Egypt: Curb Your Enthusiasm

February 11th, 2011 at 6:45 pm David Frum | 59 Comments |

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Egyptians are celebrating the fall of Hosni Mubarak. But we are not Egyptians. We are entitled to ask: What does this event mean for us? For Western interests? For peace in the Middle East? For the security of energy supplies? Western governments hope for a transition to an Egypt that is more democratic while still Western-oriented. But such a transition will not be easy to achieve.

Mubarak fell because he could not deliver prosperity to his people. Half the population of Egypt lives on $2 a day or less. Millions of Egyptians depend on state-subsidized bread. When Hosni Mubarak took power in 1981, the average Egyptian was 2.5 times richer than the average Chinese citizen. Today, the average Chinese is 50% richer than the average Egyptian.

Egypt has the largest population of unemployed university graduates in the Middle East. It is the world’s largest importer of grain: Sixty percent of the grain eaten in Egypt is purchased abroad, and at prices that have risen sharply since 2005.

Egypt has lost the ability to feed itself in large part because the population has doubled since Mubarak took power in 1981 — and quadrupled since 1950. Displaced peasants move to urban slums: Cairo’s population is estimated at some 17 million.

Disappointed by meager opportunities, these new city-dwellers turn for consolation to more intense forms of religion, which promise that Islamic government can deliver social justice. If Egypt’s new government does not deliver quick results, that Islamic message will gain appeal.

I agree with the analysts who say that Mubarak’s long hold on power strengthened the Islamists. Gradual democratization will stabilize Egypt. But of all transitions, gradual democratization is the most difficult to manage.

To hold power, Egypt’s new democratizing government must do what Mubarak did not do: deliver quick economic benefits while accelerating long-term growth. Unfortunately, those two goals radically conflict with each other.

Egypt is a heavily state-directed economy, led by inefficient state-owned industries, overseen by a bloated bureaucracy. Long-term growth demands that bureaucracy shrink and that industry be privatized. In the short run, however, those two economic reforms imply higher unemployment, especially for the university-educated.

Unemployment will bring discontent — and in a more democratic Egypt, governments will be less able than Mubarak’s police state to survive the protests of the discontented. Those rejoicing over the changes in Egypt should remember that other revolutions have inspired similar hopes. And they should remember what became of those hopes within a very few short months and years.

Edmund Burke foresaw it all 220 years ago. He observed the overthrow of another authoritarian regime, the French monarchy, and reflected prophetically on what he saw:

When I see the spirit of liberty in action, I see a strong principle at work; and this, for a while, is all I can possibly know of it. The wild gas, the fixed air, is plainly broke loose; but we ought to suspend our judgment until the first effervescence is a little subsided, till the liquor is cleared, and until we see something deeper than the agitation of a troubled and frothy surface. I must be tolerably sure, before I venture publicly to congratulate men upon a blessing, that they have really received one … The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please; we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations which may be soon turned into complaints.

If Egypt can move toward democracy while excluding from power the anti-democratic Islamic movements; if Egyptian defense and security services continue to co-operate with the United States; if Egypt honors the peace treaty with Israel; if Egypt protects and respects its Christian religious minority — then this revolution will truly be a liberation. But if an authoritarian government has given way to instability; if successor governments try to appease Islamism by breaking with the United States and persecuting Christians; if they connive with Hamas and abrogate the peace with Israel — then this revolution will show itself one of the great disasters in the history of the Middle East.

The most likely course is also the most depressing: Egypt opens a little, then closes again. The regime tries to buy popularity by bloating the state sector. It emits nationalist noises against the United States and Israel, downgrading co-operation with former partners. Its foreign policy pivots away from the West and toward Turkey and Iran. In this scenario, Egypt’s future would resemble its Nasserist past: exploiting nationalism to justify authoritarianism. The new dawn will yield to the old twilight.

Originally published in the National Post.

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59 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    “To hold power, Egypt’s new democratizing government must do what Mubarak did not do: deliver quick economic benefits while accelerating long-term growth. Unfortunately, those two goals radically conflict with each other.”

    I cannot believe the number of posts which I have read today which, in one way or another, manage to insult the Egyptian people by insinuating or stating outright that they are children incapable of governing themselves. I’m adding this one to the list, for the first half of the statement quoted above. Who says that the Egyptian man or woman on the street is expecting immediate cash remuneration for participating in their revolution?

    • jerseychix

      You are so right Watusie.

      Let them be free. Stop the brutality and the beatings. Free press and transparent government. Those 30% of college grads who are unemployed will figure it out. Maybe they will be the ones to create a truly wired Africa!

      • PracticalGirl

        I’ll curb my enthusiasm and hedge my bets…But I still agree in principle with Watusie.

        The difference between Iraq and Afghanistan and the current Egyptian situation is that this is an organic movement, borne of the people of Egypt, not outside interests. As an American, do I question “What’s in it for us?” Sure. But I also know that it’s childish for America to expect a democracy exactly like ours to develop overnight. Goodness- our founding fathers didn’t even want the unwashed masses to have a vote-in fact, made sure they didn’t. It took us hundreds of years to evolve into who we are. Perhaps Egypt is on its way. ”

        The only thing I know for sure is that democracy isn’t something you get out of a can. Because of Obama’s diplomacy, the US has a chance to help mix the ingredients. But the final product will never be one that the US can whip up itself.

    • Churl

      “I cannot believe the number of posts which I have read today which, in one way or another, manage to insult the Egyptian people by insinuating or stating outright that they are children incapable of governing themselves.”

      The Egyptian people are as capable of governing themselves as anyone. The question at the moment is, will they be allowed to do so? To begin governing themselves, they have a military coup to overcome at the moment.

      • arvan

        I don’t see why you would try to call this a military coup. It was the Egyptian people who demanded this. They have been chanting that “the people and the army are one”. Is there a risk that the army will try to permanently seize power? Sure, there always is. But there’s no evidence that that’s happened yet , and so to call this a coup is to ignore the reality of what has happened, and honestly, is really insulting to the people who risked their lives to accomplish this.

        • Churl

          “I don’t see why you would try to call this a military coup.”

          I called it that because the military is currently running the country. The fact that some people hollered “The army and the people are one” doesn’t change this.

          Quite a few people in Chile approved of Pinochet’s takeover as well, but nobody would call his ascent to power anything but a coup.

        • arvan

          The military under Pinochet cut off the media and bombed the stations that stayed open, shelled the presidential palace, and rounded up tens of thousands of political prisoners to be tortured (and many killed).

          Where the hell do you get off pretending that this situation is even a tiny bit similar? Do you have no sense of honesty?

    • politicalfan

      Agree Watusie. We are not Egyptians (to the above Frum post). If they saw the dysfunction in all of our ideologues they would freak.

      I think people are getting way ahead of trying to figure things out. Didn’t the old regime have a Plan B considering their leader was in his 80s plus?

      Remember how several people were having a fit because Palin was a heart-beat to the Presidency (me included)? There are enough conspiracy theories zooming around, I seriously don’t think that spinning more is going to help the situation.

    • TerryF98

      Right on Watusie.

      The sad part is that if there was a Republican in the White House, any Republican. Frum would be dancing on the furniture. As it is there is a very skilled Democrat in the White House. One who started the Egypt change with his speech in Cairo.

      I see Frum has not apologized for his Obama missteps nonsense from yesterday. Maybe it’s taking a long time to wipe all that egg off his face!

  • Arms Merchant

    Egypt will do what Egypt will do. An important question is what, if anything, should the U.S. do?

    Kraut has it exactly right:

    “We need a foreign policy that not only supports freedom in the abstract but is guided by long-range practical principles to achieve it – a Freedom Doctrine…”

    “The only U.S. interest in the internal governance of these new democracies is to help protect them against totalitarians, foreign and domestic. The recent Hezbollah coup in Lebanon and the Hamas dictatorship in Gaza dramatically demonstrate how anti-democratic elements that achieve power democratically can destroy the very democracy that empowered them.”

    “Therefore, just as during the Cold War the United States helped keep European communist parties out of power (to see them ultimately wither away), it will be U.S. policy to oppose the inclusion of totalitarian parties – the Muslim Brotherhood or, for that matter, communists – in any government, whether provisional or elected, in newly liberated Arab states.

    “We may not have the power to prevent this. So be it. The Brotherhood may today be so relatively strong in Egypt, for example, that a seat at the table is inevitable… [but] Americans should be urgently supporting secular democratic parties in Egypt and elsewhere with training, resources and diplomacy.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/10/AR2011021005339.html

  • lessadoabouteverything

    As to the title, well it having not degenerated into a Tiananmen style bloodbath is a huge reason for enthusiasm.

    “Egyptians are celebrating the fall of Hosni Mubarak. But we are not Egyptians.” Well, speak for yourself, my neighbors in the states are from Egypt. It makes me proud to be an American that my neighbors are from Egypt. The people from across the street are from Poland, my wife is Chinese, and this is on a suburban street that 40 years ago the most ethnic you saw was Italian (and there are a lot of Italians from Italy in my neighborhood as well)

    So, in a sense, we are indeed Egyptians. Your questions are fine, but leave them for tomorrow, for this one day just revel in the promise of another country having a birth in freedom.

  • chicago_guy

    No offense, but if I were an Egyptian reading this piece, I’d tell the pundit “screw ‘your’ interests. It’s not ABOUT you.”

    But since I’m an American, I’ll just say that the best thing we could do now is work with the army and with modern minds in Egypt to help them create a modern democracy that protects the interests of religious minorities within the country, then start working with American businesses to encourage them to start investing in Egypt the resources they have been shifting to China.

    The policy of the United States should be to do business with people and countries who embrace our values, not just whoever can do it the cheapest. If you want more moderate, modern democracies in the middle east, let the people look at how Egypt has benefitted from embracing modernism. That can do more to refute Al Qaeda’s recruiting pitch than anything else we can offer, since the man who is content with his job and optimistic about his future has no reason to embrace anger and seek retribution.

  • chlai88

    There are risks to all nascent democracies, sure. The people, who have lived decades under authoritarianism, may not acclimatize with a sudden vacuum and freedom. But most fears of Egypt’s future are seen under the context of what it means for the west. This is the most telling reason of the west’s failures in the MidEast. They, like the tyrants they endorsed there, like to keep things predictable for them. They can have democracy in their own country but fear democracy in the MidEast. The sometimes unpredictability & chaos of democracy in their own country is not acceptable in the MidEast. This hypocritical mentality has created a pressure cooker scenario in the MidEast. The pressure is now only beginning to explode. And the west can’t expect to reap much goodwill from this bcos of their complicity in helping keep these leaders in power. But this is a good time to re-examine their own stereotypes & conservative perspectives of this region and it’s still not too late to repair the already badly damaged PR.

  • valkayec

    It’s difficult to prognosticate what will eventually occur in Egypt. The military which owns a large share of the economy may choose to protect themselves and their huge financial interests. On the other hand, educated protesters and the junior military officers may push for the end of all of the official corruption which has stifled the Egyptian economy. See my response to the Guardiano article. But already the Egyptians protesters are having a conversation on line, on Twitter, about how, and what, to achieve the government they want. With leaders like Google’s exec who unofficially started the protests with his Facebook page, the influential blogger Sandmonkey (http://www.sandmonkey.org/2011/02/03/egypt-right-now/) and the millions of other Egyptians already discussing how to go forward from here, there is hope for the open and democratic society they want.

  • Matthews on Egypt: It’s as if we needed Obama to make this happen « Hot Air

    [...] but then this might come to naught too. And this time, it might not take five years: Read this smart piece by David Frum about how the path to liberalization in Egypt runs through economic growth, which is bad news given [...]

    • Arms Merchant

      Matthews can’t be serious. The administration seemed surprised and confused throughout the entire Egypt drama. They were making it up as they went along.

      I’m no fan of Bush, but at least he had a policy on democratization, per his second inaugural (the Freedom Agenda). I wonder if he would have left the Iranian dissidents twisting in the wind like Obama did.

    • jakester

      As if anyone here cares but a scummy nutjob site like Hotair, run by some vile FOX News Coutler Clone “contributor”?

  • JeninCT

    I agree with armsmerchant and lessadoabouteverything. Americans come from every country on the globe so of course we feel kinship with Egyptians, but we also must realize that our support of the secular democratic parties is essential.

  • rbottoms

    Non, no, no they’re supposed to wait until we kill 100,000 of them and destroy their country with bombs and rockets then let freedom ring. You know, like we did it in Iraq.

    Screw this peaceful revolution sh*t.

  • iveyguy

    In the words of Churchill “Of course, I am an optimist. I does not make sense to be anything else.”

  • Sunny

    “Egypt has lost the ability to feed itself in large part because the population has doubled since Mubarak took power in 1981.”

    And because US corn subsidies drove many Egyptian farmers in the fertile crescent slap out of business and into povery.

    This isn’t a “bash the US” message. But there are always unintended effects, and that’s one of them.

    Comparing the average Egyptian wage to China’s isn’t all that helpful. Near as I can make out, until the recent economic downturn, not only did the population double, but the average national income did as well — no mean feat in a nation with a good deal less oil than its neighbors.

    Put me down as cautiously optimistic. Israelis vacation in Egypt, and it’s traditionally friendly to western tourists. I took it as a particularly notable point that during the protests, organizers were handing out flyers telling the people that the world was watching, and they should behave themselves.

  • pnumi2

    Thanks to Arms Merchant we learn that ‘Kraut’ (known to his friends as Sour Kraut), opined yesterday in the WaPo:

    “Therefore, just as during the Cold War the United States helped keep European communist parties out of power (to see them ultimately wither away), it will be U.S. policy to oppose the inclusion of totalitarian parties – the Muslim Brotherhood or, for that matter, communists – in any government, whether provisional or elected, in newly liberated Arab states.”

    The United States of America may have debts of 14 trillion dollars but it never abdicated its long cherished privilege of “droit de Seigneur.

    It doesn’t f**k the virginal daughters of its serfs on their wedding nights. It f*#ks successful revolutions before they can establish themselves and take power.

    It’s kind of a Monroe Doctrine that covers every square inch of the planet, dude.

  • antron

    Its foreign policy pivots away from the West and toward Turkey

    why shouldn’t we hope they become Turkey?

  • mickster99

    Frum says:

    “To hold power, Egypt’s new democratizing government must do what Mubarak did not do: deliver quick economic benefits while accelerating long-term growth”

    It seems inconsistent for the rightwing advocates of smaller and smaller government to openly advocate that it is ok for the Egyptian people to look to government to solve it’s economic problems does it not?

    Should Boehner and Cantor be telling the Egyptians how big government can solve their worries.

    As does faulting the poor for turning to their religion for comfort. Do you not listen to the rightwing evangelical christian demagogues running their mouths about how religion should be in charge in this country???? And how God is turning his head from the U.S. because of Liberals?

    Rightwingers have the unique ability to talk out of both sides of their mouths with completely contradictory belief systems depending on the audience.

    At least Glenn Beck is consistent. Consistently crazy that is.
    Pathetic.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Arms Merchant, quoting Krauthammer: “The recent Hezbollah coup in Lebanon and the Hamas dictatorship in Gaza dramatically demonstrate how anti-democratic elements that achieve power democratically can destroy the very democracy that empowered them.”

    You’re kidding, right? Hezbollah used legitimate, legal means to achieve power. Calling it a “coup” suggests illegitimacy.

    If you wish to argue that Hezbollah is, somehow, adverse to U.S. interests or even the interests of the Lebanese you should do so without falsely characterizing its ascension to power.

  • armstp

    The world is changing and neocons cannot do anything about. Instead they want to talk about the circle-jerk of CPAC.

  • armstp

    Frum, it was more than $2 a day. It was also largely driven by a youth that wanted freedom and liberty, you know the things America is suppose to believe in.

    “To hold power, Egypt’s new democratizing government must do what Mubarak did not do: deliver quick economic benefits while accelerating long-term growth.”

    What is that suppose to mean? If the economy does not turn on a dime then a democratic government will not “hold power” any more. I think the people will be patient for economic change. They have been living under the yoke of oppression for 30 years. They will, however, execute on their new liberties free of fear. That will last an eternity.

    Who gives a shit about Israel? They will be fine. A little added pressure on them might be a good thing.

    I would argue that the relationship between Egypt and the U.S. and Israel will actually strength over time, as the country moves to a democracy.

    Your Islamist fears are just the new neocon talking point on Egypt. No one in Egypt is in any mood for an Islamist government. The Muslim Brotherhood have been marginalized and in fact may have changed in the last week.

  • midcon

    There is an Islamic threat in Egypt. Just as there is in any country where the people are ignorant and poor. The ignorant and poor respect only Imams whose attitudes may or may not desire theocracy and an ultra conservative Islamic nation. If a theocracy can happen in Iran, which has higher educational level than other Middle East Islamic nations, it can happen in Egypt.

    If the Copts are nervous, America should be nervous as well.

    • ProfNickD

      midcon,

      You called that one right. I remember this same progressive jubilation after the Shah was overthrown — all, of course, in the name of “freedom.”

      It was claptrap than and it’s claptrap now.

      • armstp

        ProfNick,

        The comparisons between Egypt and Iran are BS. First, there is no linkages between religious groups and the military like there was in Iran. Second, religious Imans hold no particular sway over the people of Egypt like they did in Iran

  • dante

    Has Frum learned to curb his excitement/enthusiasm in the 8 years since “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”? My memory might be going a bit in my old age, but I don’t seem to remember Frum offering the “lets wait and see” approach back when we thought that we’d “won” the Iraq war…

  • sdspringy

    Smartycus: Hezbollah used legitimate, legal means to achieve power. Calling it a “coup” suggests illegitimacy

    You and Clapper have the same qualities at understanding foreign influences it appears.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7283306n

    Of course Hezbollah and Lebanon situtation is not new:
    http://blogs.forbes.com/melikkaylan/2010/10/08/is-hezbollah-about-to-take-over-lebanon/

    Currently with the weakness shown by this administration it is far more likely that Egypt goes the way of Iran. The only possibility is the military in Egypt maintains enough control long enough to keep the Muslim Brotherhood/Hezbollah at bay.

    However I find the similarities of Carter/Obama policies more likely to end with the same results.
    Which would mean that Democrat policies will have lost more Middle East countries, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt than any political system on earth. And with the current batch of Lefties posed to let Isreal face the entire Middle East extremism on their own, the Dems will be able to add that one to the list too.

    • jakester

      Hezbollah is a problem in Egypt? I think you are getting your boogeymen all mixed up. Since we never meddled in Egypt as we did in Iran, nor were we colonial occupiers like the British, I think things will go a lot better in Egypt as in Iran. Your paranoid doom and gloom scenarios really are pathetic and tiring.

  • Ana Gama

    Frum says: “We are entitled to ask: What does this event mean for us? For Western interests? For peace in the Middle East? For the security of energy supplies?”

    Gosh, we are entitled to ask about the security of energy supplies….

    I’d think we’d not have to be all that concerned if we had a comprehensive energy policy that was moving the US away from an oil economy.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Currently with the weakness shown by this administration it is far more likely that Egypt goes the way of Iran.”

    And the stomping of sour grapes into whine continues by freedom-hating “conservatives”.

    • dante

      If there was anything that turns Egypt into Iran it would be the cowboy diplomacy of our previous president… Nothing like stirring up nationalistic (and anti-US) feelings by inserting ourself in every other nation’s business.

    • TerryF98

      Yep, very unAmerican (Carney(tm)) of Sdspringy. Why do you hate America Conservatives.

    • pnumi2

      “And the stomping of sour grapes into whine continues by freedom-hating “conservatives”.

      Excellent.

  • ProfNickD

    Eh, population growth has nothing to do with whether Egypt can be a successful, productive society. Julian Simon debunked the Malthus-Ehrlich “population growth=gloom and doom” argument 20 years ago. (My, how does a crowded Hong Kong do it?)

    What is far more relevant is the mindset of the people themselves. In other words: if Egyptians could sit down and have a constitutional convention of their own free will, what sort of system would they create?

    I suspect it would be pretty much the same as they have now, which is to say intolerant, unfree, and unproductive. After all, Egyptians had 6000 years to create a free society — they apparently don’t want one.

  • sdspringy

    Well Tsucks I gave the one possibility for a democracy in Egypt – military. Irritating for a Lefty, I know, but there you have it.

    All you Lefties will have to pin your hopes on the military to protect the fledgling democracy from extremism, funny how that happen. You know those secular Muslim Brotherhood types who the current administration will be including in the talks for democracy.

    Clapper/Carter analogies anyone.

    Well one thing we can count on is CNN providing up-to-the-minute foreign policy information to this administration. They appear to have no other sources.

    So I will leave all the rainbows and butterflies to the Lefties and any real work for the democracy to some real people willing to fight for it.

    • jakester

      SD Springy
      Besides your ritualistic lefty/liberal bashing, what were you trying to say in what appears to be yet another of your mind numbingly dense posts?

  • pnumi2

    ProfNickD

    “Julian Simon debunked the Malthus-Ehrlich “population growth=gloom and doom” argument 20 years ago. (My, how does a crowded Hong Kong do it?)”

    I love to start the day with a nice ‘short term exception’ to a ‘long term truth.’ 20 years is considered a snooze in the scope of history.

    Whether one loves Israel or hates Israel, it behooves both of them to deny that Israel has been the prime catalyst of all major events in the Middle East since its founding in 1948.

    Where would the Middle East be today if Israel had been set down in Terra del Fuego, is as meaningless as asking where America’s economy would be if Al Gore had won the election in 2000.

    As far as Egypt’s future is concerned: pay no attention to the man behind the curtain who happens to live next door.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    sdspringy: “You and Clapper have the same qualities at understanding foreign influences it appears.”

    Well, I knew from the moment you called me “smartycus” that your argument would not be based on facts. The video link you posted does not in anyway refute the fact that Hezbollah acceded to power by exercising a legitimate parliamentary maneuver that triggered the collapse of the current government. It was the same maneuver that is available to practically all political parties who make up governing coalition in a parliamentary system.

    “Democrat policies will have lost more Middle East countries, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt than any political system on earth.”

    You are stunningly ignorant of the histories of these countries. These were not the U.S.’ countries to “lose.”

    It’s obvious that with the departure of Sinz and WillyP, you’re now reveling in the opportunity to be the poster who says the dumbest things on FF.

  • Houndentenor

    Back in 1776 did anyone in Europe think that the children of Colonists (mostly from England) would be able to govern ourselves without a king to lead them? I am pretty sure they didn’t. And yet we managed. It took us awhile to figure out how to do it (remember that the Constitution isn’t ratified until 1789). It might take them awhile to figure it out, but I think they can do it. Will they? Now that’s another question. But I do not get any sense that the Egyptians protesting for democracy want to live in a state like Iran. What will an Islamic Democracy look like? I think we’re about to find out. In the meantime we should celebrate with them and offer them whatever reasonable assistance we can. Out of all nations, the US should be the most eager to see Democracy spread to every country in the world.

  • sdspringy

    The loss occurs from having no apparent foreign policy other than apologizing. Offering no support for factions that oppose radical Islam has resulted in Lebanon falling to radical Islam.

    To declare that denying half the population, women, rights as legitimate flies in the face of your supposed support for democratic governments.

    The current administration’s declarations that the Muslim Brotherhood is “secular” and that Obama is supporting their inclusion into talks to form a new government will result in a “LOSS” of that country to radical Islam.

    Obama’s love letters to Ahmadinejad have resulted in absolutely no diplomatic breakthroughs. It has resulted in emboldening Islamic radical’s efforts to seize control of more MidEast governments.
    Yea that’s a Loss.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    sdspringy: “The loss occurs from having no apparent foreign policy other than apologizing. Offering no support for factions that oppose radical Islam has resulted in Lebanon falling to radical Islam.”

    Actually, you claimed the U.S. had “lost” these countries. They were never ours to begin with. Their dictators retained authority by torturing and killing innocent people. And, in the case of Iran, the U.S. was directly responsible for overthrowing a modern liberal democracy.

    “To declare that denying half the population, women, rights as legitimate flies in the face of your supposed support for democratic governments.”

    Hezbollah did not ascend to power by denying women any rights. It became the ruling party by withdrawing from the previous coalition government, thereby forcing it to collapse.

    “The current administration’s declarations that the Muslim Brotherhood is “secular” and that Obama is supporting their inclusion into talks to form a new government will result in a “LOSS” of that country to radical Islam.”

    I know it’s a rather inconvenient fact for you, but I’m sure you’re aware that the Obama Administration corrected the statement by Clapper regarding the MB’s secularity. Not only are you woefully ignorant, you’re also dishonest. As for the MB’s participation in Egyptian elections, that’s not our decision to make. It’s none of the U.S.’ business. Moreover, sometimes people we don’t like win elections.

    “Obama’s love letters to Ahmadinejad have resulted in absolutely no diplomatic breakthroughs. It has resulted in emboldening Islamic radical’s efforts to seize control of more MidEast governments.”

    So now you’re blaming Obama for Ahmadinejad being the president of Iran, which happened during George W. Bush’s presidency? And you’re also faulting Obama for the non-violent overthrow of violent, repressive dictators in Tunisia and Egypt.

    I don’t mean to offend you, but you are amazingly stupid.

  • Mubarak avskjedsgave: Salām? « minerva

    [...] synkende levestandard. Det internasjonale samfunn kan spille en rolle her; men Egypt står overfor vanskelige økonomiske utfordringer, og uten nødvendig tålmodighet fra befolkningens side, kan det gå politisk [...]

  • sdspringy

    Your right Smartycus, I should never have called you that because you are actually a dunce.

    Your cheerleading for Hezbollah as a valid political organization involved in a democratic process makes you not only blind to current Hezbollah leadership but also an imbecile for believing in it.

    Hezbollah maintains it’s own military inside Lebanon beyond the control of the government. A military funded by Syria and Iran. A perfect example of a democratic organization. You and Clapper must have the same definition paper on what radical Islam looks like.

    Your astounding ignorance and claims concerning Hezbollah’s goals denies their involvement in the assassinations of Lebanon’s previous PM and their attempts to protect those individuals named in the UN tribunals report.

    You have proven that your understanding of the current political situation is completely ignorant, your knowledge of Hezbollah in Lebanon that of a child and an utter fool for actually posting same.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    “Your astounding ignorance and claims concerning Hezbollah’s goals denies their involvement in the assassinations of Lebanon’s previous PM and their attempts to protect those individuals named in the UN tribunals report.”

    I haven’t made any claims concerning Hezbollah’s goals, nor have I made any comments about Hezbollah’s activities as a governing power. And, of course, you can’t cite any quotes from me that do so. I’ve only pointed out to you that Hezbollah became the ruling party after it resigned from the then-current governing coalition, a move which is available to any party within a governing coalition of a parliamentary system. It may be inconvenient for you that Hezbollah ascended to power through democratic means, but that is an incontrovertible fact.

    Another incontrovertible fact is that Ahmadinejad became president of Iran during GWB’s presidency; yet you blame Obama for that.

    You then accused Obama of misdeeds because the citizens of Tunisia and Egypt, through peaceful demonstrations, forced violent, repressive dictators from office. To you, that constitutes a “loss” to the U.S.

    You’re a joke.

  • ProfNickD

    Hezbollah wants a religious state — no rational person who cares about liberty could possibly have any sympathy for them whatsoever.

    • pnumi2

      ProfNickD

      Sympathy for Hezbollah.

      That’s a recipe for a broken heart. Or a cover for a Rolling Stones hit.

  • pnumi2

    After reading the last half dozen posts, it occurs to me that there are today, two equal but opposite interpretations of the American Revolution we all cherish so much. And the two Parties of our democracy represent these two views

    One view, the Democrat’s, is that we overthrew the English Monarch and Parliament to achieve our own liberty and pursuit of happiness and that we wish the condition self-determination on everyone.

    The other view, the Republican’s, is that we overthrew the English Monarch and Parliament so that we could replace them and the Pax Britanica with our own injustice and a Pax Americana. After six score of years in training and building up our strength, and a couple of North American gold strikes, English domination of the world was replaced by American domination

    The right doesn’t make any bones about it. They tell us America must have it’s dirty fingers in every pie, sniff every crotch and occasionally torture and murder the innocent. Why? Because if we don’t our corrupt way of life will end as surely as did George III’s.

    I don’t have to tell the majority of readers here that the left just wants everybody to be happy. Not hungry. Not sick. Not poor. And above all to be able to vote fairly and freely and for whom they want. Without threats of intervention, embargo, and withdrawl of diplomatic recognition.

    And most importantly, withouty having to see in a polling place 400 miles of Cario, John Bolton’s moustache or Charles Krauthammer’s wheelchair.

  • Kurlis

    The reason Egypt is backward is because of Islam. The faith is unreformed and unable to adapt to the modernity necessary to implement an advanced industrial economy with low unemployment.

    Islam is stuck in a medieval mindset that sees the liberation of women, for example, as Western and therefore, anti-Islamic.

    Without the liberation of women, Egypt is doomed to economic weakness and low standards of living.

  • Gerry

    What will an Islamic Democracy look like?

    I think we already know the answer to that question.

    http://www.dhushara.com/book/sakina/stoningetc/islam_stonings.jpg

    • jakester

      I guess we should now define Anglo American democracy around the Salem Witch Trials or lynching of uppity blacks in the South based on your bs link?

  • wfathauer

    What will an Islamic democracy look like?

    Well, we have Iraq…a nation run by “moderate” fundamentalists. A nation where Christians are abused in horrible ways while government officials either approve or look the other way. We are in a war against Islamic fundamentalism…pure and simple. And free elections are nothing more than a means to an end–if a people elect fundamentalists (just as if a free election in the 70s or 80s had elected a pro-Soviet Communist government), then that is a negative result.

    Too many conservatives confuse democracy as a governing system (free elections) with democracy as a society structure (Western liberal democracy). Muslim countries are perfectly capable of choosing their own political leaders. But so long as Islam is a dominant political influence, their leaders will continue to be fundamentalists…or at least puppets of them. Our failure to understand this stems from our failure to recognize that this fundamentalism isn’t a radical strain of Islam that isn’t widely followed. It’s dominant, and it’s what the Prophet sets as an example for his followers to obey.

    The fact that John doesn’t seem to see Islam’s involvement in the country’s political affairs as a potential problem is disturbing. There are the usual false equivocations between Christianity and Islam (Christianity is an inherantly individualistic religion with a clear understanding of different roles for church and state. Islam is a totalitarian political religion that has something to proscribe in nearly every aspect of a follower’s life).

    Simply put…Islam’s involvement in the government of a Muslim nation means Islam’s (and sharia’s) involvement in most areas of a citizen’s life. Even if that citizen isn’t Muslim. That is the law…and there is not ONE school of Islamic jurisprudence that implies a more “moderate” form of Islamic political and social law. It’s not something that can change or be tempered, because it’s inherant in the dogma of the faith.

    Thus, there are two ways to solve this problem. One, a secular government is put in place and Islam is barred from the government (and will inherantly need to be banned from the school). However, seeing as even in the most “moderate” countries, fundamentalists make up significant portions–if not strong majorities–of the populace…such a secular elected government would require disenfranchising many people who would like to elect a fundamentalist government that will follow the orthodox teachings of the Koran. So such a government would be less than democratic and would require a system of candidate elimination similar to what exists in Iran now (except for eliminating overly fundamentalist candidates, rather than the overly secular).

    The second plausible way–and the method that has most frequently presented itself in the Middle East recently–is the rule of an enlightened despot. These leaders effectively drag their people, kicking and screaming, into the modern era and force Western liberalism on them. As we have seen, however, this setup also frequently results in the suppression of fundamentalists who would like to exercise their self-determination. I would argue that this is a good thing, and if done harshly enough, would render the fundamentalists too weak to mount a legitimate attempt at overthrowing the despot.

    Outside of these options, free elections in the Islamic world can, have, and will result in the election of anti-Western fundamentalists. And it’s time to stop the silly practice of differentiating between those are willing to work with the US in situations to gain power over rivals (Fatah, al-Maliki) and those who are much more militant. There is little to no religious or philisophical difference.

    I apologize for my long winded pontificating, but I will close with the observation that it was quite amusing to see John quote that noted lover of Islam and believer in ever human’s ability to govern themselves, Winston Churchill, to make his point.

    Best,

    William

    *I love reading Frum Forum articles, even when I disagree…truly a great collection of minds.*

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