The replacement of dictator Hosni Mubarak with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi has had serious negative consequences for Egyptian liberals, Christians, and women; for Israel, which now must treat Egypt as a hostile power rather than a peace partner; and for the US, which is in the uncomfortable position of financially supporting a radical Islamist, anti-American, antisemitic regime.
So did this have to happen? Some say yes, there was no way the 82-year old corrupt, brutal Mubarak could have been propped up (but note that the new regime is no less, possibly more, brutal and corrupt). And shouldn’t the Egyptian people be allowed to choose their own rulers?
If you listen to Rafi Eitan, a former Mossad official who led the capture of Adolf Eichmann in 1960, the answer is that it definitely did not have to happen — and the US is responsible. An interview with Eitan appeared today in the Times of Israel:
This slight man, with his trademark thick-rimmed glasses, did not mince his words when speaking of what he perceives as fatal American mistakes in handling the “Arab Spring” — particularly at that crucial moment in June 2012 when the administration could have imposed a secular president on Egypt, Ahmad Shafiq — and by doing so change the course of that country’s history. …
“The military unequivocally decided that [Ahmed] Shafiq will be president, not [Mohammed] Morsi,” Eitan told The Times of Israel. “But the Americans put all the pressure on. The announcement [of the president] was delayed by three or four days because of this struggle.”
Immediately after Egypt’s presidential elections in June 2012, Eitan spoke to unnamed local officials, who told him that with a mere 5,000-vote advantage for Islamist candidate Morsi, the military was prepared to announce the victory of his adversary Shafiq, a secular military man closely associated with the Mubarak regime.
But secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Eitan said, decided to favor democracy at all costs and disallow any falsification of the vote.
“This is idiocy. An act of stupidity that will resonate for generations,” Eitan said. “I also thought Mubarak should be replaced, but I believed the Americans would be smart enough to replace him with the next figure. Mubarak would have agreed to that, but the Americans didn’t want that; they wanted democracy. But there is no real democracy in the Arab world at the moment. It will take a few generations to develop…” [my emphasis]
If you believe that the ideology of radical Islamism represents a real challenge to the Enlightenment values of Western civilization, then the takeover of the largest and most important Arab nation by the Brotherhood is a significant defeat for America and the West. Although historical analogies are notoriously misleading, in a sense it is as if the US had intervened on behalf of the Bolsheviks in 1917 or helped Hitler attain power in 1933.
The appeal to ‘democracy’ is particularly ludicrous. Although Morsi uses the word a lot, his actions in consolidating power in the hands of the Brotherhood have been anything but democratic. And the philosophy of the Brotherhood itself makes it clear that regardless of the means by which power is attained, the goal is a state — and ultimately an expansive caliphate — governed according to shari’a, ruled by religious authorities, a regime in which Muslims (male) will dominate all others.
It seems that the Obama Administration has made a distinction between Islamists, with al-Qaeda and Hizballah in the category of ‘bad’ Islamists because they have directly attacked us, while the Brotherhood and (for example) the Turkish AKP are ‘good’ because they have made the tactical decision not to wage war on us (at least not yet). But their ideology is no less anti-Western and anti-American.
If Eitan’s analysis — that the US chose to support Morsi because it would be ‘more democratic’ — is true, it reveals a shocking ignorance on the part of our leaders about the nature of the Brotherhood, of Egypt, and yes, the real meaning of ‘democracy’.