I never thought I would celebrate a coup, but the Egyptian military’s move against President Muhammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood regime is something the White House, State Department, and all Western liberals should celebrate.
Western diplomats might try to whitewash the Muslim Brotherhood, but Morsi proved that despite the group’s initial rhetoric as Arab Spring protests grew, the group had not actually reformed. Here’s Morsi, for example, praying for the destruction of the Jews. And let’s not forget that he appointed a member of Gamaa al-Islamiya, an organization designated by the US government as a terrorist group, to be governor of Luxor. Who is Gamaa al-Islamiya? Remember the blind sheikh who tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993? He’s their spiritual leader. Rather than consult and compromise, Morsi used questionable executive powers to impose on Egyptian society what he couldn’t achieve by consensus.
Democracy is about more than elections. The simple fact is that Morsi has achieved in just one year what it took his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, three decades to do: completely antagonize Egyptian society. While Morsi and his fellow travelers will seek to position themselves as democratic martyrs, we shouldn’t believe any of it. The military isn’t seizing power for itself — but rather seeking a technocratic body to ensure that all Egyptian communities have input in the new constitution, a consultative process that Morsi rhetorically embraced but upon which he subsequently turned his back. Regardless, the Egyptian military doesn’t want to run the show because Egypt is in such dire financial straits that whoever takes power now will hemorrhage popularity.
President Obama has been like a gambler who only wants to place his bets once he sees the cards on the table. But it’s long past time the United States sees the big picture. Islamists have pitched themselves as the wave of the future. According to Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric — and no, the difference between the two isn’t as large as some would suggest — Islamists have defeated two superpowers: the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and, 25 years later, the Americans, as well. The Islamist wave had washed over most of North Africa, Yemen, Iraq, Turkey, and quite possibly Syria as well. The forces of Western liberalism have been in retreat.
Alas, while the Islamists crowed about their victories, the White House refused to see the forest through the trees. When Iranians sought to break free from their Islamist dictatorship in 2009, Obama was silent. And when, more recently, Turkish liberals sought to check the power of an increasingly authoritarian Islamist leader, the State Department appeared again to support the Islamist leader over the people. The third time, however, might be the charm. Egyptians recognized that what the Islamists were peddling was a corruption of religion in the pursuit of power. Democracy was just a show for them, rhetoric to throw at Western reporters and diplomats, but not an ideal to embrace sincerely. Such is a lesson that Iranians, Turks, and Egyptians have all learned the hard way. Let us hope that when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, the White House will one day learn the same thing.