Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jimmy Carter: Democracy for Egypt is "excessive"


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.

“I think that is true, we were,” he said. “And I can’t say I wasn’t doing that as well.”
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.
“ ‘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.

3 comments:

Lidia said...

Arnold, at least n7 has enough honesty not only admit that he is AGAINST any democracy which is not colonialism (Zionism) friendly. He took the next logical step to endorse the colonialism itself (still under usual b...s.. that it would be better for colonized). n7 honesty is the same as his beloved Zionists - they often admit that Palestinians are NOT going to keep ANY land at all, because it all rightly belongs to colonizers-Zionists. 

Arnold Evans said...

It is not surprising that this was not published.  Juan Cole's story, ridiculous and incoherent on its face, that Muslim Brotherhood seeks to limit the power of the civilian government that it is set to lead, is a deliberate distraction on Cole's part away from the efforts that he is aware of by his own government to limit the power of the Egypt's civilian government.

It is profoundly anti-democratic and unlike Jimmy Carter and MJ Rosenberg, Cole does not have the intellectual honesty to admit that he is opposed to Egyptian democracy.

Dermot Moloney said...

Ah, is this the source of confusion, if i intervened here sooner maybe this entire mess could have been avoided.

Here is a piece that carter said that you seem unaware of ""A clear message has to go out that in the future for Egypt, whenever that time comes, there will be complete civilian control over all aspects of the government affairs and the military will play its role under the direction of an elected president and an elected parliament."

Checkmate ;)