The American Kafir

2011/02/09

The Party of Counter-Revolution

Filed under: Egypt, Lies, Muslim Brotherhood, National Security, Obama — - @ 10:33 pm

Source: Family Security Matters

By William R. Hawkins

In the recent Cairo demonstrations, two senior Muslim Brotherhood members (Saad al-Katatni and Essam el-Erian) are seen in the center of the picture.

The United States has spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives trying to create new governments in Iraq and Afghanistan that can defend themselves against insurgents. The task in Afghanistan is nearing a decade with years more to go. The attempt to export democracy to these lands has been problematic, and has come to rest on strong men like Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Hamid Karzai, and tribal leaders operating behind the facade of elections.

President Barack Obama has had to bend his liberal principles in the face of the battlefield realities of the Middle East. Yet, when a mob showed up at Tahrir Square in Cairo demanding the fall of an already established, pro-American regime ruling over arguably the most vital strategic country in the region, the U.S. President fell back on his old follies and joined the revolution without the faintest idea where it might lead.

Just because protesters cast their demands for change under the banner of “democracy” does not make their aspirations legitimate, nor does it offer much hope that the outcome will be positive, either to Egypt or to American interests. The notion heard repeatedly in the U.S. media, even at supposedly conservative Fox News, was that “popular” uprisings are irresistible and Washington needed to get on the “right side of history” and embrace the mob. Actual history tells a different story. Revolutions are more often crushed than not, and when they do succeed, they have produced the most bloody and horrific chapters in modern history.

The French historian and literary critic Hippolyte Taine (1828-1893) was once known in American conservative intellectual circles, back when the movement had such circles. Analyzing the French Revolution, which opened the door to a quarter century of European warfare and left the grisly vision of mass beheadings via guillotine, Taine warned against, “The mob of a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand beings gathered together haphazard, or on impulse, on an alarm, and immediately made legislators, judges and executioners.” The reported use of the Internet and twitter to rally the Cairo mob only proves that technology has not changed human nature. Taine disparaged liberal theorists, “I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.”

The French Revolution was the start of modern radicalism as well as modern conservatism; the latter being the party of constitutional order and counter-revolution.  The liberty of ordinary citizens to go about their private affairs depends on public safety.  As Adam Smith stated in The Wealth of Nations, “It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate, that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security.” The first victims of the Egyptian uprising were shopkeepers and householders who had to form local vigilante groups to protect their lives and property from thugs and looters as the police power of the regime was shaken.

The sage Russell Kirk, who anchored the American right in Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France,  notes with approval in the final chapter of his own seminal work, The Conservative Mind, “The hopes of the Jacobins were broken with the Directory; they were ground under Napoleon’s heel; and their ghosts were exorcised in 1848 and 1871.” The revolutions of 1848 spread across Europe in the way some want what is happening in Egypt to spread across the Middle East to overturn other pro-Western states that have been the bulwark against radicalism. The 1848 revolts against European monarchies started in Sicily, then triggered uprisings in France, Ireland, the German and Italian states, and the Austrian Empire. Despite some initial success, all were put down by the end of 1849. Europe continued to evolve in the direction of constitutional order and republican government, but with reduced risks from the anarchy, civil war and extremism which come with revolutions.

The path to an “orderly transition” in Egypt was laid out early. President Hosni Mubarak announced that he would not run for re-election in September, nor would his son. Egypt already has the mechanism of democracy. Mubarak has ruled for thirty years because his party has used the resources of the government and the backing of the military to win every election. But there are opposition parties and an elected parliament. The jihadist Muslim Brotherhood is outlawed as it should be as a terrorist organization. Its exclusion is not a violation of “democracy” but a necessary prohibition to protect the country from savagery. Any attempt by it to seize power in Cairo must be ruthlessly crushed.

Tuesday was the first morning in nearly two weeks that the BBC did not open its world news report with the Egyptian protests. Instead, the first two stories were about Chechen warlord Doku Umarov claiming responsibility for last month’s bomb attack at Moscow’s airport, and new meetings between North and South Korea. These two stories should have reminded American viewers of the global U.S. commitment against violent change and revolution during the Cold War and now the War on Terror.

American leaders should hope that the crisis had passed in Cairo. The Egyptian capital of 18 million people was striving to get back to normal. The demonstrators were losing momentum caged behind the military barricades around Tahrir Square and fearful of attack by pro-government activists who had defeated them in street battles last week. Calls for a general strike on Tuesday fell on deaf ears as the city went back to work.

Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman said a committee will start work on constitutional changes. Suleiman met with some opposition leaders on Feb. 7 who said they would draft a list of constitutional amendments by the first week of March. The more radical protesters have refused to negotiate unless President Mubarak resigns before his term expires. Giving in to such a demand would be outside the constitutional process and only fuel more demands from the mob, which has also called for the dissolution of the parliament.

Early demands for Mubarak to resign from President Obama only urged on the mob and risked hurling Egypt down the same dark path as Iran in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter abandoned another American ally. Carter’s attempt to pull an “orderly transition to democracy” out of the vacuum following the departure of the Shah proved a disaster from which the entire region has suffered ever since. Radicalism must be nipped in the bud, not appeased.

The solid foundation of Egyptian politics is the military, and it has not been shaken by the protests. It is the close relationship between American and Egyptian commanders and security officials that must be maintained, as it is the basis for the Arab coalition against Iran and its terrorist militias that operate in Lebanon and Gaza. Billions in military aid have cemented this alliance, but even more will have to be done in the months leading to the September elections.

The trigger for the uprising was not the lack of democracy, but the lack of good jobs that could pay for rising food and fuel costs. No one can seriously believe that merely casting a ballot will change economic conditions fast enough to meet basic material needs. U.S. foreign aid must be increased and Washington should call on European help as well. The Saudis, who fear a domino effect if Egypt falls, are also in a position to render more assistance to their Arab brethren. Everything that can be done must be done to assure that parties compatible with American interests win control of the government in the fall elections.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor William R. Hawkins is a consultant specializing in international economic and national security issues. He is a former economics professor and Republican Congressional staff member.

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