No, choose door number 3

Well great. Which is least worst, military rule or Islamist theocracy?

Couldn’t Egypt manage a third possibility?

Egypt’s military has moved against the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood a day after deposing President Mohammed Morsi.

Mr Morsi is in detention, as well as senior figures in the Islamist group of which he is a member. Hundreds more are being sought.

The top judge of Egypt’s constitutional court, Adly Mahmud Mansour, has been sworn in as interim leader.

Let’s hope they can figure it out soon.


  1. says

    I don’t think it’s fair to call this military rule. The military put a civilian in charge and he doesn’t seem to just be a figurehead.

  2. Gretchen Robinson says

    after so many years of ruthless dictatorships, the military is the most trusted institution in the land, as compared to the Muslim Brotherhood. Still, people want democracy, but the legacy of totalitarian government lingers long in so many nations.

    The population growth is very high there. Isn’t patriarchy wonderful.

  3. says

    Given the choice, I’d pick the military. C.S.Lewis was right about some things. And in this case, what @1 said [keeping fingers crossed].

  4. foxtrot says

    Well, it is not so easy to “figure it out”. We easily forget how our own democracies were born. The french revolution was a bloody mess. Spain, Greece, Germany and Italy went through pretty ugly episodes not so long ago. The inception of the USA did not go without some civil unrest and internal strife (not even talking about the civil war and the native’s ethnic cleansing.)

    When I look around at my fellow citizens, I am not sure we would be able to rebuild our nation and our institutions should we have to start from scratch.

    In the end what is fundamental to a civil society is trust and it is no surprise there is little of it in countries that just got out of decades of dictatorship and foreign shenanigans.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    While it may be good that the Muslim Brotherhood is no longer running the show, I’m not very clear on why they’re being arrested. From what I’d heard, the biggest complain against them wasn’t that they were corrupt, but that they were incompetent.

    Also, I’ve heard a good case made that one of the main things that produces dictators is the way it seems to be impossible to have a regime change in that part of the world without everyone in the former regime ending up in jail. If the former regime ALWAYS gets punished by the newcomers, then there’s plenty of incentive to hold onto power until the final bitter end.

  6. says

    Calling it military coup _is_ a bit over the top… so far. With as many people pushing for it as were, it’s more a popular coup the military got onside with. But it’s a serious problem, though, no question, that it came to this. And there’s about a million ways for it to get worse from here. There’s dark mutterings now about the Islamists getting more radicalized, saying listen, we _tried_ democracy, they just took it from us…

    (… that’s not quite true though, by the way. I say they more _played_ democracy. Knowing how polarized the country was, Morsi had to do a lot more to work with his opposition. He didn’t. Go figure. A theocrat wouldn’t cooperate with mere corporeal beings in need of messy corporeal things like food, how surprising. But anyway, that hardly helps things…)

    Everyone’s saying it, but anyway: the opposition that’s got so good at getting bad leaders kicked out has got to get a lot better at putting far-less-bad governments in. Gotta get a political machine going to challenge the Islamists: a movement that doesn’t just occupy the square when things get sufficiently awful but actually fields viable candidates and elects them. Until they can do that, there’s not much hope. It’s a pain; democracy is hard enough to make work even when you _don’t_ have a cadre of disciplined zealots contending for power. Given their presence, that opposition has got to get awfully good at organizational things that are actually pretty hard, and fast.

    I’m not hopeful; I’m hopeful. These people came out in force to demand this; now if they can just put that passion into organizing the government they actually want. But these are such different things.

  7. rnilsson says

    As an extremely vacant observer of Egyptian politics, let me just point out that the military has had an immense influence ever since, or even before, king Farouk was ousted some 60 years ago. It was only with their tacit approval or non-opposition any president ruled ever since. And they are easily counted: Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak came and went more or less by the military’s say-so. Mursi (the first one elected) stayed for a year until he was deemed to have overstayed his welcome — and not by democratic vote.

    It’s hard to take anything but a grim view of Egypt’s future. One year of “democracy” failed, after more than 5,000 years of the other sort.

    Popular vote presupposes popular literacy, education, emancipation and empowerment, not to mention a fair judicial system and absence of corruption. Not done in a sec. Viz, virtually any contemporary democracy.

    So, gods only know the outcome — but the gods haven’t fought it out yet. How can they?

  8. Trebuchet says

    So much for the so-called Arab Spring. It’s either degenerating into Islamocracy or, as in Egypt, back to the status quo. I have little to no hope for a positive outcome in Syria. It’ll either be Assad+Hezbolla or, if the rebels win, Al Queda.

  9. grumpyoldfart says

    The Muslim Brotherhood is going nowhere. They will never give up. The riots will continue until the Brotherhood has complete control.

  10. Nomit says

    It is a military government established by coup. There is no point in being mealy mouthed about it. There may be a transition (back) to democracy if the current leader and the generals who control him think the time is ever right for an election, but as things stand this is a military seizure of power from a democratically elected civilian government and we should call it as it is. If you thought Pinochet was out of order deposing Allende for the same set of reasons, you should feel uncomfortable supporting this.

  11. Argle Bargle says

    When Mubarak was dictator his government was successful in disbanding all credible opposition parties, arresting the opposition leadership, and otherwise making Egypt a one party country. The Muslim Brotherhood, while strongly discouraged from making any political gestures, was able to survive by claiming to be a religious organization.

    So after Mubarak fell there were two groups capable of taking power, the Muslim Brotherhood and the army. The generals didn’t want to run the country so the Muslim Brotherhood took over the country. During the election there were many tiny, almost incoherent parties and the Brotherhood. It was the Muslim Brotherhood and the seven dozen dwarfs. However the Brotherhood started doing away with many social reforms which Mubarak had allowed, like women initiating divorce proceedings, and were obviously working towards establishing an Islamic republic. Most Egyptians are secularists and don’t want to live under sharia law. So the recent protests occurred. The army is mainly secularist as well and toppled the Muslim Brotherhood led government.

    Things are going to be interesting in Egypt in the coming months and years.

  12. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Which is least worst, military rule or Islamist theocracy?

    I’d choose military rule over Islamist theocracy every time. The military rulers at least don’t insist on Sharia law, making women second class (or lower) citizens and persecution of people based on religion or lack thereof.

    Couldn’t Egypt manage a third possibility?

    From what I gather from the news they pretty much have. This wasn’t so much a coup d’état as it was the military stepping in on behalf of the protestors against Morsi who represented a majority of Egyptian people.

    Also the military aren’t keeping power, they’ve handed it over already for a period of interim rule by a constitutional judge before elections which hopefully will now be held and hopefully restore democracy.

    I think this is good news and the right step forward for Egypt and I hope they ban the Muslim Brotherhood from participating in the elections given their demonstrated desire to destroy democracy. Morsi was turning into a dictator and a group that seeks to destroy democracy shouldn’t be given the fig leaf and allowed to take part in elections purely in order to do so. I hope Egypt follows Turkey’s example in an aggressively secular state and indeed wish other nations would do likewise and not just the Islamic world.

    @ 5. brucegee1962 :

    “While it may be good that the Muslim Brotherhood is no longer running the show, I’m not very clear on why they’re being arrested.”

    Probably because they are conspiring to or threatening violence against the rest of Egypt – by definition making them guilty of conspiracy and treason. The Muslim brotherhood was previously a banned terrorist group and it seems quite likely to revert to that status in future.

    Don’t forget that current Al Quaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri started off as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (aged 14 or younger according to his Wikipedia page) before funding Egyptian Islamic Jihad and then moving to Al Quaida. Zawahiri among other Muslim Brothers was arrested and suspected of involvement in the assassination of peacemaking Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981’s and so on too.

    IOW, the Muslim Brotherhood has a long history of using terrorist violence against legitimate political leaders and poses a clear and present danger. I’d be worried if the Muslim Brotherhood leaders weren’t been arrested or at least kept under very close watch. In Egypt and all over the rest of our troubled planet.

  13. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    For clarity make that :

    This wasn’t so much a coup d’état as it was the military stepping in on behalf of the protestors who represented a majority of Egyptian people against Morsi.

    I.e. the protesters and most Egyptians were against Morsi who they viewed from their direct experiences as someone turning into an Islamist dictator.

    (Wish we could edit our comments here. Sigh.)

  14. says

    @11: False equivalence. How many people were demonstrating in the streets, demanding Allende’s ouster? And it remains to be seen whether the new Egyptian regime behaves any better than Pinochet’s w.r.t. its political enemies. That, and just how much the CIA was involved in the Egyptian situation.

  15. says

    There were a lot of people demonstrating in the streets demanding Allende’s ouster. The reactionaries made up a big chunk of the population, and that chunk was active and mobilizing.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is horrible and always has been. If anybody thought it was ok that they won the election because they’re “moderate” Islamists – well that’s just a mistake.

    But they did win the election. It’s bizarre to say now that “the people” want them out, when “the people” voted for them so recently.

  16. Matt Penfold says

    A significant part of the problem in Egypt was that there was little in way of checks and balances. Morsi was president, and there was an upper house of parliament, but the power of the Egyptian parliament lies with lower house and that has not been one of those since the Egyptian supreme court rules the elections to the lower house unlawful.

  17. says

    Okay, Taking a Third Option is a good choice. Question is… how? And who? I mean, the people who want to be in power are, generally, the last people who should be given power? And how are you gonna keep them in line, once they have that position?

    I’mma go have a thinkaboutit.

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