Sunday, January 30, 2011

Will The Egyptian Revolt Lead To An Islamic Empire?

An overmatched Democratic president watches a revolution unfold, and draws all the wrong conclusions, and makes all the wrong decisions. From a brilliant yet dark piece by Abraham Miller, we go to Jimmy Carter, circa 1979:

The scene is all too reminiscent of the Iranian revolution of 1979. Then, President Jimmy Carter not only demanded restraint but also had his administration work behind the scenes to bring down the shah. Carter believed he was watching a democratic revolution unfold, one led by Mehdi Bazargan, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh and Abulhassan Banisadr. Neither Carter nor his advisers understood that this democratic-centrist revolution, like those in Europe, would be short-lived. Bazargan resigned from the government over its authoritarian turn; Ghotbzadeh was shot by a firing squad; and Banisadr fled to France...

The Egyptian people want democracy, but there are no elements or institutions in place (or even national historical precedents) to help guide them. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so here comes the Muslim Brotherhood - Islamists all, friends of Iran, blood brothers of Hamas and tied tightly to Hezbollah - to fill the empty space with "leadership":

The choice in the streets of Egypt is not Mubarak or democracy. It is Mubarak or the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the Muslim Brotherhood, like the ayatollahs of Tehran, who are the best situated to benefit from and direct the revolution, unless of course the Egyptian military holds firm.

If the Brotherhood comes to power, it will behave as did its proxy in Gaza: one man, one vote, one time, with the opposition shot in the legs and thrown off rooftops.

What must Obama do? Something that really has never been done before:

Our first order of business in Egypt is to produce stability and then to do something we have not done before: Assist the Egyptians in finding a mechanism for a transition to reform through an evolutionary rather than revolutionary path.

But this is Barack Obama we are talking about, a man who speaks of "
boilers" and "Sputnik" and of welfare plans hatched in the 70's; what hope have we really for forward thinking from this man?

While one can sympathize and support the Egyptian people, a completely hands-off approach (the one Obama seems to be favoring here, as he is spending most of this crisis
partying with David Axelrod) rather than guided involvement can bring the Egyptian people and perhaps the entire Middle East to ruin. As Miller writes:

Did those who ran through the streets of Paris in July 1789 think they were revolting for the ensuing “Terror”? Did the workers who charged the Winter Palace in 1917 think they were fighting for the Gulag? Did Banisadr and Ghotbzadeh think they were replacing the shah of Iran with a theocracy?

We must be involved, actively, in urging Mubarak to transition to democracy, to set up new institutions, to cede some power immediately, and to move his nation forward. A laissez-faire approach to revolution brought us the Sandinistas and the ayatollahs (Carter's watch). More thoughtful intervention has brought us a thriving democracy in South Korea and in the Philippines (Reagan's watch). Alas, Obama, as has been is way, is following the Carter model - just witness his abandonment of the Iranian people if their "Green Revolution", so that he could continue with a scenario he felt comfort in - crawling before the mad mullahs.

What is at stake in Egypt? How about...everything?

For decades we have been dumping billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons into Egypt. A revolution means that those weapons could fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. This will tilt the balance of power in the Middle East. Emboldened by success in Egypt, radical Islam will next show its power in the Gulf and threaten the world’s oil supply. Already there are riots in Yemen.

The world as we knew it might just spin out of control....

A heavily armed Islamic axis, from Iran to Egypt to Gaza to southern Lebanon, poised to destroy Israel as their first victory, and then threaten Western Civilization from their perch atop the minarets.

Can Obama rise to this challenge?

Or are we asking a child to stop a bulldozer?

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