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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Conversation with a Neo-Conservative about Egypt

1. "Egypt has undergone a democratic revolution"

Egypt has not undergone anything of the sort. Street protests by a few percent of the population is not a democratic revolution. The majority of Egypt's 80 million people have not made their feelings known. Nor can they make their feelings known except through a democratic election. Protests by different groups with widely varying agendas are not a substitute for elections. Anyone calling for Mubarak to step down, rather than to hold free and open elections, is not endorsing a democratic revolution-- just a revolution led by leftists and Islamists.

2. "This is a struggle for freedom and democracy."

Freedom and democracy are not synonymous except in political speeches. Polls show that most Egyptians are less committed to freedom, than that they are to Islamic law. If that is the case, then democratic elections will lead to less freedom, not more. Democracy is not the same thing as freedom, and conflating the two is empty rhetoric. It sounds good in a speech, but fails as an argument.

3. "Mubarak is a dictator"

Mubarak is certainly not your Uncle Fred, but Egypt is still one of the more freer and open societies in the region. Especially when compared to Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and many others. The fate of Christians and women is not likely to improve in a parliament with a strong Muslim Brotherhood presence. Removing Mubarak will strengthen the position of groups who are far more totalitarian than Mubarak.

4. "As Americans we should support democracy in Egypt"

Kefaya, the National Movement for Change, is an anti-American organization. It is already allied with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptians may do as they please, but why should we support the removal of a pro-American leader by a coalition of lefitsts and Islamists? Shouldn't our national security take precedence over perpetrating another Iran in the name of "democracy".

5. "It's in our ideals to support a people's struggle for self-determination"

It's not in our ideals to support people who bomb churches and murder little girls. Most Egyptians want to see Muslims who leave Islam executed. Mubarak doesn't. Most Jordanians want the right to kill their daughters or sisters when they dishonor them. King Hussein doesn't. Do our ideals really call on us to support church bombings and the murder of little girls in the name of democracy? And isn't placing democracy above human rights ideological fanaticism?

6. "How can we support a dictator over a democratic movement?"

Why do we have to support either one? Why can't we let the Egyptians work it out themselves. It is their country after all. We're not the rulers of the planet. We could just stand on the sidelines and worry about our own problems. Like that massive deficit.

7. "We have to take the chance that everything will work out!"

Is that how we make policy now by hoping for change? Tossing a coin and betting with our national security and the lives of 80 million people

8. "It's in our interest to remove Mubarak because dictatorships breed terrorism"

Then how do you explain all the Islamic terrorists who were born in the United States and the UK. Or why  Lebanon is overrun with terrorists, but Turkmenistan isn't. Why are English Muslims more radicalized than some Muslims in the Middle-East?

9. "Many revolutions have worked out well"

How many of them were in Muslim countries?

10. "Fear is an unworthy reason to oppose change"

Irrational fear is an unworthy reason. Fact based fear is not. Pretending that the changes you want will not empower the Islamists is irrational. And an irrational argument that appeals to emotion is unworthy.

11. "If we don't support the revolution, that will inspire anti-Americanism"

Now who's using the fear based argument. Besides isn't this kind of thinking how we ended up with the Islamic Republic of Iran? Helping anti-American governments to avoid being hated is almost as smart as punching yourself in the face to avoid being bullied. Besides is there any possible course of action we could take that won't lead to us being hated?

12. "The longer Mubarak holds on, the worse it will get"

How do you know? Isn't that just repeating ElBaradei's talking points. Egypt has faced food riots before. And the riots already seem to be dying down. The big crowds are disappearing. Coalitions are conducting their own talks with Egypt's government.

13. "We should have faith in the Egyptian people's capacity for self-government"

What have they ever done that justifies such a faith? And why do Iran and Turkey seem to have far more faith in their capacity for self-government. Maybe they know something we don't. The Turkish people brought terrorist supporting Islamists to power. The overthrow of the Shah brought the Ayatollah Khomeni to power. Elections in the Palestinian Authority brought Hamas to power. Thanks to its elections, Hezbollah is now running the table in Lebanon. Having faith in people doesn't mean standing around a bad neighborhood while waving your wallet in the air.

14. "President Bush's freedom agenda has been vindicated"

Kefaya is the backbone of the protests, a group that formed partly in response to the Iraq War. Kefaya is as indicative of his agenda as Code Pink was. Bush never sought to overthrow Mubarak.

15. "Not all of the protesters are Kefaya and the Islamists"

That's true, but mostly irrelevant. It's the organized groups that will dictate a settlement, not the individuals. Kingmakers will emerge from this, and it won't be the faces in the crowd. It will be their leaders.

16. "If the Muslim Brotherhood wants to participate in elections, who are we to say no"

We are the people they are at war with. It is not in our interest to help our enemies come to power. It may even be in our interest to obstruct them from coming to power.

17. "If we wait any longer, the Muslim Brotherhood will take over anyway"

That might happen. But why move up the timetable?

18. "This is Egypt's last chance at a liberal democratic government"

How do you know? Why is it the last chance in 2011, rather than 2015 or 2025? Where is the proof behind all these scare tactics. How do we know that a more gradual transition won't better pave the way for that. Why are we being panicked into taking a gamble here and now?

19. "If freedom wins in Egypt, it will win around the world."

So far the targets of this "freedom movement" have been somewhat moderate countries allied with the United States. I wouldn't count on it spreading anywhere beyond that. And once those countries are Islamist, then freedom really will be over and done with.

20. "The spirit of freedom is in the air"

Is that what that is. I was wondering.


  1. Anonymous8/2/11

    "The spirit of freedom is in the air."
    puff, puff, pass...

  2. Thank you for making it much easier to understand.

  3. Now who is this mysterious neo-con, I wonder...

    By the way, "Most Egyptians want to see Muslims who convert to Islam executed.", I believe it was meant to be "convert from Islam" (though I wholeheartedly endorse the first version - Freudian slip, perhaps?).

  4. sabril9/2/11

    Excellent blog post.

  5. "It is not in our interest to help our enemies come to power". I think we really need to apply this logic within our own borders first. But before we can do that we need a leader (with balls big enough) to stand up and tell the country who the enemy really is and actually lead. And I don't see anybody on the horizon that in my opinion would be qualified.

    If a "cloning wish list" were real, my top 3 picks would be:
    1. Ronald Reagan
    2. George Patton
    3. James Dolittle

    One can only dream, hopefully the country will wake-up before it's too late.

  6. hermit, right, fixed

    noboat, it should all be part of one integral whole

  7. Anonymous9/2/11

    Sultan, sorry to correct, it's not king Hussein, it's Abdallah

  8. I wonder, for purposes of argument in the current public PC discourse, what are the differences between Mubarak and Saddam Hussein?

    I think neoconservatism is more political fiction socially engineered to dignify the staged wrestling match between the so called conservatives and liberals. If there is such a thing as "neoconservatism" then there must be such a thing as "neoliberalism".

  9. Anonymous9/2/11

    If I got it right (did I?)...pls pay attention to the picture, down below
    at the end of the article (hello Michelle?
    A final touch of genius.
    Crystal K.

  10. Excellent, forwarding the link far and wide!



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