It is impossible to regard the events unfolding in Cairo without profound misgivings. But the sad truth is that the Obama administration, through its thoughtless Islamophilic posture, has helped precipitate the chaos the Egyptian military is now endeavoring to contain. Hosni Mubarak was not George Washington. But he was a friend of order who made peace with Israel and was a reliable ally of the United States. His successor, Mohamed Morsi, was an Islamic totalitarian. The military coup displacing Morsi — and let’s be clear: it was a coup — may be the best chance for any real liberalization of Egyptian society. The army, as Robert Reilly observes, is doing what the Wehrmacht ought to have done in the 1933: overturned a popularly elected government whose goal was to end popular elections. As Andy McCarthy put it with his customary cut-to-the-chase, “a pro-Western military may be the best chance for sowing true democracy” in Egypt. The harvest, if it comes, will be a long way off. It may be news to the Obama administration, but McCarthy is right:
Egypt has never had a democracy, so there is no “restoring” it. Pragmatically speaking, the country has two alternatives: (a) a rapid resort to popular elections, which are certain, once again, to empower Islamic supremacists (who have proved, in election after election, that they appeal to a significant majority of the populace); or (b) military rule through an appointed technocratic government. The former would crush any hope for real democracy. The latter, at least potentially, could force a new consensus constitution that requires equality under the law and respect for minority rights; that delays popular elections until secular democrats are better positioned to compete with Islamic supremacists; and that requires convincing acceptance of the new constitution and renunciation of violence as a precondition to participation in elections.
When it comes to Egypt, there is a lot of blame to spread around. The American people seem to be waking up to the shocking news that a large part of the blame for what is happening on the streets of Cairo — and for what happened in Benghazi and what is about to happen in Syria and Iran — must be laid at the door of the stupid “smart diplomacy” promulgated by the Obama administration.
They eagerly embraced the fairy tale of the “Arab Spring.” When that spring turned out to be blood-red instead of pacifically verdant, their reaction has been one of confusion, obfuscation, scapegoating, and denial. America’s reputation has probably never been lower in the Middle East than it is now. It turns out that there is leadership, on the one hand, and “leading from behind,” on the other. Obama explicitly embraced the latter. The ensuing catastrophes are too multifarious and too profligate of blood and treasure to conceal for long. In the case of Obama, anyway, incompetence and malevolence have shaded into each other to form a single toxic confection. The narcissist-in-chief still moves from playground to playground in the world’s most extravagant caravan. But his distance from the realities he has foisted upon the world is exceeded only by an arrogance bordering (on the wrong side of the border) on hubris. Hubris, as the Greeks knew, is followed reliably by Nemesis. A foreign policy that has sparked chaos in the Middle East, resentment among our allies, and belligerence among states like Russia and China, a domestic policy that nurtures the fiscal madness of “green energy” and and the statist innovations of Obamacare: Nemesis cannot be far off.