Jimmy Carter says he expects that Egypt's military will retain control over Egyptian policy after civilian political institutions are in place. We read a New York Times article entitled: "Carter Says Egypt’s Military Is Likely to Retain Some Political Powers".
There are so many interesting things about this article. The first is the stance Carter takes. He is presenting himself not as an advocate of limiting democracy, but as an observer. So in Carter's private meeting with Egypt's military dictator, we are to believe Carter himself didn't advocate a position on this issue.
Juan Cole takes this position also. He claims he is not endorsing the military's bid to limit the scope of the control Egypt's voters have over Egyptian policy. He is merely reporting a trend he observes. One might ask at that point, well do you approve or disapprove of this anti-democratic trend you're observing? That's the point where comments stop making it past Cole's moderation filter. Cole refuses to answer.
Jimmy Carter does not refuse to answer that question. Like MJ Rosenberg in 2006, Carter now openly admits he has opposed democracy in Egypt for Israel's sake ever since the Camp David agreements.
But he also acknowledged that in retrospect the Egyptian revolution had cast a new light on the alliance he helped forge with Egypt’s military-backed strongmen, first President Anwar el-Sadat and then his successor, Mr. Mubarak. Many Egyptians, he said, now complain that for three decades the United States supported a dictatorship at odds with its values to preserve peace with Israel.This is accurate except for the verb tense problem. He admits he can't say he wasn't doing it. He also can't say he isn't doing it right now.
“I think that is true, we were,” he said. “And I can’t say I wasn’t doing that as well.”
“ ‘Full civilian control’ is a little excessive, I think,” Mr. Carter said, after describing a meeting he had Tuesday with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, leader of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF. “I don’t think the SCAF is going to turn over full responsibility to the civilian government. There are going to be some privileges of the military that would probably be protected.”Excessive? Carter was president of a country with full civilian control over its military. Carter is saying that there is a different standard for majority non-Jewish countries in Israel's region.
Carter, Cole, Obama and Tantawi may not get their wish. The people of Egypt may well reject this updated version of the limited sovereignty the British empire offered Egypt in 1922. But it is clear in what direction US policy in pressuring the Egyptian dictatorship. Any American who claims to support Egyptian democracy is part of a fringe taking a position at odds with the mainstream US liberal and conservative foreign policy.