Aide: President Obama! The Muslim Brotherhood is grabbing more power and not being inclusionary! Obama: Jumping Saul Alinsky! We must cut off aid at once! Then he’ll learn that he must be open to the world in order to unleash Egypt’s potential for growth!
But wait! Egypt doesn’t have a potential for economic growth! It isn’t going to happen. The country has too many people and not enough resources. What if Morsi knows that Egypt isn’t going to be the new China, with shining cities of high rises, factories pumping out consumer durables for export, and so on?
If he knows that there is no real chance for economic prosperity maybe that is why he follows the policies he does! Might it be that Morsi knows more about Egypt than Friedman or even Obama?
Perhaps Morsi could intimidate or blackmail those with oil and gas, as his predecessor Gamal Abdel Nasser did. And, after all, the Arab nationalists faced precisely the same problem as Morsi does and yet stayed in office for 60 years. Yes, they had the USSR but that hardly gave a lot of economic aid. Why can’t the Islamists run Egypt for the next 60 years?
Or perhaps you can imagine this scene:
Aide: President Morsi! We must abandon Islamism! We can’t afford it! Morsi: Oh well, I guess the IMF is more important than Allah. Mu-ha-ha! Just kidding.If you know anything about societies like Egypt, you would understand that these societies have a lot of flexibility. People can get along with far less than in the West and be a lot more passive in the face of suffering because that’s the way they always had to live. This is a largely agricultural society. Some can go back to the villages, or be sustained by extended families, or tighten their belts. They have low expectations.
And the “Arab Spring” has not changed that fact. At least for a majority. What proportion of the Egyptian public participated in those romanticized events before the Mubarak regime was overthrown in 2011? Say, 100,000 out of a population of 70 million? And many of them were Muslim Brotherhood cadre.
The Egyptian people also know they face repression and they have a deeply embedded ideology to comfort them and drive them onward. And why are they so poor and miserable? It’s not Morsi but America, the West, Israel, and now even the Saudis blamed for their suffering.
Obviously, not everyone is going to believe this but enough will–or get bopped upside the head–to keep the regime in power. Wait until you see what’s going to happen in Syria as a new dictatorship takes control there as well.
The one ray of hope in Egypt is that there are now four Islamist parties (Brotherhood, “moderates,” radical Salafi, “moderate” (i.e., pro-regime) Salafi. If the democratic opposition wasn’t led by such a bunch of quarreling incompetent egomaniac politicians there might actually be some hope of defeating Islamists in the parliamentary elections due in a few months.
This is all a tragedy for the poor victims in the Middle East and a farce for the well-paid, much-honored careerist opportunists and ideologues in the West.
What’s so frustrating about this mess is that not only are the policies so bad, and not only is the permitted debate so narrow, but that these people don’t even try to come up with logical arguments because they know they can get away with any old trash and still get applauded.
Originally published at Rubin Reports, under the title, “Who Will the Muslim Brotherhood Heed: Allah or Tom Friedman (and Such People)? No Contest.”
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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