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The world has seen many military coups in the course of history. In places like the Byzantine Empire it became the established means of changing rulers. Since the age of the enlightenment it has not been considered to be a legitimate form of democratic process.

Gen. Nassar staged a military coup in 1952 that overthrew the Egyptian monarchy and brought the military to power. They have remained in power ever since. When Anwar Sadat began to chart a political course that they didn't approve of he was assassinated. Mubarak was put in his place.

In 2011 there was growing political unrest in Egypt. The military seemed to choose to step aside and allow Mubarak to be deposed by the popular will. People in the west took that to signify an end to military rule. Things really didn't work out that way. There was a process of drawing up a constitution and holding elections. However, the government of Mohamad Morsi has not been effective at establishing a working political consensus and the mobs returned to the street.

Now the military has decided to call it off and start over. They have deposed Morsi and have jailed key figures from the government. Now the supporters of that government are out in the streets and some of them are being shot by the military.

A great many people in the west are viewing this action by the military as necessary because they didn't like the policies of Morsi and his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood. I certainly wouldn't argue that they seemed to be headed in a positive direction. However, it seems to me that you either have a constitutional democracy or you don't. Simply because you don't like get the people that got elected, doesn't invalidate the constitution.

What seems to me to be an accurate way to view the situation in Egypt is that there has been no real break in the long period of military rule. The military has learned some things about western marketing technique. As an "interim" caretaker, they put a faceless technocrat in charge, instead of a general dripping gold braid. It looks better on TV.

Even if they do follow their announced plan for drawing up a new constitution and holding new elections, it seems plausible that the resulting government will serve at the pleasure of the military.

I am quite aware that there is no way that the US government is going to refrain from trying to influence political affairs in the Middle East. It is a major confluence of geopolitical and economic forces. However, it seems  deluded for Americans to expect political events in societies with histories and cultures that are fundamentally different from our own to look like they were made in the USA.      

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Comment Preferences

  •  Point of clarification (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, jrooth, Rich in PA, AoT

    Sadat was assassinated by the Egyptian Islamic Johad, not the military.

    There were theories Mubarak was involved, but no hard evidence ever came to light in support of that theory.

    John Roberts? Melville Fuller?? WTF is the difference???.

    by Walt starr on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 10:56:57 AM PDT

  •  Re: Coups d'etat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, Quicklund, dadoodaman

    What our government decides to call what happened in Egypt will determine whether the Egyptian military can continue to receive US aid.  The pertinent section from the Consolidated Appropriations Act (scroll way down to page 411):

    SEC. 7008. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’e´tat or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d’e´tat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role: Provided, That assistance may be resumed to such government if the President determines and certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office: Provided further, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes: Provided further, That funds made available pursuant to the previous provisos shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.
  •  Calling it a coup seems very important to some (0+ / 0-)

    And I think i understand why. It's so as to make this sort of claim.

    Even if they do follow their announced plan for drawing up a new constitution and holding new elections, it seems plausible that the resulting government will serve at the pleasure of the military.
    So even if they improve the constitution, even if they hold elections...military junta!

    Which is why I am suspicious of those who insist teh word coup be used. They intend to explit the negative connotations of the word. It is an emotional trigger word, and that is the goal: provoking an emotional reaction.

    Meanwhile, some observers point out the Egyptian military has already been down this road before, deposed an over-reaching President, and exited from power w/o violence.

    But never mind that.. coup!

    It's official: keep it superficial.

    •  A rose is a rose. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jrooth, dream weaver

      I suppose that if you take the view that I do, holding that there has been no real suspension of military control, then technically one could argue that it isn't really a coup. It seems to me to be a distinction without a difference.

      •  Clarification please (0+ / 0-)
        holding that there has been no real suspension of military control,
        In what? 24, 36 hours? No the military has not yet held elections nor turned over power to the next gov't yet.
        •  If you view the Morsi governement (0+ / 0-)

          as one that the military never considered to be legitimate, then there is continuity of military control. If not, then you would view it as a coup against a fully established government. This is not a horse that I care to continue beating.

          •  there is another interpretation . . . (0+ / 0-)

            which is that it was Morsi who "committed coup" by ignoring/rejecting the safeguards necessary to maintain a constitutional democracy.  And now I'll go all Godwin on you and say "like Hitler did . . . get elected and then "suspend" all the rest of the government".

            When that happens what is the recourse to "save democracy"?

            Because "democracy" is more than just "the vote" . . . it is a system of checks and balances and legislatures and courts and guarantees of minority rights and all sorts of other things that are absolutely necessary before anyone in their right mind would accept "mob rule" as a reasonable or acceptable form of government.

            It was Morsi himself who used the ruse of "election" to suspend the real foundations of democracy, and whether one likes a "military takeover" or not (and of course I don't) there are circumstances where it is better than the tyranny or civil war that would otherwise result.

            Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

            by Deward Hastings on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:48:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I just saw an article (0+ / 0-)

              that the African Union has suspended Egypt's membership because of the overthrow of a legitimately elected government.

              This is obviously a messy situation on which there never is going to be agreement. Hitler is of course the great historical example. There were elements in the military that were trying to overthrow him during WWII. For various reasons the allies did not take them very seriously and didn't offer them support.

              I think the truth is that real life is a lot more messy than the civics text book can deal with. I don't think that there is yet complete assurance that either tyranny or civil war have been averted by this action.  

            •  there will be civil war, all right (0+ / 0-)

              the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to lose now. Morsi's supporters are embittered by the use of naked force against them.

              They will surely view any new government as illegitimate--and they have every right to feel that way, since their man was toppled in a military coup. They are not likely to want to participate further in the political process, and many may resort to violence.

              This gives the army a pretext for a mass crackdown. Not just against the MB, but against anyone they consider politically unreliable. Or do you think they will scrupulously limit themselves to targeting the MB? They will take this chance to thin out and weaken the opposition as much as they can, so that they can ensure a tighter grip on power.

              With time, Morsi's government would most likely have fallen by itself in a peaceful fashion. Now the situation has been needlessly inflamed. The military has struck first and people will start striking back. The conflict will escalate. And blood will be shed.

              "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

              by limpidglass on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:01:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I think it's just a matter of being reality-based. (3+ / 0-)

      I genuinely hope this all works out well.  But I don't see the value in pretending things aren't what they are.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

      by jrooth on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:17:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Calling it a coup is simply describing what (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      limpidglass, dream weaver, Addison


      by Paleo on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:18:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have predicted that the Egyptian military (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    will search for a suitable figurehead. Someone smoother than Morsi, possibly secular and Western-educated. Someone without any prior ties to the military.

    In short, the Obama model. Bring in an "outsider", a blank slate with no controversial history, who you know will toe the line assiduously. Sell him as the embodiment of "hope" and "change" to a populace desperate for both. Then once he's in power, he'll be able to accomplish things that his more openly authoritarian predecessors could never get away with doing.

    It's particularly important to win the good opinion of America and Europe. If the Western media is convinced that Egypt is now under an enlightened democratic regime, then the eyes of the world will move elsewhere and the military will be free to reestablish, more or less, the same regime that was ostensibly toppled two years ago.

    This is why I predict that Morsi's successor will be Western-educated and secular. Once he is installed, Obama will hug him warmly and say "Egypt has made such amazing progress, yay democracy!" And then most Americans will forget about the whole thing, secure in the knowledge that Egypt is in the hands of an enlightened, "progressive" leader who will bring Jefferson democracy to the entire land. Then the military can start cracking down again--in subtler, less blatant ways, of course.

    It's the way of the world these days. Public pressure can no longer force our institutions to actually reform anything. They just rebrand, repackaging the same shit in a shiny new wrapper to distract the populace and diffuse public opposition. Then they consolidate the gains they've made, and wait for the next crisis when they can exploit the chaos to seize new ground.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 11:15:01 AM PDT

    •  That would seem to fit (0+ / 0-)

      the marketing plan. Whether it works out that way will depend on whether they can control the extras in the crowd scenes and make them follow the script.

      One thing that seems pretty clear is that there is not a single will of the Egyptian people.

  •  What do you do if the election was rigged? n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    •  Does anybody (0+ / 0-)

      have proof that this one was? That did not seem to be an issue at the time that it occurred.

      •  15% turnout? Most of the candidates tossed? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But put that aside for a minute.  What would be the plan assuming it's an illegitimate election?  Wait it out and hope you don't end up with a dictator?

        •  Improper/illegitimate elections (0+ / 0-)

          present a challenge for any electoral system. The US presidential election of 2000 demonstrated that the constitutional machinery doesn't work well for such a close outcome. We already knew that from the Hays-Tilden election of 1876. I think the difference between Bush v Gore and the situation in Egypt is about cultural expectations.

          In the US election of 1860 the system didn't work and a bloody civil war ensued. I don't think that there is any such thing as a fool proof constitutional system. Sometimes problems can be resolved in a fairly orderly manner and others they can't.


  •  the simplest reason why the US will declare it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, Richard Lyon, corvo

    was NOT a military coup: the US provides lots of aid to the Egyptian military, and it is illegal under US law to give aid to any country that has undergone a military coup.  Therefore, it will NOT be "a military coup".

    The spice must flow.

  •  Well, it was a coup without question... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    ...but the coup looks like it's about to become famous mostly as a precursor for an awful civil war rather than an infamous thing in itself.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:16:12 PM PDT

  •  Ridiculously simplistic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Now the military has decided to call it off and start over. They have deposed Morsi and have jailed key figures from the government."

    You make no mention of the millions peaceably demonstrating in Tahrir or the twenty million who signed petitions demanding Morsi's resignation (more people than had voted in the run-off that put Morsi in power).

    You're denying the Egyptian people any agency at all just in order to attribute all initiative to the military. I think they'd find your little piece deeply insulting.  

    •  Attempting to portray one bloc (0+ / 0-)

      of the population as the Voice of the People is also pretty simplistic. There are now vast numbers of people taking to the streets in support of the ousted government.

      The military has in fact deposed Morsi and jailed the leaders. You are attempting to find a justification for that action and claim that it was the only possible course of action. There are other ways to look at the picture.

  •  Why was 2011 not a coup? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Richard Lyon

    The military took over after popular protests. Why is this a coup and not 2011?

    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

    by AoT on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 12:54:45 PM PDT

  •  power and authority rest with the people (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in a democracy, not with an imaginary being in the sky.

    ANY fundamentalist religion that decrees that "God's (whichever "God" they choose to "believe" in) Law"  supercedes Law established by a Constitution is antithetical to the basic premise of democracy.

    Do I really have to belabor this point by drawing an analogy with how Americans would react if the "Christian Brotherhood" took power in a "democratic" election and then declared itself to be above the judgement of the Judicial system and proceeded to inflict their vision of "God's Law" on the rest of us?

    Theocracy is the goal of religious fundamentalists of any stripe.  They want to tell you how to live. Democratic Theocracy is an oxymoron.

    I applaud the Egyptian Army, warts and all, stepping in to preserve  pluralistic and secular democracy for Egypt.

    Not that it's any of our business what they do in Egypt.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 02:25:03 PM PDT

    •  I thought that we (0+ / 0-)

      had the Christian Brotherhood in office in a number of jurisdictions. They are frequently attempting to pass laws to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us. So far we have been willing to fight them at the ballot box and in the courts.

  •  I am happy to call this an OVERTHROW (0+ / 0-)

    and am happy to see Islamist forces given a solid setback.

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