As somebody observed the other day (sorry, I can’t locate the blog post), history is always happening at the wrong time. Egypt erupted on President Obama’s watch. I have a disheartening feeling that Clio, the muse of history, has played a nasty prank on the West.

Look, I realize that any U.S. administration would face terrible choices in Egypt. But it frightens me (and that isn’t hyperbole) that the Obama administration has been so amateurish and almost certainly wrong-headed in this crisis. We’re in a mess, folks.

Here is Andrew McCarthy’s take on the administration’s take on the Muslim Brotherhood, and it shows just what I mean about our side being almost certainly wrong-headed:

James Clapper issued a clarification last week. Within hours of testifying to Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “largely secular” organization, he clarified that he had meant to say the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization. Clapper, the Obama administration’s national intelligence director, did not clue us in on whether he’d been tipped off by the organization’s name or by its motto proclaiming devotion to Islam, Mohammed, the Koran, sharia, and jihad – the final term being one he may have missed thanks to ongoing government efforts to purge it from our lexicon.

Meanwhile, Youssef al-Qaradawi, perhaps the most influential figure in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, appears to be thinking very clearly indeed: 

Qaradawi advocates establishing a “United Muslim Nations” as a contemporary form of the caliphate and the only alternative to the hegemony of the West. He hates Israel and would love to take up arms himself. In one of his sermons, he asked God “to kill the Jewish Zionists, every last one of them.”

There are indications that the administration had ample warning that Egypt was on the brink but was nevertheless unprepared.  The single most important thing is to prevent the rise of a West-hating caliphate. I’m not sure the administration shares this perspective. Andrew McCarthy tells us what to expect if such a caliphate is established:

What might an Islamist ascendency look like? Consider this: Shortly before Clapper’s faux pas, a ghastly report out of Bangladesh began making the rounds: A 14-year-old girl named Hena had been killed by fewer than 80 lashes of the 100-lash whipping local sharia authorities had ordered her to suffer. It’s difficult to contain one’s anger at the details. Hena had been raped by a 40-year-old Muslim man, described in news accounts as her “relative.” The allegation of rape got the authorities involved, but that turned out to be even worse than the sexual assault itself.

Duncan Currie makes a case for (mild) optimism, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice seems to believe that something decent can emerge from the chaos in Egypt. I hope they are right.

But I remain of the opinion that Clio may have played the U.S. administration.