I suppose this was inevitable. The West watches helplessly as the Egyptian military and liberal/left Egyptians who haven’t thought things out very clearly sabotage the Arab Spring, but the fact that this is happening is the fault of…wait for it…the West.
This article gets right that the current behaviour of the Egyptian army “could set democracy back a generation” because “young Islamists everywhere, having seen democracy denied, will be its enemies from here on.” It also gets right that without “a decisive personal intervention from Washington — not to ‘Americanize’ the outcome, but to support reconciliation and inclusivity — democracy will have taken a grievous blow.”
But the article’s author, it seems, cannot resist tweaking Westerners for daring to believe in the Arab Spring in the first place: “The death toll in Egypt’s summer of anger makes you wonder how dumping Hosni Mubarak two years ago could possibly have been worth such a cost.”
It shouldn’t have had such a cost, to be sure – but it dishonours those who thrilled the world two years ago by standing together to oppose dictatorship in Tahrir Square to pretend that it had to end this way. The choice to create the horrors Egypt is now experience was just that – a choice…and one that need not have been made. What happened in Tahrir in 2011 need not have led to what is happening there in 2013; there is no inevitability or fate that required that. Part of fixing this, indeed, requires that Egypt’s liberals and leftists admit that what led to the current insanity was their own unwise decision to sign on with General al-Sissi.
There is still a chance to choose another way, but the window of opportunity is closing fast. Because the army will now forever be tainted by the authoritarian actions against peaceful protesters we have seen it take in the past few days, it cannot be allowed to prevail in this conflict. The best Egyptian liberals and left-wingers can hope for now is that they can split off legitimate demands for greater constitutional inclusion from their illegitimate support for the al-Sissi regime. Mohamed ElBaradei’s recent resignation as the regime’s Vice-President (a position he never should have accepted in the first place) at least provides an opportunity for people to say “I, like ElBaradei, have rethought my support for the army – I am ready to end my support for the military-led government if the pro-Morsi supporters are ready to broaden the inclusivity of a future constitutional government for Egypt.”
It will remain convenient, I’m sure, to blame the West – even though there is precious little for which they are to blame in this situation. Egypt will only heal its self-inflicted wounds, however, when it is ready to look at itself in the mirror and correctly diagnose what ails it as a society.
They had better do it quick, though – there is not much time left to make better decisions.