Dick Morris’s interesting angle on Egypt

Dick Morris, in a column written on the day of Mubarak’s fall, lays out the threatening possibility that Islamic fundamentalism based in the Mideast’s two overwhelmingly largest countries, Iran and Egypt, could sweep the entire Mideast. He finds a solution in the military’s present control in Egypt and its oversight over the coming elections. He urges that Obama pressure the Egyptian military to exclude the Muslim Brotherhood from any future government. If that happens, he continues, then Egypt could become something like Turkey, where the military is the true ruling power and has prevented the Islamic ruling party from reaching for theocratic domination.

The argument makes sense, except for the fact that Turkey, notwithstanding military influence, has moved steadily toward becoming an Islamic state, undermining much of the Kemalist order. Morris’s theory depends on the restraint of Muslim democracy, i.e., on not allowing full self-government in an Islamic country because it would lead to a theocratic Islamic state. The problem is that once democracy—i.e., free elections under the one person, one vote rule—becomes the highest value in an Islamic society, the military’s capacity to restrain democracy is undercut. And the democracy madness is indeed sweeping Egypt, the Islamic world, and the West, led by the very man whom Morris hopes will put a check on Egyptian democracy, President Obama.

By the way, who would have thought that Dick Morris, the amoral political consultant who helped save Clinton’s hide after the 1994 electoral disaster and in the Lewinsky scandal, would turn into a significant political commentator—and not just on domestic affairs, but world affairs?

By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann

Egypt is fated to be the first domino. The revolution there will inevitably spread to all of the Middle East and North Africa. The question is: Will it be an Islamic fundamentalist revolution or a democratic one?

In the fifties, anti-communists latched onto the “domino theory” to elaborate their worries about the spread of global Marxism. President Dwight D. Eisenhower explained it at a press conference on April 7, 1954:

“Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the ‘falling domino’ principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.”

While it was foolish to believe that the fall of a small country like Vietnam would affect larger and more stable nations like Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, or Malaya, the domino theory has a very direct relevance to what is transpiring now in Egypt.

There is a major danger that the Muslim Brotherhood will find its way into a successor coalition government. And, from there, it is indeed possible that the Brotherhood takes over, bringing an Iranian style fundamentalist Islamic regime to Egypt. The chances of even a popularly elected government embracing the Muslim Brotherhood would be very great. And a domino theory could eventuate.

Working in tandem with Iran, these two nations would then cast a giant shadow over the entire region. From Morocco to Iraq, there would be the threat of a genuine caliphate, realizing the most central goal of the Islamic fundamentalists.

Remember the populations involved. Egypt has 81 million people. Iran has 66 million. The next most populous nation in the region is Algeria at 35 million. The combined population of Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Aden, Oman, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Yemen is 185 million. So Egypt and Iran have a population almost equal to that of these other nations combined. A fundamentalist Egypt allied with Iran would sweep the region.

Jordan, Syria, Algeria, Libya, and perhaps even Saudi Arabia would fall to Islamic extremists. Iraq, even with a US military presence, may not be far behind.

But this prospect is not inevitable. It can still be avoided by bold action from the Administration. President Obama must reach out to the Egyptian military and declare his support of their transitional efforts and demand that the Muslim brotherhood play no role in the government.

Turkey is the precedent. There, the secular tradition of independence from Islamic theocracy was first set in place by the great early twentieth century leader Kemal Ataturk. It has been enforced since by the Turkish military which always looms over the civilian government lest it move to close to a theocratic domination. Even when an Islamic Party won the past two elections, the military cautioned that it not become a theocracy and it has not done so.

Obama must use our leverage of $1.3 billion of military aid to get the Army in Egypt to play a similar role. And, most important, he must draw a line in the Egyptian sand: That he will withdraw the military aid if the Muslim Brotherhood is included in any government or coalition.

If Obama fails to do so, he will be responsible for the loss of Egypt and perhaps of the entire region—with all its oil—to forces directly hostile to the United States. Some doubt that Obama is sufficiently strong in defense of America’s interests. Some wonder if he has not divided loyalties. Some question if he has the strength to stand up to Muslim extremists. Now we will see.

[end of Morris article]

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John Dempsey writes:

You mentioned an important component in the affairs of Turkey regarding “the fact that Turkey, notwithstanding military influence, has moved steadily toward becoming an Islamic state, undermining much of the Kemalist order.”

Not only is Erdogan undermining the Kemalist order, but he is trying to undermine the military as well. Knowing that there have been several successful coups in the past few decades, Erdogan is getting ahead of the game by putting on trial, for a supposed attempted coup, a good portion of the Turkish military’s top brass along with some of their intellectual class, journalists and other politicians.

I give Turkey a slim chance of remaining a secular state for very much longer.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 14, 2011 10:05 AM | Send

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