“I just can’t do what I done before/I just can’t beg you anymore/I’m gonna let you pass/And I’ll go last/Then time will tell just who fell/And who’s been left behind/When you go your way and I go mine.”
–Bob Dylan, “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine”
Muhammad al-Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, has become president of Egypt. But what does it mean to be president of Egypt? That’s the current question. Let me divide the discussion into two parts: What does this tell about “us” and what does this tell about Egypt and its future?
First, what does it tell about the West? The answer is that there are things that can be learned and understood, leading to some predictive power, but unfortunately the current hegemonic elite and its worldview refuse to learn.
Here’s the New York Times passing on what administration officials told its reporters: “The Obama administration, expressing relief on Sunday that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate will be Egypt’s next president, voiced cautious optimism that the choice could keep the country’s rocky transition to democracy on track.” So we should be happy the Brotherhood won? I guess this means that if they lost the Brotherhood might riot, turn to violence, and Egypt’s democratic experiment would have failed. Now, however, we supposedly can feel okay because the Brotherhood will impose an anti-American Sharia state based on majority rule? So, apparently, the U.S. government is on the Muslim Brotherhood’s side.
What could be more revealing than the words off Jacqueline Stevens in the New York Times: “Chimps randomly throwing darts at the possible outcomes would have done almost as well as the experts”? Well, it depends on which experts. Martin Kramer, one of those who was right all along about Egypt, has a choice selection of quotes from a certain kind of Middle East expert who was dead wrong. A near-infinite number of such quotes can be gathered from the pages of America’s most august newspapers.
These people all share the current left-wing ideology; the refusal to understand the menace of revolutionary Islamism; the general belief that President Barack Obama is doing a great job; and the tendency to blame either Israel or America for the region’s problems. So if a big mistake has been made, it is that approach that has proven to be in the chimp category.
Having written about the Middle East for almost forty years, I’ve seen the power of the “chimps” that repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over again. Their power has waxed and waned, falling to the lowest points, for example, just after the 1991 Kuwait war and just after September 11, 2001. But they keep making comebacks and in the last two years their influence has been at an all-time high.
In early October 2010 I wrote an article based on actually reading what the Muslim Brotherhood leaders were saying. It was titled “The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is Declaring Jihad on America; Will Anyone in America Notice?” And they were signaling a change in their traditionally cautious strategy to go for revolution. Why? They told us: President Husni Mubarak was on his last legs, the regime seemed vulnerable to being overthown, America was weak, and their assessment was that the revolutionary Islamist forces were advancing everywhere.
By the time the uprising broke out, in January 2011, numerous voices were raised in warning. If the mainstream were to be honest, it would have to admit that those voices included Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck.
[Incidentally, imagine the anger, the hatred, and the gnashing of teeth that will occur in response to the previous sentence. Yet aren't people engaged in public debate--especially intellectuals, and that includes liberal intellectuals--supposed to acknowledge the truth? Who refuses to give credit for those, even opponents, who are right? Who refuses to learn from their own mistakes? Not real liberals or conservatives, but ideologically rigid radicals.]