The deaths of 50+ people and the wounding of 400+ more in an Egyptian street threw American media into a tailspin.
Many of the nets and much of talk radio retreated into Zimmerman blather, Sptizer leering and various and sundry dodges.
The problem is that no one wants to talk much about much less characterize the Muslim Brotherhood. That Egypt is at the crossroads, and that Egypt is the key to the Middle East did nothing to overcome the paralysis of the talking heads and the Manhattan-Beltway media elite.
Transcripts of my interviews with the New York Times’ London bureau chief John F. Burns, Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, AEI’s Michael Rubin and the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens are (or soon will be) posted here. Read them all to get a grip on the complexity of the problem facing America, but it isn’t one that can be avoided, and it isn’t a subject that the MSM can long avoid.
The Brotherhood isn’t going to accept the result of the counter-coup and give up. In fact it is calling for “an uprising.” The tens of millions who forced the June 30 counter-revolution aren’t going to accept Islamists back into power, especially when those very same Islamists have new lists of people to settle scores with.
Many of my radio guests and callers predicted that it will get bloodier and bloodier in Egypt before it becomes more stable. Stephens noted that neo-isolationsim is very dangerous at this point, and that the U.S. and Europe should be pouring aid into the rapidly disintegrating country, not condemning its most credible institution, the military.
The Brotherhood will look for occasions to paint the counter-revolutionaries as reactionary tyrants, and will try and engineer more bloody showdowns to help accomplish that end, but it was Morsi and his gang that took their victory and tried to turn it into a mandate for an Islamization of the country. As Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin notes, the Brotherhood is not the victim here. Key graphs:
But however deplorable today’s violence might be, that should not serve as an excuse for media coverage or policies that are rooted in the idea that the Brotherhood is a peaceful movement or that it’s goal is democracy. The whole point of the massive protests that shook Egypt last week and forced the military to intervene to prevent civil war was that the Brotherhood government was well on its way to establishing itself as an unchallengeable authoritarian regime that could impose Islamist law on the country with impunity. The Brotherhood may have used the tactics of democracy in winning elections in which they used their superior organizational structure to trounce opponents, but, as with other dictatorial movements, these were merely tactics employed to promote an anti-democratic aim.
Stopping the Brotherhood from achieving their goals should have been priority for the U.S. in its approach to Egypt, but instead the administration allowed itself to be depicted as the Brotherhood’s loyal supporter even if the truth was a bit more complicated than that. The president’s continued waffling in the days since the coup has only added to the suspicion that he was far more comfortable with Morsi than he is with those who prevented him from establishing an Islamist rather than a purely authoritarian dictatorship like that of Hosni Mubarak….
Any American action at this crucial moment that would convey the impression that the United States thinks a reversal of the coup or even a new Brotherhood government is a desirable outcome could have a devastating impact on the conflict there. Fortunately, the first reactions out of the White House now indicate that it won’t cut off aid. Let’s hope they stick to this resolution if Brotherhood apologists step up the pressure. Should the army falter in its resolve to ensure that a Morsi/Brotherhood dictatorship should be stopped in its tracks, it could encourage more violence and possibly help the Brotherhood gain support for an armed revolt.
Despite the idealistic posture that America should push at all costs for a swift return to democratic rule in Egypt, it needs to be remembered that genuine democracy is not an option there right now. The only way for democracy to thrive is to create a consensus in favor of that form of government. So long as the Islamists of the Brotherhood and other groups that are even more extreme are major players in Egypt, that can’t happen. The Brotherhood remains the main threat to freedom in Egypt, not a victim. While we should encourage the military to eventually put a civilian government in place, America’s priority should be that of the Egyptian people: stopping the Brotherhood. Anything that undermines that struggle won’t help Egypt or the United States.
Read the whole thing, and everything else that bears on the crucial choice facing Egypt, including The Looming Tower if you haven’t already done so –at least twice.
Then turn the channel from any Zimmerman-fests and focus on the real news and the consequences of it for the U.S. and the world.