But that’s not all by a long shot. What happens when those who actually have to govern fail to make things better and to satisfy the masses’ aspirations? Then they really need those things said in the campaign: the demagoguery, scapegoating, and impossible demands.
At this point, these kinds of things aren’t just forgotten promises, they are magical solutions that are vital for governance! Instead of falling or facing serious internal conflict due to its failures, the regime puts itself at the head of the masses marching against evil foreign enemies onto whom it puts the blame for these failures.
Let’s suppose that Egypt elects a “moderate Islamist” as president. Will he call out the army to suppress his Salafist supporters when they burn down churches, assassinate secularists, or help Hamas attack Israel and set off a war? Does the fact that this person would not have a single reliable vote in parliament affect things at all?
What do these wishful-thinking observers believe must happen to throw their views into question? Presumably Egyptian presidential candidates would have to come onto the stage drooling, wearing horns and a tail, and screaming, “Kill! Kill!”
Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Aboul Fotouh is not the worst person who might be elected president and he probably would restrain to a small degree the speed of transformation to a radical Islamist regime. But in an interview with an Egyptian station, Aboul Fotouh has also just said that while he is against “terrorism”, Usama bin Ladin was not a terrorist, that the United States only called him one in order to “hit Muslim interests,” and that the killing of bin Ladin was an “act of state terrorism.” In other words, he’s saying September 11 wasn’t an act of terrorism but that Obama’s policy is anti-Muslim and terrorist.
Have no illusions.
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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