Shorter Caroline Glick: There are no good options in Egypt.
Unfortunately, it seems to have the ring of truth:
As was the case in 2011, the voices of liberal democracy in Egypt are so few and far between that they have no chance whatsoever of gaining power, today or for the foreseeable future. At this point it is hard to know what the balance of power is between the Islamists who won 74 percent of the vote in the 2011 parliamentary elections and their opponents. But it is clear that their opponents are not liberal democrats. They are a mix of neo-Nasserist fascists, communists and other not particularly palatable groups.
None of them share Western conceptions of freedom and limited government. None of them are particularly pro-American. None of them like Jews. And none of them support maintaining Egypt’s cold peace with Israel…
There are only three things that are knowable about the future of Egypt. First it will be poor. Egypt is a failed state. It cannot feed its people. It has failed to educate its people. It has no private sector to speak of. It has no foreign investment.
Second, Egypt will be politically unstable.
Mubarak was able to maintain power for 29 years because he ran a police state that the people feared. That fear was dissipated in 2011. This absence of fear will bring Egyptians to the street to topple any government they feel is failing to deliver on its promises – as they did this week.
Given Egypt’s dire economic plight, it is impossible to see how any government will be able to deliver on any promises – large or small – that its politicians will make during electoral campaigns.
And so government after government will share the fates of Mubarak and Morsi.
Beyond economic deprivation, today tens of millions of Egyptians feel they were unlawfully and unjustly ousted from power on Wednesday.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists won big in elections hailed as free by the West. They have millions of supporters who are just as fanatical today as they were last week. They will not go gently into that good night.
Finally, given the utter irrelevance of liberal democratic forces in Egypt today, it is clear enough that whoever is able to rise to power in the coming years will be anti-American, anti- Israel and anti-democratic, (in the liberal democratic sense of the word). They might be nicer to the Copts than the Muslim Brotherhood has been. But they won’t be more pro-Western.
It is difficult to argue with any of that, so I won’t even try. Of course, miracles do happen, and I would applaud the sudden emergence of a force in Egypt for liberal democracy that’s more than a few people deep, but nothing has led me to believe it likely or even possible at this point, or at any easily foreseeable point.
You may ask: how can you, a neocon, say that? Isn’t that against the neocon philosophy?
My reply is to suggest that you read my previous posts on neocons. But if you don’t want to spend time doing that, I’ll just summarize and say that (a) I chose the name “neo-neocon” primarily to indicate the fact that I was a new (“neo”) conservative at the time I started this blog, and (b) the neoconism I support neither advocates overthrowing governments by force nor believes any movement towards liberal democracy in the Middle East would be the least bit easy or quick.
I refer you, for example, to this essay of mine for a summary written many years ago. To that I will add that Egypt is most definitely not a good candidate for becoming a liberal democracy, to say the least. Nor was Mubarak a tyrant on the order of Saddam Hussein, or in defiance of UN sanctions or mandatory weapons inspections like Hussein was. Mubarak’s regime was bad, but what replaces him has every likelihood of being just as bad or worse.
When we invaded Iraq in order to depose a tyrant who was defying UN sanctions and whom we thought had WMDs, we were left with the task of what to do afterward, an undertaking far more difficult than the initial war. We have all seen how hard it was to sustain our strength of will and commitment there, and no one is advocating a repeat performance in Egypt or any other country at the moment. Egypt, as I said, presents a completely different picture anyway, and lacks almost all of the ingredients that motivated our invasion of Iraq.
But if you stop to think about it—despite the serious problems Iraq continues to face—considering Iraq’s previous state, and the state of practically all the other nations in the region except Israel, Iraq isn’t doing so bad. It’s a cliche to regard the Iraq war as having been a disaster, but the real question is: compared to what?