Blog Archives

Choosing sides

Do we have to?

The US seems to be under a good deal of pressure these days to stick with Mubarak in Egypt, no matter how illegitimate his rule in the eyes of his own people.  People like John Bolton, our former ultra conservative ambassador to the UN, seem to think that there are only 2 choices.  They are the same ones Mubarak himself is proclaiming:  it’s either me or the Muslim Brotherhood, and we should be very afraid of that possibility.  A lot of conservatives seem to have convinced themselves that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is the equivalent of the extremist al-Qaeda, which could not be further from the truth.  Bolton thinks our stance should be to support our national interests in the region and, of course, our support for Israel.  He doesn’t care a bit about the Egyptian people, and he and others like him just can’t get over their “Great Power” addiction which gives the the West (particularly the United States) the right to dictate to the rest of the world.

Of course, the Suez canal is important to us.  Of course, we have business and oil interests in the region that are important.  But are these interests so important that we should forget what it is our nation stands for in terms of democracy and respect for human rights and dignity?  How truthful is it (and fair) to demonize the Muslim Brotherhood?  What terrorism have they encouraged?  Why is Bolton so sure they they will come to power if Mubarak steps down?  Just raising the issue brings on our Islamophobia whether we know what we’re talking about or not.

I think Robert Fisk speaks to the hopes and fears of the fair-minded when he says:

All revolutions have their “martyrs”, and the faces of Ahmed Bassiouni and young Sally Zahrani and Moahmoud Mohamed Hassan float on billboards around the square, along with pictures of dreadfully mutilated heads with the one word “unidentified” printed beside them with appalling finality. If the crowds abandon Tahrir now, these dead will also have been betrayed. And if we really believe the regime-or-chaos theory which still grips Washington and London and Paris, the secular, democratic, civilized nature of this great protest will also be betrayed. The deadly Stalinism of the massive Mugamma government offices, the tattered green flag of the pathetic Arab League headquarters, the military-guarded pile of the Egyptian Museum with the golden death mask of Tutankhamen – a symbol of Egypt’s mighty past – buried deep into its halls; these are the stage props of the Republic of Tahrir.Week three – day sixteen – lacks the romance and the promise of the Day of Rage and the great battles against the Egyptian Ministry of Interior goons and the moment, just over a week ago, when the army refused Mubarak’s orders to crush, quite literally, the people in the square. Will there be a week six or a day 32? Will the cameras still be there? Will the people? Will we? Yesterday proved our predictions wrong again. But they will have to remember that the iron fingernails of this regime have long ago grown into the sand, deeper than the pyramids, more powerful than ideology. We have not seen the last of this particular creature. Nor of its vengeance.

There really is nothing left to do but wait, watch, and hope.  People like John Bolton and Bill O’Reilley should do themselves a favor by reading the article at Informed Comment by Christopher Anzalone on the Muslim Brotherhood Myth.  They might not be persuaded, since they live on their fears, but it might have a chance of being added to the dialogue of others who are  more open-minded.