After betting the foreign-policy store on the Muslim Brotherhood as the new wave of Arab democracy in the Middle East, the Eastern Establishment and the Obama administration seem ready to cut their losses. Syria already is a failed state — no alternative government can replace the odious Basher al-Assad, and Assad cannot reunify the country — and Egypt is a failed state in waiting. The latter observation should have been obvious to anyone with a pocket calculator.
It’s no news that Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood is an extremist, anti-Semitic monstrosity. The disgusting eruption of Jew-hatred from Morsi in 2010 is nothing new. What is new is the fact that the Obama administration and the New York Times are shocked — shocked — to discover the Morsi is a rabid Jew-hater. The Times wrote today:
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s scurrilous comments from nearly three years ago about Zionists and Jews, which just came to light, have raised serious doubts about whether he can ever be the force for moderation and stability that is needed. That kind of pure bigotry is unacceptable anywhere, anytime. But it is even more offensive in public discourse, coming from someone who became the president of a major country.
The sad truth is that defaming Jews is an all too standard feature of Egyptian, and Arab, discourse. Teaching children to hate and dehumanizing one’s adversaries is just the kind of twisted mentality that fuels the conflicts that torment the region.
Obama’s top intelligence people have been assuring us that the Brotherhood is a moderate, secular, heterogeneous organization and a prospective American partner, for example, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last year. Republican congressmen like Michele Bachmann who objected to administration coddling of the Brotherhood have been vilified as extremists by the mainstream of their own party. On the strength of a 2010 video tape long known to specialists, the establishment has suddenly discovered that this moderate, secular organization is a nest of Jew-hating vipers.
What just happened?
First, the Obama administration can’t avoid the obvious about Syria: it is an insoluble mess, as I have been arguing for a year. Syria’s Sunni majority is infested with jihadi extremists, and Syria’s minorities (including its small Christian community) are clinging to the Assad regime, despite its atrocious behavior. The New York Times spelled it out in a feature by Anne Barnard today.
Second, Morsi has about as much hope of stabilizing Egypt’s economy as the Syrian Sunnis have of governing Syria, which is to say none at all. Egypt is on the verge of bankruptcy, as opposition leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed al-Baradei said recently. The Gulf states (including radical Qatar) aren’t going to throw Morsi a rope; Qatar’s $2.5 billion loan has been spent in defense of the sagging Egyptian pound. (Qatar appears to be forcing Egypt to pay the money back by purchasing gas at above-market prices, as I explained here).
The Obama administration and the foreign-policy establishment have got their neckties caught in the wringer. The better part of valor is to blame somebody else, and Morsi is handy.
The Obama administration’s handling of Egypt, starting with the unceremonious dismissal of our longstanding ally Hosni Mubarak, is a scandal a hundred times bigger than Benghazi. In the latter we lost four of our people; in Egypt, we lost an ally of thirty-five years’ standing.
How can the administration defend its decision to give Egypt 20 updated F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks?