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The Ridiculous “Who Lost Egypt?” Argument

Egypt is in the middle of its first round of free elections ever, this time for the lower house of the legislature, and so far things seem to be going well for the nations Islamist parties:

CAIRO — Islamists claimed a decisive victory on Wednesday as early election results put them on track to win a dominant majority in Egypt‘s first Parliament since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the most significant step yet in the religious movement’s rise since the start of the Arab Spring.

The party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group, appeared to have taken about 40 percent of the vote, as expected. But a big surprise was the strong showing of ultraconservative Islamists, called Salafis, many of whom see most popular entertainment as sinful and reject women’s participation in voting or public life.

Analysts in the state-run news media said early returns indicated that Salafi groups could take as much as a quarter of the vote, giving the two groups of Islamists combined control of nearly 65 percent of the parliamentary seats.

That victory came at the expense of the liberal parties and youth activists who set off the revolution, affirming their fears that they would be unable to compete with Islamists who emerged from the Mubarak years organized and with an established following. Poorly organized and internally divided, the liberal parties could not compete with Islamists disciplined by decades as the sole opposition to Mr. Mubarak. “We were washed out,” said Shady el-Ghazaly Harb, one of the most politically active of the group.

Although this week’s voting took place in only a third of Egypt’s provinces, they included some of the nation’s most liberal precincts — like Cairo, Port Said and the Red Sea coast — suggesting that the Islamist wave is likely to grow stronger as the voting moves into more conservative rural areas in the coming months. (Alexandria, a conservative stronghold, also has voted.)

The preliminary results extend the rising influence of Islamists across a region where they were once outlawed and oppressed by autocrats aligned with the West. Islamists have formed governments in Tunisia and Morocco. They are positioned for a major role in post-Qaddafi Libya as well. But it is the victory in Egypt — the largest and once the most influential Arab state, an American ally considered a linchpin of regional stability — that has the potential to upend the established order across the Middle East.

Islamist leaders, many jailed for years under Mr. Mubarak, were exultant. “We abide by the rules of democracy, and accept the will of the people,” Essam el-Erian, a leader of the Brotherhood’s new party, wrote in the British newspaper The Guardian. “There will be winners and losers. But the real — and only — victor is Egypt.”

Results will not be final until January, after two more rounds of voting. And the ultimate scope of the new Parliament’s power remains unclear because Egypt has remained under military rule since Mr. Mubarak resigned as president in February. But Parliament is expected to play a role in drafting a new Constitution with the ruling military council, although the council has given contradictory indications about how much parliamentary input it will allow.

One of the reasons the Islamist parties seem to be doing so well isn’t so much ideological as it is the fact that they’re better organized than their rivals:

Everywhere I went, the Brotherhood operation was in full swing. In the working class neighborhood of Sayida Zeinab, Freedom and Justice volunteers manned four laptops right in front of the polling station, while other Brotherhood members monitored the long line of voters. On the Nile island of Manial, Freedom and Justice youths managed two computers and handed out campaign literature, while additional female volunteers were on hand to assist religious women voters who might feel uncomfortable dealing with men. “I’m here to help my party,” Jehan Darwish, one of the female volunteers told me. But this conflicted with the Brotherhood’s official line, and the kiosk’s manager quickly intervened. “It’s a community service for voters to tell them where to vote,” interjected Mohamed Mansour. “It’s a free service for those who vote for us and those who don’t.”

To be sure, the Brotherhood wasn’t the only group that had organized effectively for the elections. In Heliopolis, a few independent candidates had also set up stations, and in many areas the ubiquity of Freedom and Justice banners was matched by that of the Salafist Nour party, which is reportedly making an especially strong showing in lower income neighborhoods. But what makes the Brotherhood’s showing so remarkable is how consistent it is: they are, simply put, everywhere. And given that they are pushing an Islamist message that holds visceral appeal for the religious Muslim public of Egypt, they may have devised a formula for victory.

This isn’t entirely surprising, of course. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood existed, both legally and otherwise, during the years of the Mubarak dictatorship and were already fairly well organized when the Mubarak regime collapsed and the time came to begin creating the new Egypt. The same apparently cannot be said for newer political organizations, especially those born out of the protests in Tahrir Square, which have remained largely disorganized, to the frustration of their supporters:

“I wanted to vote for the youth, but no one is organized enough. That’s why I voted for the Brotherhood. I don’t want an Islamist party, I just want some organization. Enough chaos.”

There are definitely some concerns that the rise of Islamists in Egypt raises for the region. Leaving aside for the moment the possible impact that such a government could have on the rights of Egyptian women, as well as the Coptic Christian community, it’s long been a tenant of many of these groups that the Peace Treaty with Israel is a bad thing that Egypt needs to reject. The rise of a government in Egypt that becomes hostile to Israel and the west would be of great concern to the United States and the world. However, much of that depends on just how much authority the Egyptian military lets the civilian government have. It’s fairly well established, for example, that the military strongly supports the treaty with Israel, largely because they’re still stinging from fighting them twice nearly 50 years ago. As we’ve seen recently, the military is by no means prepared to simply step aside and give up its privileged position in Egyptian society. One doubts that this will change once the new Egyptian Constitution (which they will play a large role in drafting, by the way) goes into effect.

Domestically, the news about the rise of Islamist elements in Egypt has led to the resurrection of a meme on the right that we saw a little bit of earlier this year, the allegation that the Obama Administration somehow “lost” Egypt by allowing Hosni Mubarak’s government to fall in the face of massive political protests. William Jacobson made the argument yesterday, for example:

Obama’s foolish policy of forcing Mubarak out of office precipitously without giving non-Islamist parties time to organize has resulted in Islamists achieving a sweeping victory in the first round of parliamentary elections.  Strength by the Muslim Brotherhood was expected, but the extremely hard line Salafists had a very strong showing.

(…)

This all was very predictable.  In fact, I predicted it while Obama was insisting that Mubarak leave “yesterday,” NY Times columnists were writing delusional columns about the Arab Street and the Arab Spring, and venomous anti-Israeli pundits at Media Matters and elsewhere complained that the “Israel Lobby” was trying to stifle freedom.

The same argument was being made while the protests were going on, most notably perhaps by Congressman Thad McCotter who argued back in January that the United States should stand behind the Mubarak regime, which he referred to as “an imperfect government, capable of reform” even though there was absolutely no evidence in the 30 years of Mubarak’s rule that he had any desire to reform, or listen to the voices of the people he purported to rule.  Not everyone on the right held this view, of course, around the same time that McCotter wrote his piece, National Review’s Jim Gergahaty was making this point:

If you support the right of American Tea Partiers to gather together and protest their government, I don’t quite understand why you would deny the average Egyptian the same right. It’s not like angry Egyptians can write a letter to the editor or vote out their representatives to get better results. Even if the protesters are anti-Israeli, want a more Islamist government, and can repeat every bit of anti-American propaganda they’ve ever heard, who are we to say to them, “You deserve no better than Mubarak”?

And, to expand upon Gergahaty’s argument, who would we have been to say “No, you have to wait until we can trust you to govern yourselves“? Imagine if the French had said the same thing to us in 1783 after we’d defeated the British and earned our independence. It’s the kind of idea that betrays the attitude that certain people aren’t ready for freedom, or simply don’t deserve it. As I observed shortly after Mubarak’s fall, though, it would have been a foolhardy position to take:

[I]t’s true that the process is likely to be messy, but history rarely proceeds along the path that we would like it too. The relatively calm transition in Eastern Europe from Soviet-style dictatorship to democratic states was something of an historical anomaly. History easily could have proceeded differently but for the intervention of men like Mikhail Gorbachev who refused to use the hammer to fight what he recognized was the inevitable and irreversible collapse of the Soviet empire.

There was plenty that could have gone wrong then, and there’s plenty that could go wrong now. As Jeremy Warner writes in the Telegraph today, a revolt in Saudi Arabia could wreck havoc with world oil markets, and the world economy. But what’s the alternative? Sitting back and letting the Saud family violently crush an uprising, thus creating more resentment and an even more potent breeding ground for the radicalism that al Qaeda feeds upon?

(…)

When these uprisings are over and the Arab world has settled down, the people are going to remember who was on their side and who wasn’t Do we really want to go down in history as being on the side of the dictators, even rhetorically? For the first time in a thousand years, the Arab people are taking control of their own affairs, we should encourage that rather than telling them that they aren’t ready for the freedom we enjoy here at home.

The entire “Who Lost Egypt?” argument also suffers from the fact that it simply doesn’t comport with the facts. When the Egyptian protests started in mid-January the initial response from the White House was rather muted. Instead of saying the Mubarak should step aside, the Obama Administration was calling on him to reform and to listen to the voices of the Egyptian people. Instead of doing that, however, Mubarak continued responding with ever-increasing force, and the protests quickly moved from general expressions of discontent to outright calls for an end to Mubarak’s rule. At the same time, while the U.S. was apparently trying to influence Mubarak behind the scenes, it was staying relatively quiet publicly, a strategy which caused discontent among the Egyptian protesters who were coming to see the United States as allied with the man who was trying to kill them, as well as attacking them with tear gas made in the United States. It wasn’t until early February, when Mubarak’s days were clearly already numbered, that the U.S. began calling on Mubarak publicly to prepare for a transition to civilian rule. The final resolution of the crisis, with Mubarak at first saying he would stay in power until new elections were held in September and then him stepping down completely when the Egyptian people rejected even that option and the military finally realized that maintaining the Mubarak regime was impossible, happened largely without American intervention.

The idea that there was much of anything that the United States either could have, or should have, done during the Egyptian protests that would have kept Mubarak in power any longer ignores all of the available evidence. The protesters in Tahrir Square and in other cities in Egypt had made clear that they would not negotiate with anyone — not the military, not Egypt’s new Vice-President (a Mubarak crony) — until Mubarak himself had stepped aside as early as the end of January. Nothing Mubarak did persuaded them to leave the protests. Much like the downfall of Nicolae Ceacescu in Romania, the crowds were not going to leave until the dictator had left. The idea that we could have controlled that process is absurd, and the suggestion that we should have stood aside and let Mubarak brutally repress this rebellion is, quite honestly, an insult to American decency.

Update: Jacosbson responds to my argument by pointing to a February 2nd statement made by then White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and making this comment:

The fact is that we threw Mubarack overboard in just one week without giving him a chance to reform or deal with the protests.

(…)

One could make a good argument that we should not have intervened at all.  But having intervened, we should have done so responsibly.

Except the protests didn’t start on February 2nd, they started in mid-January and, as we learned after Mubarak’s fall, there was back-channel communication with Egyptian military during that time trying to encourage them to deal with the protesters peacefully and listen to their demands. Mubarak refused to do so and only engaged in symbolic moves meant to keep him and his cronies in power as long as possible while avoiding legal culpability for three decades of brutal dictatorship. As I’m sure the average Egyptian in Tahrir Square would have pointed out, Mubarak had thirty years to reform and took no steps to do so, and he responded to the protests with violence and force. In the end, it was the instability caused by those actions that led the military to tell him it was time to go. The idea that we could have done anything to stop that process is a vast overestimation of the extent of American power. Furthermore, keeping dictators in power doesn’t strike me as good policy in the long term,

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. DRS says:

    Does this mean we won’t be hearing the claim anymore that the Arab Spring protests were somehow inspired by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein?

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  2. @DRS:

    Here’s how the neo-cons will spin it:

    1. If things turn out well, Bush gets all the credit for invading Iraq

    2. If they don’t It’s Obama’s fault

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 2

  3. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: +1!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. DRS says:

    You can get whiplash paying too much attention to these claims…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Hey Norm says:

    “…The entire “Who Lost Egypt?” argument also suffers from the fact that it simply doesn’t comport with the facts…”

    Republicanism is a fact free religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  6. narciso says:

    Well seeing that even the most liberal areas, lost out to the Salafis, it’s not an encouraging sign

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. ertdfg says:

    Obama pushes Mubarak to resign early; allowing the Islamist parties to make big gains as their opposition wasn’t organized.

    If he’d shut up, maybe the same thing would have happened, maybe it wouldn’t… but at least you wouldn’t have Obama PUSHING for this outcome.

    But blaming Obama for his own actions is evil right-wing and racist; so we must give him yet another pass on his own personal actions and pretend that either he did the right thing by making things worse; or that Obama has no power whatsoever in any of his actions or it didn’t matter.

    Why is it we can’t hold Obama responsible for his own actions again?

    Oh, and are we supposed to hope Obama is clueless or completely impotent and powerless for his next action?

    Or are we now claiming Obama didn’t push to have Mubarak resign early? I guess denying Obama’s actions and reality might work too… good plan.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 25

  8. Pug says:

    @ertdfg:

    Time for another round of anti-Obama frenzy on the right?

    Of course it is.

    Obama is not responsible for Mubarak leaving. The Egyptian people are. They threw him out on his ass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  9. anjin-san says:

    We should absolutely support brutal dictators without question, because if we don’t, someone we don’t care for might win an election. And after all, America is all about freedom.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  10. Pug says:

    There is a simple fact about free elections in the Middle East: Islamists win.

    You can go back as far as the 1992 elections in Algeria, which we helped cancel because it was clear the Islamists were going to win. That led to a wonderful situation in which three or four hundred thousand people were killed over the next fifteen years.

    The right can’t talk about the wonders of democracy, invade Iraq to “spread democracy”, encourage elections in Gaza and then bitch about the results when Islamists win or Hamas wins. They always win.

    So, either shut up about democracy and admit you want military dictatorships and are willing to gun people down in the streets to support it, or accept the results of what you say you believe in.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

  11. ponce says:

    This is nothing new.

    The dumbass Republicans who blame Obama for “losing” Egypt are the same idiots who have been blaming Jimmy Carter for “losing” Iran for the past 30 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  12. anjin-san says:

    Obama pushes Mubarak to resign early

    What constitutes “early?” The pools of blood in Mubarek’s torture chambers were not yet deep enough?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    @ertdfg:

    If he’d shut up, maybe the same thing would have happened, maybe it wouldn’t… but at least you wouldn’t have Obama PUSHING for this outcome.

    So you just respond to things with out actually reading the article. Not surprising.

    But blaming Obama for his own actions is evil right-wing and racist

    Or if you do read the article, you insert criticisms that never existed.

    How’s that alternative reality you live in working out?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  14. Maybe if we hadn’t spent several decades helping Mubarrak crush all of his secular political opponents, we wouldn’t be stuck in a position where Islamists are the only surviving political groups in the country.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  15. Hey Norm says:

    Pseudo-conservative rightists are all for Democracy…as long as they get the results they want. Look at all the voter suppression efforts taking place all around the country today.
    What ertfdg falsley accuses Obama of doing actually did happen recently…when Bush pushed free elections in Palastine which allowed Hamas to take control. Who’da thunk it…the US paving the way for a terrorist organization supported by Iran to take power? You don’t hear the wingnuts talk about that much though, do you?
    Iraq isn’t that much different…they should have their own sovereign Government…unless we think it might be fun to occupy them forever…and then we should just simply ignore their sovereign Government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  16. JJC says:

    There are a lot of people, including those within the state department itself, that have viewed the unfolding of this phenomena with terrific concern. For the most part the sentiment was/is: just hope for the best.

    The popular press gave the impression and in some ways promoted the idea that the Arab Spring was the beginning of some sort of Jeffersonian democracy. People here projected upon the movement what they wanted it to be, not what it was. That’s well meaning, but dangerously ignorant.

    Again, well meaning, but ignorant.

    In this very rough world, sometimes we are left with very, very narrow choices. Egypt, Libya, Syria, and others present us with only limited upside and potential disasterous downsides.

    The reality is that we are passing from Arab Nationalism to Arab Islamism. Candidly, this is not an improvement for either the west in general, or our nation.

    Did Obama screw up?

    In a word: Yes.

    Yes he did make a mistake. In hind sight it seems pretty clear that more time should have been allowed before his removal to establish more organized and credible non Islamic political entities.

    Too late now.

    Islamists will sweep through the elections in Egypt.

    Then what?

    I do know this: it will stink even more to be a Copt. That ancient community will be beat upon even further and will have what little rights and protections they do have, minimalized and removed. Sickening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  17. anjin-san says:

    Egypt, Libya, Syria, and others present us with only limited upside

    Seems pretty clear that you think Egypt, Libya, Syria, and others exist for your benefit, and that what the people who actually live there think/want is of little consequence.

    In other words, you are a modern conservative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  18. @JJC:

    Candidly, this is not an improvement for either the west in general, or our nation.

    Not necessarily. The sunnis and shites would probably be too busy fighting each other to bother the West if the West didn’t insist on constantly trying to stand between them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. @JJC:

    Obama had no control over the protesters. They were the ones who really controlled the state of play on the ground and, when those protests started to become unruly and threaten to destabilize the country, the military took the opportunity to push Mubarak out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Moosebreath says:

    JJC,

    “In hind sight it seems pretty clear that more time should have been allowed before his removal to establish more organized and credible non Islamic political entities.”

    Were you advocating for Mubarak to have loosened political control 5 years ago, so that when we reached this point, there would be “organized and credible non Islamic political entities”? If we had supported Mubarak this spring, do you believe that he would have loosened political control to permit such entitiies? Or would he have just cracked down again and kept full power, just putting off the inevitable day of the uprising and the Islamists taking over when it finally occurred?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. JJC says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Knowing what was waiting in the wings, slowing things down rather than speeding things up, might have been considered. The Muslim Brotherhood and their worse counter part, the Salafi’s, are not positive elements for any society, but we knew that they would be front running the electoral process when that day arrived.

    We seemed to be in a big hurry to remove support beneath Mubarak, but unsure of what was coming next… Perhaps hoping that things would be better? Maybe the Islamic genie would stay in the bottle.

    Hope is not a policy that works out well.

    It is not that I, you or anyone else here supports dictators, but it seems like we are going from the frying pan into the fire. Or maybe I am wrong, but so far it does not look good.

    Meanwhile, it must really stink to be a Copt. More churches, more businesses, and more homes keep getting torched, and what little rights they did have are eroding and vaporizing under the asphyxiating cloak of Islam. But that was very predictable. The silence of most on the left and the right about their condition was also predicable.

    Meanwhile, when there was an opportunity to do something in Iran, we did…nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  22. mantis says:

    Who lost Egypt?

    Mubarak did.

    Any questions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. JJC says:

    @anjin-san:

    Sorry for the anger.

    Dial down.

    Seems pretty clear that you think Egypt, Libya, Syria, and others exist for your benefit, and that what the people who actually live there think/want is of little consequence.

    You might ask the Copts.

    They might have a different view of things.

    With family there, yes I do have a dog in the fight here, and so yes it is my business. But as you do not, would I be justified in saying that perhaps you ought to be consistent with yourself and not comment at all and stay out of it entirely?

    I think that unreasonable my friend, and such personal attacks don’t serve the situation or your point of view very well.

    Either way, left of right, the nature of poitics and the location of that nation within the world sphere, what goes on there does effect us directly.

    Yes, overall I actually do agree we would be better off letting these things travel their own course and stay out of the way. To that end, Ron Paul is correct- to a point. But there are limits to that perspective as well.

    Be well and have a good holiday.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. James says:

    @JJC:

    With family there, yes I do have a dog in the fight here, and so yes it is my business.

    This doesn’t make your opinions on the issue any less inane.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Moosebreath says:

    JJC,

    Thanks for entirely not answering my questions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. @mantis:

    You win the thread, in my opinion at least

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. anjin-san says:

    You might ask the Copts.

    Or you could ask Mubarek’s victims. Those that still live, anyway.

    but unsure of what was coming next

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. anjin-san says:

    but unsure of what was coming next

    There is another name for “unsure of what was coming next”, its “the reality of the human condition”. No matter what choice Obama made he/we would have been unsure of what happens next. To claim we should have somehow waited until we knew what would be next is laughable.

    It is not that I, you or anyone else here supports dictators

    Yes, it is. Our country, which so prides itself on it’s love of freedom, has been supporting brutal, evil, torturing, murdering bastards all over the since long before we came on the scene. We all have blood on our hands, and yes, that makes me angry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Jerry says:

    Here’s my question to everyone who blames Obama for the Egyptian situation: What magical power do you think the U.S. president has over Egyptian politics? The argument seems to be that if the Obama administration had made more pro-Mubarak statements at White House press conferences, this would somehow have miraculously given Mubarak political legitimacy or cowed the demonstrators into giving up. What evidence is there that the U.S. had any influence over events in Egypt, or that anyone in Egyptian politics was trimming their policy to satisfy the U.S. government? I’m not sure what the U.S. could have done to save Mubarak, other than perhaps sending U.S. troops to suppress the demonstrators for him, which 1) would never have happened, and 2) would look darn silly after our spending 10 years pretending that our chief interest in the Middle East was promoting democracy. So, what should have Obama done, and how do you know that it would have produced a better result?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. tacitus says:

    To those who believe it would have been better for Mubarak to stay, what do you think has caused the rise in Islamic fervor in the Middle East over the last half century? In Egypt especially, the only well organized opposition to Mubarak’s regime there has ever been was the Muslim Brotherhood, and they drew their support from the fact that they were actively opposing Mubarak’s dictatorship.

    Prolonging the Arab dictatorships does nothing but put off the day when the Islamist opponents to such regimes take power, or at least a share of it. Propping up Mubarak for a while longer would not have change the result of this election.

    Democracy is messy, but without it, very little changes. Just look at how long it look for every person in the USA to have the vote and be treated as equals, without discrimination under the law — almost 200 years from the point the seed of democracy was originally sown.

    Egypt isn’t going to get there overnight, and nor are the other Arab nations. If we’re lucky, we might get a couple of countries being run along the lines of Turkey, but even then it could take more fighting, more protests, a couple of coups, and a whole load of messy business before all is said and done.

    But without the first step — removing the oppressive dictatorships blocking the way — then all you’re doing is keeping the lid on everything for just a little while longer.

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  31. JJC says:

    @anjin-san:

    Agreed, but once the Islamists take over (and it looks to be the case right now) then what?

    Unless they somehow act very differently than every other despotic islamic theocracy I’ve travelled through, there will be zero improvement in human rights for ordinary Egyptians. My own experience with Islamic societies and governments has been very unfavorable in terms of its tolerance for people of different faiths, worldviews, and opinions. Perhaps the Islamists will be much different this time, one can hope that they do behave differently, but the evidence of that is hard to find.

    So then what do we do?

    Foreign aid? Keep sending it or cut it off?

    Copts? Give them support-if so how, or let them be exterminated?

    Increase immigration quotas? If so by how much, if not why not?

    Sell Egypt our food and thereby prop up the regime or don’t sell them our food and let the Egyptians starve?

    Tough questions and they really don’t change too much no matter who is running the circus over there.

    Be well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. anjin-san says:

    @JJC

    Don’t have time to post today, but we are approaching some middle ground :)

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  33. george says:

    Didn’t realize it was ours to begin with … was it the 51st state?

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  34. Habbit says:

    @JJC:

    With family there, yes I do have a dog in the fight here, and so yes it is my business. But as you do not, would I be justified in saying that perhaps you ought to be consistent with yourself and not comment at all and stay out of it entirely?

    Honestly, this is the thread. One of my good friends is a Christian from Egypt, and is absolutely terrified for all the family and friends she has there. I have another Christian friend from Syria, who is equally as distraught at Bashar al-Assad’s upcoming removal.

    As someone who thinks the United States should gtfo out of other country’s affairs, I have no issues with the Egyptian people wanting to subjugate themselves under the ridiculousness of Sharia law… I do have problems with our moronic administration, in a time of awful domestic economic news, coming out looking everywhere they could for a win, and in turn forcing themselves to have to support the emergence in Egypt of this psychotic institution.

    “The American people will continue to stand by the people of Egypt as they move toward a democratically elected civilian government that respects universal human rights and will meet their aspirations for dignity, freedom, and a better life.” – Hillary Clinton

    Buahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Are you f’ing kidding me?

    Subsequently, I think you should just ignore @anjin-san, rather than pamper his idealistic idiocies. It’s almost a lost cause to play these games with people who force themselves to believe the Mubarak government rode in while #OccupyTehrirSquare was sleeping peacefully in their tents and started mercilessly slaughtering those had ‘only been waving around a couple of signs.’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  35. Eric Florack says:

    There is a simple fact about free elections in the Middle East: Islamists win.

    You can go back as far as the 1992 elections in Algeria, which we helped cancel because it was clear the Islamists were going to win. That led to a wonderful situation in which three or four hundred thousand people were killed over the next fifteen years.

    The right can’t talk about the wonders of democracy, invade Iraq to “spread democracy”, encourage elections in Gaza and then bitch about the results when Islamists win or Hamas wins. They always win.

    So, either shut up about democracy and admit you want military dictatorships and are willing to gun people down in the streets to support it, or accept the results of what you say you believe in.

    the problem with this line, is that the right hasn’t been talking that way. Only the center and the left. The right … the real conservatives…. (and that, by the nature of the label does not include either Bush, for example) …have always recognized that there are some cultures in which democracy simply does not work… that you give someone the power of the vote, does not necessarily mean that they are going to be voting for freedom.

    And in any case, Even assuming that the voters actually vote for freedom, what gets voted for is probably not what’s going to happen, anyway.

    The fact of the matter is, the regardless who wins in those regions, there is going to be significant military power, and significant use of military force domestically in each case. That’s simply how governments maintain their power in that region. And that has as much to do with the cultural underpinnings as anything.

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