Saturday, July 06, 2013

Egypt. Again.

I will always remember the moment.  Watching events unfold in real time thanks to Al Jazeera English streaming live, I sat at my computer and watched the announcement that Pres. Hosni Mubarak had resigned.

The roar from Tahrir Square was deafening.

It has happened again and I have to say that I am less than enthusiastic this go round.

The removal of Mubarak created the conditions for the election of Mohammed Morsi to the Presidency.  While certainly no fan of his increasingly obvious desire to make Egypt conform to a restrictive interpretation of Islamic law and social practice, it is impossible to ignore the reality that he was elected by a majority of the Egyptian voters.  There are democratic solutions to democratic problems.  That the Egyptian military continues to hold the whip-hand in Egyptian politics is all the more reason to mourn this week's coup;  Morsi directly threatened their domestic perquisites at a time when continued economic stagnation kept much of the population restive (to be understated about it).

Americans should not be applauding this, anymore than they should have complained years ago when residents of the Gaza Strip elected Hamas to represent them.  It's their democracy; they can choose their own leaders.  We should be adult enough to deal with the even when we don't particularly like them.

The folks at Lawyers, Guns, And Money sum it up well.
Brooks’s argument that democracy is a mere “process” that should be disregarded when it produces disagreeable substantive results is quite remarkable. Let’s consider the (largely accurate, as far as I can tell) bill of charges against Morsi — hostility to the rights of women, civil liberties violations, rank incompetence, divisiveness, disastrous misuses of the violent power of the state. So Brooks would have thought that a military coup against the second Bush administration was perfectly OK, then? (Particularly since the election of Bush was pretty shaky on the “process” metric as well.) At what point do the bad (by whose standard?) substantive results of democratic elections trump democratic procedures? Brooks lacks a clear answer, but I suspect it has something to do with the percentage of the electorate that consists of white people.
Once you begin accepting the violent removal of democratically elected leaders whose policies are disagreeable, you remove the whole raison d'etre of democratic government.  Of course, as the US has never sat idly by in such instances - Iran in 1953 and Chile in 1973 come to mind - it is hardly surprising that a fluffer for the powerful like David Brooks is insisting the Egyptians, and by extension Muslims in general, don't have the capacity to sustain democratic systems.  Still, it would be nice if someone in the United States of America, in the week we celebrated our independence, took a stand for the democratic process rather than bad real politique arguments about American interests.

I am not sanguine about what happens next in Egypt.  Whoever comes to power in Egypt knows the price of the Presidential office - kissing the military's butt.  And the Muslim Brotherhood has also learned something: That democracy is a farce, especially if the world's most powerful democratic republic refuses to defend the values of democracy.  This is a formula for more violence and instability.  Folks like Brooks should be proud.

Virtual Tin Cup

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More