Obama, Morsi and Alice’s Looking-glass

Morsi’s fate, indeed that of Egypt might have been predicted had America’s president not been so headstrong, or his advisers so blinded by their own arrogant brilliance. Not for no reason had the Muslim Brotherhood, before its “reformation” thanks to Obama, been outlawed as a threat to Egypt, inspirer of terrorism including the assassination of Sadat, and parenting such terror organizations as Hamas and al-Quaeda. Only American foreign policy could mistake internal Brotherhood cohesion and political stability for “moderation” and “democratic” possibilities. Nor is this fanciful policy limited to Obama in Egypt (lesson learned [credit where due] in Syria), but then there was Bush, Jr spending tens of thousands of lives, American servicepersons and Iraqis to create a satellite for Iran in the Arabian Peninsula, or the same Bush, Jr insisting an armed Islamist Hamas participate in “free and fair” elections in Palestine (then encourage and fund a Fateh coup to oust the Islamists from Gaza, yet another spectacular failure of judgment!).

But let’s start at the beginning. First the reasons for his downfall: brazenly committed to Brotherhood ideology of a Sharia state and extended caliphate. Can a theocracy be imposed on a state already secular? Sidestepping the question of whether theocracy can replace modernizing secularism in transitional states such as Egypt, Turkey and possibly Syria, that it is attempted by an ostensibly democratically elected president with a heavy hand and total disregard for democratic opposition is certain to result in opposition. That those ignored are the same younger and more educated unemployed whose protests led the American president to oust Mubarak (when all the protesters wanted was jobs and food) was obviously going to incite a repeat of Tahrir. Under Morsi the conditions that led to Mubarak’s downfall only grew worse as he dismissed parliament, installed his Islamist constitution and pressed ahead with Islamism over economy.

Not that Morsi could have succeeded where Mubarak failed in turning the economy around. With a rapidly growing population and global warming shrinking arable land; with water the battleground of the future; with little to offer in trade to generate income, Egypt is dependent on foreign aid to stay afloat and in a global Great Recession foreign aide is also in short supply.

But at the source of the region’s political instability is a naïve, possibly callous American foreign policy. As regards Obama’s “light touch” (compared to Bush, Jr) to promote America’s diplomacy pillar, its Theology of Democracy (can theology provide for change in a sectarian world; can “democracy” be imposed from without?): while the reason[s] for Bush deposing the Sunnis in Iraq may ever remain obscure, Obama’s motives are more apparent. Yes, the naïveté of assuming the protesters “yearned to be free:” democracy by deposing the “tyrant.” But that was his illusion, not what Tahrir Square was about (just jobs and food). But Obama likely had another motive masked by Freedom for the People (which was made obvious when the streets again filled, with Morsi as president, and Obama stood silent as the same youthful protesters of Tahrir were brutally attacked, the Square cleared). In fact, once Bush shoved Humpty Dumpty off the Iraqi wall, there was nothing the UScould do to repair the damage, the instability imposed on the region. And with oil shale worldwide making the Middle East an increasingly sandy wasteland with diminishing strategic value (the Canal and still near time dependence on ME oil: but worth fighting over in a time of domestic economic difficulties?). So best try to make as graceful and surreptitious an exit as possible (oh yes, China! Don’t we have an emerging threat in the Far East more pressing than [fill in the blank]?) and so our “lead from behind” president shoehorned the only political party capable of ruling Egypt-minus-Mubarak and the military, the previously outlawed for good reason Muslim Brotherhood into power to stabilize (sic) the most stabilizing regional Arab state! Deposing America’s most dependable leader allied with US in the region was no less brilliant than deposing Iran’s only barrier to the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, Sadam. But whoever accused the US of brilliance? The US still has the “mightiest” military in the world to assert credibility.

A military that proceeded, due to a breakdown in diplomatic intelligence, to lose two wars,  in Iraq and Afghanistan (the latter temporarily a “victory” thanks to irregular US forces). Attendant those failures, the US military lost its courage and, has since, avoided even the most egregious challenges by adversaries, great and tiny, Russia and Iran. America’s defense chiefs, military and civilian, have serially argued of unforeseen consequences for going to war. And with US military credibility crumbled alongside American diplomatic and, worst of all presidential: with his ousting of Mubarak (against the advice, even pleas of the Saudis and Israel) no country in the region, and perhaps worldwide trusts America’s judgment, will or word.

But there is yet a silver lining to recent events. Difficult to find common cause with Syria’s Assad, but the butcher of Damascus was recently headlined as saying that with the fall of the Egyptian MB America’s model for “regional stability” through Islamist “democracy” also disappeared.

It may not promote regional stability but at least there won’t be a unified Brotherhood caliphate surrounding Israel.

About the Author
David made aliya in 1960 and has been active in Jewish issues since. He was a regional director for JNF in New York, created JUDAC, Jews United to Defend the Auschwitz Cemetery during that controversy; at the request of Jonathan Pollard created and led Justice for the Pollards in 1989.
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