23 August 2013

The struggle in Egypt

I'm afraid I'm unable to get very worked up over the military coup and crackdown in Egypt.  The fight against theocracy cannot always be waged on terms that the Marquess of Queensberry would approve.

Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood won the election last year.  Winning an election does not mean that every action a party subsequently takes becomes legitimate.  This is why most democratic countries have constitutions which limit the powers of those who win office.  Hitler won power in an election; the US has a major party largely dominated by theocrats which could very plausibly bring them to power someday.

Islamists have a built-in advantage in Muslim countries newly freed from dictatorship.  Like dictators everywhere, dictators in Muslim countries murder and suppress their enemies.  But they're often reluctant to come down too hard on Islamists who are, to put it bluntly, scarier than secular liberals.  So when the dictator finally falls, the Islamists are the only united and organized force left standing, and can take power (by election or otherwise) before secular forces have time to make themselves competitive.  That happened in Tunisia after the revolution there, and seems to be happening in Libya; it happened in Iran in 1979, and is on course to happen in Syria if Asad falls.  And it happened in Egypt.

Despite this built-in advantage, the Brotherhood won only 25% of the vote in the first round of voting and 51.7% in the runoff.  Turnout in both cases was low even by American standards.  There were allegations of ballot-rigging, and of vote suppression aimed at the Christian minority, which strongly opposes the Brotherhood.  Once in office President Morsi issued edicts giving himself sweeping powers, while moves toward Islamization of the state aroused widespread opposition.  The Brotherhood proved unable to manage the country, and crime and unemployment exploded.  As protests against its rule mounted, the Brotherhood resorted to ugly tactics.

Since the military coup, the Islamists have unleashed an onslaught of violence against the Christian minority.  As best we can tell, Egyptian public opinion supports the military.  Many are baffled that the US seems to sympathize with the Brotherhood and to want to push the country back into the morass from which it just escaped.

The Brotherhood militants whom the military has been shooting are marching in the spirit of Rushdoony and Khomeini.  If the same situation were happening in the United States, I know which side I'd be on.

A reminder of what secular Egyptians are up against:

More on the attacks on the Christian minority:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democracies tend to have messy starts. The US went through quite a bit to get to this point. Every country has its challenges. Nobody likes what they're seeing, but what do they want the president to do?

Our theocrats recently got involved in politics. The founders were wise to keep religion away from government. Their snootiness was a good thing in that regard. I wish today's Democratic Party(elected officials) understood how dangerous those people are.

On a personal note being in a theocrat run state(Alabama)is a bad dream. Things a lot of people take for granted is an issue for me. Talking politics is impossible because chances are the person talking to you is too hate filled to be reasonable. Then there's the Jesus thing. I'll just say it's depressing. I'll be gone soon enough.


23 August, 2013 06:45  
Blogger Tommykey said...

I'm ambivalent about this situation.

Of course, I have no use for the Muslim Brotherhood, but to read about people who were in the protest camps when the crackdown happened last week being shot at while trying to get to a nearby hospital for medical treatment is repugnant to me. Many victims were described as having died from gunshot wounds to the head and chest. That's deliberate murder.

Should I condone their murder simply because I don't like what they stand for? Because if the answer is yes, then they have every right in their eyes to murder me.

The army's crackdown on the Brotherhood has also intensified the violence against the Coptic Christan community, and the army doesn't appear to be doing anything to stop it. I guess it's because it gives the army more ammo to portray the Brotherhood as terrorists. Very cynical.

That being said, because the line has already been crossed, it looks like there's no going back now and the Brotherhood will have to be destroyed.

23 August, 2013 15:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Vic78: I'm certainly not calling on the President to "do" anything, other than refrain from making the situation worse by cutting off aid. The Middle East is too complicated and intractable for most interventions to have much likelihood of success. The Iraq intervention was an expensive failure and Afghanistan largely the same.

I leave it to the Egyptians to decide how best to defeat their theocrats; we need to focus on defeating our own.

I've never been to Alabama, but I think you're wise to plan on leaving.

Tommykey: If the army was shooting at people who were trying to get to a hospital, that's bad, but it just demonstrates that you can never find one side in any conflict which is totally morally pristine (especially in the Middle East).

No, the army's crackdown on the Brotherhood has not intensified violence against the Copts. It's the Brotherhood who are committing that violence and the responsibility for their own actions lies 100% with them.

And the Brotherhood are not being killed because we "don't like what they stand for". They're being killed because they choose to act on their beliefs in a way that makes them a threat to other people. If somebody is trying to kill me, and I kill him in order to prevent this, that does not put me on the same moral level with him.

The fight against theocracy is not a genteel game like a friendly soccer match. It's an all-out war like the Battle of Britain, being waged against people so dangerous that they need to be defeated by, really, any means that will succeed. In such a situation we don't always have the luxury of worrying about right and wrong.

24 August, 2013 06:39  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Thanks for this update on what's happening in Egypt. I'm not fully educated on the situation, so reading about it from a knowledgeable person is so helpful.

I've read conservative blogs that say the president has made us weak in the world's eyes by not "doing something."

I see it as strength to not rush in where wise men fear to tread.

As you have noted, speaking loudly and carry a big military stick has got us nothing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'm pretty sure President Obama is thinking this through very, very carefully.

The righties who are quick to see this as weakness are the same ones who cheered the US on in our Iraq adventure and hoped we'd bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!

They don't look at far-reaching consequences of a rash decision.

24 August, 2013 13:23  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: I wonder what they want him to do exactly. Invade Egypt to restore a government of religious crazies who hate Israel and murder Christians?

25 August, 2013 10:30  

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