Speaking to NPR on Sunday from Germany, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the chorus of administration officials who seem ready to welcome and whitewash the record of the Muslim Brotherhood. “Today,” Secretary Clinton said, “we learned the Muslim Brotherhood decided to participate, which suggests they at least are now involved in the dialogue that we have encouraged.”
Clinton was referring to the MB’s announcement that they would participate within Egypt in the talks leading to the creation of a transitional government. She added that the United States demands non-violence and an understanding that the Egyptian people “are looking for an orderly transition that can lead to free and fair elections. That is what the United States has consistently supported.”
The Brotherhood, of course, is adamant that before negotiations go any further President Mubarak must immediately resign. As one of their representatives explained, “I think Mubarak will have to stop being stubborn by the end of this week because the country cannot take more million strong protests.”
One thing the MB understands is patience. They have been waiting a long time for the chance to get a foot in the door, and their pretense of moderation, it seems, is getting acceptance from the wishful thinkers among the Washington policy makers. For the Brotherhood’s leaders, an “orderly transition” is precisely the ticket they need to seize in order to eventually make themselves the leaders of a new Islamist Egypt.
In a major editorial explaining their views, the Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief, David Horovitz, notes that although precedents abound, “the US government seems intent on ignoring them.” For that reason, Horovitz’s article should be mandatory reading in our nation’s capital. There have been many areas in which, as so many have pointed out, President Obama is pursuing many of the same counter-terrorist policies adopted by George W. Bush. But one he should not emulate is the policy the former administration pursued in 2006, when the United States moved ahead with insisting on elections in Gaza, leading to Hamas gaining a parliamentary majority which eventually led to their taking over the Gaza Strip a year later.
Horovitz adds that both in Lebanon in the past few weeks and in Turkey, liberal leaders have been outmaneuvered and have proved unable to prevent “growing Islamic domination” of their countries, with the additional result that Turkey “is now drifting inexorably out of the western orbit.” In Egypt, the editor notes that rather than usher in a new partnership with the Muslim world, Obama made no effort to pressure Mubarak to reform in the past few years, failing to see that the people of Egypt would become embittered, and resort to the mass protests that emerged these previous weeks. Horovitz notes the dangers that then took place:
But however one gauges the realpolitik involved in that dramatic recoil from a 30-year ally, the White House’s subsequent reported moves to legitimate Egypt’s Islamists – whose outlook conflicts utterly with the democratic agenda – make no sense, and suggest a frighteningly superficial understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood’s intentions and potential achievements.
Far from learning the lessons of the Islamists’ skilled subversion of other pro-democracy movements, working with potential leaders of an Egyptian transition to minimize the risk of such a process recurring, and making publicly plain that there will be no ongoing American alliance with an Egypt in which an unreformed Islamist movement has even a marginal role in government, the White House seems to be actively encouraging a transitional outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood.