In defense of Egypt’s erstwhile democrats, it could be argued that they, unlike their counterparts elsewhere, had to fight on two fronts: not just against a military-backed autocracy but also against an ideological movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, that under Morsi appeared bent on monopolizing power. It’s like simultaneously taking on both Pinochet and Lenin’s Communist Party.
Though they ignited the 2011 revolution, the liberals were always weaker than either the army or the Brotherhood — less rich, less organized, less disciplined. And as five free elections in two years demonstrated, they had scant following among the mass of poor and rural Egyptians outside Cairo.
Once proud of their networked, leaderless structure, the liberals eventually embraced former U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei as their figurehead. It was a disastrous choice: Arrogant, vain and more comfortable in a Viennese salon than a Cairo slum, ElBaradei was polling in the single digits when he withdrew from last year’s presidential race.
Without their own candidate, the liberals were faced with a choice in the runoff between a military-backed candidate and the Islamist Morsi. Most chose Morsi. A delegation of youth leaders met with the Brotherhood nominee and extracted promises: Secular ministers would be included in the cabinet, and the new constitution would be forged by a consensus among secular and Islamist parties.
Morsi fulfilled some of his pledges, but his government grew steadily more insular and intolerant as it battled the lingering, Mubarak-era establishment in the bureaucracy, police and judiciary. Liberal journalists were prosecuted for “insulting the president,” and several of the revolutionary youth leaders were arrested for leading street protests.
The liberals could have waited and organized for parliamentary elections, due in a few months; polls showed the Muslim Brotherhood sinking fast. Instead, they took the easy way out and switched sides. As the Wall Street Journal reported, in the months before the coup, secular opposition leaders met regularly with Egypt’s top generals, who promised that they would respond to large street demonstrations by ousting Morsi.
As if those elections were actually going to take place, at least in a Western sense. It's more than a little disconcerting that so many in the foreign policy establishment and the media like Diehl are having such difficulty with this concept: The Muslim Brotherhood are the bad guys. Period. Full stop. This is not rocket surgery.
As Ralph Peters asks, "Do we really need to have sympathy for the devil?"
What do we want the future Egypt to look like? A flawed, hybrid democracy, or a Sunni Muslim version of Iran? Based on his bluster yesterday about events on the Nile, Secretary of State John Kerry prefers the latter.
And Kerry’s remarks must have had White House approval.
In full outrage mode, America’s most famous windsurfer castigated the Egyptian authorities, insisting that the Muslim Brotherhood had a right to “peaceful protests.” Apparently, “peaceful” means armed with Kalashnikovs, killing policemen, kidnapping and torturing opponents, turning mosques into prisons, attacking Christians and burning Coptic churches.
The Brotherhood protesters rejected all offers of compromise and all demands to disperse. The interim government’s response was heavy-handed, but the Muslim Brothers chose violent resistance — using women and children as shields (a tactic typical of Islamist terrorists).
So the Egyptian army ousted the Muslim Brotherhood government through a coup. So what? Peters explains the Muslim Brotherhood's version of "elections":
There was, indeed, a coup. But not all coups involve tanks. The real coup came after Egypt’s premature, badly flawed election, when Morsi and the Brotherhood excluded all non-Brothers from the political process; curtailed media freedoms and jailed journalists; attacked Christians; and rushed toward an Islamist state that the majority of Egyptians did not want.
Tens of millions of Muslims took to the streets to protest the Brotherhood’s plunge toward tyranny. Only after attempts to persuade an unrepentant Morsi to compromise failed, did the military move against the regime. The people cheered.
Yet our breathtakingly inept ambassador backed the Morsi regime right to the end. That isn’t diplomacy. It’s idiocy.
While it’s hard to be sympathetic to Egypt’s military government after yesterday’s violence, is it really the worst option for Egypt? Is it really the worst option for America’s strategic interests? Did the Muslim Brotherhood make violence inevitable? Would cutting aid simply send a signal to the current government or would it strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood? It’s important to recall that despite Morsi being the first democratically elected president of Egypt, he effectively engineered a coup of his own last year.
Duh. Barry Rubin puts it in very simple terms:
Let’s be frank: the Egyptian army did a great service not just to Egypt’s people but also to the U.S. government, because it saved its strategic balance in the Middle East.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent of Islamism everywhere. They are simply evil. They should be destroyed. The US should do all it can to support the Egyptian military in making sure that happens.