The people who are cheerleading immediate democracy in Egypt don’t recall the lesson learned in Gaza, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) warned MSNBC this morning. Feinstein warned of “fundamentalist Islamic sects” taking control of Egypt in the present chaos and told Andrea Mitchell that “we don’t understand the ebb and flow” of politics in the Middle East, and that simply demanding elections in an environment as unstable as Egypt’s at the present could lead to some very undemocratic long-term outcomes (from The Blaze):
This echoes what I wrote earlier today, which is that it’s simply not enough to cheerlead for democracy and open elections in collapsing Middle East regimes. For the best long-term outcomes, we have to back democracy through a transition that will give it the best shot at survival. Rushing into an election when the only substantial political organization belongs to radical Islamists like Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood would mean a quick end to democracy, meaningful elections, and human rights — as well as peace. We have no obligation to support that, although we truly won’t have a great deal of influence on those events anyway.
Donald Rumsfeld, from his book tour this week, rebuked the Obama administration for its incoherence:
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday he hopes the Obama administration‘s behind-the-scenes handling of the crisis in Egypt is going more smoothly than it looks from the outside.
Mr. Rumsfeld told the “America’s Morning News” radio broadcast that a confusion of public messages from the White House over the handling of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was “unfortunate” and has not helped ease the crisis in Cairo. …
“That is unfortunate, that they seem to be crossways with their assigned diplomat, Frank Wisner and with some differences in terms of people in Washington. I don’t know enough to know precisely what’s taking place, but that tends not to be helpful,” Mr. Rumsfeld said on radio broadcast.
“I’m hoping there is effective private diplomacy taking place … and the turmoil that we are seeing will ease,” he said.
The White House needs to reset its approach back to a more subtle effort to press for the best long-term result rather than attempt to look good by guessing at the eventual outcomes ahead of their arrival.