The PJ Tatler

Meltdown in Tahrir Square

Allahpundit’s been following Egypt’s celebration of International Women’s Day today. There was groping, intimidation and, well, not a whole lot of women around. The generic Middle Eastern brotherhood doesn’t have a lot of room for the sisterhood.

Egypt today is in a state of mild anarchy. The army is basically in charge, but so far no strong leader has emerged. There is no major external force pushing the country in any particular direction, as has been the case in Iraq since 2003. There is no history of democracy in Egypt. There are no democratic institutions there, and no Enlightenment notions of man’s relationship to sovereigns or each other to guide the intellectuals. There is Egypt’s very old history as its own empire and as a part of Rome’s empire, and there is its more recent history as a relatively minor secular state with a heavy Islamic influence. None of this says that the transition from Mubarak to Jeffersonian democracy will be easy or quick. In fact, there’s nothing to suggest that such a transition will happen at all. There’s no Ataturk, no Young Turks movement, not even a Sadat, at least not yet. There is a Qaradawi and probably other Islamists. And Islamism is on the rise pretty much everywhere. There’s no reason to think Egypt will be immune from that.

The history of revolutions is bloody and almost never speedy. Very few lead directly to democracy. Most lead to some form of monarchy or dictatorship, and often they lead to external wars. Based on that history, and on Egypt’s history and what happened to Tahrir Square today, I still think we’re headed for one of three end states: Something resembling the status quo ante (dictatorship of the army plus a strong central ruler); something resembling Turkey complete with its vector toward Islamism (because that’s where most Egyptians seem to be); or something resembling Iran, Islamism on steroids.