Monday, July 8, 2013

Do We Really Have a Choice Other Than to Support the Military in Egypt?

Things are starting to get really serious in Egypt, as if the initial military coup wasn't serious enough.  It sounds like 51 people were killed and hundreds injured as the army fired on Muslim Brotherhood members protesting outside the Army barracks where Morsi currently is under house arrest.  There are calls from both the left and the right to cut off aid or at least use the threat of a cutoff to force the military to transfer power to a civilian government as fast as possible.

I was saying that we should cut off aid to Egypt pretty much as soon as Mubarak fell.  I just didn't see why we would be arming a country headed by a guy (Morsi) with a long history of vile anti-semitism, who has openly threatened Israel with war, usurped power from other branches of government and even had pro-democracy NGO workers convicted in court.  Throughout Morsi's Presidency, this administration continued to give him billions of dollars of taxpayer funds ignoring all of his inflammatory statements.  When Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about Morsi at his confirmation hearings he stated that just because we don't agree with someone who is an elected head of a country doesn't give us the right to walk away.

What I don't get is this.  Now that Morsi has been replaced by the relatively pro-Western military, which is being helped by our other allies in the region and has a history of cooperation with Israel, this is when we are talking about cutting off aid. Have we completely lost our minds?  We should be doing what we can to help the Egyptian military, not trying to pressure them to give up power.  Seriously, what other choice do we have but to support them?  During the last parliamentary election for the Shura Council, the Muslim Brotherhood + the Salafists got almost 74% of the vote.  It wasn't even close.  We might want to believe that it was a close race, one winnable by pro-western parties next time around, but it wasn't.  Sure, the Muslim Brotherhood might not be as strong in the next election, but what if their voters just go to the even more radical Salafists?  US interests, Copts and Israel would not be very well served by that.

And now imagine if Morsi is able to come back to power through a counter coup thanks to a collapse in support for the Army in the coming days and weeks.  Can you imagine how bad the purge of the military would be?  It will cease to be a relatively pro-western force and would just be a Sunni version of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.  We thought Morsi was bad before, just wait until he lusts for revenge.

Having a military coup in Egypt isn't my idea of an ideal situation but unfortunately the universe isn't keen on providing those too much.  We shouldn't let perfection stand in the way of us supporting those in Egypt with a history of helping our interests.  This kind of perfectionism is what led us to abandon Nicaragua and Iran in the 1970's and we know how disastrous both of those decisions have been (especially the abandonment of the Shah).  

We need to come out clearly in favor of the military and do whatever we can to make sure they do not fall.  If they do fall, we and our allies in the region will be seriously screwed.

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