Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nuances and lies by omission: Juan Cole on Egypt

I don't mean to pick on Juan Cole.  He just illustrates a typical American approach to the Middle East.  He is not worse than average for the US commentary community.  He may well be better than average.

On the other hand, like most Americans, including we now see Barack Hussein Obama, he is bigoted against Islam.  He is adamant that regardless of the expressed decisions, opinions and preferences of the Egyptian people,  Muslims must one way or another be prevented from setting policy in Egypt.

Cole has two agendas when reporting about Egypt.  One is to rationalize his and the US' continued support for the pro-US dictatorship as it directly opposes the principle of democracy.  For this he blames the Muslim Brotherhood for running in elections the dictatorship administered and for petitioning for and accepting positions on the ballots that were given by the dictatorship according to the rules in place at the time. 

Funnily Cole and those who think like him sometimes say democracy is about more than elections.  In the context of a group he supports voiding an election and dismissing the Parliament because he and it did not like the outcome, there is no principle in democracy as important as respecting the outcome of the election. There may be more than that, but without that, there is no democracy.  In justifying this action, Cole opposes democracy.  If there is more to democracy than elections, by breaking the principle of respecting voter outcomes, Cole is rejecting all there is to democracy more than elections as well.

His second agenda is to divert attention away from the US' role in the war currently being waged against Egypt's voters.  He lists the actors in this conflict, and the US is never one.  The US' opposition to democracy contradicts the US' founding values.  It cannot be justified or supported within the American moral system.  Instead the US' role can only be actively ignored.  For example, mentioning or even asking if the US has any impact on the situation will result in comments being blocked or deleted at Cole's website.

Cole's supporters have convinced themselves that Cole is telling a nuanced story, one that entirely leaves out any discussion of the US in favor of mostly ridiculous and certainly unsupportable assertions about the motives of the dictatorship and its opponents. He'll say he has no proof of US influence over the dictatorship.  He presents no proof though, that the military believes the Muslim Brotherhood is supported by the US.  Nobody he quotes ever said that.  He presented without proof his theory that the Brothers would conspire with the military against the people of Egypt.

So anyway Cole has this dual agenda regarding Egypt, to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power regardless of the will of the people of Egypt and to downplay the role the US plays in its client dictatorship withholding power from Egypt's elected representatives if Egypt's voters do not agree with Cole that the Muslim Brothers pose some threat to democracy.  Comments that challenge these agendas will not make it to his page.  But hiding from them will not make them go away.

Following is a comment that Cole immediately blocked, responding to his idea that all sides, the Muslim parties who were sent to Parliament with a majority and the US-supported dictatorship that opposes that majority are equally trying to "steal bases" as in a US baseball game.
Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to stack the committee writing the constitution with its members, then acquiesced when the courts intervened. There is no real penalty for at least trying to put your interest above that of the nation, and the feeling seems to be that you should try, and then back down if there is an uproar. (I think this metaphor of trying to steal bases is better for trying to understand the political situation in Egypt than the idea that it is a game with no rules at all).
And where is the US embassy?  Are we pretending the US suddenly has no influence on what has been a client dictatorship for over three decades?

Now if the elected representatives of the Egyptian people don't determine what proportions there should be in the constitutional assembly, who should? You? On what basis?

The Egyptian military's budget is kept secret from the Egyptian people.  Including the US' contributions to that budget.  Keeping it secret after a supposed transfer of power to civilian leadership is a primary demand of the pro-US military dictatorship.

Why would the Barack Obama administration not disclose to the Egyptian people where these funds that supposedly are given as aid to them are going?

This is not about stealing bases.  One side has shown a willingness to abide by the expressed majority of the Egyptian people, though that side may not have taken Juan Cole's concerns fully into consideration.

The other side, is not willing to abide by the expressed will of the majority of Egyptians.  That is the side supported by the United States, Barack Obama and whose anti-democratic policies are being rationalized by Juan Cole.


Lidia said...

I suppose Cole is way worse than other imperialist-Zionists USA commentators. How many liberals in USA would listen to and praise Limbaugh? They see themselves being way above such commentators.

But they could lap up all imperialist/Zionist propaganda by Cole and ask for seconds. 

It is not for nothing that Cole is briefing CIA. 

Arnold Evans said...

In that sense, you're probably right.

Lidia said...

Joe from Lowell usually has some strange fantasies about Obama being anti-Mubarak and such, very rude of him to taint Obama sterling  imperialist reputation :). Of course, such comments are not blocked by Cole.

Is it just me or was the number of comments on Cole's blog down? It could be that some of his former admirers got real and left, or their comments are being blocked wholesale?

Arnold Evans said...

I think more comments are being blocked and deleted.  I had never seen Cole accept a comment then later delete it.  He's probably more sensitive than usual in making sure US policy is not connected to that of the pro-US military dictatorship on his blog.

Lidia said...

Some news: how Egyptians feel about USA role in their country. Surprise (!) - not really, only for those who believe Obama and Cole

"The Egyptian Al Shorouk newspaper quoted Hassan Juma, coordinator of the movement in Alexandria, as saying: “We reject US intervention in Egypt's internal affairs and them dictating orders to the free people of Egypt.”He also warned the Mursi of the repercussions Alexandria visit, claiming it would “arouse the wrath" of Egyptians.Juma reminded the president of the fate of the ousted president Hosni Mubarak, saying that his alliance with America turned the people against him."