The Spectacle Blog

Agreeing to Disagree on Egypt

By on 6.25.12 | 12:23AM

John Tabin doesn't think much of my take on the election of Mohamed Morsi as President of Egypt. He doesn't believe Morsi's election represents an Islamist takeover of Egypt.

Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

John cites a recent article by Elliott Abrams in support of his contention. The crux of Abrams' argument is that Egyptian liberals will benefit in the long run with the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood. Abrams writes, "If Morsi wins, the MB will be in charge--and have to deliver. And when they fail, as I expect they will, it will absolutely clear whom to blame."

I think Abrams' assessment is entirely too optimistic. It's easy for the Muslim Brotherhood to be in favor of democracy when it means they win elections. But the real test of one's commitment to democracy is one's ability to accept defeat at the polls. Let's suppose the Muslim Brotherhood falls flat on its face and proves as inept at governing at their predecessors. What is to stop them from canceling regularly scheduled elections? But let's say the election proceeds as scheduled and they lose. Does anyone think for a moment that the Muslim Brotherhood is prepared to relinquish power to people they deem to be infidels? Besides, all one need do is look at Gaza. Hamas (which is essentially an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) was considered the honest alternative to Fatah. Well, Hamas has shown itself to be every bit as corrupt as Fatah. But Hamas isn't going anywhere.

Abrams also doesn't think a Muslim Brotherhood–ruled Egypt will be eager to go to war with Israel. But if Abrams is correct that the Muslim Brotherhood can't manage the economy, what other card would they have to play? Egyptians might hate being poor under the Muslim Brotherhood, but they hate Israel a whole lot more. The only circumstance under which Egyptians would truly turn against the Muslim Brotherhood would be if they abandoned their opposition to the Camp David Accords.

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