February 3 2011
Denial in DC?
The Obama administration seems to be focusing a great deal of its Egypt policy on calls to stop the violence-and, indeed, we learn this morning that five people were fatally shot yesterday in Tahrir Square.
But the important thing here is not stopping the violence, ever how much compassion one feels for those killed or injured. The main thing is what kind of society emerges in Egypt. Were Bunker Hill and Concord violence to be deplored? Is the importance of Yorktown that it stopped the violence or that the victory there gave rise to the American republic?
I have been pulling for the president, still am. I hope behind the scenes he is doing all the right things, and many of my fellow conservatives are praising his restraint. But I have a growing, nagging feeling that our administration is clueless, that it can't tell friend from foe.
Here is a scorecard: Muslim Brotherhood, not friend. That is why the administration's willingness to bless the inclusion of "non-secular" elements (who could that be?) in the next government of Egypt is so disturbing. Peter Wehner asks a good question on the Commentary blog:
Now what is it about the Obama administration that would lead it to be mostly silent during the uprising against the Islamic theocracy in Iran, fearful to offend the regime in power, and yet go out of its way to try to secure a seat at the table for the Muslim Brotherhood in a post-Mubarak Egypt?
The exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood should be the foremost consideration for the U.S., as I assume it is for those who started the demonstrations in Egypt. They appear to want freedom, and that is not what the Muslim Brotherhood would offer.
Melanie Phillips, who blogs so brilliantly for the (U.K.) Spectator has an item headlined "Denial Is a River in DC:"
It is still possible that the military will stabilise the situation in Egypt and defuse the revolt, keeping the Muslim Brotherhood out of office. Whether or not that happens, the astonishing fact is that the Obama administration has said it will accept the Brotherhood in Egypt's government. Rub your eyes. The Brotherhood is at war with America - and is furthermore, through Hamas, in something resembling a kind of Molotov/Ribbentrop-style alliance with Iran (even though they also hate Iran), which is at war with America.
The Obamites are in effect offering up America's throat to be cut - cheered on, of course, by the western left, who are representing the Brotherhood as the poster-boys of Middle East democracy. But if the Brothers do gain power in Egypt, freedom will take a huge stride even further backwards. As in Iran after the 1979 revolution, the Egyptians would come to look back nostalgically to the days of Mubarak from the agonies of the Islamist oppression that would have enslaved them.
I agree with Max Boot that the U.S. is right to support those who want Mubarak gone, but I wish I had more faith in the current administration to do it deftly-and to be able to identify the bad guys. Barry Rubin, as astute commentator and author who divides his time between Washington and Tel Aviv, worries about naïveté in the West:
In the West, I see two main groups among those so vocally and uncritically supportive of what's going on in Egypt. There are those who really know nothing about Middle East politics and societies who have suddenly proclaimed themselves experts and say the silliest things. And there are a lot of professionals who in many - not all - cases have been supportive of anti-American forces and Islamists. One wonders whether they are saying what they are because they don't think radicals will take power in Egypt or rather because they do and want that to happen.
I have followed the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for 30 years or more. When I read the leader saying that he declares Jihad against America, then see people proclaim the Brotherhood as moderate, totally unaware of what it has said and done, it convinces me that I must speak out against the danger. I would be much less vocal if I saw people saying, "Yes, there is a real danger of a radical regime or an Islamist takeover but we are trying to prevent that from happe