For Independence Day Egypt shows us how little love for democracy remains in America
Summary: We see how far America has drifted from its roots that before Independence Day we hear words defending democracy similar to those of the Founders — and we mock them, siding with the Army overthrowing these elected representatives and the mob cheering them.
I had an inspiring post for the fourth, but events have provided a more powerful topic.
- Words in defense of democracy
- About those protests
- How did the US lose the American people?
- Analysis of the coup’d etat
- For More Information
(1) Words in defense of democracy
Words like those spoken by Patrick Henry & Sam Adams:
“It is better for a president, who would otherwise be returning Egypt to the days of dictatorship, from which God and the will of the people has saved us, to die standing like a tree. Rather than be condemned by history and future generations for throwing away the hopes of Egyptians for establishing a democratic life.”
— Ayman Ali, spokesman for President Mursi
“There is only one thing we can do: we will stand in between the tanks and the president. We will not allow the will of the egyptian people to be bullied again by the military machine.”
— Gehad El-Haddad, official spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood, speaking at their protest camp in a Cairo suburb near the presidential palace and several military installations
Are these people sincere? For an answer we cannot rely on US experts and news media for an accurate answer. So many of them cheered as America supported military coups against elected governments. They cheered when we helped to overthrow elected governments (e.g., Iran, Chile). They cheered as we supported tyranny’s irrespective of how they treat their people (one former US ally, Efrain Rios Montt, is being tried by his people for genocide).
We don’t come to this event with clean hands, and do not deserve a presumption of moral superiority.
(2) About those protests
“A mob is no less a mob because they are with you.”
— John Adams in the play 1776
It’s wonderful to see so many American conservatives exuberant at large-scale protests, regarding them as representative of the Egyptian people. How odd that such protests in America are not seen as legitimate. Instead, as seen with the Occupy and 2003 anti-war protests, they are considered to be mobs deserving brutal oppression by the security services.
But the protest was the largest ever in human history! This claim is all over conservative websites, playing to their famously gullible audiences.
From Mark Joseph Stern at Slate (red emphasis added:
Nabuib Sawiris is a wildly wealthy businessman who chaired Orascom Telecom Holding when it lucratively launched North Korea’s first cell phone operator. In recent years, Sawiris has dipped his toes into politics, founding the Al Masreyeen Al Ahrar party, which opposes Morsi. In 2011, Sawiris, a Coptic Christian, was accused of racism and Islamophoboa after tweeting an offensive cartoon. He is a vocal supporter of the anti-Morsi protests.
Sawiris’ tweet cites the BBC, but when I asked the outlet’s publicist, he doubted whether the organization had put forth such a statement. “I can’t find any BBC source for this and I’m not aware of one,” he said, although given their “vast amount of output,” he couldn’t say for certain.Whether or not BBC made the claim, it is almost certainly untrue. A number of previous demonstrations, including the February 15, 2003 anti-war protests, have probably drawn more people.
(3) How did the US lose the American people?
So here’s a question that’s nagging at me as we watch millions of Egyptians express their loathing for Mohamed Mursi, their hapless, power-grabbing president, and for his Muslim Brotherhood movement: How exactly did the U.S. come to be seen by Egyptian secularists and liberals as the handmaiden of a cultish fundamentalist political party whose motto includes this heartening sentiment: “Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope”?
I mean, how did the U.S. fail to formulate a strategy that would advance both American interests and American values in the largest and most crucial Arab state? Within a span of just a few years, Egyptians have somehow convinced themselves that the U.S. has been an ally of both Egypt’s former dictator, Hosni Mubarak, and Mubarak’s main enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood.
As usual with Goldberg, whose columns are usually straight but skillful Israel propaganda,this consists of layered flawed assumptions and bogus logic. Let’s just focus on the essentials.
Given the history of US involvement in the Middle East, the people in the street might assume that whatever is good for them — America opposes it. Our support for Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinians and theft of their land. Our support for tyrants, and role in overthrow of elected governments in Syria (1949) and Iran (1953).
Second, other nations are not “ours” to “lose”. This mad hubris has been a perennial of US foreign policy error since the “who lost China” madness in 1959s, which wrecked the State Dept and distorted US foreign policy until Nixon.
(4) Analysis of the coup’d etat
This section will be updated.
(a) “In Egypt, Democrats vs. Liberals“, Samer S Shehata (Assoc Prof of Middle Eastern Politic, U OK), op-ed in the New York Times, 2 July 2013 — Excerpt:
Egypt has a dilemma: its politics are dominated by democrats who are not liberals and liberals who are not democrats. [..] integrating Islamists is essential if Egypt is to have stable, democratic politics. Movements like the Brotherhood are a core constituency in Egyptian society; democracy requires their inclusion.
If the millions in the streets want the Brotherhood out of power, they must learn to organize and campaign effectively, and vote them out. That would be the best way to establish liberal democracy in Egypt. Removing Mr. Morsi through a military coup supported by the secular and liberal opposition could well be the worst.
(b) “This is Not the End of Islamism in Egypt: Beyond the Pro- and Anti-Islamist Divide“, Elizabeth Nugent (PhD student of politics at Princeton; now in conducting pre-dissertation research), The Monkey Cage, 4 July 2013 – Excerpt:
It would be a mistake to read the mobilization against the president and in support of the military as simply anti-Islamist, as a political ideology. These protests and mobilization have been anti-Muslim Brotherhood, as a political entity – albeit an Islamist one – whose political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, has failed its constituents.
Egypt has a dilemma: its politics are dominated by democrats who are not liberals and liberals who are not democrats. [..] integrating Islamists is essential if Egypt is to have stable, democratic politics. Movements like the Brotherhood are a core constituency in Egyptian society; democracy requires their inclusion. If the millions in the streets want the Brotherhood out of power, they must learn to organize and campaign effectively, and vote them out. That would be the best way to establish liberal democracy in Egypt. Removing Mr. Morsi through a military coup supported by the secular and liberal opposition could well be the worst.
The Tamarud campaign which first initiated this week’s mobilization focused solely on the political failures of Morsi in terms of substantive domestic and foreign policy issues, outlined in the petition circulated and signed by over 22 million Egyptians, without referencing any issue pertaining to the relationship between religion and state. One, then, would be hard pressed to describe current events in Egypt as a referendum on Islamism – unless one incorrectly equates Islamism, in Egypt or more generally, exclusively with the Muslim Brotherhood. While the FJP’s governing days may be over, it is too soon to declare the end of Islamism.
Islamism can be defined as support for the introduction of Islamic tenets into political life through the implementation of sharia. This admittedly vague definition allows us to classify both parties (those with political platforms promoting sharia) and individuals (those who agree with the concept of implementing sharia) as Islamist.
(c) Other useful articles:
- “The Coup in Egypt“, Jeremy Pressman (Prof of Political Science, U CT), The Monkey Cage, 3 July 2013
- “Downfall in Cairo“, Marc Lynch (Asst Prof of Political Science, George Washington U), Foreign Policy, 3 July 2013 — Morsy is out. The military is in. But it doesn’t look good for anyone
(5) For More Information
Posts about Protests in Egypt from 2011:
- Why do we fear the rioters in Egypt?, 30 January 2011
- Important information about the riots in Egypt, 30 January 2011
- Sources of information about the situation in Egypt, 6 February 2011
- How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
- More examples of Americans waking up – should we rejoice?, 10 October 2009
- Occupy Wall Street, another futile peasants’ protest, 5 October 2011
- Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government, 24 June 2013