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The Revenge of the “False Choice”

August 18th, 2013 - 1:35 am

The NYT’s description of how US officials begged and pleaded with the Egyptian military to avoid a showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood to no avail is full of pathos in more ways than one. It describes how senior American officials who once bestrode the world were reduced to groveling. How the mighty had fallen. Not only did the US consent to be ignored, Obama paid for the privilege.

American and European diplomats trying to defuse the volatile standoff in Egypt thought they had a breakthrough … Two senators visiting Cairo, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, met with Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the officer who ousted Mr. Morsi and appointed the new government, and the interim prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, and pushed for the release of the two prisoners. But the Egyptians brushed them off. …

All of the efforts of the United States government, all the cajoling, the veiled threats, the high-level envoys from Washington and the 17 personal phone calls by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, failed to forestall the worst political bloodletting in modern Egyptian history. The generals in Cairo felt free to ignore the Americans first on the prisoner release and then on the statement, in a cold-eyed calculation that they would not pay a significant cost — a conclusion bolstered when President Obama responded by canceling a joint military exercise but not $1.5 billion in annual aid.

They had Obama over a barrel. How did he get there?  Because, in the view of the NYT, he insisted on a higher moral standard than heretofore tolerated by previous US administrations.

Accused of sticking for too long by President Hosni Mubarak, the longtime ruler in Egypt who was ousted by a popular uprising in 2011, and then criticized when he later abandoned him, Mr. Obama gambled on Mr. Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader elected a year ago. He found Mr. Morsi a useful and pragmatic partner in handling issues like a violent flare-up in Gaza.

So he paid for idealism by being slugged and then rolled. But maybe he wound up that way by making a mistake. Sides as disparate as Saudi Arabia and Israel had warned Obama that he was backing the wrong horse. The NYT relates, “from one side, the Israelis, Saudis and other Arab allies have lobbied him to go easy on the generals in the interest of thwarting what they see as the larger and more insidious Islamist threat. From the other, an unusual mix of conservatives and liberals has urged him to stand more forcefully against the sort of autocracy that has been a staple of Egyptian life for decades.”

So having come to a fork in the road, he took it.   And quod erat demonstrandum. For the present none of Obama’s gambles seem to have come off. The President finds himself despised by the Muslim Brotherhood who think he’s sold them out and held in contempt by the military rulers of Egypt who’ve slammed the door in his face — but not before relieving him of cash.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s website says “In a press statement regarding Obama’s latest speech, in which he announced cancellation of the Bright Star joint Egyptian-American military exercises, Dr. Ahmed Aref, Muslim Brotherhood media spokesman, said the US played a prominent part in the July 3 traitorous military coup in Egypt.”  And as for the junta, they are reportedly headed for Russia to find a new patron.

But what about the Brotherhood? Let us follow their adventures since falling from power.  The Muslim Bros, unable to take on the cops are taking their revenge on the Copts.

CAIRO (AP) — After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like “prisoners of war” before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.

In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.

In that mindless rampage lie the clues to the failure of Obama’s gamble. The underlying problem with Obama betting on the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t the immorality of it, but the imbecility of the wager.  Given their demonstrated behavior, why did he think he could back them and come out smelling of roses?

The leading contenders for power in Egypt are descended, loosely speaking, from the Communists and the Nazi traditions respectively. The National Democratic Party, to which Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar El Sadat and Hosni Mubarak belonged, was nominally socialist and authoritarian. In fact, “the NDP was a member of the Socialist International from 1989, until it was expelled in 2011.” Foreign Policy printed an excerpt from the letter of expulsion, which explains in its last paragraph why they were belatedly expelling Mubarak from that august company:

The current massive calls being made today by the citizens of Egypt for freedoms and rights point to the dramatic failure of the Egyptian government to deliver to its people and to the failings of the NDP to live up to its promises. The use of violence, with scores dead and injured, is totally incompatible with the policies and principles of any social democratic party anywhere in the world.

Consequently, we consider that a party in government that does not listen, that does not move and that does not immediately initiate a process of meaningful change in these circumstances, cannot be a member of the Socialist International.

We are, as of today, ceasing the membership of the NDP, however we remain determined to cooperate with all the democrats in Egypt striving to achieve an open, democratic, inclusive and secular state.

Foreign Policy drily notes that the dictator “President Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front is still listed as a member”, despite the fact that at the time Mubarak was expelled, Gbagbo was under indictment from the International Criminal Court for four counts of crimes against humanity – murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and “other inhuman acts”.  Being a socialist isn’t as high toned as it used to be. Or maybe its even more high toned. We just didn’t notice the defects of the old mustache petes until after Howard Zinn died.

But if one side in the Egyptian drama hails from the tradition that produced Stalin, the other can trace their distinguished lineage back to the National Socialist Party. Wikipedia says of the Brotherhood: “links to the Nazis began during the 1930s and were close during the Second World War, involving agitation against the British, espionage and sabotage, as well as support for terrorist activities orchestrated by Haj Amin el-Hussaini in British Mandate Palestine, as a wide range of declassified documents from the British, American and Nazi German governmental archives, as well as from personal accounts and memoires from that period, confirm. Reflecting this connection the Muslim Brotherhood also disseminated Hitler’s Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion widely in Arab translations, helping to deepen and extend already existing hostile views about Jews and Western societies generally.”

Barry Rubin of PJMedia is less restrained in his characterization. “There are huge amounts of archival evidence, including documents showing not only Nazi payments to the Brotherhood but also that the Nazis provided them with arms for a rebellion to kill Christians and Jews in Egypt. … There is no evidence that the Brotherhood has changed its positions.”

So there you have it: in this corner … and in the other corner …

Thus the authoritarian, the church-burning, anti-semitic nature of the Bros should not have been in the least surprising. What was surprising was that State didn’t see it coming. Nick Cohen of the Guardian, unable to choose sides in a convention of black hats, resorts to legalities to find someone to blame. “We may despise the Muslim Brotherhood, but a coup is a coup.” He adds, “Europe and the US need to accept that the Muslim Brotherhood may be foul, but it did not abolish democracy”. How could the Brotherhood abolish democracy when they probably never heard of it?

The State Department should have realized that walking down the aisle with the Muslim Brotherhood to the altar of democracy was like handcuffing yourself to an anvil and trying to swim the English channel. They were bound to drag Obama down and they did. One of President Obama’s favorite phrases is “false choice”. He once said “we Reject the False Choice Between Our Security and Our Ideals”. On another occasion he thundered against the false choice between privacy and security in discussing the NSA scandal. What are we now to make about the choice offered to the Egyptian people between the ideological descendants of Stalin and Hitler?  The President should dust off the teleprompter and say, “I reject the false choice …”  That would be a start. But the Egyptians need more choices than pick one of two — especially these two — if they are to escape from disaster.

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Top Rated Comments   
Obama walked into the poker room and looked around and he couldn't see the sucker...

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Democracy is the tyranny of the majority. Manufacturing a "false consensus" is one way to lead the majority into the Valley of One Party Rule. What has died in America is the Republic. "Democracy" is alive and well. We will continue to get majority rule, as long as the majority does what is expected of them.

We have met the Tyrant, and he is us. The Eleventh Commandment of the Tyranny of Democracy; keep the goodies flowing. Little else matters to the mob. And with the end of the Republic, that is what we are, a mob.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...why did he think he could back them and come out smelling of roses?"
Because their vision and his vision are the same.

Was the Muslim Brotherhood installed in power after the Egyptian people expressed their sovereign will in a free and fair election? Was the Morsi regime the product of Democracy? Was the Obama government installed in power after a free and fair election? Were the Nazis? Is Democracy a finish line someone gets to cross before the Press and then throw up their hands to declare "We Won"? Did Rosi Ruiz win?

In all the cases above the declared result was the product of fraud. In Egypt America and Germany thugs deliberately broke the law and the culture of the Law before the people were herded to the voting booths to elect allies of the criminals who caused the problem. It was an extortion racket. "Vote for us and the pain will stop."

In America the Democrats trashed the economy, trashed banking and housing, trashed the Armed Forces, trashed the immigration process, trashed the education system, trashed the electoral process, and more. Then they used the MSM to blame the GOP for the problems they had caused.

In Sri Lanka the Sinhalese government blazed a path for facing down the Conflict Management, really cultivation, industry. As those great Republicans US Grant and WT Sherman proved in America the best way to end a war is to win it. Let us hope that the Egyptian people win their war against the Ikhwan.

Much of the problem flows from the government of Qatar. Al Jazeera and the MB are both funded by the Qataris. What stops the Saudis from rolling in and lancing the boil?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (44)
All Comments   (44)
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Well Wretchard, if the US wants to be taken seriously, in Egypt or anywhere, then she has to demonstrate that being an enemy of the US has bad consequences. Right now, the perception is that the US is an unreliable, untrustworthy ally and a harmless enemy. If Obama wants to restore American credibility (and just as importantly, American reputation as a great power), then:

1. Decide if we are going to back the Egyptian Army or not. If so, (my opinion is we should), then announce what conditions we will have for continuing American aid, and stick to them. At the same time, make it clear to the Egyptian Army that there are consequences beyond aid at stake here.

IF Egypt abandons the peace treaty, quietly say the US will support any effort Israel might want to make to re-draw the map. That will get the generals attention in short order.

2. Start letting people know what the Muslum Brotherhood is, and what they are doing to the Coptic Christians. This will remove any pressure domestically to back the Brotherhood. Advise as long as attacks on innocent people continue the Brotherhood will forfeit any claim to American concern.

On a more general note, one can wish Obama will finally grow up and admit that choosing the lesser of two evils is the alternative to the default choice of choosing the greater one. It is a lesson every president before him learned.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One-and-a-half billion dollars buys nothing. Currency can't become more worthless than that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The stupidest thing about Obama and his politically correct flock is that, had over 30 mosques been attacked in any Christian majority country in this world, the media and the Dem Party would be whining like stuck pigs and calling for the Fifth Fleet.

But Christians? Who gives a f-ck? That isn't just identity politics, that's a massive addiction to identity by people who are even aware they're on drugs.

The MB have recently launched mass terrorist attacks on Christians, the police, and anyone else who gets in their way, though the chances of Morsi actually ever being brought back into the Presidency are about minus 1,000%.

That shows a level of political thought that reveals why Morsi was such a failure as President. Like Obama, he thought a slight majority just over 50% was a mandate to run roughshod over his own country, much of which he thought of as, at best, ignorant or, at worst, enemies. No wonder Obama wants to bail out his twin brother, aside from the fact that Morsi has the good sense to not be Christian or, horrors, Jewish.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
American men learn the existential lessons of life on the school yard. Obama seems alien in this regard. Here's an example. If, on the schoolyard you draw a line and tell someone not to cross, and then that person proceeds to cross it and you do nothing, you are destroyed and will be regarded by everyone as insignificant, silly, and a big mouthed coward.

You will never recover your standing among equals while lacking a convincing demonstration that the perception is not true. A warning in search of a credible threat is no warning at all. Here is the painful truth. Barak Obama is finished in the international arena. He is finished. There is not one single leader of those countries against us, North Korea et al, who fears Obama, they are laughing at him, to his face. From Libya to Syria, Barak Obama has left a trail of destruction more reminiscent of the Vandals than the great American people. I fear the next administration will have to begin like Obama's first, with an apology tour, this time apologizing to our friends.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This administration really seems fixated on falsity.

- "false choice"
- "phoney scandals"
- B*llsh*t transparency
- 'misspoken' testimony
- hallucinatory policy
- fanciful campaign promises
- fake resets
- fallacious debt limits
- falsified economy
- fictional laws/taxes
- made-up voters
- contrived authority
- imaginary legitimacy

Is there nothing that isn't false about this clown posse other than their "long train of abuses and usurpations"?

RINOcerotum delenda est
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think this is an attempt, not to save the Muslim Bros per se, but to assert a fading authority over Cairo.

Maybe. Probably. But "Maverick" McCain also welcomes any chance to show how earnest he is by going against the status quo. He always means well and lacks sense. And this was our alternative to Obambus in 2008.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What a dilemma for our President. Support the brotherhood and you encourage tyranny & oppression of the unwilling populace. On the other hand, support the military and you underwrite removal of a democratically elected (or, at least democratically deceptive) government, as well as oppose Shiite Islamists.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The "democratically" elected government of the MB is a sham. There was plenty of reportage about rigging of the elections. The "coup" is hardly an undoing of a "democratically"elected government; it is the undoing, by force, of one man-one vote-one time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
McCain and company are now advocating cutting aid to Egypt.

I think this is an attempt, not to save the Muslim Bros per se, but to assert a fading authority over Cairo. Their greatest problem now is that the client is in rebellion against Washington. It's like the general giving an order and the lieutenant telling him to go f**k himself. You will repeat the order and insist it be carried out, not because the order makes sense, but because the alternative is bowing to mutiny.

In the word of McCain Himself, the US "has no credibility in Egypt", friendless. The Bros hate them and now even the Egyptian military is laughing at them. The lion tamer needs to show the lion who's boss and is putting all his strength into one last crack of the whip.

It could not have been pleasant for McCain to be treated like dirt in Cairo. But hey, Obama doesn't mind. There's worse. The US is under siege in Libya, out of Syria and its consulates are hanging on by a thread to a tenuous security situation.

The point must be obvious to somebody in Washington. And anyway, what's the point of continuing aid to Egypt if they won't listen to you anyway? To keep Russia out you say? Suppose Moscow's in already and McCain knows it. Why keep giving the new Russian client Apaches and Abrams and F-16s?

If Egypt remains unmoved by the last bluster then it's over. Worse it will be publicly, blatantly and notoriously over. Obama will have effectively lost the Middle East. Thrown out on his face. Perhaps it's lost already. Then all continued aid will buy the administration is the pretense of an alliance with Egypt.

Of course fantasy dies hard. Yesterday I heard it argued that Obama is demonstrating his genius by remaining on vacation. "He knows he'll make a bigger mess if he works on it. But he's so smart he's staying out of it! Would Bush do that?"

But the real point is would Obama even be in the White House except for that kind of twisted, super-cool reasoning? It's dark days now for America and the world. And darker still because Obama is an adumbration of the greater cultural shadow which has embraced a willful blindness.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Great. Tamarrod, the group that started this whole anti-Morsi campaign, is calling for an end to accepting U.S aid as well as the treaty with Israel. They are sick of outside interference. If Tamarrod shows the same resolve in this matter as they did getting 22 million signatures on an anti-Morsi petition, Obama will have egg on his face for the ages, the President who undid the Israeli-Egyptian treaty in place for decades. And for what?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Like China to the communists, the MENA was given away to Iran and the MB, not lost. But now, Obama and his owners may have indeed lost it to an alliance of the Russians, the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, and now the Egytians.

What has been demonstrated is that so long as the communist, excuse me, Democrat Party of the US exists, no nation can rely on the US. Do we really have any allies today? We have nations who need us, some who share interests, but that is the extent of our alliances today; nobody in their right mind would trust us. The US had a center-right government from '80 to '08 except for WJC's first two years. Nations allied with us and relied on us. In the MENA everybody who cooperated with us is dead or going to die soon; there will soon be a bloodbath in Iraq and Afghanistan just as there was forty years ago in Southeast Asia. Mubarak allied with us and was deposed by us. Ghadaffi allied with us, or at least made peace with us, and was deposed and killed. With friends like the US, you don't need enemies!

Oh, and I'm morally certain that the people who own Obama also own McCain; it just comes too easily to McShame to give Comrade Obama that bipartisan cover.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think it is true, but what these owners want?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Egyptian government turned more or less a blind eye to the arming of the terrorists in Gaza. With the MB they did not even keep up the pretense of a blind eye.

And now, the MB are trying to get those heavily armed Gaza terrorists to come into Egypt to give them a hand.

It would be nice if this led to the Egyptian military and the IDF cooperating to blow the crap out of Gaza - leaving more or less it empty. They could probably get Fatah on their side as well.

And I never thought about it until now, but that guy with the monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark was surely MB.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There's a difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit not a vegetable.

Wisdom is knowing that you don't put one in a fruit salad.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Marie - it is very good to hear from you again.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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