Sens. John McCain and Mark Kirk both expressed concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power in Egypt, but offered widely divergent views about preventing that outcome.
Kirk argued that Egypt needed a new strong man, while McCain argued that the radical Islamic group would not gain power if free and fair elections were held.
"We've seen in past history very well organized fanatical organizations can hijack democracy, whether it be Lenin, or whether it be radical Islamic extremists in Iran," McCain told me outside the Senate floor when asked about whether he was concerned that the Brotherhood could gain power. "They are an organization with ties to terrorist organizations. They support Sharia law, that alone should be reason not to have them as part of any democratic government. Sharia law is the most abhorrent treatment of women and perversion of the democratic ideals we stand for."
Yet when I asked him whether the United States should recognize a government that included the Brotherhood, he insisted, "I think the United States should take every step to make sure there is a free and fair and open and transparent election, and that won't happen."
Earlier this evening, Kirk gave a long floor speech about the history of the Brotherhood, reading quotes showing that it's current leadership still advocates Jihad.
"We ought to know their names, what they've written, and where they stand on the future of Egypt if they ever have power," Kirk told me.
What he was worried about is that Egypt could follow other revolutions.
"The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Iranian Revolution all had a plausible, acceptable, interim figure that was immediately then swept away," he said. "And that's my fear."
In contrast to McCain, Kirk said that it was "Far better that the Gamal Abdel Nasser secular nationalist tradition be what comes to the fore in Egypt."
Asked whether it would be a problem given that the Egyptian people were currently rising up against an oppressive ruler, he said, "Egypt is a tough place to govern, so it probably needs a strong but new hand."
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