Friday, August 16, 2013

Juan Cole and Islamophobic Western claims about the Muslim Brotherhood

Recently Juan Cole presented a litany of reasons that the Muslim Brotherhood bears responsibility for the recent coup against Egypt's voters. As you might expect, ultimately his list reflects his view that he or people who agree with him, not Egypt's voters, should be in a position to decide any point of dispute regarding Egyptian government or policy. It's a typical American colonialist position, because Juan Cole is a typical American colonialist. Certainly not worse than anything anybody in the US State Department, the US Embassy in Cairo or the US military establishment tasked with Egypt would write. Just typical, and because it is typical it may be useful that Cole regularly puts his view in public.

So when I'm not too disgusted to go over and read it, or when someone I respect prompts me, I sometimes go over and read Cole's latest articles about the Middle East. Comments I leave generally do not pass his moderation filter and that's fine. I then just leave those comments here. This is a response to Egypt’s Transition Has Failed: New Age of Military Dictatorship in Wake of Massacre.

The Brotherhood cheated in the parliamentary elections, running candidates for seats set aside for independents.

The parliamentary elections were overseen by the military government, which decided which names were eligible to be put onto ballots. The Brothers were able to legally enter the election and Egyptians voted for them. It is a stretch to call that cheating.

Rabid anti-Democratic activists in the US might claim Barack Obama cheated by being on a ballot when he was really ineligible, but he was on the ballot based on rules he did not implement and voters fairly selected him over the opposition. That should end that story.

The Brothers won more support from Egypt's voters than the military expected or was comfortable with but that is not cheating. They also won more support than some Western commentators expected or were comfortable with. Again, not cheating.

He pushed through a Brotherhood constitution in December of 2012 in a referendum with about a 30% turnout in which it garnered only 63%– i.e. only a fifth of the country voted for it.

Just noting that 63% means nearly two out of three voters supported the constitution.

The judges went on strike rather than oversee balloting, so the referendum did not meet international standards.

The judges were open in their commitment to prevent civilian control of the military.

Also what are you claiming when you say international standards? If you have reason to believe the results were fraudulent and did not reflect the will of the voters on election day, then tell us what those reasons are, and what evidence supports such a view.

Morsi then invented a legislature for himself, declaring by fiat that the ceremonial upper house was the parliament. He appointed many of its members; only 7% were elected.

The rightfully elected legislature was voided by the court explicitly because the court disagreed with Egypt's voters about who should be in the position of power (see link above). Also the declaration that the upper house was the parliament was not by fiat, but part of the constitution ratified by nearly two thirds of Egypt's voters.

The Constitutional Assembly's alternative when it (not Morsi) decided to grant legislative authority to the upper house until the parliament was elected again was for Egypt to have no legislature at all.

In my view Morsi and the Brotherhood leadership bear a good deal of the blame for derailing the transition, since a democratic transition is a pact among various political forces, and he broke the pact. If Morsi was what democracy looked like, many Egyptians did not want it. Gallup polls trace this disillusionment.

Presidential approval decreasing during a term in office is far from grounds for a coup. Egypt's voters were asked directly not only about democracy, but about what constitution they wanted, they chose almost 2 to 1 to support what the Muslim Brothers presented.

If support for the Brothers had really waned, then secularists could have won the parliamentary elections scheduled for Spring 2013. Instead they announced they would boycott those elections and the court cancelled them at the same time secularists, military and court officials were planning a coup.

Gallup polls may be more trustworthy in the United States than in Egypt, despite their particularly poor recent performances in the US, but in no way can Gallup polls supersede Egyptian elections as indicators of the will of the Egyptian people. Boycotting and cancelling elections concedes that the anti-Muslim Brotherhood forces did not believe they had the support of the Egyptian people.

The ultimate reason for the Court and opposition's refusal to participate in the democratically scheduled election to restore a legitimate elected legislature was and is commonly well understood. "Whether or not the opposition boycotts, the Islamists probably would win a parliamentary majority."

What are see in Egypt is not two sides both failing a transition to democracy but rather the segments of Egypt's society closest to the West, closest to Western commentators and closest to the US establishment that for decades has been giving $1.5 billion openly to the Egyptian military and then secretly directing additional funds in bribes to Egyptian military and ruling personnel deciding, all along in coordination with US officials, that they do not approve of Egypt's voters' choices for the leadership of Egypt.

There has never been any indication that Morsi had any plans to avoid election when his constitutionally provided term was over, or that he would fail to step aside if he lost. One side in this dispute, the side that directly receives funds from the US government, has consistently taken tangible steps to evade the will of the people expressed by elections. Cole has consistently offered support for these tangible anti-democratic steps. The other side, the Muslim Brothers, has never acted to limit the sovereignty of Egypt's voters, but has been on the winning side of all six post-Mubarak elections: the immediate changes to the constitution, the lower house elections, the first and second rounds of the presidential election, the upper house election and the constitutional referendum.

Mohamed Morsi was (and actually is) the rightful elected President of Egypt with only the powers Egypt's voters granted him according to the Egyptian constitution. He has not acted any more dictatorially than Barack Obama in the United States and was always subject not only to reelection, but to recall and impeachment processes that would begin in the legislature, if Egypt's voters elected representatives who believed he should not serve his full term. Claims of authoritarianism or theocracy have always been unsupportable nonsense in the face of a clear opposing record. Cole describes the process of Egypt's voters deciding that the Muslim Brothers should be in power as a "slow motion coup" ultimately because he does not respect the right of Muslims to choose their own leaders and policies.


lidia said...

The best article, as I see it, written BEFORE the last coup massacres (more than a month ago) is one by Massad :
Massad addresses also the claim that the "people" are the real force of the coup.

lidia said...

Now, thank you Arnold for suffering Cole's obnoxiousness - for the greater good, of course :)

What grossed me the most was not even Cole blaming MB, but cheating by the Cole in citing the coup and massacres as "MB against army and secularists". As if ONLY MB was and is against the generals. No, it is USA/Saudi/Zionist puppet generals and their "secular" helpers against others in Egypt. Nothing new here - Cole is a keen supporter of USA army crimes (see his posts about the assault and destruction of Falluja, for ex).
One more time - look into Cole's (and his ilk) justification of aggression against Libya and Syria under pretext of "tyranny massacring its own democratically inspiring people". Yes, look into it. And into Cole accusations against Iran elections and state in 2009.
Cole has no shame, but one could not say he has no principles. He has, only they are not about "democracy" or "massacres". It is about USA imperialism interests, and, as Arnold rightly put it, the safety of Zionist colonial project. And. because he is a Dem, he always try to whitewash Obama and Dems.

The most consistent critics of coup and NATO/GCC/Zionist support for it I am aware of are Angry Arab, Ali Abunimah and wsws (Trotskists) - none of them MB supporters.

sheen said...

>As you might expect, ultimately his list reflects his view that he or
people who agree with him, not Egypt's voters, should be in a position
to decide any point of dispute regarding Egyptian government or policy.

When did juan cole claim this?

sheen said...

Juan cole was against an intervention in syria.

Why do you keep getting things wrong?

лидия said...

Cole was repeating all imperialist propaganda about Syrian "revolution", even though he was less keen for USA to openly bomb Syria than to openly bomb Libya. Anyway, Cole did not say a word against CIA dirty role in Syria. Now, when Libyan mess is impossible to sweep under rag any more, Cole still does not admit the reality of NATO aggression against Libya, to which he was so eager cheerleader (It was Cole who claimed that Qaddafi used warplanes to kill peaceful protesters).

Tom said...

>even though he was less keen for USA to openly bomb Syria

He was against it altogether.

>Cole still does not admit the reality of NATO aggression against Libya

Youre not open to the reality, evidence shows that most libyans see it as right. You have no evidence to show otherwise.

Youre wrong. Yet you still advocate for a scenario which would cause extra libyan deaths and distress.

Youre no better than a rapist who commits vile acts and comforts himself by acting as if the victim welcomed or wanted it. Willing to cause excess pain despite the evidence.


>and Syria is in mess mostly because USA has not bombed it

That isnt the argument at all, how dense are you?

Coles argument is that us bombing in syria would have made things worse due to different variables involved which werent involved in libya.

>The Syria is the proof that without NATO "rebels" would never win.

Cole never claimed otherwise, he claimed it equalled the playing field more.

>Zeidan was "elected free and fair by the Libyans" - year, sure, like Karzay was, I guess.

Because karzai wasnt ,some leader in another different continent wasnt either? This is some very weak logic lidia.

As for your other comments elsewhere:

You dislike orwell for you say he was pro-imperialist.

Evidence shows that you are wrong though.

After being shown links which show that orwell was against uk imperialism,, your counter argument relied on simply repeating the debunked comment repeatedly. Again and again, this is completely childish.

How foolish can one possibly get, and after falsely accusing him of being pro-imperialist you then highlight that you yourself are pro-imperialist by showing support for the soviet union and its expansionist policies, with no mention of the foreign people stuck under its cruel rule in eastern europe, the majority of whom are happy that it fell. Youre basically projecting your fault onto others.

You keep making one mistake after another, and to defend yourself you dont improve your knowledge on matters, you just cowardly hide behind moderators to mask your almost countless errors.

Even recently you made another mistake, you implied the cia planned the 73 coup in chile, i corrected you and your response was to post a link which in your head shows your view to be correct. But it isnt, if you bothered to read your link you would realised that it i didnt show that the cia planned the 73 coup. Other terrible things certainly but not the coup. This has been shown time and time again with this link, someone presents it but its clear they didnt even read it beforehand.

I shouldnt have been surprised that someone as intellectually as lazy as you would put it up without reading it correctly beforehand.

Your entire viewpoints in all your comments clearly come from the fact that you swallowed biased soviet information about the world growing up, you never looked at it critically for you simply werent intellectually curious enough or self critical enough.

You are clearly bothered by its eventual failure, instead of intelligently looking at the situation and assessing it you angrily lash out at your beloved soviet unions rivals.

Nothing at all wrong with criticising them, they have a lot of faults, but you have to criticise them even for things which, according to the available evidence, they got right. Youre so hurt by the soviet failure you have to, as a way of getting back, also your no doubt guilty about being part of a state which oppressed other people, and like a lot of guilty people you spend your time pointing the accusing finger at others, shameful.

Arnold will probably erase this but nevertheless you with your busy internet habits will still get it through disqus and read it.

Hopefully you will take it as constructive criticism.

(any typos, my bad)