Thomas Friedman’s analysis of the new Egyptian president

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Global analyst Thomas Friedman recently wrote an opinion piece about Mohamed Morsi in the New York times.  

In the article, he’s critical of “conservative analysts” who say “I told you so” and compares Egypt’s move to democracy with the Jewish Exodus from Egypt.

His basic argument appears to be, “Give Peace a Chance”, but then he goes on to admit,

So Morsi is going to be under enormous pressure to follow the path of Turkey, not the Taliban. Will he? I have no idea.

And that is the whole point.  No one really knows.  Not knowing creates instability in everything from markets, to politics to war.  Systems can be built to handle the knowns, even very bad ones.  But in the case of an unknown, many times the only thing that can be done is to pick up your spear, grit your teeth, and wait for the other guy to make his move.  And even Friedman admits that he understands Israeli hesitance toward Egypt.  But he calls for a “real peace” between Egypt and Israel, stating that Israel’s former peace was only between Mubarak and the Israeli people, not between the Egyptian people and Israeli people.  Who’s Friedman kidding? Many in Egypt don’t want peace with Israel.  The classic response to dishonor in the Arab world in revenge.  And few things are more dishonorable than losing wars.  Does anyone, anyone, believe Morsi likes Jews?

Friedman seems to believe democracy is a magic pill.  He seems to believe that freedom is mystical.  But even in America, we don’t allow freedom for everyone.  16 year olds are truly free. Neither are felons.  We forget that America was formed, not by illiterate peasants, but by some of the most educated and enlightened people on the planet.  Even its first settlers, The Pilgrims, often thought of as bumkins, were actually highly educated an literate.  In fact, literacy in New England around the time of the American Revolution is believed by some to be around 90%.  Just as importantly, the Founding Fathers were willing to share power, even when they didn’t have to.  They drew up a constitution that limited themselves.  This not only took courage, but a confidence in the type of people making up America at the time.

Friedman’s hope  and the hope that is apparently rife within the current US government, since the US wanted to get rid of Mubarak, is that the Muslim Brotherhood is the docile, liberal and peaceful organization it tries so hard to appear to be.  Anyone who believes this is intentionally blinding himself , another foray into “Hope and Change”.  The Brotherhood does exactly what the Soviets did that worked so masterfully: It identifies what the target country’s elite want to hear, and tailors its message to fit that narrative.  But a chameleon is still just a lizard that changes color to avoid detection.

Need evidence?   Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing.  Don’t believe it?

Here’s Hamas’ charter:

Article Two: The Link between Hamas and the Association of Muslim Brothers. The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.

Article Seven: The Universality of Hamas:….  Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter. But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree.

Article Eight: The Slogan of the Hamas: Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.

What is the Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan?

“Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu-akbar!”

Let’s not forget that it is Hamas that has done everything it can to stop a two-state solution in Palestine. They don’t want two states, they want one without Jews.  The PLO actually attempted to broker a two-state solution, but Hamas resisted this.

From its beginnings, the Brotherhood has embodied political Islam.  It was led by educated Muslims.  The had PHDs and Master’s degrees, just as does Morsi.  They understood political processes, and that there was as much to be gained from “stealth jihad” as self immolation.  Much more actually.  Stealth jihadism is Sun Tzu writ large: Do not attack your enemy’s strength, attack his weakness.  Military strength is the West’s strength.  Our weaknesses are our credulousness and belief that democracy always results in good.

Friedman is correct when he says that Morsi must walk a fine line.  Egypt has in recent years under Mubarak received billions of dollars in aid from the US, a fact conveniently ignored by the media because it doesn’t fit the liberal narrative that the US only helps Arab nations with oil.  Losing that money would be devastating to Egypt.

Perhaps the biggest question in Egypt is what the relationship between Morsi and the military will be.  The military is made up mostly of old Mubarak loyalists.  It is important to remember that it is the military that maintained some order when Mubarak fell and actually saw the whole political process through when someone in the military could have easily created a junta and grabbed the power.  It’s not difficult to imagine Egypt becoming very much like Pakistan, a country in which the military is the most competent entity and that runs the show behind the scenes.  Meanwhile the country hosts a number of terrorist groups.  The terrorists will be easier to control than in Pakistan, because they have an immediate target on which to unleash their jihadic rage: Israel.

Is it possible that things will go well in Egypt? Yes of course.  But I’m struggling to find the clues that would point me in that direction.  Israel now has Hamas on two borders, Syria and Lebanon to its north.  Saudi Arabia has long been a significant supporter of Hamas, an organization sworn to destroy Israel, through Islamic charities. We should expect money to pour into Egypt from Saudi.

And let’s not forget about Egypt’s neighbor, Libya.  Libya has an upcoming election.  Take a look at some of the groups running for seats in libya[1]:

“Justice and Construction Party: The political branch of
the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, modelled on its Egyptian
counterpart. Mohammed Sawan, a former political prisoner under
Gaddafi heads the group.”

“Al-Watan or Homeland: An Islamist group led by former
rebel militia leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj. A leader of the
now-defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which waged an
insurgency against Gaddafi in the 1990s, Belhadj fought with the
Taliban in Afghanistan, where he associated with senior al Qaeda
members. He has since distanced himself from the militant group.”

“National Front: Affiliated with the National Front for the
Salvation of Libya, this is an offshoot of the Muslim
Brotherhood led by intellectual dissident Mohammed al-Magriaf.”

“Al-Asala: A Salafi Islamist group led by Sheikh Abdul
Bassit Ghweila. It has put forward some female candidates who
appear in full face covering on posters. The group believes
political parties are un-Islamic and prefers to refer to itself
as a “gathering.”

Perhaps a caliphate is not out of the question after all.

[1] Chicago Tribune, Factbox, “Who is Running in Libya’s Election? “; http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-libya-electioncandidates-factboxl6e8hsjid-20120705,0,1422261.story?page=1

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