Confusion abounds. Now John McCain is denouncing the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, calling it a “coup” and urging the President to suspend all aid to the country. When our leading hawk rails at Egypt’s military and pushes against a policy that might end with a more pro-American regime, something is askew.
Obama calls for a “more inclusive” resolution, and John Kerry insists that “we firmly reject the unfounded and false claims by some in Egypt that the United States supports the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or any specific Egyptian political party or movement.” Does it get any more scrambled than that?
For non-Egyptologists, which likely includes us all, making sense of this is daunting. George W. Bush, traveling in Africa, urges patience, opining that the Arab Spring was “a good thing because people are demanding their rightful place.”
Sane voices are few. “It would have been far more preferable,” Thomas Friedman observes, “if President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood’s party had been voted out of office in three years. This would have forced the party to confront its own incompetence and popular repudiation. I wish the Egyptian army, which has its own interests, had not been involved. But perfect is not on the menu anymore in Egypt.”
So we are in another no-win in the Middle East, as we have been so many times before in the past decade, trying to influence or moderate the playing out of ancient hatreds that express themselves in body counts.
Lest we forget, it was only two years ago that CBS’ Lara Logan was brutally sexually attacked in Cairo’s Tahrir Square by “liberators” urging the overthrow of Mubarak.
To add further confusion, stream Netflix for a 2009 film “Cairo Time” which, while otherwise a love poem to the beauty of Egypt, shows a fair-skinned middle-aged American woman unable to walk the streets without being constantly molested and offhand cruelty to local women and girls.
As the US keeps getting pummeled by the turmoil there now, which Egypt are we trying to preserve and protect—-the one struggling toward democracy or the one still caught up in a savage past?
And how do we tell the difference?