Thursday, February 3, 2011

Egypt: An Article Attacking Me Proves My Main Point!

By Barry Rubin

Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor has written an op-ed that carefully steers the readers to the new conventional wisdom view of Egypt and suggests I am an "alarmist." That's not so bad. Someone who rings the alarm bell is trying to warn people of potential problems.

Might the overthrow of the more moderate regimes (yes, all of them are dictatorships) while all of the radical regimes (also all dictatorships really) remain intact be a problem?

So what arguments are made against my concerns? Well, there are a lot of references to anonymous experts who disagree.  It's really rather funny how careless these people are and how they give away their own errors. Peterson writes:

"...the Muslim Brotherhood – for decades Egypt’s largest opposition grouping – has played a small part in the protests, compared with the critical role that militant followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini played in Iran in 1979."

What's wrong with this? Answer: the year 1979! Of course Khomeini's followers played a critical role in 1979. They took over the government in February after all. But the comparison is to 1978, when spontaneous demonstrations of widely varied political forces went on for months during which the Islamists "played a small part in the protests."

So this argument is 100 percent fallacious, deliberately misleading on what would be a proper comparison.

One professor is quoted as saying that if the shah had been eased out earlier, Khomeini wouldn't have taken over. I think that's true. But it's also true that if the shah had taken strong action further the same result would have taken place. And he correctly is talking about1978, not 1979.

At any rate, this is not an argument against my view. While that argument could be taken to say President Obama was right to hurrying in ousting Mubarak, the fighting does seem to be going on longer. So doesn't this indicate that perhaps the Brotherhood will emerge stronger?

The article continues:

"Rubin paints the Muslim Brotherhood as radicals ready to pounce and do away with Egypt’s cold peace with Israel....Experts on Egyptian politics say that such views exaggerate the abilities and the intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood today. The group has been struggling – like all of Egypt’s fractured opposition groups – to keep up with the fast-paced protests on the street."

We have reached a point that for me to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood, if it were to take power, would cancel the peace treaty with Israel--something they always say they would do--is portrayed as silly. That's how absurd the dominant analysis has become. 

Also, notice again how sloppy this critique of my writing is. These unnamed "experts" say that the Brotherhood doesn't have the ability to do this today. Of course they don't have the ability to do it today. For goodness sakes, Mubarak is still president today! As for the Brotherhood's intentions, it sure is their intention to do away with the cold peace. Again, sloppiness. It doesn't say they will go to war just that they will freeze any type of relationship with Israel.

Actually, though, and there's that carelessness once again, all three of the experts quoted are experts on Iran, not Egypt! And two of them are not exactly deeply devoted to U.S. interests.

But then the best of the trio,  Geneive Abdo, says the following:

“It is clear the new Egypt in the post-Mubarak era will be self-determined, more anti-American and closer to its Arab and Muslim neighbors. And this will happen whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood takes the driver’s seat in a new government.”

Right, that is what I have written repeatedly. And by the way, by "closer to its Arab and Muslim neighbors" who is she talking about? I don't think she means Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, but rather Syria, Iran, Hamas, and Hizballah.

In other words, it would be precisely as I was quoted in the article as saying, “The biggest disaster for the region and Western interests since the Iranian revolution." The article confirms my view. What's important is not whether the Muslim Brotherhood runs Egypt but that Egypt becomes an anti-American regime close to radical forces and weakening the anti-Islamist side.

So an article that sets out to attack me proves what I'm saying. And the amazing thing is that the author and readers probably don't even notice it.

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