Saturday, February 12, 2011

Quote of the day

Heather Mac Donald:
I could better stomach the right-wing media’s effort to discredit the Egyptian revolution and to portray it as a failure of Obama’s diplomacy if they had not given such unthinking jingoistic support to Bush’s Freedom Agenda, if Sean Hannity’s theme song was not “Let Freedom Ring,” if they didn’t claim a divine mandate to lead the world towards American-style democracy.


FLG was struck by the disconnect last night while listening to Mark Levin on the way home. It's blatantly inconsistent. Clearly, without a doubt, the discrepancy is because of support for Israel. But FLG agrees with Bill Kristol:
There are complicated short-term issues, but at the end of the day, being pro- Israel and being pro-freedom go together

Moreover, this concern is a short-term concern, and unbecoming a conservative.

And before you say the words Muslim Brotherhood, let FLG tell you he's read the writings of Sayyid Qutb and Hasan al-Banna. FLG believes, over the long-term, democracy has nothing to fear from the Muslim Brotherhood. They'll have to tone it down and renounce the earlier positions or be completely marginalized. But far better to go down the freedom route than to rely upon autocratic dictators to suppress them.

Honestly, really long-term wise, jihadism is a product of Islam trying to reconcile itself with modernity. Oddly, it's a thoroughly modern response in many ways. But to stop jihadism, the Islamic, in particular, the Arab world needs to have an internal debate and struggle. A theological, cultural, societal struggle, not necessarily a violent one. FLG has complete faith that freedom, modernity, and democracy will win the day, but it will be a rocky path.


George Pal said...

Short term concerns are not out of place when dealing with tinderboxes. Egypt’s rapprochement with Israel makes it a target for Islamic fundamentalist reformists.

Speaking of which, the Muslim Brotherhood. The first thing out of Muhammad Ghannem’s (a Brother) mouth was: the Suez Canal should be closed immediately and no more gas from Egypt to Israel. He added, unsurprisingly, “the people should be prepared for war against Israel”. An organization whose motto is Islam Is The Solution has obviously not yet started the ‘re-thinking Islam's place in a modern world’ process.

Internal debates in the Arab world are always going on; unfortunately, the debaters are Islamist extremists in pursuit of Salaam Islam and those who would keep them in their proper place. What the Islamic world needs most is for a hundred Atatürks to bloom in the desert.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever catch David Pyrce-Jones (via NRO)? He's very measured - he's been writing all week on this - first up from the 10th:

The test of strength in Egypt is unfolding on familiar lines. The protesters have been in Tahrir Square for 17 days now, and the only way they are going to get rid of President Mubarak is by raising the projected level of force. They seem to be about to win, as reports are coming in from the media that Mubarak will be resigning within a matter of hours. Should he not resign, then the protesters are threatening that after Friday prayers tomorrow even larger demonstrations will be mounted, and there will be attacks on state institutions such as Nile TV and maybe even the Parliament.

Mubarak was in the position of having to mobilize the counter-force that would have cleared the square. He had his chance a few days ago when his men took on the protesters. The clashes were violent, but not violent enough to give him victory. The army stood by, and that was the decisive factor that sealed Mubarak’s fate. Now he can no longer mount the superior force that alone could have kept him in office.

Power for the moment is lying in the streets, for someone to pick it up. It is unlikely that the protesters will succeed in doing so. Their program is to be rid of Mubarak, nothing more. It is all very well for them to talk about committees, constitutions, and free and fair elections, but this is in the abstract, as no practical means exist for fulfilling these desirable ends. In their hands, power would immediately dissolve into anarchy.

That leaves the final outcome of this confrontation in the hands of the army. The minister of defense, the chief of staff, and the general commanding Cairo are shrewd and experienced men. In all probability, they foresaw how these protests would unfold, and for all one knows they may have coordinated with Mubarak the transfer of power from him to themselves. They have shed no blood. They represent authority. They expect to be able to send the protesters home from the square without a shot being fired.

Military Communiqué Number One has already been issued to show that the army is in command. It would be a really dangerous gamble for the protesters to try to raise superior force. For the time being, in short, this looks like an exemplary military coup.


Anonymous said...

Pryce-Jones this am:

The situation in Egypt compels you to hold in your head contradictory things at the same time. Hosni Mubarak was a dictator. Although not a duplicate of Saddam Hussein, he ran a brutal regime and made others believe that this was the sole guarantee of stability. While he was in power, he blocked all prospect of progress, and his departure is timely. An inbuilt weakness of dictatorship is that the mistakes of dictators are irreparable. He took it for granted that he and his security forces were superior to any movement against them. He could not imagine that his colleagues and friends in the military elite would leave him to twist in the wind. As late as yesterday evening he was putting his trust in generals who were in fact abandoning him — traitors, as he would see it.

Amr ibn al-Aas, the conqueror who turned Egypt into a Muslim country in the seventh century, left a famous saying that all that was required for ruling Egyptians was a little drum.

To put that another way, are military communiqués from a committee of self-selected generals really going to persuade those hundreds of thousands to leave the streets and return to orderly life? The choice facing the army is whether to act in its own interest or submit to the crowds. Either course of action carries the risk of violence.

The Muslim Brothers are the people currently beating a very different little drum. The crowds can be heard shouting Allahu Akhbar, and they are waving Islamist banners. Hamas, the off-shoot of the Muslim Brothers in Gaza, is already boasting about the revolution and welcoming home men convicted of terrorism and now escaping from prison in Egypt. Mubarak feared and opposed Iran, whose leaders are rejoicing in the prospect of Egyptian Islamism. The Iranian regime runs a dictatorship at home, then, but enthuses over the fall of dictatorship in Egypt, in plain language encouraging confrontation. Muhammad El-Baradei aspires to speak for the crowd and become president, but in the absence of a real party or organization he looks set to facilitate the Muslim Brothers, playing the role of the Egyptian Kerensky. Throughout the 14 centuries since Amr ibn al-Aas, the alternative to dictatorship was fitna, which the dictionary defines as sedition, riot, discord, dissension, civil strife. Along with sharia and fatwa, this looks like another Arabic term that will be entering everyone’s vocabulary.

Mrs. P

The Ancient said...

FLG has complete faith that freedom, modernity, and democracy will win the day, but it will be a rocky path.

So long as that "rocky path" doesn't lead through the rubble of our own world.

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