Our Man In Cairo
Morsi and his Brotherhood followers are on a power trip after decades of isolation and persecution. You could see that newfound status when Morsi visited the United Nations in September and even more so during the diplomacy that led to last month's cease-fire in Gaza, brokered by Morsi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Brotherhood leaders had gone from outcasts to superstars, and they were basking in the attention.
Morsi's unlikely role as a peacemaker is the upside of the "cosmic wager" Obama has made on the Muslim Brotherhood. It illustrates why the administration was wise to keep its channels open over the past year of post-revolutionary jockeying in Egypt.
But power corrupts, and this is as true with the Muslim Brotherhood as with any other group that suddenly finds itself in the driver's seat after decades of ostracism. Probably thinking he had America's backing,
| Golly, why would he think that? |
. Morsi overreached on Nov. 22 by declaring that his presidential decrees were not subject to judicial review. His followers claim that he was trying to protect Egypt's revolution from judges appointed by Hosni Mubarak.
| He didn't. He knew that Mr. Obama could be caught in a bind and hence wasn't going to do a damn thing to his newest, bestest friend in Egypt|
But that rationale has worn thin as members of Morsi's government resigned in protest, thousands of demonstrators took the streets and, ominously, Muslim Brotherhood supporters began counterattacking with rocks, clubs and metal pipes.
| Not Egypt's revolution, but certainly the Brotherhood's...|
Through this upheaval, the Obama administration has been oddly restrained. After the power grab, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said: "We call for calm and encourage all parties to work together and call for all Egyptians to resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue." Not exactly a thundering denunciation.
The administration's rejoinder is that this isn't about America. Egyptians and other Arabs are writing their history now, and they will have to live with the consequences. Moreover, the last thing secular protesters need is an American embrace. That's surely true, but it's crazy for Washington to appear to take sides against those who want a liberal, tolerant Egypt and for those who favor sharia. Somehow, that's where the administration has ended up.
For a lesson in the dangers of falling in love with your client, look at Iraq: U.S. officials, starting with President George W. Bush and Gen. David Petraeus, kept lauding Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, despite warnings from many Iraqis that he was a conspiratorial politician who would end up siding with Iran. This misplaced affection continued into the Obama administration: Even after the Iraqi people in their wisdom voted in 2010 to dump Maliki, the United States helped him cobble together enough support to remain in power. Arab observers are still scratching their heads trying to understand that one.
When assessing the turbulent events in the Arab world, we should remind ourselves that we're witnessing a revolution that may take decades to produce a stable outcome. With the outcome so hard to predict, it's a mistake to make big bets on any particular player. The U.S. role should be to support the broad movement for change and economic development and to keep lines open to whatever democratic governments emerge.
|It's quite simple. Humans as a rule prefer the status quo. Liberals, despite the label, are even more attached to the known knowns; that's why the Cold War went on far longer than it should have, and why Western educated thugs have it far over your garden-variety, non-Islamic 'revolutionary'.|
America will help the Arab world through this turmoil if it states clearly that U.S. policy is guided by its interests and values, not by transient alliances and friendships. If Morsi wants to be treated as a democratic leader, he will have to act like one.
| What if he merely wants to be treated as the new caliph of the revived caliphate?|
Posted by: Pappy 2012-12-10