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John Kerry’s democratic coup in Egypt

US Politics
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This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

There he said it, Secretary of States John Kerry, commenting on the Egyptian coup: “The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people. The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment – so far.”

Where did Kerry make his pronouncement? In another “democratic” country run by the military with the help of US aid – Pakistan.

“To the best of our judgment – so far.” I assume that applies to Israel, another “democracy” run by a military occupation government with the help of US aid. The present peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is farther along than either Egypt or Pakistan. At least it’s more stable. With Israel dominating Palestine and Palestinians, all is quiet on the ever expanding Green Line Front – so far.

“So far” is quite a concept. It depends on where things have been and where they are going. For example, the Edward Snowden effect may not be going as well. With Snowden being granted temporary asylum in Russia, President Obama is considering cancelling his upcoming travel there.

“So far” is indeterminate. With regard to Russia it may be unraveling. Whistle blowing has consequences for the whistle blower – asylum seeking – as well as for the one whom the whistle has been blown on – managing the uproar.

Kerry also spoke in Pakistan about Egypt’s military leaders “restoring democracy.” Since Pakistan is constantly restoring democracy it’s a good a place to discuss the concept.

At the outset, the Egyptian military call for mass mobilization last week and now their order to clear the streets of thousands of protesters seems a peculiar way of restoring democracy. If you’ve ever studied the trajectory of regimes that restore democracy in this fashion, you know that “so far” covers a multitude of undemocratic sins. As in Egypt, restoring democracy usually means the military remains in charge whatever civilian government evolves.

But, then, I don’t want to be branded a “passionate skeptic” by Secretary Kerry, who uses the term to define those who think the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians isn’t going anywhere – so far.

Other Kerry news: US drone strikes are on the downswing in Pakistan. When asked if they will end soon, Kerry responded: “Well, I do. And I think the President has a real timeline, and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon.” The State Department reinforced (or corrected) Kerry’s statement: “Today, the Secretary referenced the changes that we expect to take place in that program over the course of time, but there is no exact timeline to provide.”

So far, that is, but perhaps in these far-flung areas of the world the timeline will be provided very, very soon.

Unless, of course, you are a passionate skeptic beyond the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

With John Kerry let’s hope that the passionate skeptics are wrong – for the sake of Egypt, Pakistan, Israel and the Palestinians and for all us in our global village.

So far, though, very, very soon sounds almost too good to be true.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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9 Responses

  1. bilal a
    bilal a
    August 2, 2013, 10:57 am

    On the Selling of the Egyptian Coup to Liberals

    How the mass killing of Islamists is being justified in America

  2. piotr
    August 2, 2013, 11:34 am

    “The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people. The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment – so far.”

    A student of history surely can find suitable examples. For example, citizens were pleading with Caius Iulius Ceasar to become King of Rome, and he did not “take over”, but modestly continued as the Dictator of the republic. Perhaps Lucius Cornelius Sulla is an even better example.

    • bilal a
      bilal a
      August 2, 2013, 11:51 am

      Yes but who were the citizens who asked for the Coup?

      ” I doubt I’m alone among people with an interest in Egypt in finding myself shocked in recent weeks by the dramatic changes I’ve seen in many people I know. I’m talking about people who used to hold liberal views, professed to believe in democracy and the usual freedoms and respected the work of human rights activists, for example. Many of these people are well-educated and had travelled abroad and could see that Egypt had some serious governance problems at the most basic level – corruption, waste, cronyism, favouritism, negligence, inertia, lack of accountability and so on. The vast majority of them supported the 2011 revolution against Mubarak and looked forward to a fresh start that would try to put their ideals into practice and redress some of the deficiencies that were part of Mubarak’s legacy.
      The ones that have shocked me most have been transformed into reactionary, intolerant, xenophobic, chauvinistic and irrational people who advocate the repression, exclusion and in some cases even the wholesale slaughter of their political opponents. They have called for the closure of television stations and newspapers whose editorial line does not please them, and even for the arrest and prosecution of the people who work in them. They are highly sensitive to criticism from non-Egyptian individuals, institutions and governments, and in many cases have started to dismiss out of hand such notions as democracy and human rights. “We don’t want ‘your’ democracy!” is a phrase I have heard or read on numerous occasions this past month. On top of all that, they have embraced with the fervour of converts an institution that represents some of the worst aspects of late 20th century Egypt – an army that is parasitical, unproductive, wasteful, incompetent, class-ridden and ruthless in pursuit of its commanders’ corporate and private interests. ”

    • Citizen
      August 2, 2013, 12:12 pm

      Here’s a much more informative analysis of the USA’s goofy treatment of Egypt in the current context:

      (Hint: it’s all about securing the lone Hegemony in the ME: Israel.)

      “Citing influential analyst Jim Lobe, Sniegoski emphasizes that It is not democracy but rather “protecting Israeli security and preserving its military superiority over any and all possible regional challenges” that is “a core neoconservative tenet.””

  3. Citizen
    August 2, 2013, 12:18 pm

    And while you’re here, how about reading this: Chomsky’s belated acknowledgement the dominant force in pushing for Iraq war were the same folks, the neocons:

    And here, from 2011 article on the neocons’ initial reaction to the Egypt situation at the time:’-tepid-reaction-to-the-egyptian-democratic-revolution/

  4. Citizen
    August 2, 2013, 12:23 pm

    And I just noticed, Congress has added still more draconian sanctions on Iran. At what point in this continued pile-up does the world say the US Congress de facto declared war on Iran and all its people some time ago?

    And I have not even mentioned Syria.

    The PNAC agenda is in full bloom, with our brown saviour Obama leading the charge just as if he were a white legacy dumbo POTUS like the cowboy he replaced. Maybe the ivy league needs to be replaced as a source for American leaders.

    • just
      August 4, 2013, 5:23 am

      These odious sanctions are indeed an act of war…

      We should normalize relations with the people and government of Iran– it would be a “win- win” if our world was a just and sane one.

  5. just
    August 2, 2013, 5:54 pm

    Kerry and our ‘foreign policy’ experts are completely clueless and inept.

    Sad. The world is really going to ignore us entirely and soon.

  6. bilal a
    bilal a
    August 5, 2013, 5:16 am

    The Grand Scam: Spinning Egypt’s Military Coup-counterpunch on the treason of elbaradei:

    Meanwhile, ElBaradei was fully engaged in contacting world leaders to convince them that the only way out for Egypt was the dismissal andoverthrow of Morsi. In early July he proudly admitted, “I spoke with both of them (Obama and Kerry) extensively and tried to convince them of the need to depose Morsi.” Furthermore, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait pressed the U.S. to support the impending military intervention in Egypt. Ironically, during May and June, Western leaders, including Obama and Kerry, pressured Morsi and the MB leadership to appoint ElBaradei as Prime Minister while the latter was arguing for Morsi’s overthrow.

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