The Politics of Distraction in Egypt
Published on: September 20, 2012
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  • WigWag

    Ms Okail’s article for “Freedom House” was interesting, but I wonder why Adam classifies it as a “must read” (other than the fact that they are friends).

    She says,

    “…the world was paying more attention to the reactions to anti-Islamic expression, this time to cartoons published in France, than to the fate of the Egyptian people’s desire for freedom. Such misdirection only makes it easier for foreign governments to give up on the country’s democratic development and return to a long-standing pattern of managing relations with blatantly undemocratic partners in the Arab world…If this trend continues, the last traces of the Arab Spring in Egypt will fade, giving way to a new winter of sadly familiar repression.”

    Is this supposed to be news we can use, or is it so glaringly obvious that it barely merits mentioning?

    It seems to me that no one should be surprised that Egyptian democrats and liberals are being marginalized at light speed and that Egypt is swiftly returning to its default position as an autocracy. Only the names have changed; the new boss is the same as the old boss for Egyptians although for the Americans and Israelis the new boss is likely to be more aggravating than the old boss.

    Ms Okail laments a lack of attention to what she says is the desire of the Egyptian people for “freedom.” Do the Egyptian people really have a desire for freedom or is it only a relatively small subset of Egyptians who yearn for freedom at least as those in the West conceive of freedom?

    The Egyptians voted in large numbers in a generally free and fair election for candidates who disdain Western conceptions of freedom. Perhaps the best that can be said is that most Egyptians who desire freedom have a remarkably different conception of what the word means than Americans and Europeans do.

    What I find uncanny is the eerie similarity between the path that the Egyptians are following and the path followed by their Sunni coreligionists in Turkey. Egypt seems to be the Turkish model on steroids. First the Islamists take power; second the independence of the army is crushed and the generals are put in prison (Turkey) or retired (Egypt); third the Government seeks to write a new constitution outlawing dissent and limiting the few liberal freedoms that exist; fourth minority groups are repressed and tormented (in Turkey it’s the Kurds of all religions and the Alevi; in Egypt it’s the Copts.)

    President Obama and his fellow progressives have some explaining to do; admittedly it’s still early days but their theory that the Turkish model represents a form of Islamism that is compatible with modernity and liberalism is being sorely tested by Erdogan and his fellow thugs. Turkey is not becoming more democratic, it is becoming less democratic. Just as Turkey was an undemocratic, autocratic regime under the Turkish army, it is rapidly turning into an undemocratic and autocratic regime under what were supposed to be “moderate” Islamists.

    In light of the failure of the Turkish model, the idea held by Obama and the confederacy of dunces who serve as columnists for the New York Times that the Muslim Brotherhood could recapitulate the success of Turkey and lead Egypt into the modern, liberal world seems laughable.

    But it’s not just Obama and his progressive cohort of liberal internationalists who look stupid; the neoconservatives do to. They keep insisting that if only we intervene to strengthen democracy in the Arab world wonderful things will eventually happen.

    I have two questions for them. How long do they think we need to wait? What terrible things are likely to occur in the meantime?

  • Pingback: UPDATE: The Politics of Distraction in Egypt | The Middle East and Beyond « Regional Wars!()

  • Anthony

    Key: pressing political and economic problems in affected countries (parts of Africa, Pakistan, Afganistan, Middle East, etc.) Politics of distraction remains old governance tactic now benefitting from 21st century tools; question becomes how does U.S. foreign policy respond?

  • LarryReiser

    The U N speech was pure puffery meant to encourage view away from his leading from behind nonsense.It comes just a few months after his new strategy for involvement in Asia and all this as he encourages a major downsizing of the military.Add to this the terrible economic problems many of which are the result of the administrations poorly planned and executed policies a condition that the Pentagon catagorizes as the main threat to National Security.IBelieve that the President has a hazy Ideology and a huge ego but no coherent plan. Either domestically or in Foreign policy we are all baffled.

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