Viewpoint: What Happened In Egypt Was Not Democratic

The coup—and it was a coup—may well have extinguished Egypt's experiment in democracy

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Khalil Hamra / AP

A poster of ousted President Mohammed Morsi hangs on the barb wire at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, on July 9, 2013.

Many Americans are still trying to figure out what happened last week in Egypt. Was Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president, overthrown in a military coup? Or did the army protect the country’s fledgling democratic system by removing an increasingly autocratic head of state who refused to share power with other parties?

The question is actually fairly easy to answer, by way of an analogy close to home. President Obama’s push for universal health care proved so unpopular among Republican lawmakers that administration officials like former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly “begged” the president to drop the issue and move on. Nonetheless, in spite of opposition from the GOP as well as his own party, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. At no point during or after the highly contentious process did any reasonable person argue that the military should remove the president from the office to which the American people elected him.

(MORE: Did Egypt Have A Military Coup? The White House Still Isn’t Saying)

What happened in Egypt last Wednesday was a coup. The White House has resisted labeling it as such not because it can’t tell the difference, but because it fears that calling a spade a spade would strip the United States of the little influence it has over events in Egypt. For more than three decades, Washington has given the Egyptian military tens of billions of dollars, a poker chip that, because of a U.S. law preventing aid to militaries involved in a coup, the administration would forfeit if it called the military’s action by its proper name. Moreover, in tip-toeing around the issue, the White House likely wishes to avoid alienating an army that has taken Egypt’s political future into its hands.

The millions of Egyptians who support the military’s action but refuse to call it a coup have a different excuse: They have very little experience with democratic political culture. In order to explain the coup to themselves—they are calling it an “evolutionary step” in Egyptian democracy—anti-Morsi Egyptians have resorted to analogies that obscure rather than illuminate the issue. For instance: If your car had a flat tire, goes one quip makings the rounds among the young revolutionaries of the Tamarrod movement camped out at Tahrir Square, you wouldn’t wait three years to get it fixed. The reality is that if you think democracy is like a car, then you are never going to have a functioning democracy—and your car might not ride so smoothly either.

Egypt’s experiment in democracy—which the coup may well have extinguished—means that Egyptians must be judged according to the same standards that hold for all citizens of a democracy. Consider again our own situation in comparison: Morsi is faulted for not giving enough room to other stakeholders in Egyptian politics, but the same holds for Obama who, like every American president before him, appointed allies, not opponents to key posts. Morsi complained that his political adversaries were simply playing to block him at every turn. So has Obama, who for five years has gotten a lot of mileage out of painting the Republicans as obstructionists. Whether that’s accurate or not, what illuminates what happened in Egypt last week is the fact that no one, not even his most determined opponents on the Hill, would ever dream of calling for the military to topple the commander-in-chief.

(PHOTOS: Cairo Massacre: Dozens of Pro-Morsi Supporters Killed in Clashes With Egypt’s Military)

11 comments
anonymot
anonymot

The seeds we sowed via the CIA & State Dept. thet Hillary said were going to make "Democracy" grow were not democratic. It was apparent to anyone who knew Egypt that the Brotherhood would take over the country and that they could roust out the "vote". But they never had a democracy. The vote is only one element in a complex system of decision making for a nation. They got the vote, but not the rest. We kept feeding the corruption and guiding our friends inside the army and castigating the ex-Mubarak political machine that we had conived to corrupt for many decades. Since we don't seem capable of understanding anyone unlike us we need to simply get the Hell out of the M-E and Africa, Latin America and Asia. We have enough to mess up right here at home.

HAMDAOUI
HAMDAOUI

Using democracy as a means to an end is not democracy.

MahaEl-Sidfy
MahaEl-Sidfy

To compare Obama's health care scheme to what Morsi did is (to be polite) misinformed. 

It is more like Nixon's Watergate (actually much worse), and Clinton when tried for impeachment! 

They were both democratically elected and great men. If any of your presidents passed a constitutional decree putting himself above the law and the constitution, itself, I doubt this would be tolerated. The man did not even consult neither his government nor his appointed consultants. 

The scandal of the Ethiopia Dam's congregation that went on air was enough to throw over GOD himself. The double standards and the naive approach for the press, be it CNN, BBC or now the Time makes me think they are not independent after all. The muslim Brotherhood turned out to be a terrorist organization, allies to Qaida ! How can you forget 9/11? 

We have not forgotten.

Before you decide to analyze, give it time, all evidence is getting out.

For the time being compare the two camps: 

Anti Morsi: Peaceful, chanting for early elections ( at first), Egyptian flags, unarmed, from all walks of life, veiled and unveiled women. 33 million in the streets ( the most conservative count was 20 million) not one incident of violence!!!!!

Pro Morsi: Armed bearded men, black flags for Qaida, photos of Bin laden on their chests, hate speech and vows to kill infidels, to go to war against their own army! Violence broke everywhere. Remember? This is the camp that called Jews pigs and descendants of apes. Like they are not?

Your government's moves are understandable, they want puppets who listen, they think that a liberal civil Egyptian government will go to war with Israel? How alien.

Videos of MBs killing their people to  stain the army are out everywhere. Proofs: bullets found next to bodies. & cm bullets not used by army etc..... They lie through their teeth. 

We will prevail. Egypt will become a democracy and not one vote one man forever!

We are different! 

Maha Mohamed el-Sidfy



Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

The Egyptian military got rid of an autocratic theocracy.

TomasoMonteverdi
TomasoMonteverdi

Lee, I remember rumblings of secession, insurrection, and treason from the Republicans in the US House and Senate during Obama's first term.  The difference was that the army stayed faithful to their oaths.

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

And neither was the American Rvolution. when you are dealing with Religious or political despotism, there is only one option, force. The military is the only option for the freedom loving citizens and hope there is a George Washington serving as commanding general.

The one fact is that every word of this article is, forgive the pun, dribble jibbersih. As long as the Radical Muslims insist on shaira laws, there will never be peace in asociety where Democracy is the cornerstone. The US Constitution put in the first ammendment to keep religion OUT of the laws of government policy.

That is why we are too going to be faced with a severe problem should Islam take hold here in America. The Constitution demands freedom from religion and to swear an oath to defend the constitution. Muslims would never be able to make this pledge because of the severity of their religion.

Any nation that wants true democracy needs to read the History of the United States and take a lesson from history. The original 13 colonies took over a decade before a foundation could be laid to complete a document that all could agree to disagree on.

The bottom line though is in order to maintain peace, they need to forcably remove the combatants from the streets.

Keep religion in the homes, church and personal faith, but keep it out of the laws.

Lazarus

MaryBasta
MaryBasta

What is happening now in Egypt now is a similar revolution to the one that removed Mubark . Islamists use democratic means to reach power but then will threaten and use violence to stay in power. They do not understand the democratic process as the western world understands it. 

How can you have a democratic process when one faction of the players is violent if they do not have their way? This is why the army intervened. They are the only power that has the ability to fight. Other political powers in Egypt cannot. So the choice was either to give up to them and thus give up on democracy or stand up to them with the help of the army. Egyptians chose the second option.

Comparing Egypt and the US is simply illogical. Obama is not a president who came after an historical revolution. He was not entrusted with writing a constitution. Simply look at the process that Morsi used to choose the people who would be entrusted with such an important document.  He excluded many factions of the Egyptian society and came up with a document that does not respect democracy or human rights. Egyptians refused to wait until the Muslims brothers put their roots in and stay even longer than Mubarak. What happened in Egypt was the will of the people supported by the army. If this is a coup, then be it.


rpearlston
rpearlston

Neither's was Morsi's governance. The same is true in every country that has democratically elected an Islamist government.

The people of Egypt voted Morsi into power, but he didn't live up to their expectations or to the most basic standards of a democratic leader.  Don't forget that the military installed an eminent Egyptian jurist in the president's office.  Now, give them a chance.