Saturday, January 29, 2011

GOP Conference Chairman Comes Out in Favor of Mubarak

There's a fair critique to be made that the Obama administration's response to the street revolution in Egypt has been a bit muddled. There's a fair excuse for that too -- we're in a tough spot, between the fact that Mubarak is an autocrat who has consistently stymied democratic reform in his country, and the fact that he's our autocrat and has managed to keep an uneasy peace with its neighbor to the east. The devil you know and all that. Still, there is little evidence that these protests have been driven by Islamist forces. And ultimately, the US will suffer far more if the Egyptian people believe that, when the chips were down, the United States wasn't there for them when they took to the streets and demanded their legitimate rights to democratic self-governance. And so, while there might have been a bit more hedging than I'd prefer, I was heartened to see Obama strongly back the rights of the Egyptian protesters and call for desperately needed reforms in the country. At the same time, folks who claim they haven't been nearly clear enough have a point.

In any event, whatever failings of clarity Obama may have had, there is no such ambiguity in the position of Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), GOP Conference chairman. He's loud and clear: the US needs to back Mubarak and make sure these protests are crushed. Presumably, he will then wonder why American credibility regarding democracy is shot to hell.


N. Friedman said...


You make good points, with which I basically agree.

I do note one point, that you may want to think about a bit more. You write: "Still, there is little evidence that these protests have been driven by Islamist forces." I think, based on your context, you are not merely making an observation but a statement about what might come out of the revolt.

From the point of view of what will occur, the question, I would think, is less who is driving the protest than what comes out of the protests. Hence, the Islamists may have nothing to do with protests (or, maybe - and I am not saying it is so -, much more than is reported) but may end up in the driver seat anyway.

I might also add that the liberal forces in Egypt are, if anything, as hostile to Israel (and, I might add, Jews in general) as the Islamists. So, if Israel were the sole concern here, which it is not, avoiding an Islamist future is not the same thing as avoiding problems for Israel and Jews with Egypt.

Be that as it may, I think people are better served by democracy than not. Hence, I hope for the best for the Egyptian people - whether they hate us or not - and hope they get a real say in their governance - i.e. democracy. However, I would not bet much on my hopes, having read the fits and starts of democratic revolutions in Europe and, with perhaps more relevance, Iran and Pakistan and, I might add, pre-Nassar Egypt (at least to some extent). Moreover, it is not clear that Mubarak will fail to quell the protests.

Cycle Cyril said...

Democracy is of course to be desired.

But is there a foundation of a civil society in Egypt at this time that would ensure a transition to a democracy and not an Islamic rule as happened in Gaza or ongoing in Lebanon or as happened with the Bolsheviks overthrowing Kerensky? Unfortunately I think not.

I think if an attempt is made at this time to form a democracy Egypt would end up like the above examples resulting in a dictatorial takeover by the Moslem Brotherhood.

The Moslem Brotherhood, first organized in the 1920's (and from which many if not most of the current Islamist militant groups sprung from) is the opposition that is most likely to take over the reins of power since it is well organized and willing to be brutal. Their current non-violent position was only adappted by them to deflect some of the suppression from the Mubarak administration.

Thus I am reluctantly on the side of suppressing the protesters, allow the military to restore quiet and then replace Mubarak with someone more acceptable to the protesting public but hopefully not someone willing to trash the cold peace with Israel.

However due to the decades of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda and the overall resurgence of fundamentalist Islamic faith in the country (somewhere on the web there are group photos of graduates from Cairo University over several decades showing the growth of covered heads among the females in the past 10 to 20 years) any ruler may be helpless to resist a more anti-Israel policy.