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.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.
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.
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.