America in the 1950s briefly woke up to the fact that any measure had to be taken to keep the Reds away from power… or there would be no America left. Egyptians understood this about the Muslim Brotherhood all along and took many of those measures, until we forced Egypt to dismantle its defenses, as we dismantled our own. Obama and Morsi are the consequences of that unilateral disarmament.
Obama and Morsi are not individuals, they are the representatives of political movements that have spent the better part of a century clambering to power. Their brushes with the law have made them cunning and their rise to power after so long have fed their sense of historical destiny. To them these are more than momentary political triumphs, but the culmination of history. They do not see ballot boxes, but the inevitable march of progress and prophecy that must be fulfilled by any means necessary.
It is not surprising that Obama and Morsi, two men who hail from the same continent and a related cultural milieu, have gotten along so well with one another. Their interests do not precisely align, but they can appreciate a colleague working in the same field of revolution. But the mutual friendship may prove to be more harmful to Morsi than to Obama.
While conservatives and counter jihadists denounce Obama for his support for Morsi, until Morsi goes the way of Iran and begins seizing American hostages, most Americans will simply not care. Egyptians, on the other hand, like most of the region, have the usual Anti-American instincts and the same Gaza ceasefire that won Morsi a blank check from Obama to do as he wished domestically also convinced many Egyptians that Morsi was Obama’s poodle.
The same window that prevents Morsi from exerting total control over the country, also prevents him from making a complete break with America. Morsi needed Obama to bail out the Egyptian economy and now Obama is dragging Morsi down. Positive views of America fell to 19 percent in Egypt in 2012 making Anti-Americanism into a viable proposition. Not that it ever wasn’t.
Morsi however also has the same ace in the deck as Obama. Class warfare. Islamists reliably draw their support from the poor. The Muslim Brotherhood’s background was linked to feudal landholders, but it has successfully reinvented itself as the party of the rural fellaheen. The flow of the rural poor into Turkey’s major cities allowed the Islamist AKP to take over Turkey. And Morsi is not proposing a referendum because he expects to lose.
Americans weren’t ready for a reversal after four years. Will Egyptians be ready to cast down Morsi after a much shorter period?
Obama’s work has taken longer and gone slower because there is much more of it to do. America started out at a higher point than Egypt and it will take it a while to hit bottom. Morsi has less to dismantle and is working against lower expectations in a country where freedom is a slogan, not a tangible experience.
The 21st Century has been surprisingly good to Islamists and leftists. The fall of the Soviet Union opened a power vacuum that the Islamists filled and allowed the left to sell its agenda in a world where the gulag was no longer a relevant term. Of the two groups the leftists have a shorter future, at least in areas that fall under Islamist control, but their Islamist alliances have also given them a new lease on life.
The leftists have taught class warfare to the Islamists and the Islamists have revived the left’s critiques of foreign policy as imperialism by providing them with a global identity group that fills the hole left behind by the end of the Cold War. It is not surprising then to see Obama and Morsi working so well together… or following the same path.
Transnationalist movements are predatory. They strike at a weak period in a nation’s history with the aim of tearing apart the country. But a country so weak and dissolute as to remain under the dominion of transnationalist movements is also too corrupted to be very much use. The Communists could never make much of Russia or China. It took a transition to capitalism to do that. And the only thing that transnationalists will be able to make of America or Egypt is to harness both countries for the sheer manpower and the leftover weapons.