Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Foreign Affairs

Egypt Votes

A referendum in Egypt has overwhelmingly approved constitutional amendments which allow for parliamentary and presidential elections within the next few months. However, as was feared, the Muslim Brotherhood and former ruling party were the most aggressive advocates for quick elections, believing their comparative organization will hand them solid victories. As the first government will likely adopt a new constitution, Egypt is on the brink of becoming an intolerant Islamic republic - poised to wipe out the liberal democratic movement which swept Islamic fanatics into power.

This is the test everyone - particularly conservatives - has feared for Egypt. Will they follow the moderate American model of liberal democracy, or the first French convulsion which ended in renewed tyranny? Tyranny and oppression in the West over the past several centuries have usually been the result of radically secular regimes coming to power - the Islamic Middle East suffers precisely the opposite trend. The capacity of moderate Egyptians to organize and act rationally in the next few months will likely decide their fate for the next decade.

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Discussions - 31 Comments

How could anyone believe that Egypt would go any other way but the way of the Muslim Brotherhood. There is only one country in the Middle East that understands freedom and that is Israel. The other countries in the Middle East only understand tyranny and dictatorship.

You have to understand the concept of freedom and democracy in order to fight for it. The middle east and Africa for that matter have no idea.

It is not suprising that I take the exact opposite view in regards egypt.

I self-interestedly disagree with cowgirl's "how could anyone believe" line of fatalistic thinking about Egypt, but this is very, very, bad news. 77%!!!

This is far worse than learning about a reactor meltdown.

Cowgirl's instinct may be right...

What is the lack of understanding in the Middle East resultant of? Is it an everlasting state? If so, what of the universal applicability of democratic principles? Surely those of us who stand for self-government must somehow believe that everyone is capable of it.

You might have to explain that to me Carl Scott, because while I only have access to Janes Defence and public record documents, that only means I might know stuff the average reader might not. I also happen to know how much foreign aid we will give egypt and with more homework I can tell you what companies will be delivering what. The way I see it the egyptian military is a radically secular regime/company, that produces everything from telivisions to washing machines to kitchen sinks.When I think of what Marx feared Capitalism would become I think of Egypt, ironically if it goes Islamicist we will then have religion as the opiate of the masses. As Ron Paul keeps pointing out, Obama has not slashed foreign aid, curiously neither have the brits, and if you are a real asshole who actually pours thru export data, and Obama's desire to increase exports you start seeing connections. It is pretty cool to talk of a facebook or twitter revolution, but I believe getting rid of true power requires something more like Lybia. Kadafi wasn't just friendly with the Italians he knew Machiavelli in the crude sense, and kept his arms. The egyptian military are tight wads, they are willing to do liberal democracy but on the cheap, which means infrastructure like mosques will have to step into the legal structure in some capacity. A moderate American model of liberal democracy anytime soon was always ficticious. The party that wins will have to govern wisely enough to keep the people and the military happy. I also think the muslim brotherhood is more secular, or will be forced to be, but even if liberals win they will have to depend on mosques for some part of law and education, especially in rural areas.

I think in practice there will be only slightly more night and day between how the political parties govern, than there is between republicans and democrats. Perhaps that is a large difference! Given historical accidents that could arrise it might be best if the direction starts with the Muslim Brotherhood. Who knows what our QE 3 to support war in Lybia and unemployment will do to the egyptian currency denominated in dollars in re: global food prices, given the Chineese hoarding of Phosphates(Saudi Arabia is comming out with more production).

First in power first blammed.

Have you no understanding of Middle Eastern or Africian history? These people are tribal and have been for centuries. They have murdered/killed one another for water rights, grazing rights, wives, religious beliefs, etc. etc.. In 1947 when the lines were drawn in the sand to establish "countries" like Iraq, Iran, it made no difference. Tribal principles rule then and now. Whoever has the most power wins. How can you expect them to even begin to understand the foundation and core of democracy and freedom.

1. The boundaries of Iraq were made final in 1925 and were derived from those of Ottoman provinces.

2. The states of the Arabian peninsula antedate the European presence in the Near East or are federations of states which antedate the European presence.

3. The states of the Maghreb (bar Libya) have their antecendents in the pre-colonial Barbary states and Moorish kingdoms. The state boundaries here also passably reflect the linguistic divisions of the area.

4. Egypt has a distinct history, geography, and vernacular language and was often juridically and functionally sovereign during the span of time between the Muslim conquest and the advent of British control in 1881.

5. The boundaries of the states of the Fertile Crescent were artifacts of Franco-British power politics, but the boundaries were drawn during the period running from 1918 to 1925, not in 1947. The linguisitic, ethnic, and confessional distinctions in the area would have made it inadvisable to put all the localities therein in one state in any case.

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Should note cowgirl the the political scientist Larry Diamond has said that in decades of studying political evolution, he had concluded that the only absolute pre-requisite for the institution of electoral politics and such was the determination of an extant political elite to impose such a system. Various aspects of the social and cultural landscape make democratic institutions more or less likely to survive in particular areas, but these are probabalistic statements. A generation ago you could readily find statements in the mass media about the impossiblity of it all in Central America, something that has not proved to be the case.

There is an episode of Frontline (yep, on PBS, which I do watch on occasion) that follows young Egyptian radicals around just before and after the "revolution." At one point during the documentary a man holds up a Koran to the camera, but the young revolutionary leader whom the cameras are following around tells him to put it down (at least, for the cameras). You see, they wanted the support of the West until Mubarak was toast, and tipping their hand about the true nature of the "revolt" would interfere with that. The lesson? The underlying strength of the "revolt" was and is the Muslim Brotherhood.

My prediction is that we are in for several years of trouble from Egypt. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but Egypt has been and continues to be the seedbed of radical Sunni Islam.

And this differentiates them from Europe in what manner?

AD has it basically correct. I guess what I'm saying is this: We conservatives have drifted so far away from first principles that we now believe that some people are capable of self-government while others are not (cowgirl being one of many cases in point).

Redwald, that was a fascinating Frontline...and the picture of the Muslim Brotherhood's role, esp. toward the end of the protests, was chilling. I've yet to ask my liberal-leaning "don't-fear-the-brotherhood" Egypt-expert acquaintances for their reaction to it, and to the latest disheartening developments.

P.S. I like your ever-expanding list (in other threads) of "Redwald's Rules" on How One Judges Democrat Foreign Policy v. Republican Foreign Policy. It's only slightly too pessimistic.

And lest I get too pessimistic myself here...everyone note the emerging news of serious protest actions in vice-grip SYRIA! For good or for ill, an Arab democratic fever is spreading...i.e., is a deal-with-it fact of our times.

Larry Diamond obviously did not study the country with true freedom and a democratic republic. The system of government in the United Dates of American was not put into place by political elite - it was not imposed.

You can quote or reference anyone that you want. The middle east as well as Africa is tribal. People from the same religions murder one another - they murder for racial and ethnic reasons. They have been doing this for centuries while other nations have stopped and moved on.

I bet all of you on this board wrong as rain. Egypt will be radicalized. The political elite who have power will push their form of government on them - 70% of the people in Egypt agree with Sharia law.

And this differentiates them from Europe in what manner?

I am not sure what you are asking so I will answer both sides of the question.

Europe is a civilized group of nations. Matter of fact Britain, part of Europe, was the first country to outlaw slavery in 1833. Slavery still exists in the Middle East and Africa.

Europe does have a lot of problems though - they have a high migrant population of muslims from various countries in the Middle East that are causing riots, killing one another and wanting to make Sharia Law a standard in Europe. Again, they are tribal and even when transplanted to another country still carry on with their tribal ways.

Hope this answers your vague question.

My apologies on the date of the lines being drawn in the sand in the middle east which took place after WWI.

I mistakenly referred to 1947 - thinking of when the lines were drawn for Israel in the Middle East after the UN Resolution 181. Actually I believe it was 1948.

My question was in reference to these segments of your post:

"These people are tribal and have been for centuries. They have murdered/killed one another for water rights, grazing rights, wives, religious beliefs, etc. etc.."

You'd have to be quite selective in your reading of history to really distinguish Europe from this.

Larry Diamond was the founding editor of the Journal of Democracy. He is likely as knowledgeable as anyone about this particular department of comparative politics, whether or not he is an American history maven.

I think I would lose money wagering on the sustainability of electoral institutions or free deliberation in most Arab countries. That the soil for democratic institutions is not terribly fertile therein is true; that was not the observation you made, however.

As far as I am aware, slavery is a feature of life in Mauretania and the Sudan. It is not prevalent in the Arab world at large. As for other indices of civilization, Latin American countries (and some African countries) have elevated murder rates. Arab countries do not.

Hmm ... Who to believe: Larry Diamond (PhD Stanford) or "cowgirl" (who seems to be claiming that if you're not white there's not much hope of you ever moving beyond tribalism and who's claimed that President Obama's father isn't really his father and who yells whenever anyone has the temerity to correct her constant and embarrassing misjudgments)?

Let's add another wild and inaccurate claim: that Europe's populated by vast numbers of "muslims from various countries in the Middle East that are causing riots, killing one another and wanting to make Sharia Law a standard in Europe." Yeah. Just ... well, just wrong. Sorry.

I'm so glad that Cowgirl is homeschooling her son, and that I am never going to encounter him in one of my classes.

Thanks, Carl, for the kind words (few and far between for me on this blog, I'm afraid, but that goes with the territory). Yea, probably a little too pessimistic, but I'd rather let people surprise me that disappoint me!

Diamond is, for the most part, a qualitative researcher. The determinants of democracy are many, but a primary one is affluence. There are exceptions, such as India, but those exceptions are few and far between (in India's case the British left a very strong institutional base for them to build on). Many nations try democracy, but unless they are sufficiently market-oriented they eventually lapse back into authoritarianism. This is because, as Cowgirl says, poor nations are "chunky" in terms of social divisions (i.e., tribes, religion, region) -- it takes time for markets/modernity to homogenize them enough for democracy to work. And yea, these nations lose their "charm" by being homogenizes, but that's what's required. Democracy is often bland, as Tocqueville notes.

Quit playing games. You are obviously trying to compare the Middle East of today to Europe of hundreds of years ago. You have got to be kidding.

And sharia law does not enslave women? Please try again.


Typical liberal - or better yet Tryannical Liberal: As soon as I mention a fact that you don't like and have no facts to present as rebuttal you start with the race card. Proof positive that liberalism is a mental illness. Hence the "white" reference.

Misjudgements - easy to say I misjudge, but you point to no facts. Do you happend to be a union thug - call names and throw rocks.

Prove me wrong that about Obama's father - this will happen as soon as you get a copy of the birth certificate- the question here is why doesn't the guy release his birth certificate? George Bush release his birth certificate as well as John McCain. What is the bus driver's problem?

So I will do here what Scanlon does - here is a dump truck load of links to the Muslim riots in Europe. There is much more if you care to educate yourself and read the European newspapers. This information is never never circulated through the MSM in America as the MSM in American is politically correct and are made of Tryannical LIberals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu5yBgI6YjQ
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2983714.ece
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4994282
http://www.jihadwatch.org/2008/12/belgium-muslim-riots-jewish-neighborhood-sealed.html
http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1384

You will notice that many of the protestors are protesting Israel and Jews. Racists - Not according to you I am sure.

You and I both agree. I am glad I am homeschooling him too. He would not be 4.5 student if he was in the public school system.

Typical liberal As soon as I mention a fact that you don't like and have no facts to present as rebuttal you start with the race card. Hence the "white" reference.

Misjudgements - easy to say I misjudge, but you point to no facts. Back up your statements with facts. Not name calling.

Prove me wrong that about Obama's father - this will happen as soon as you get a copy of the birth certificate- the question here is why doesn't the guy release his birth certificate? George Bush release his birth certificate as well as John McCain. What is the bus driver's problem?

So I will do here what Scanlon does - here is a dump truck load of links to the Muslim riots in Europe. There is much more if you care to educate yourself and read the European newspapers. This information is never never circulated through the MSM in America as the MSM in American is politically correct and are made of Tryannical LIberals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu5yBgI6YjQ
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2983714.ece
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4994282
http://www.jihadwatch.org/2008/12/belgium-muslim-riots-jewish-neighborhood-sealed.html
http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1384

You will notice that many of the protestors are protesting Israel and Jews. Racists - Not according to you I am sure.

Interesting - the blog owner is holding my response to Just another one... Interesting. I have attempte twice to post with the same results.

Just let me know if you no longer wish me to post. That would be the polite and respectful approach. I will heed with no issues.

I believe the "blog owner" is a spam filter which may have been triggered by the hyperlinks in your comment. I have no idea. But I don't believe anyone monitors the comments in the manner you imply. I read those on my posts, and hence saw your questions and unblocked your comments - which required every bit of my tech savvy. You've nothing to fear - your company on NLT is fully welcome.

Thank you for your response. I appreciate it.

Precisely. If Europe emerged so can the Middle East. Or else maybe we need to re-examine just how universal first principles are (I don't think that's the case). I'm tired of people acting like the West rules and everyone else drools. I'm not even trying to be left-wing and call anyone a jingoist here. Simply saying that the Middle East deserves a modicum of respect. If you can't handle that, gee whiz...

Respect is not given away, it is earned. The middle east has done nothing that even shows they are headed in the right direction.

"Respect is not given away, it is earned."

I'm not sure if I am on board with that. Plenty of people who are deserving of honors never receive them. And re: your last point about the "right direction," for how long have you had your head in the sand?

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