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February 28, 2013

Support for the Bad Guys

Patricia A. Kelly

It’s time to talk about Egypt. Of all Middle Eastern countries attempting to overthrow their despotic rulers, Egypt is the most modern, vital, educated and sophisticated society.


Free education has been available for decades. Graduates do often leave the country to get jobs as jobs are in short supply, but education and awareness are definitely widespread in Egyptian society.


The revolution that began January 11, 2011, is ongoing, because Egypt went from one despot to another, successfully overthrowing Hosni Mubarak, but electing instead, with little choice available, an equally despotic leader with slightly different stripes, Mohammad Morsi.


Egypt, for decades, has been dominated by the military, which collaborated with Mubarak, and strongly influenced the election which ended with the inauguration of the first Islamist president in history. The military may not have chosen President Morsi, but they disallowed 10 prospective candidates, helping to leave the final vote between Mr. Morsi and a former Mubarak crony. Not surprisingly, Mr. Morsi was elected.


This Islamist, although not a thief like Mubarak, pretended to be an inclusive guy who would have women, Christians and secularists in his government. That, along with the Islamic Brotherhood’s recent pretense of becoming a moderate organization, was a lie.


President Morsi has given himself dictatorial powers, appointed mostly Islamists, and even attempted to change the culture of Cairo by implementing curfews after 10 P.M. In Cairo, the evening begins at 10, and restaurants and shops are open later.


I had the privilege of visiting Egypt the January before the revolution. Thanks to a good friend, I went armed with enough Arabic language ability to break the ice and have real conversations with a number of the people I met.


The most sophisticated of them joked that, since the Mubarak family had stolen so much money from the Egyptian people that they would be happy for his younger son and designated heir to be the next president. He, unlike a new president from another family, wouldn’t have to steal so much, since his family already had plenty.


I was so happy to hear their tune change, so to speak, as the very scary revolution began. Scary because there was so much risk of extremist takeover in a country where viable opposition had been virtually eliminated.


Being afraid was reasonable, and, with the “help” of the military, the fear was realized. The Egyptian people haven’t given up, though, not at all. They’re setting an example for the rest of the world, about the same example we set in obtaining our freedom from Britain.


A huge problem in all this is that the United States government is supporting President Morsi. No matter that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited last Tuesday from Iran. No matter Morsi’s slow reaction to the attack on our embassy in Cairo. No matter his clearly verbalized and extreme hatred of Jews. No matter his trampling on the rights of his people as he attempts to create an extreme, Islamist government.


We’re still giving him $150-$200 billion per year! Not only that, the vast majority of the money goes to the military. Yes, we are selling them jets and tear gas and who knows what all, supposedly because we hope it will keep them from attacking Israel, and that it will maintain stability in the region.


The main question is this. What stability? What does the Egyptian government need more weapons for? How can we be thinking we are helping Israel when having President Morsi run out of money would help them more?


Unfortunately, in the bowels of our nation’s capital (and I do mean bowels), people are making behind the scenes deals all the time that completely mock the principles upon which this country was founded. On the national level, as we know, they’re voting on important issues of principle to get new sewer pipes for their hometowns. Internationally, they have been, and are, perfectly willing to get into bed with any “devil” to get what they think they want.


Because of this, petty dictators all over the world are laughing at us and defying us while they take the money we keep on giving.


And their people…they hate us. They are furious because we are funding their oppression.


It’s time to demand better, past time. Not only do the courageous Egyptian rebels deserve it, but we, the American people, do as well.


We talk big about spreading democracy throughout the world, which is completely inappropriate, as the people of the world should be deciding that for themselves. While we pound on our democratic chests, we are completely ignoring our obligation to behave in a principled fashion and stand for the rights of free expression for all people.


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