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Well, you’ve heard by now. The military in Egypt has ousted Mohamed Morsi. He was the Muslim Brotherhood leader Barack Obama more or less backed during the romantic Arab spring last year.
Funny, in America we used to think of romantic revolutions in terms like “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” but this seems to be playing out more along the lines of a dystopian nightmare.
Anyway, Morsi didn’t work out — just what is it about dictators with low foreheads? — and, as usual, the Obama administration doesn’t know whether to zig or zag, because the polls won’t be out until next week.
As the violent standoff over the future of Egypt continues, U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson has become a lightning rod for critics of U.S. policy in the country.
The tip of the spear for U.S.-Egypt diplomacy, Patterson’s June 18 speech discouraging street protests has come to symbolize the administration’s inability to recognize the potency of Egypt’s liberal opposition. “Some say that street action will produce better results than elections,” Patterson said. “To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical.”
Now, with the Egyptian military’s take over of the country, observers fear the outbreak of widespread violence between Morsy’s Islamist supporters and moderate critics, and many wonder if the U.S. could’ve taken a harder line on the Brotherhood during its 10-month rule.
Patterson in particular resisted opportunities to criticize the Morsy government as it implemented increasingly authoritarian policies. In a memorable May interview with the Egyptian English-language news sit Ahram Online, she repeatedly dodged pointed questions about Morsy’s leadership. “The fact is they ran in a legitimate election and won,” she said. “Of course it is challenging to be dealing with any new government. However, at the state institutional level, we are for instance still liaising with the same military and civil service personnel, and thus have retained the same long-established relations.”
Frankly, I’m having a hard time seeing Obama’s dilemma here.
Let’s see: the guy promises to fundamentally transform the country, level the playing field, restore the economy, put people to work. Then he gets elected, puts his radical cronies in key positions, usurps the constitution, and publically demonizes and represses his political opponents.
Wait. Where have we seen this before?
No, give me a minute.
I’ll… think… of it.
HAPPY FOURTH EVERYONE!
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