Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A note about Egypt: Outsiders who respect democracy will support the Islamists

The most important threat to colonialism - especially in the Middle East where the people of the United States have a vehement disagreement with the people of the region about Israel - is policy-makers who are accountable to voters.

You can bribe either Mubarak or Morsi, as long as there is nobody to compete with them for reelection who has an incentive to investigate and expose the corruption. It is much more expensive, in fact impossible for the US to bribe a majority of Egypt's more than 50 million voters.

So what's important is that there is a competitive process for control of foreign policy, and that the results of that competitive political process are respected.

So once a side wins a contested election, as long as it does not abolish future elections, there is no such thing as being over-supportive of that side. The people of Egypt support Morsi and a large Islamist majority in Parliament. Who I support is irrelevant compared to that.

The US embassy has recently begun tweeting that no one group in Egypt should have too much power. "We want to see the constitutional process in #Egypt move forward in a way that does not overly concentrate power in one set of hands". Somebody in the State Department, rather than Egypt's voters should, according to the US, decide how much power is too much and who should hold it. Not only did this principle never apply to Mubarak, but today this principle does not apply to the pro-US colonial dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and others. This is just an example of Americans across the political spectrum lying about the Middle East.

In countries close to Israel, the United States structurally cannot get the kind of cooperation it needs for Israel's security from voters. So it needs foreign policy to be outside of the control of the electorate, the way it has been in Turkey, though in Turkey responsibility for foreign policy is, in theory, slowly reverting to effective control by elected officials.

Turkey, when its foreign policy was fully controlled by the military and unaccountable to voters, is the exact model today proposed for Egypt by Juan Cole, and more or less openly by other US officials and commentators. To Cole that's good enough for Arabs and Muslims. If foreign policy is not under control of the voters, that's ok because eventually it may be in the future. For now the US Embassy should determine Egypt's foreign policy.

Cole is a pure anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigot, so is Barack Obama. They are supposed liberals who represent what is disgusting about the United States. Cole lies and says the reason he wants the army to control foreign policy is to protect minorities. What does the army have to do with women's rights? How many women's rights were there under Mubarak - who Cole described as unproblematic for the US? Disgusting. I've talked about that too long already, but that is the mainstream foreign policy view of the United States.

Back to democracy. Egyptians are in Egypt. They have the close view of all of the details they need to figure out the way to manage all aspects of policy, including foreign policy, most consistent with their own values. I don't know how they will solve the problem of Egypt's seemingly structural external dependency but they'll do a better job of solving it than I could from far away.

All they need are politicians who are accountable to them, not to the US Embassy and a little time.

Qatar is a US colony today. Qatar makes a lot of pledges. Those pledges are actually fulfilled if Qatar gets US permission to fulfill them. One day Qatar will be democratic but until then, pledges of support from Qatar mean no more and no less than the pledges Egypt has already gotten from the US and Europe. They are a problem, but the people of Egypt can and will solve those problems better than I could.

The question, as always, is will Egypt get a constitution that puts foreign policy under the control of voters. Juan Cole opposes that. Jimmy Carter opposes that. Thomas Friedman opposes that. The US state department, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama oppose that. All because the United States is an evil nation. They'll all come up with different rationales, but look at how each of them supported Mubarak yesterday, and how each of them supports Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan today.

A competitive electoral process in Egypt whose winner will control foreign policy. The US opposes it. The SCAS opposes it. The SCAS-courts oppose it. US non-official commentators oppose it. The Muslim Brothers have no reason to oppose it, especially now, after showing that they represent a majority of Egyptians. I've seen no indication that they or Morsi do in fact oppose it.

But until the people of Egypt stop voting for the Islamists, outsiders who respect democracy will support the Islamists.


Rnav said...

Arnold be careful whom you support and whom you root for. Bhadrakumar makes an excellent point. Mursi was a godsend for the US.

Arnold Evans said...

Morsi may have been.  You remember the process that produced Morsi as the second-choice Islamist candidate.  Hopefully - and we have good reason to hope - those circumstances will never prevail in Egypt again.

I root for whoever the Egyptians vote for, as long as future elections are still to be held on schedule and oppositions will be able to bring resources to change the minds of Egyptians in those future elections.

Don't concentrate on the person, concentrate on is the position accountable to voters.  The Court is not, and the court openly and admittedly wants Egypt's foreign policy to be made and executed by people in positions that are not accountable to voters. I've written a blog about that a little while ago.

I've read a lot of good things by M K Bhadrakumar so I have to think he would not have wanted to see the court issue an order on December 2 that the representatives of Egypt's voters are not eligible to write a constitution so it should be written by the SCAS (or presented after being written in the US Embassy) instead.

That's what I think is the most likely thing to have happened if Morsi had not acted.