Monday, January 16, 2012

Juan Cole's intellectual dishonesty regarding Egyptian democracy

MJ Rosenberg, a far-left liberal Zionist, has at times been open about his opposition to democracy for Israel's far more populous neighbors if that might lead to Israeli Jewish people, as happened to South African White people decades ago, suffering the indignity of losing their enforced political majority state and living under non-Jewish rule.
I think that a democratic Egypt could very well repudiate the peace treaty with Israel leading to war, major Israeli (and potentially American) losses and even the end of the Jewish state.

Sorry, that is too high a price to pay.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has recently reached that level of honesty, at least when describing his behavior as president and the policies of his successors up to and including Barack Obama.
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.”
Juan Cole has not reached that level of honesty. He presents efforts by the pro-US military dictatorship to retain power after a civilian government sits as necessary to protect the rights of women and Copts. (When has the pro-US military dictatorship of Egypt ever protected the rights of women or Copts?)

Cole also has a theory that he'll peddle to anyone naive enough to believe it, that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is conspiring with the pro-US Egyptian military dictatorship to leave the pro-US dictatorship in control of those areas of policy most important to the United States.
Elbaradei is reportedly afraid that the Muslim Brotherhood will like having its parliamentary majority so much, and will like having the opportunity to shape the new Egptian constitution, that they will strike a deal with the military to let them do as they please.
The problem is that this blames the Muslim Brotherhood and not the US. That is a cop-out for a person who votes in US government elections but does not have any influence over the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jimmy Carter, for example, and of course in coordination with the Obama administration, recently met with Egypt's military dictatorship and left endorsing its plan to withhold political power from the civilian government.
“ ‘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.”
Has any Muslim Brother ever called civilian control of the military excessive?

Who has at least a 30 year record of efforts in coordination with the military dictatorship to deny power to Egyptian civilians, the Muslim Brotherhood or the US government?

Cole claims ElBaradei is reportedly afraid of collusion between Egypt's pro-US military dictatorship and the Muslim Brotherhood. I have not seen that report. Cole has never linked to such a report on his website. Maybe such a report exists, but we cannot say so for sure. On the other hand, ElBaradei is actually on record expressly deriding secret collusion between the Egyptian military and the US government.
Speaking to the Iranian semi-official Fars news agency on Tuesday, Elbaradiei, the former International Atomic Energy Agency head, indicated that the future of Israel's peace treaty with Egypt was at the center of a recent and secret round of talks between U.S. officials and members of the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

"The negotiations were completely secret and confidential," ElBaradei told Fars, adding that what the ruling military indicated "said was that the talks were about bilateral and mutual relations, but I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to power."
The US and the military dictatorship have nothing to talk about regarding post-transfer policy unless the military maintains control of foreign policy, so coordinating these issues with them is at the very least tacit collaboration by the US with the military's efforts to limit democracy.

I have not seen comparable tangible evidence of Muslim Brotherhood collaboration with the military government, nor have I seen a convincing argument that they have a motive to limit their own power in a future government.

What Juan Cole is doing is both providing academic cover for and deflecting attention away from US anti-democratic efforts in Egypt currently being being made by the Barack Obama administration. What he is doing sharply contradicts US professed democratic values, so he lies to himself first, then to us next, but United States' policy is fundamentally anti-democratic in its policy in Israel's region.

Cole's arguments that Egypt's pro-US military dictatorship is protecting political rights for women and Copts, as well as his speculations that the Muslim Brotherhood is conspiring to reduce the amount of political power it will have may not be coherent, but they are supportive of US anti-democratic policy. Unlike Rosenberg and Carter, Cole finds himself unable to be honest about his opposition to democracy.


Lidia said...

There could be disagreement regarding MB democratic credentials and their relations to military junta in Egypt. But there is NO doubt of USA role in preventing democracy in Egypt (and not only there, of course). SCAF is virtually in USA pocket. ALL SCAF do they do with permission from USA rulers. Of course, Cole would not like to admit it.  

Arnold Evans said...

I have to say I don't necessarily love or support the Muslim Brotherhood when they take tangible steps against the idea that people have a right to control the policies of their governments - like Mubarak, the SCAF and the US government have for decades - then I'll have bad things to day about them.

But Cole speaking against them now, not speaking against the government that more actively opposes democracy than they do, and disallowing comments that mention the US' role approaches being outrageous.

You understood earlier and better than I did Lidia, because until 2009 I thought Cole was on the side of anti-colonialism.