The shift is, on one level, an acknowledgment of the new political reality here, and indeed around the region, as Islamist groups come to power. Having won nearly half the seats contested in the first two rounds of the country’s legislative elections, the Brotherhood on Tuesday entered the third and final round with a chance to extend its lead to a clear majority as the vote moved into districts long considered strongholds.That is how New York Times puts it.
The reversal also reflects the administration’s growing acceptance of the Brotherhood’s repeated assurances that its lawmakers want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt’s treaty with Israel.
I can understand the necessity of acknowledging the power of the Muslim Brotherhood, just as it was necessary to acknowledge Mubarak as the leader of the world's largest Muslim country, Egypt.
The acceptance of the Muslim Brotherhood is, however, another matter.
First of all, it is ridiculous on the part of the New York Times to attempt to justify the Obama administrations acceptance of "repeated assurances" at a time that Essam Arian, the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, and Dr. Rashad Bayoum, Deputy General of the Muslim Brotherhood have said that the Muslim Brotherhood has not made such assurances, and that they will not recognize Israel "under any circumstances."
And so we are left with the New York Times buying into the Obama administration's marketing of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood as necessary backing for a moderate group:
It would be “totally impractical” not to engage with the Brotherhood “because of U.S. security and regional interests in Egypt,” a senior administration official involved in shaping the new policy said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic affairs.Always that fall back position--claiming that not only is the Muslim Brotherhood a moderate group, but that the group has been giving assurances that it will be moderate.
“There doesn’t seem to me to be any other way to do it, except to engage with the party that won the election,” the official said, adding, “They’ve been very specific about conveying a moderate message — on regional security and domestic issues, and economic issues, as well.”
In addition, this is supposed to be the model for how the US will deal with all Islamist governments that come to power--such as Morocco, Libya and Tunisia.
That kind of thinking leads to the following foolishness from Senator John Kerry:
“You’re certainly going to have to figure out how to deal with democratic governments that don’t espouse every policy or value you have,” said Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and recently joined with the ambassador to Egypt, Anne W. Patterson, for a meeting with top leaders of the Brotherhood’s political party.On the contrary, what the US needs to do is step beyond Kerry's nuanced view and face reality:
He compared the Obama administration’s outreach to President Ronald Reagan’s arms negotiations with the Soviet Union. “The United States needs to deal with the new reality,” Mr. Kerry said. “And it needs to step up its game.”
- Since the new government has not taken power yet, it's kind of early in the day to jump and refer to it as a democratic government--unless of course you are desperate to defend the policy behind it.
- We have already seen from the case of Hamas that a democratic election does not necessarily lead to a democratic government--or has Kerry conveniently forgotten about the bloody coup by which Hamas kicked then-President Abbas out of Gaza?
- If only the Obama administration could "figure out" how to deal with "democratic governments that don’t espouse every policy or value you have" such as Israel
- Kerry's gratuitous justification of Obama's policy with Reagan's negotiations with Russia conveniently overlook the fact that Reagan did not hide behind diplomatic niceties--or excuses: Reagan did not hesitate to refer to the then USSR as an "evil empire" and applied pressure that eventually led to the taking down of the Berlin Wall. The Reagan policy stands in direct opposition to Obama's Mideast Policy that has left the people of Iran--and now apparently Egypt--stranded with an extremist government.
And the record speaks for itself.
Technorati Tag: Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt and Middle East.