Have you noticed the pro-coup liberals and progressives secretly and not-so-secretly cheering on the coup in Egypt?
In a post from July 3rd, Philip Weiss seems jubilant over another US-sponsored military coup in the Middle East/North Africa:
Even as Egypt braces for what’s next, the images from Tahrir are hugely inspiring. They remind us of the unending technological ingenuity of the Egyptian revolutionaries, and of the importance of self-determination: the protagonists are all Egyptian, the international forces seem largely at bay. And there seems some real hope of a thriving democracy emerging from this turbulent process.
While I share his enthusiasm over the revolutionary potential of the Egyptian people and these recent protests, the understating of the American and Saudi influence in the events of July 3rd is an achilles heel to this argument.
Another line of argument defending the coup comes from the diarist ”grapes“ at the liberal stalwart DailyKos, where he includes Muhammed Morsi in a group he calls “democratically elected despots”. According to “grapes,” Morsi shares this distinction with Adolph Hitler, Robert Mugabe and Ferdinand Marcos.
There is a strong current of opinion in the US and around the world that, because Morsi was freely elected, any attempt to remove him, other than through the ballot box, is a fundamental violation of democratic principles.
If Morsi were governing in the US or Europe or any of a number of long-standing democratic countries around the world, I would concur. However, IMHO, Morsi’s Egypt fits into a special category – countries that are struggling to institute democracy for the first time in many years (if ever). Countries in this condition are especially vulnerable to a tragic syndrome.
Their first election may be their last.
I have a comment and a few questions for the “it’s not a coup, it’s a revolution” camp…
First, a comment:
This is a military coup. Even if you think it is a “good” coup, it’s still a coup. I heard Egyptian demonstrators justify the coup in really interesting ways by saying things like “we didn’t want the military to have to take over, but there was no other way to get rid of Morsi”.
It sounded so familiar but I couldn’t figure out what they reminded me of, then I finally realized. This first category, the “there is no other way” group, reminds me a lot of the Libyans who begged for NATO and the Syrians who continue to beg the West to militarily intervene in their country. They make pretty much the same arguments. I have heard many times Syrians from the SNC make this type of argument, “No Syrian wants outside powers to intervene in their country, but Assad is a mass killer and we have no other way of stopping this Nazi madman”.
Question 1. For those progressives celebrating this as a victory, keep in mind the Egyptian army have been American clients since the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. The head of the military General Sisi was trained in British and American military academies. Would any American progressive celebrate a Latin American coup by a graduate of the School of the Americas? So, why is this any different?
The Egyptian military has very close cooperation with both Israeli and American military and intelligence agencies. So, a military coup done by the Egyptian military is by definition done with at the very least the tacit approval if not an outright green light from the US. As bad as Morsi was, look at how the siege on Gaza has been tightened since the junta took over. The Rafah crossing is completely shut. So, anyone with pro-Palestinian sympathies should have a lot of trouble finding something to celebrate here.
Question 2. What progressive can defend any military firing live ammunition on demonstrators? What progressive can defend shutting down opposition television stations and placing a democratically elected leader under house arrest? These are the kinds of actions the CIA-backed forces did in the Congo to Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala, Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, Allende in Chile, and on and on. Progressives rightfully detest these actions. So, how can progressives watch the US-backed Egyptian military do almost the same exact things to Morsi and the Brotherhood, and cheer it on as a “revolution”?
Question 3. A point As’ad Abu Khalil has made is the following: what happens if there is a revolutionary socialist government in Egypt? The precedent for military intervention into civilian politics has already been set, so can anyone really argue that the military would hesitant one second to overthrow a truly revolutionary government?
Not a Defense of the Ikhwan!
This is not a defense of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. I detest this group and what they stand for. Morsi was an awful president, even many of his supporters will now concede this. However, overthrowing Morsi and persecuting the Brotherhood plays right into their hands and will only strengthen them, not weaken them. The best thing you could do to weaken them was give them a chance to rule and let them continue to fail miserably as they had been failing for the past year. As As’ad “Angry Arab” Abu Khalil has said, this coup will only lengthen their shelf-life as an organization.