To: Bill Walsh, RicMinInform
From: La Junta Berlinsca
Subject: Egypt comments
You put that much verbiage in a comment thread? Put it on the front page, man! And stop with the budget requests! You’ll get what you get when you get it! XOXO —CB
Apologies to the junta. I replied at length to Peter’s quiz here. Quoth I:
The situation is very opaque because the military's thinking is key. The $64,000 question: What conclusions did they draw from Tahrir Square?
If they believe that it’s time for a more liberalized political order leading to meaningful elections, then we could end up with more republican order. It should be noted that it is possible that the military, which has historically loathed the Muslim Brotherhood, will simply outlaw their participation in politics, even in the most liberal case.
If they believe a more effective authoritarianism is in order, then either they've bet right and Egypt 2.0 is more like Egypt 1.5; or, they've bet wrong and a full-blown revolutionary situation ensues with the Leninist Ikhwān having a good shot at seizing power.
It’s early days, and we should be doing everything we can to encourage liberal-institution building—not necessarily early elections—but we really don’t have a lot of leverage, and it’s in the Egyptians’ hands. I’ve met so many capable, smart, sophisticated Egyptians in my life, my prejudice is in the direction of hope.
At the moment, because the ball is in the military’s court, we don’t known what’s going on. In general, though, the military is against the things that the U.S. government is against: the Muslim Brotherhood and war with Israel. So that’s one reason for cautious (if perhaps temporary) optimism.
The other is that the military doesn’t exist apart from society—while one worries about scary trends infiltrating the military, it’s worth remembering that good trends can also soak in. I’m thinking here of the obvious desire of millions of Egyptians to simply live in a country where they can speak freely, criticize their government, and not be robbed blind by a political mafia and the corporatist robber-barons who were held out the face of economic liberation.
Egypt was a fear society built on lies, and it’s a tremendously hopeful sign that a huge segment of society seems to have become sick of it, no longer fearing the consequences of speaking the truth, claiming a legitimate public role for the people, and reaching for something better.
I hope they get it.
[And as a sort of P.S., I added:]
Oh, and B is my choice for the future. As to a non-violent uprising ousting a brute like Mubarak…it’s hard not to be thrilled. It’s the future that worries.