Friday, November 4, 2011

The Battle for Egypt: The Army Strikes Back; A Turning Point

By Barry Rubin

This is of tremendous importance. Only hours ago I wrote about how the Egyptian military felt forced by circumstances to play a bigger, longer political role in order to stem anarchy and prevent Egypt from becoming an Islamist state. Here’s more evidence of that happening.

In an editorial that reflects also the Obama Administration position, the Washington Post explained that the army having political power is bad and civilian rule is good:

"The generals’ justification for their proposed decree will sound familiar to any student of the Mubarak regime: They claim to be protecting the country from Islamic fundamentalists, who appear likely to capture a plurality of seats in parliament."

I understand this point and the value of  electoral democracy. But in Turkey the European Union, on similar principles, helped destroy the military's influence and ushered in an era when an Islamist regime acts increasingly like a dictatorship.  Among the Palestinians, a free election set up the seizure of power by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, thus bringing about one war already and--while its prospects were already dim--certainty that the peace process wouldn't make any progress.

The Post even admits,  "In fact some Egyptian secular parties unwisely encouraged the supra-constitutional articles in the hope they would guarantee civil liberties and a secular state."

Excuse me! Haven't these people been telling us that the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate (wrong), doesn't want power (wrong), and can't win (wrong again!)

We have here a political, philosophical, and strategic issue of the greatest importance: If an electoral system is likely to be unstable and lead to a repressive government in a country unprepared for such a system are limits acceptable to prevent war, bloodshed, and dictatorship?

With a "neo-conservative" American president and media in the wake of the "Arab Spring," where is the "Realist" foreign policy establishment to talk about such things as U.S. interests, power balances, and longer-term considerations? Where are the experts who will point out how people have ridiculed the way that the United States urged letting Hamas to run in Palestinian elections (even though this violated the Oslo accords) and ended up with a genocidal, revolutionary Islamist statelet on the Mediterranean?

In essence, the Post editorial urges the Obama Administration to force the generals to let the Muslim Brotherhood take power. It points to arrests by the government--wrongly implying these are all moderate political prisoners when the vast majority are common criminals--but what about enabling future arrests, massacres of Christians, suppression of women's rights, the collapse of the U.S. position in the region, and war?

Read it all:

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