratisation…

There is no evidence I can see that Obama knows any of this—or that if he does, he cares or sympathizes.

[ADDENDUM: Here's some more evidence that the Obama administration seems to be interested in furthering the cause of the Muslim Brotherhood:

he Obama administration warned Egypt's military leaders on Monday to speedily hand over power or risk losing billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic aid to the country.

As Egypt's Islamist candidate claimed victory in a presidential run-off, Pentagon and State Department officials expressed concern with a last-minute decree by Egypt's ruling military council giving itself sweeping authority to maintain its grip on power and subordinate the nominal head of state. The move followed last week's dissolution of parliament by an Egyptian court.

"This is a critical moment in Egypt, and the world is watching closely," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. "We are particularly concerned by decisions that appear to prolong the military's hold on power."

And I'm perplexed by this piece by Max Boot. He makes sanguine statements about things we cannot possibly know (and which seem to me to be wishful thinking), such as these:

The best bet in the long run for weakening Brotherhood authority would be to allow it to rule...As long as a Brotherhood government must face voters in the future, popular sentiment will act as a check on its illiberal tendencies...

To those like me who would say "have you ever heard of Iran?," Boot would undoubtedly reply: oh, this time it's different. And perhaps it is, but I see no special reason to suppose that. Boot also writes that the Egyptian people "plainly long for Western-style democracy and not an Iranian-style theocracy or a sclerotic police state." My response is, "so did the Iranian people, and look what it got them," and "how do you know what the Egyptian people actually long for?"]

9 Responses to ““New” Egyptian crisis”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    Max Boot — Official Egyptian Analcyst.”"

  2. Mr. Frank Says:

    Islam is fundamentally incompatible with democracy and the rights of the individual. Western Civilization is special. The best the people of Egypt can hope for is a benevolent military dictatorship.

  3. Artfldgr Says:

    Today’s world is filled with failed efforts at democratisation…

    if you take the time to see the complete history, you can have the same sentence applied to the other side based on our actions.

    ie. Today’s world is filled with failed efforts at communization…

    and until the “fall” (reorganization not a fall), that last part has abated…

    so a better way to understand it, is that buiding demcracy is like creating a souffle
    if too muhc noise, instability, screwing with it, and so on, it wont take flower, as external forces will place their people there.
    and so, the souffle falls…
    but creating a despotic socialist regime? thats easy, just hammer all alternative powers to death by brbing women to betray their own
    (been known for several millinium! its just now we are finding out that those old timers had reasons, and they weren arbitrary)

    you basically use the Ernst Stavro Blofeld strategy, and make blacks fight whites, blacks fight spanish, women fight men, gays fight hetero
    and when the fighting fish fight till one remains standing. its too weak to oppose that which set them upon each other (and used their natures against them)

    Funny. while Blofeld never existed, SMERSH did.
    and while Bond didnt exist in real life, he was based on several real people.

    Its long-term strategy, however, is illustrated by the analogy of the three Siamese fighting fish Blofeld keeps in an aquarium in the film version of From Russia with Love. Blofeld notes that one fish is refraining from fighting two others until their fight is concluded. Then, that cunning fish attacks the weakened victor and kills it easily. Thus SPECTRE’s main strategy is to instigate conflict between two powerful enemies….

    the author assumes its the superpowers. but its not, its internal… the Fronts are tasked to do this

    and max boot is using what happened to feminism in germany and so on
    ie. what happens when organizations who have no real substance gain power and rule.

    feminists have no real substance… you can find them now squaring off in the ukraine.
    one side is feminists trying to end prostitution… the other side is feminists trying to make it a career choice
    if you represent both sides in mutual exclusion, then you stand for NOTHING
    and by having a bit of every side in your camp, you are free to not have to actually serve your constituency!!!
    you are free to do what you want, and if questioned then point to the subset for validation
    [edited for length by n-n]

  4. Artfldgr Says:

    We learn that Wadi Haddad, the iconic figure of Palestinian resistance, had been on the KGB payroll almost from the start and would carry no operations without Moscow’s green-light. Haddad’s recruitment was so important that Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief, personally wrote to Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, to relay the news.

    The KGB also recruited a brother of President Hafiz al-Assad of Syria, giving him the codename of “MUNZER”, along with Sami Sharaf, one of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser’s closest aides. Another valuable “asset” was Hani al-Hassan, a Palestinian leader whom Yasser Arafat regarded as his “most trustworthy colleague”. A full-time KGB agent, codenamed GIDAR was planted next to al-Hassan.

    so IF you and everyone knew commonly what is known uncommonly… things would be MUCH easier to understand…

    way before whats being done now in public, i wote and showed that russian military was already there.. now they are sending military and going to have 90,000 in a war game?

    you realize that moving all that is a really fast way to arm them and transfer material and soldiers as was done with korea, vietnam, etc

    Mitrokhin reveals that the attack on the Munich Olympics in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed was, contrary to common belief, ordered by Yasser Arafat himself and orchestrated by Hani al-Hassan and not supposedly “rogue elements” among the Palestinians.

    Also working for the KGB was “a close relative” of Amir Abbas Hoveyda who served as Prime Minister of Iran for 12 years.

    time to update what you know with what we know that CHANGES EVERYTHING

    WSJ.com
    BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN
    The Arafat I Knew BY ION MIHAI PACEPA
    http://www.netanyahu.org/arafatiknew.html

    In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel humiliated two of the Soviet Union’s Arab client states, Egypt and Syria. A couple of months later, the head of Soviet foreign intelligence, Gen. Alexander Sakharovsky, landed in Bucharest. According to him, the Kremlin had charged the KGB to “repair the prestige” of “our Arab friends” by helping them organize terrorist operations that would humiliate Israel. The main KGB asset in this joint venture was a “devoted Marxist-Leninist”–Yasser Arafat, co-founder of Fatah, the Palestinian military force.

    so this goes back at LEAST that far…
    after that, it was their potato and the older stuff was just a tool to use to foment

    [edited for length by n-n]

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    and just to bring it up to date as to whether the people in different countries involvment affected the outcomes of their careers.

    what just happened to Silvio Berlusconi ?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvio_Berlusconi

    what did he do that pissed them off so much that they HAD to act on him (And other places)?

    Mitrokhin Commission
    Commission set up by Silvio Berlusconi to investigate links between the KGB and his political opponents on the Italian left. In practice it was a smear operation

    On 29 March 2006, Litvinenko met UKIP MEP Gerard Batten at the Itsu restaurant in London. Four days later, with an Italian general election imminent, Batten called for an Inquiry into Prodi in the European Parliament. Prodi responded by threatening to sue Litvinenko and Scaramella. In the resulting controversy, Silvio Berlusconi was forced to wind up the Mitrokhin Commission, and Prodi won the election.

    so… Burlisconi was using the information from the Mitrokhen archives to get rid of socialists and people in the state…

    its even more interesting once you know the above, to read what happened to him over the years… a literal parade of actions and false accusations, lawsuits, scandals, etc.

    unlike Juliet Poynz, he is too big a figure to ‘remove’… same with freda utley… too well known to be removed… so they got her husband… Dodd was negated after her change… and so on.

    which is why this is the last post on this thread and i am over to the Duranty thread, as this all is THAT history…

    which 3 years ago, everyone was crowing was irrelevent… but i guess now we are reliving it, and its getting closer to the past, the past has loomed up…

  6. Don Carlos Says:

    Exactly why is Baraq “caught between a rock and a hard place” in Egypt? Because he is a meddlesome fool? Oh, I forgot, he gave such a great speech in Cairo. He and Hillary have no business with Egypt now, although the over-abundant (sarc) USA keeps sending the wretched and unsustainable place some billion dollars a year in “aid”. Some of that money is mine.
    The Egyptians should be left to pound sand. They are their own problem.

  7. Gringo Says:

    Don Carlos:
    The Egyptians should be left to pound sand. They are their own problem.

    Egypt imports half of its caloric requirements, which to a big degree is funded from foreign charity. The drop in tourist trade due to the unrest and anti-Western sentiment is also cutting into Egypt’s ability to pay for its food.

    Absent this aid, Europe could well find thirty million Egyptian boat people on its shores.

    Rock, meet hard place.

  8. Don Carlos Says:

    Gringo-
    The issue posed was, what does Baraq accomplish by meddling in Egypt?
    Egypt is Greece to the nth power; unable to feed itself, unable to generate the revenue to buy its necessities, It has become a militant beggar.

    30 mill boat people? I think not. And even if so it’s a Euro orTurkish problem,not ours, and not with our $.

  9. ziontruth Says:

    “I’m not an ‘Egypt analyst.’ I’m not any sort of Egypt expert at all.”

    You have as much of being right as an Egypt analyst or Egypt expert, then. The Arab sproing (sic) took them by surprise, as did—so you mention it yourself in one of your “Difficult to Change” posts—the fall of the Soviet Union all the Kremlinologists.

    Artf,

    “time to update what you know with what we know that CHANGES EVERYTHING”

    Who knows, one day maybe people will let go of the myth that the Jerusalem Mufti (Adolf’s good friend) “tied the horse of religion to the cart of a national struggle” (so says one of the history books in my possession, and one that is by no means of the New Historians revisionist school) and realize the truth of the opposite, that of an originally religious struggle being later reworked into a nationalistic one (the original complaint the Muslims in Palestine in the late 19th century had about the new Jewish returnees was their unwillingness to accept dhimmi status).

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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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