Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt Must Work Its Way Out of Insurrection by Itself---Fingerpointing & Victimization will only Disrupt its Healing Process

Consultation, not Confrontation

Ross Douthat has an Op-Ed column in the NYT which is surprisingly sane and sober, as that paper seldom is nowadays, concerning the disorder in Egypt. He quotes Lawrence Wright's book The Looming Tower which
raises the possibility that “America’s tragedy on September 11 was born in the prisons of Egypt.” By visiting imprisonment, torture and exile upon Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak foreclosed any possibility of an Islamic revolution in his own country. But he also helped radicalize and internationalize his country’s Islamists, pushing men like Ayman Al-Zawahiri — Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, and arguably the real brains behind Al Qaeda — out of Egyptian politics and into the global jihad.

Actually, the WTC tragedy may well have been born in the strange brain of Mohammed Qutb, who visited Boulder CO and Greeley CO and decided that western women were too free and that Egypt and Islam must perform deeper religious immersion, making him the spiritual successor to Hassan al-Banna, killed by King Farouk's thugs in the late '40s. Or perhaps it was born in The Free Officers' Movement itself, with its goal of arab socialism contradicting Egypt's Islamic traditions and imprisoning religious fanatics. Or perhaps it was Sadat's reaction to the food riots of '77 which made him throw a bunch of religious & other suspects in jail in a rictus of reaction, thus energizing his own murder as a "Pharaoh," leading the way to Mubarak's reaction of a state of Emergency and more jailings of religious suspects, among them Ayman al-Zawahiri, et al. Perhaps a certain mindset of Islam is completely at odds with modernity and spawns anarchy if strongmen don't clamp harshly down on unruly crowds because the 'Arab temperament' does not lend itself to compromise through calm reflection. Perhaps the Shariah is fundamentally incompatible with a free modern mentality which gives equality to both genders and minorities like the Copts or the Muslim non-Arabs in the Sudan.

I know that most of the signers of the IPA letter to Obama calling for 'new approaches' to the Middle East mean well, but UNDP has two massive studies [1990 & 2008] which look long and hard at why Arab and Muslim societies have such endemic problems with erecting an industrial infrastructure on a group of societies emerging from a medieval mentality. Why has there been no Arab enlightenment or Muslim Renaissance? These are serious questions and no manifesto signed by Noam Chomsky and even an imprisoned fighter for Egyptian freedom like Saad Eddin Ibrahim will show Obama and other well-meaning westerners any new way to confront the problems of confronting modern technological social and economic realities in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. The Egyptians and Tunisians and Sudanese and Yemenis must confront their own realities without resorting to terrorism and other international criminal practices such as Hezbollah, which has assassinated its way to power in Lebanon, has perpetrated, just for one example.

The United States is no more responsible for Egypt's present situation than a lot of other contingent variables in the foreign equation impinging on Egypt at the moment. And the fundamental problems with Egypt's political and economic inadequacies rest with Egyptian history, including that long cavalcade of foreign rulers which in the 2500 years since the end of the New Kingdom has inflicted themselves on what in ancient times was the richest country in the world with the most well-ordered religious and social conditions of any 'nation' existing in the First Millenium, B.C. The Free Officers were the first native Egyptians to rule Egypt since the Pharoahs and, let's face it, they've made quite a hash of it since 1952, and often blamed foreigners for what in fact were their own all-too-obvious shortcomings.

So let's not pretend that America is the world's arbiter or policeman, and let's also realize that the United Nations should not impose itself on this society which must sooner or later right itself by itself, and grapple with its problems without pointing fingers and playing any victim cards. The Muslim Brotherhood has had a large role in Egyptian society since the early decades of the twentieth century and can no longer be shut out of the political process. But the Ikhwan must itself assume a leadership role if the situation warrants which allows Egyptian society to heal itself---Egypt should avoid the excesses of the Iranian and French and other revolutions which ended up harming the inhabitants of the lands they intended to reform and exchanging one set of jailers for another.

1 comment :

Chris Taus said...

Egypt is huge. If Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood take over, guard your portfolio with great care. I strongly suspect the markets will be rocked by all this. Hope like hell I'm wrong. And yet again we can see how the malevolent religious ideology of a seventh-century Arab fraud can have dire effects on the world down to the present day.