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Sunday, July 07, 2013


Egypt needs good government, not democracy.

Walter Russell Meade on Obama: Still Wrong About Egypt—and Wrong About the World Commenting on Obama's vaporing about Egypt's transition to Democracy:

It is not at all clear that Egypt is in the midst of a transition to democracy. It is in the midst of a crisis of authority and has been wallowing for some time in a damaging crisis of governance, but is Egypt really in a transition to democracy? And is democracy really what “ordinary” Egyptians want?

Right now one suspects that most Egyptians fear that the country could be in a transition to anarchy, and that what ordinary Egyptians (who are extremely poor by US standards and earn their bread by the sweat of their brow with very little cushion against illness or a bad day at the market) want most of all right now is security. They aren’t fretting so much about when they will have a government more like Norway’s as they are terrified that their country is sliding in the direction of Libya, Syria or Iraq.

As is often the case, Washington policymakers seem to be paying too much attention to the glibbest of political scientists and the vaporings of the Davoisie. Egypt has none of the signs that would lead historians to think democracy is just around the corner. Mubarak was not Franco, and Egypt is not Spain. What’s happening in Egypt isn’t the robust flowering of a civil society so dynamic and so democratic that it can no longer be held back by dictatorial power.

Want America to look stupid and be hated?
If American policy toward Egypt is based on the assumption that Egypt is having a “messy transition” to democracy and that we must shepherd the poor dears to the broad sunny uplands, encouraging when they do well, chiding when they misstep, Washington will keep looking foolish and our influence will continue to fade. If that is the approach our foolishness compels us to take, look for more cases in which American good intentions just make us more hated—not because we are wicked, but because we are clueless.
Makes you nostalgic for the realism of George Bush.

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