Quotes of the day

The next day, on Monday, General Sisi gave political leaders a 48-hour ultimatum to reach a compromise. A shaken Morsi adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said at the time the president’s team considered it “a military coup.”

Mr. Morsi’s advisers had meetings with Ms. Patterson and her deputy Marc Sievers as well as a phone call with Ms. Rice, the national security adviser. Mr. Morsi’s advisers argued that ousting the president would be “a long term disaster” for Egypt and the Arab world because people would “lose faith in democracy.” They said it would set off an explosion in the streets that they could not control.

And they argued that the United States was implicated: “Nobody who knows Egypt is going to believe a coup could go forward without a green light from the Americans.”


Why can’t we get 14 million people into the streets to proclaim that Obama is an idiot like the Egyptians did? Over at ZeroHedge, Jim Quinn posts pictures of the banners in the mass demonstrations. They are inspiring. One read: “Obama you jerk, Muslim Brotherhoods are killing the Egyptians, so how come they can guarantee you the security of Israel. Hey Obama, your deal with the Muslim Brotherhood is unsuccessful. Obama you idiot, Keep in mind that Egypt is not Muslim brotherhoods and if you don’t believe that go and see what’s happening in Tahrir Square now.” Another reads, “Obama, your bitch is our dictator.” A picture of Hillary Clinton read, “Hayzaboon [ogre] go home.” Many banners simply read, “Obama supports terrorism.” Others were too harsh to mention in a family site. Happy 4th of July!


I join one such conversation, in a corner coffee parlor, above which an Egyptian flag proudly waves. “The Americans are threatening to cut the aid if our army doesn’t do what they want? Let them,” announced the owner to his customers.

“It’s better to seal a deal with China and get all we need. Money for development, arms. America is finished anyway. How do they allow themselves to object to the will of the Egyptian people? The Egyptian people decide their own fate, not Washington. Obama wants to have the Muslim Brotherhood rule over all the Middle East.”

“What’s the American interest to support the Muslim Brotherhood?” I asked. “Look,” explained one distinguished, older gentleman. “The West says one thing and does another. The Americans and Europeans speak so highly for democracy, freedom and human rights, but in the Middle East they support the most autocratic regimes, which object to all these principles.”


Islamists at a large pro-Morsi rally Friday afternoon questioned how the U.S. — which claims to stand for the rule of law and free elections — could so quickly abandon Egypt’s first democratically elected president and fail to condemn, or even acknowledge, Wednesday’s military coup.

“The morals of America are not being reflected in their politics toward Egypt,” said Sharif Hegazy, 37, who manages the Cairo office of a U.S. company he preferred not to name. “Because of its past support for [deposed President Hosni] Mubarak, America has always been seen as a veiled enemy. Now they are just waiting to see which side will win. That’s not ethical. The U.S. should support the election.”…

Just a few miles away in Tahrir Square, anti-Morsi protesters insist the U.S. is on the ousted president’s side, just as Washington supported Mubarak. They have been holding up signs reading “Obama supports terrorism” and pictures of U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson with an “X” mark…

“It’s not only about elections,” said Mohammed Farahat, 27, an advertising account manager. “Hitler was elected too. It bothers me that the U.S. presents itself as a peacemaker, but then they supports a fascist regime like Morsi’s.”


Privately, Mr. Obama was frustrated that Mr. Morsi had never reached out to the opposition and thought he should be more inclusive, aides said. When the end came at the hands of Egypt’s powerful military this week, Mr. Obama issued a written statement saying he was “deeply concerned” and urging the generals to restore a democratic government quickly. But he has made no comments about the matter beyond that…

Whatever role the administration is playing behind the scenes, its public reticence has suggested its discomfort with choosing sides. In effect, it has accepted Mr. Morsi’s ouster and is not seeking to restore him, reasoning that in fact it could turn out for the best if the military quickly brought about new elections. The main priority is minimizing violence and repression of dissent.

Critics said the administration should have been more outspoken about Mr. Morsi’s mistakes along the way. “They messed up when they did not speak out about Morsi’s undemocratic ways,” said Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It fed a narrative that the U.S. was only interested in stability.”


The Obama administration’s call for an “inclusive” political process in Egypt with a role for the Muslim Brotherhood has been overshadowed by deadly clashes between security forces and supporters of the Islamist group…

The administration has urged the Egyptian military to stop using heavy-handed tactics, according to two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified commenting on private communications. They said the administration is concerned that some in the military may want to provoke the Islamists to violence and provide a rationale for crushing the movement once and for all.

Such a move would fail and probably prompt a shift to al-Qaeda type terrorist tactics by extremists in the Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere, the U.S. officials said.


“Egypt is imploding, and Turkey is going south fast. Antagonism between Europe and America is at an all-time high. China is bullying U.S. allies in southeast Asia. And what is Kerry doing? Off tilting at windmills,” he said.

Nathan Brown, a nonresident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for National Peace, told TheDC he finds Kerry’s decision to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian peace “baffling.”…

“I think Secretary Kerry would benefit from a sense of perspective,” [Charles Dunne] told TheDC. ”Important as the Arab-Israeli talks are — or potentially are — there are two other far more important crises on the front burner: Egypt and Syria. The collapse of the current Egyptian government….and with it a jump into a political void, while Syria has just notched the 100,000th casualty in its civil war….[Y]ou don’t get a sense of urgency from the Secretary on these two crises.”


The White House needs to purge all short or even medium term thoughts of promoting Egypt’s transition to democracy. There aren’t enough “good guys” in Egypt to Americanize or even to Malaysianize the place. Democracy in Egypt right now is an “if we had some eggs we could have some ham and eggs—if we had some ham” kind of dream. Our first goal must be to help prevent Egypt’s descent into starvation, misery, anarchy and despair…

Beyond that, we need a fundamental rethink of our approach to the promotion of democracy abroad. It is neither racist nor orientalist nor any other ugly thing to say that different societies around the world are at different degrees of readiness for the rise of genuine democratic institutions. Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are not going to be building modern states anytime soon, much less democratic ones. China seems closer to building a stable and working democracy than Egypt is, and the obstacles facing democracy in China are immense and intimidating…

[I]f George W. Bush’s failures at democracy promotion in the Arab world weren’t enough of a lesson, surely Barack Obama’s failures should bring home the reality that our whole approach to this region needs some deeper, wiser, and more practical ideas.


Which suggests one other potentially disastrous consequence of this week’s coup: The Brotherhood will not go quietly into obscurity, or into jail. Its members and leaders are true believers. In particular, they are true believers in martyrdom. Had they been turned out of office by voters at the end of Mursi’s term, the opportunities for martyrdom would have been limited. Now that they have been removed by force and are being arrested in large numbers, the opportunities are many.

The Middle East analyst Reuel Marc Gerecht told me that the coup has forestalled the Muslim Brotherhood’s “self-immolation through the ballot box.”

“This will keep the Brotherhood strong and make them, I suspect, meaner and nastier and less public,” he said. “They will grow popular again: Hell, they might still win parliament in a free vote. Who knows? But the military has just guaranteed their livelihood and humbled, if not killed, the democratic process.”


Washington has spent six decades getting Egypt wrong, ever since the CIA insouciantly joined the coup against Farouk under the contemptuous name “Operation Fat F***er.” We sank billions into Mubarak’s Swiss bank accounts, and got nothing in return other than Mohammed Atta flying through the office window. Even in a multicultural age, liberal Americans casually assume that “developing countries” want to develop into something like a Western democracy. But Egypt only goes backwards. Princess Fawzia is best remembered in the Middle East as, briefly, the first consort of the late shah of Iran, whom she left in 1946 because she found Tehran hopelessly dull and provincial after bustling, modern, cosmopolitan Cairo. In our time, the notion of Egypt as “modern” is difficult to comprehend: According to the U.N., 91 percent of its women have undergone female genital mutilation — not because the state mandates it, but because the menfolk insist on it. Over half its citizenry subsists on less than two dollars a day. A rural population so inept it has to import its food, Egyptians live on the land, but can’t live off it…

This week, the Brotherhood was checked — but not by anything recognizable as the forces of freedom. Is it only a temporary respite? Certainly, in the age of what Caroline Glick calls “America’s self-induced smallness,” Western ideas of real liberty have little purchase in Cairo. Egypt will get worse, and, self-induced or not, America is getting smaller.


Via Mediaite.

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David Strom 8:31 AM on October 02, 2022