The biggest news story that broke during my stay in Europe was the Egyptian military’s move against the Muslim Brotherhood, and the ensuing bloodshed. The story received extensive coverage on French and British television and virtually non-stop coverage on CNN International. The latter outlet treated viewers to endless moralizing by Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama directed primarily at the Egyptian government.
Given the extent of the bloodshed, I don’t blame the Obama administration for declining publicly to back the government’s crackdown immediately after it occurred. I fear, though, that Obama and Kerry weren’t being cagey, but instead believe the “violence never solved anything” mantra they incanted, and in Kerry’s case droned on-and-on about.
This fear is supported by reports that two weeks before the Egyptian crackdown, the Obama administration was pushing a deal under which Morsi supporters would disband their street encampments in return for a pledge of nonviolence from the military and some sort of neutral “inquiry” into the competing claims by the two sides.
The cluelessness associated with pushing such a deal is staggering. There need be no inquiry into the competing claims of the military-backed government and the Muslim Brotherhood. We’re dealing here with sworn enemies whose competing visions for Egypt are incompatible.
In this context, and in a revolutionary or post-revolutionary setting, has mediation ever succeeded at the outset in preventing a prolonged battle? I don’t believe so. To my knowledge, these situations invariably are resolved by either by the withdrawal from the field of the weaker party or by a protracted test of military strength.
I suppose that the American Revolution might successfully have been mediated at the outset. But if so, that’s because of the residual good will between the two sides, a phenomenon that plainly does not exist in Egypt.
Fortunately, whatever the ancien regime’s other failings, France wisely opted not to mediate between Britain and the Colonies, and eventually picked a side in accordance with its national interests. The rest is history — happy history.
The U.S. should pick a side in Egypt. And there’s no doubt which side we should pick. The Muslim Brotherhood is the enemy of the U.S. and what’s left of the West. The Egyptian military is not. The Muslim Brotherhood is, as Steve says, “a fascist political faction with murderous intent.” The Egyptian military is not.
And there’s an even more fundamental consideration. World peace and order depends on the extent to which key nations are ruled by governments with no strong desire to wage or promote war. These days, fortunately, nearly all key nations are so ruled, including, I submit, Russia and China. Iran and, arguably, North Korea are the two exceptions.
Egypt’s military leadership has no strong desire to wage or promote war. We see this from its willingness to crack down on Islamist militants in the Sinai who are committed to provoking Israel.
The Muslim Brotherhood wants to wage war throughout the Middle East, at a minimum. Indeed, one of the military’s grievances against Morsi was his increasing willingness to have Egyptians pour into Syria to fight.
For these reasons, the U.S. should be actively supporting Egypt’s military-backed government. But in view of who runs our government, we can count ourselves lucky that the U.S. isn’t actively backing the Muslim Brotherhood.