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Spengler

Dismiss the Egyptian People and Elect a New One

July 4th, 2013 - 6:38 am

Update: Why can’t we get 14 million people into the streets to proclaim that Obama is an idiot like the Egyptians did? Over at ZeroHedge, Jim Quinn posts pictures of the banners in the mass demonstrations. They are inspiring. One read: “Obama you jerk, Muslim Brotherhoods are killing the Egyptians, so how come they can guarantee you the security of Israel. Hey Obama, your deal with the Muslim Brotherhood is unsuccessful. Obama you idiot, Keep in mind that Egypt is not Muslim brotherhoods and if you don’t believe that go and see what’s happening in Tahrir Square now.” Another reads, “Obama, your bitch is our dictator.” A picture of Hillary Clinton read, “Hayzaboon [ogre] go home.” Many banners simply read, “Obama supports terrorism.” Others were too harsh to mention in a family site. Happy 4th of July!

As Communist writer Bertolt Brecht offered after East German workers rose against their Moscow-backed masters in 1953, perhaps the Egyptian government should dismiss the people and elect a new one.

Don’t laugh. Mexico did this after the debt crisis of the early 1980s: it dismissed the fifth of its population that moved to the United States. China has dismissed its rural population and recreated a new urban population, by 2020 shifting the equivalent of twice the American population from countryside to city.

Egypt’s problem is that it has no practical way of acting on Brecht’s advice. The Egyptian people are dying; the question is whether they will die slower or faster. I prefer slower, so I am pleased by this turn of events.

Starvation is the unstated subject of this week’s military coup. For the past several months, the bottom half of Egypt’s population has had little to eat besides government-subsidized bread, and now the bread supply is threatened by a shortage of imported wheat. Despite $8 billion of aid from Qatar and smidgens from Libya, Turkey, and others, Egypt is struggling to meet a financing gap of perhaps $20 billion a year, made worse by the collapse of its major cash earner — the tourist industry. Malnutrition is epidemic in the form of extreme protein deficiency in a country where 40% of the adult population is already “stunted” by poor diet, according to the World Food Program. It is not that hard to get 14 million people into the streets if there is nothing to eat at home.

Nearly half of Egyptians are illiterate. Seventy percent of them live on the land, yet the country imports half its food. Its only cash-earning industry, namely tourism, is in ruins. Sixty years of military dictatorship have left it with college graduates unfit for the world market, and a few t-shirt factories turning Asian polyester into cut-rate exports. It cannot feed itself and it cannot earn enough to feed itself, as I have explained in a series of recent articles. Someone has to subsidize them, or a lot of them will starve. Unlike Mexico, Egypt can’t ship its rural poor to industrial nations in the north.

Egypt’s people embraced the military because they remember that the military used to feed them. In fact, the military probably can alleviate the food crisis, because — unlike the Muslim Brotherhood– Egypt’s generals should be able to count on the support of Saudi Arabia. Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz congratulated Egypt’s military-appointed interim president on Wednesday night, while the United Arab Emirates expressed “satisfaction” at the course of events. Only the crazy emir of Qatar, the patron of al-Jazeera television and an assortment of Islamist ideologues, had backed the Brotherhood — and his son replaced him last week. The Saudi monarchy hates the Brotherhood the way Captain Hook hated the crocodile: it is the only political force capable of overthrowing the monarchy and replacing it.

Former President Morsi seized power from the military in August 2012, the day that the visiting emir of Qatar appeared in Cairo with a $2 billion pledge to the regime. At the time I warned (in a note for the Gatestone Institute) that “Qatar’s check to the Muslim Brotherhood makes Egyptian stability less likely.” I argued at the time:

Qatar’s $2 billion is a drop in the bucket; it just replaces the reserves that Egypt lost last month. So is a $3.5 billion IMF loan, under discussion for a year. The Obama administration has been telling people quietly that the Saudis will step in to bail out Egypt, but the Qatari intervention makes this less likely. The eccentric and labile Emir is the Muslim Brotherhood’s biggest supporter; its spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (who supports suicide bombings against Israel) lived in exile during the Mubarak regime. Qatar funds al-Jazeera television, the modern face of Islamism. The Saudis hate and fear the Brotherhood, which wants to overthrow the Saudi Monarchy and replace it with a modern Islamist totalitarian political party. Qatar has only about $30 billion in reserves and can’t sustain Egypt for long.

Qatar is something of a wild card: it is ruled by an Emir without even the checks and balances that arise from having a large family behind a monarchy, as in Saudi Arabia. The whimsical Emir just bought the Italian firm of Valentino as a gift for his fashion-conscious second wife — not a dress, but the entire company. His support evidently emboldened the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to take on the military in the aftermath of the Sinai crisis. But that makes stability in Egypt less rather than more likely, because it gives the Saudis, the only funder capable of bailing out Egypt, reason to stand aside.

Qatar has spent nearly a third of its foreign exchange reserves in a Quixotic effort to project power in Egypt, which might explain why the old emir abdicated in favor of his son. With the Muslim Brotherhood out of the way in Egypt, the Saudis have uncontested influence with the military. Presumably the military will suppress the Brotherhood unless it chooses to dissolve spontaneously. No one should mourn the Brotherhood, a totalitarian organization with a Nazi past and an extreme anti-Semitic ideology.

The notion that this band of Jew-hating jihadi thugs might become the vehicle for a transition to a functioning Muslim democracy was perhaps the stupidest notion to circulate in Washington in living memory.

The Saudis have another reason to get involved in Egypt, and that is the situation in Syria. Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war, now guided by Prince Bandar, the new chief of Saudi Intelligence, has a double problem. The KSA wants to prevent Iran from turning Syria into a satrapy and fire base, but fears that the Sunni jihadists to whom it is sending anti-aircraft missiles eventually might turn against the monarchy. The same sort of blowback afflicted the kingdom after the 1980s Afghan war, in the person of Osama bin Laden. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been fighting for influence among Syria’s Sunni rebels (as David Ottaway reported earlier this week at National Interest). Cutting off the Muslim Brotherhood at the knees in Egypt will help the KSA limit potential blowback in Syria.

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Top Rated Comments   
Hilary Clinton's "arab spring" in all its glory. Hilary's agenda has always been to sock it to the Christians in no matter what country they live. During her co presidency with her priapic husband she influenced the bombing and killing of Christians in Kosovo and Serbia; in Egypt she aided the Moslem Brotherhood in its persecution of the ancient Coptic Christians. Now she and her girlfriend Samantha Powers are urging the arming of anti Christian rebels in Syria. She really does hate Christians.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I absolutely hate the left's use of the word "democracy", especially "Muslim democracy" which is even a greater delusion.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
So many Americans think that democracy is a magic spell that brings about justice and peace. But in the absence of inalienable individual rights (as opposed to group "rights," which in practice mean tribalism) and the rule of law, democracy is merely a legal fig leaf for tyranny. You'd think we'd learn.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (72)
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Islamicists are fundimentally stupid people. I don't mean less educated (they are that), I mean they simply do not have sufficient brain cells to form coherent thoughts and plans. They have zero understanding of how to govern, modern economic thinking, technology, well, really anything remotely usefull. They are not well read or traveled. They are conspiricy minded, and foolish. What can come of such a group?

With such people in charge eventually anything they touch turns to dust. It is inevitable.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Left has been trying for years to "dismiss the American People, and elect a new one"; why not in Egypt (and other inconvenient polities) too?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Goldman,

since you are very much conversant with German history and literature, allow this German a little aside on your initial Brecht quote / reference.

I don't have much sympathy for Bertolt B. In fact, I thoroughly dislike the guy. In my view he is much overrated as a writer, his politics were awfuf -- that pretty much goes without saying -- and his influence, domestical as well as worldwide, pernicious.

However, in this specific instance Mr. B. is not guilty as charged. In the (utterly unpoetic) poem you allude to, Brecht was patently and utterly being sarcastic when he recommended to the communist East German government that it elect itself a new people after the 1953 uprising. Check out the text for yourself.

40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Update: Why can’t we get 14 million people into the streets to proclaim that Obama is an idiot like the Egyptians did? Over at ZeroHedge," David don't you know that Professor Craig Pirrong of the University of Houston has stated that Zerohedge is a Bulgarian KGB front? How dare you cite Zerohedge you Paulbot Greenwald/Assange troll!
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
>> Americans who want to conduct a great experiment in democracy will have to take their laboratory somewhere else.

As bad as the decision to support the MB was, and dumping Mubarak in the way Obama did, you'd almost forget by all the self-righteous chest thumping by the those of Spengler's stripe what the alternatives actually were going to be soon enough. Mubarak couldn't maintain power forever and the regime was waning. So now they wail and moan about American "democracy experiments", but the fact is they were fine with American "tyranny experiments" and long for new ones. Many wish to pretend that all you have to do is pay the right guys to suppress their populations.

And have they learned the lessen that those don't work in this popular uprising supported by the military? Not likely. And they'll rail and moan that some Republicans believe in some spontaneous "Jeffersonian democracy", and yet seem to use that same standard to condemn any possible progress as not real democracy. For all the idiocy and wrong-headedness of the Obama foreign policy, if the MB have been permanently eliminated as a popular choice in one year and any successors must take note that people won't allow for one-time selections for tyrants, then maybe the fool Obama actually did better in his foolishness than the Spenglerites would have in his place in looking for a new tyrant every few years.

Sounds to me like the democracy experiment in Egypt is making some progress that the Spenglerites won't acknowledge in their fawning admiration of stability at any cost. Marking out the political alliances is very useful and helpful, but let's not pretend this isn't true of every nation at this stage. It is a reductionism and not the full story as I get the feeling they'd like to believe.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
IS OBAMA THE MORSI OF NORTH AMERICA?

Let's see: Obama is tone deaf, has a compliant press, relieved top generals and has a bad economy. On the other hand, he has Muslim Bruthas as top advisers and they are constant visitors to the White House, while Huma Abedin of the Muslin Sisters was also a top adviser to Hillary when Morsi came into power -- and, then, there's the global genius Valerie Jarrett. What could go wrong?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wait a sec. Do we have out in Hollywood somewhere a mock-up of the pyramids? Do we got maybe some fake camels and waving palms? Cannot Dear Leader give an awesome speech with this backdrop to assure our Egyptian friends that we got their back? I know he did that for the Mooslim Bro-hood, but that was yesterday. I think if he says something like, "the bread will roll from the ovens, the sands will part," that will calm things down.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't forget, American Progressives have for the past several years whitewashed the MB and argued that fear on the Right is unfounded. The editors at the Washington Post and Economist magazine have taken these positions. Recent events have shown the socialist world view of Western journalists and politicians to have been spectacularly wrong. And the Right lets them get away with it. As usual.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
In an apt companion piece to this excellent piece, Caroline Glick observes, following Morsi's removal, that:

"There are only three things that are knowable about the future of Egypt. First it will be poor ... " Secondly it will be politically unstable; and thirdly it will remain anti-U.S./anti-Jew/anti-West.

And there is nothing that we can do, over on our side of the Atlantic, to alter that. That is why a Proper U.S. Mideast policy must be rooted first and foremost in American security, because there are things out there that we simply cannot fix. We can help with the starving masses over there, to an extent, but we cannot alter the politics short of overthrowing the entire nation (ala Japan) and rebuilding it top to bottom. But we cannot afford to even try to do such a thing because Obama, following upon Bush's corporate bailout initiative in the final year of his lameduck admin., has driven our nation into the deepest debt, by far, than it has ever known.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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