The Obama administration has led with all the clarity of crude oil regarding Egypt, so it is left to others to point the way. Glenn Beck gave it a shot and posited a cunning plan with the American (and world) left in cahoots with the Islamists in a crescent arc spanning continents. Now Beck is a show man and consequently his theorizing and mannerisms should be cut some slack. But that presentation was around several bends and not accurate or helpful. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard wrote a piece saying that we needed to be on the side of freedom and democracy in Egypt even if that is messy in the short term, and also mentioned that Beck’s conspiratizing was a bit off. This has led to the great Kristol v. Beck internet beatdown extraordinaire. I think that Kristol and those advising engagement are taking the smarter, long war view, but I understand why concern over Islamism is causing such consternation. (Other Big Peace contributors supporting Beck’s position: James Simpson, Diana West, Ben Barack)
The main sticking point is the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in any future government. Let’s stipulate that the Mo Bros are a reprehensible terrorist group that has spawned al Qaeda and other bunches of barbaric, bearded bastards. Let’s also note that no amount of American pundit-based bloviation is going to stop the Muslim Brotherhood from having a place in the post-Mubarak Egyptian government. Period! No amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth is going to change that. That sucks Hoover, but so do a lot of things. There are too many Egyptians who agree with them to avoid that. So we have a choice, we can catalogue their horrendous history and fear their ascent or we can ally ourselves with their opponents and face them on the battlefield of ideas. If a majority of Egyptians want their women in potato sacks and everyone forced to live under the iron sandal of Sharia law, then we have to help those who disagree to counter the message of the Islamists. Personally I don’t think there are a majority who want that, but right now the Mo Bros are the only organized group in the country.
Now if your head just exploded and you are cursing me as one of those soft on Islamism types who doesn’t recognize the menace, well back up off my tip there big shooter. I have conducted counterinsurgency operations in four majority Muslim countries that are not Iraq or Afghanistan. I have seen the difference that an American presence and support can do to people who have heard nothing but bad things about us. A positive example goes a long way and we should be making one right now by supporting the folks trying to establish some sort of free democratic process in Egypt.
Could they lose in open elections to a Muslim Brotherhood elective jihad? Of course they could. C’est la Guerre. But by supporting the rights of individual Egyptians to choose their rulers, we set the proper example. We supported a dictator who oppressed his country for 30 years because it gave “stability”. But that didn’t prepare the way for something to follow that faux stability. It didn’t create legitimate opposition parties that are secular and could serve as a counter balance, or better a winning alternative, to the Muslim Brotherhood. We should be doing so now, and if they lose then regroup and reload. We need to have an answer for when the Islamists pop their heads up and try to spread their medieval obscurantism. Sunlight and freedom are a powerful alternative to religious oppression, we will gain friends and credibility every time we are.
Why should we leave the excremental Jimmy Carter as the supposed ambassador of free elections? Shouldn’t that be at the forefront of US foreign policy? We don’t need a democracy crusade, but there are plenty of places where the people are rattling their chains and we ought to at least be standing metaphorically with them. We cede the field to the Islamists if we fail to engage.