Republican Congressman: We Must Stand Behind Our Friend, The Dictator Mubarak

One Republican Congressman is calling on President Obama to stand firmly behind our "friend" in Cairo, even though there's little evidence we can trust him.

Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter has what I think must be the most unique, albeit mistaken, take on the crisis in Egypt:

America must stand with her ally Egypt to preserve an imperfect government capable of reform; and prevent a tyrranical government capable of harm.

For if Egypt is radicalized, all of the reforms sought by the Egyptian people and supported by the United States with them – including consensual and constitutional government; free elections; open and unbridled media; and Egyptian control of their natural resources – will be lost. Nascent democratic movements in the region will be co-opted and radicalized. The world’s free and open access to the Suez Canal’s vital commercial shipping lanes will be choked. And the Sinai Accord between Egypt and Israel – which must be protected as the foundation and principal example for Mideast peace – will be shredded.

Though many will be tempted to superficially interpret the Egyptian demonstrations as an uprising for populist democracy, they must recall how such similar initial views of the 1979 Iranian Revolution were belied by the mullahs’ radical jackbooted murderers, who remain bent upon grasping regional hegemony and nuclear weaponry…

This is not a nostalgic “anti-colonial uprising” from within, of all places, the land of Nassar. Right now, freedom’s radicalized enemies are subverting Egypt and other our allies.

I guess I’ve got two questions from Congressman McCotter, and those who would agree with him.

First, what evidence is there that the Mubarak regime is at all “capable of reform” ?

This is a man who has held an iron grip on power for thirty years — to the point where, up until today, Egypt didn’t even have a clear line of succession to the Presidency from the day Anwar Sadat was assassinated until the first Vice President in 30 years was appointed today? Political opponents, not just limited to the Muslim Brotherhood, are regularly imprisoned. Blogger critical of the government have been imprisoned and tortured. And, until these protests started, Mubarak was ready to follow in the footsteps of men like Hafez el-Assad and Kim Jong-il and turn his country into a hereditary dictatorship. Throughout this time, the United States has shown little inclination to chide Mubarak about conditions inside his country and, as his actions in the hours since President Obama spoke have shown, Mubarak doesn’t seem inclined to listen to them now.

Second, how exactly does McCotter (or anyone else for that matter) know what the motivations of the protesters on the streets of Egypt actually are?

Clearly, there is reason to worry that a power vacuum in Egypt could bring the Muslim Brotherhood, or those sympathetic to them, to power. However, its been apparent over the past four days that these protests are not primarily motivated by that group, and there have been scattered reports of protesters drowning out the shoots of MB sympathizers at rallies.  This is why caution is called for. Neither an immediate call for Mubarak’s ouster nor a total rejection of the protesters as McCotter advocates are the right course of action. Most importantly, we don’t want to make the same mistakes we did in Iran and become associated with the minds of the public with a repressive and hated regime. Although, admittedly, it may be too late for that.

Throwing Mubarak under the bus isn’t advisable at this point, simply because we don’t know where things are headed from here. At the same time, rejecting the protests in the way that McCotter does strikes me as incredibly short-sighted.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Middle East, The Presidency, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. ponce says:

    Past polling indicates a large majority of Egyptians want Egypt to be an Islamic state.

    The question is are we talking about another Indonesia or another Iran?

  2. Ryan says:

    Doug, two great questions. 1) There is no evidence to date, but something has to give this time. The populace won’t stand for the status quo. Whether by force or through elections, change is on the way.

    2) I’m in touch with a very good Egyptian friend and I’m trying to get his sense. As a Coptic Christian (approx 10% of Egyptians) he’s sensitive to radicalized Islamic factions seeking power. I think it’s clear that the Muslim Brotherhood and their Hamas (read: Iranian) supporters won’t ‘let a crisis go to waste’, but whether they can be successful is as you say unclear.

  3. DC Loser says:

    Hamas and the MB are Sunni Islamist groups. Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist group. Iran backs Hezbollah openly. I haven’t heard of open Iranian backing of Hamas. Just because the MB is Islamist doesn’t mean their agenda and the Iranians’ coincide.

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    When the Muslim Brotherhood has control of the Suez and the price of gas reaches $5 a gallon. Our economy is in shambles and we have to send our armed forces to make the changes we need or perish, maybe you will not think it is such a good idea to give your enemies control of that which can choke you.

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Loser, who do you suppose is supporting Hamas? Syrians are Sunni yet they are allied with Iran.

  6. wr says:

    So Zels — Are you saying that Egypt is actually our property? How exactly do you figure that?

  7. mpw280 says:

    Why don’t you ask bumbling uncle Joe, since he was toting the party line earlier in the week, while Obama was playing both sides of the fence while waiting to ride the rail. mpw

  8. michael reynolds says:


    You should follow the lead of Jay Tea who is waiting for Glenn Beck to tell him what to think about this. Don’t try to work it out on your own, wait until Rush and Glen program you.

  9. DC Loser says:

    ZR3 – It may come as a shock to you that states have interests that they pursue and those who shares the same enemies (Israel, US) may decide to cooperate, as in the case of Syria and Iran. Syrian support of Hamas and Hezbollah is for exactly the same reasons.

  10. Of course, if we hadn’t supported Mubarak while he systematically purged every other secular institution in Egyptian society, the people wouldn’t be turning to the MB as the last man standing opposition group.

  11. jpe says:

    When the Muslim Brotherhood has control of the Suez and the price of gas reaches $5 a gallon.

    Ah, the 1% doctrine in action. So if there’s a 1% chance the MB takes over Egypt, we have to support a tyrant. It makes perfect sense when you think about it in the alternate universe you inhabit.

  12. IP727 says:

    Demokrat president: We Must Stand Behind Our Friend, The Dictator of china.

  13. An Interested Party says:

    “Demokrat president: We Must Stand Behind Our Friend, The Dictator of china.”

    Ahh, yet another child trying to play with adults…it has obviously escape the little one’s notice that presidents of both political parties use Realpolitik to do what they think is in this country’s best interests and in doing so, “stand behind” dictators around the world…