I’m glad that John Tabin has referenced Reuel Marc Gerecht’s deeply insightful analysis of the Egyptian uprising. Gerecht is one of our best Middle Eastern analysts; and what he sees on the streets of Cairo gives him cause for optimism.
Gerecht’s work is analytically rich and deserves to be read in full, but the most important points in his recent work are those concerning the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, of course, has given much angst to many of our conservative friends.
My takeaway from Gerecht’s superb analysis of the Brotherhood is this:
The question is not whether the Muslim Brotherhood will rule Egypt. The question is: how can the United States work with key Egyptian institutions — including the Egyptian military and the current Egyptian government — to help create a political system in which all political factions (perhaps including, but absolutely not limited to, the Muslim Brotherhood) have representation and guaranteed rights that cannot be abridged?
And so, an obsession with the Brotherhood, Muslim anti-Semitism, and Arab hostility to Israel does not help to advance this key American objective.
These are all facts of life in the Middle East, which U.S. policymakers must deal with and not ignore, of course. However, the fact that the Middle East is politically and culturally regressive in significant ways mustn’t cripple American foreign policy and reduce the United States to inaction.
To the contrary: the existence of these problems requires that America redouble its efforts to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East.
Mubarak, after all, is 82 years old and ridden with cancer. He won’t live forever and likely will die soon. So whatever his virtues as an American ally, his reign is fast coming to an end.
Moreover, a successor autocrat may not be as helpful to the United States as Mubarak has been. A new Egyptian dictator, in fact, may be more hostile to U.S. interests.
Best, then, not to support any one man or clique in Egypt. Instead, the United States instead should support liberal democratic principles and modernizing institutions — now.