Friday, February 4, 2011

America’s Self-Righteousness Is Destroying Egypt

Washington’s naive devotion to democracy is doing untold damage.

For many Americans, the violent scenes of anarchy unfolding on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other Egyptian cities are a beautiful and inspiring sight.
On Monday, for example, after mingling with protesters in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof giddily reported that the “yearning and hopefulness of these Egyptians taking huge risks is intoxicating” (emphasis mine throughout).

Years ago, when Kristof lived in Cairo, Tahrir Square was a cacophony of noise, dirt and squalor. It “carried a hint of menace,” he said. Apparently, those days are over. Despite the reels of footage coming out of Cairo this week of violent clashes, of tanks and soldiers carrying automatic weapons, of empty tear-gas canisters, bullet casings and blood-stained concrete, Kristof says that Tahrir Square has “lost its menace and suddenly become the most exhilarating place in the world.”
Lest you think Kristof caught the wrong connecting flight out of Heathrow and ended up in the town square of a quiet village in southern France, there is a more believable explanation for his bizarre narrative. To Kristof and the millions who share his excitement about what is unfolding in Egypt, the banners, the angry throngs of ordinary citizens, the newly “exhilarating” Tahrir Square are all signs that democracy is afoot in Egypt.
After 30 years of slavery to an autocratic regime, Egyptians are finally being freed—and democracy is their deliverer.
If the White House gets its way, that deliverance will come soon too. On Tuesday, amid continuing protests, President Obama demanded of Mubarak that democratic change “must begin now.” Yesterday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told Egypt that the “time for transition has come, and that time is now,” and that “now is not September,” when Egypt’s next elections are slated to be held.
Ominously, and in a sign of the depth of America’s self-righteous belief that U.S.-style democracy is the grand solution to political strife, the White House this week stated that it was even open to the Muslim Brotherhood playing a role in Egypt’s future government, as long as the group renounces violence and embraces the democratic process. Imagine a farmer setting a wolf among a flock of sheep on condition the wolf become a herbivore and refrain from imposing his will on the weaker species.
Despite often being portrayed as a moderate political party, the Brotherhood is a notorious terrorist group bent on the establishment of sharia law in Egypt, and the destruction of the Jewish state and the United States. Over the past few days in particular, we’ve been told that the Brotherhood has swapped violence for vegetables, and exists today to feed the poor, defend the afflicted and dwell peacefully alongside the West.
It’s a lie.
As Steven Emerson writes, that view “glosses over the Brotherhood’s core fundamentalist attitude that could subject women and Egypt’s religious minorities to second-class status, threaten the 30-year peace between Egypt and Israel, and benefit terrorist groups including Hezbollah and Hamas, a group created by the Brotherhood to carry out terrorist violence against Israel.” Indeed, MB members in Egypt’s parliament routinely call for the creation of a radical Islamist nation, one that exists under sharia law and is at war with Israel and the U.S. The MB also has links to Iran. For years, Brotherhood leaders have preached that Sunni and Shiite Muslims need to stop fighting each other and work together to fight the greater enemy—the West.
It’d be easier to train a wolf to eat grass than convince the Brotherhood to renounce radical Islam and its violent ways!
In democratic elections, the Brotherhood is guaranteed to earn a prominent place within the government. A Pew survey of Egyptians conducted last June indicated that 59 percent of Egyptians would back an Islamist in government. Only 27 percent said they would back a modernizer, while more than half said they support Hamas and 95 percent said they would embrace Islamic influence over Egyptian politics.
So, were it given free rein, democracy is virtually guaranteed to produce in Egypt an anti-Israel, anti-American, pro-Iranian, Islamic terrorist-sponsoring, sharia-based regime!
Moreover, it’s inevitable that the rise of a radical Islamic regime in Cairo would ultimately harm Egypt, politically, economically, even culturally!
For America, sanctioning the democratic uprising in Egypt, including the rise of the Brotherhood, is like an act of suicide. In the very least, it will dramatically undermine America’s presence and influence in the Middle East. For Egypt, this revolution—especially if it produces an Islamic government—could mark the beginning of a dark period marked by social unrest, high unemployment, economic instability and contraction, and cultural and political degeneration.
Yet, this is precisely the opposite of the viewpoint of the White House, and its liberal allies in Washington, in the media, in the intelligentsia, and in state capitals around the world.
How could America be so blind?
The heart of the issue is self-righteousness.
Of course, men of every shape and size, of every race and religion, are plagued by vanity and selfishness. But when it comes to politics and the view of human existence, a distinct form of self-righteousness has developed in the American psyche. The reason is simple. Perhaps more than any other modern state, the United States has built into its founding apparatus a rigid and precious commitment to the primacy of the individual, to the natural “unalienable rights” of the citizen, to the right of each person to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Politically, this moral commitment to the primacy of the individual resulted in the creation of democratic government, a political system designed to preserve the rights of the individual, and give each citizen a voice in government. Underpinned by its Constitution, and governed by brilliantly designed democratic strictures, the American republic beginning in the 19th century exploded into the richest, freest and most powerful and stable single nation in history.
But sadly, as American wealth and power expanded, the fundamental cause of its success was lost.
Where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln once saw the unseen hand of God as the source of America’s unrivaled supremacy, America’s leaders and intellectuals over time increasingly billed its moral sophistication—manifested in its democratic form of government—as the primary cause of the nation’s greatness.
Inevitably, as America’s role on the international stage after World War ii expanded, this devotion to the primacy of the individual began to take root in U.S. foreign policy.
In 1979, President Carter helped create Iran’s radical Islamic theocratic government when he sided with Ayatollah Khomeini and the apparent democratic revolution in overthrowing the shah. Since then, the U.S. has sanctioned the “democratic” rise of various regimes, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Pakistan, in the Gaza Strip. In each case, the self-righteous and ignorant imposition of democracy has resulted in the creation of an authoritarian government hostile not only to America and the West, but in many cases also to its own citizens.
In its latest foray along the Nile, America’s leaders and liberal die-hards, blinded by their arrogant faith in democracy, and by their naive and self-righteous desire to defend the rights of the individual—despite the fact that many of the Islamic protesters waving banners in Tahrir Square have no allegiance to individual rights, and actually seek the destruction of Jews and Americans—are sanctioning the rise to power of a radical Islamic political party in Egypt!
It’s true that President Hosni Mubarak is a man who engages in some despicable practices. But the solution to what is happening in Egypt is not the formation of a democratic government. Sadly, as was the case in Gaza, in Lebanon and in Iraq, the democratic process in Egypt will result in the establishment of a radical Islamic regime—this time in the largest and most important Arab state in the Middle East.
Watch Egypt closely. America and the rest of the West, in their self-righteous devotion to democracy, are facilitating the creation of an Egyptian government infinitely more destructive than that of Hosni Mubarak!