Monday, July 8, 2013

Interpreting Egypt

Yesterday's Sunday morning talk shows were particularly interesting as US government officials and pundits employed twisted talk and tortured logic to call the ousting of the first democratically elected president of Egypt anything other than a coup.  Webster's dictionary defines a coup as "a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics".  President Morsi was elected by more than 51% of the voters, his party won the parliamentary elections, and the constitution he championed was supported by 64% of the voters.  After just one year in office he was ousted because he was unable to effectively unite a fractured nation after decades of authoritarian (and US supported) rule.  Most observers would agree that Morsi was not having great success in dealing with Egypt's problems.

The US government's response to these events have significant implications with few good options.  First, the US is required by law to suspend the $1.5 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian military as a result of the coup thus reducing US influence in Egyptian affairs even more.  Second, it makes reconciliation and negotiation with the Afgan Taliban more difficult as we ask them to lay down their arms and join the Afgan political process.  The Taliban's lesson from Egypt is that if they do so successfully the US may mount or condone a coup.  Is Karzi in Afganistan any more effective or inclusive than Morsi in Egypt in terms of governing?  Finally, the twisted talk and tortured logic may resonate with the American public but it sounds like hypocrisy to much of the Arab world.......the US supports emerging democracy in other countries only if they elect candidates we support.

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