I would have written a more secular constitution than Egypt's Constituent Assembly did. I would have, more importantly to me, given an entire committee of elected civilians oversight of Egypt's military budget, establishing at least as much civilian control over the military as exists in the United States. To top that off, I would have written into the constitution that foreign contributions to the military especially from former colonial hegemons such as the United States must be visible to the public.
But I don't vote in Egypt's elections. The people of Egypt do, and all indications are that Egyptians have written and approved by a substantial margin a constitution that fits their values and priorities, rather than Barack Obama's, Juan Cole's, Tom Friedman's values or even my values and priorities.
Cole might say that there should have been more secular representation in the Constituent Assembly. There in that case might exist a difference of opinion between Cole and the people of Egypt over exactly what is the right amount of secular representation in a constitution-writing body. A colonialist would propose that if the people of Egypt and Juan Cole, a US citizen, disagree about what would represent a reasonable distribution of power between secularists and religionists, Cole's position, rather than that of Egypt's voters, should prevail. No reader of this blog by now could be surprised that Juan Cole takes exactly that colonialist position.
But after decades of being ruled on behalf of the government Cole votes for, Egypt is coming to be ruled on behalf of Egypt's voters themselves. That is a great step forward, and the squawking we hear from supposedly liberal and supposedly conservative commentators in the West criticising Egypt's democratic process despite the election results is actually evidence of what a significant step forward it is.
Congratulations to all of the people of Egypt.
Also congratulations to Egypt's Muslim Brothers. They have campaigned or lobbied on the most popular sides of six elections post Mubarak now. The first constitutional amendments, the People's Assembly, the Shura Council, two rounds of Presidential elections and now the constitutional referendum.
The people of Egypt have clearly expressed faith in this group of people to set Egypt's policies. I send them all of my best wishes and hopes that they prove worthy of this faith that they've been shown by the people of Egypt.