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What is going on in Egypt? A military coup, at the people’s request.

2013-07-05

There is no question that, despite protestations, there is a military coup underway in Egypt.  It will undoubtedly be successful, although the soldiers have been forced to use birdshot on pro-Morsi demonstrators attacking the compound where Morsi is being held and have killed a few.

Fortunately for the USA, this coup is a “moderate” coup and the military have insisted on immediate elections.  Most important is that many of the most important institutions from the Mubarak era were nearly intact and have now re-asserted their authority.  What is important to us is that everyone from the Mubarak era was dependably anti-Islamist.  The Army has also been thoroughly trained to avoid Islamist thoughts.

What makes this coup a positive development is the fact that it was prompted by a demonstration last Sunday in Tahrir Square that attracted an eyewitness estimate of seventeen million people.  The petition that led to the demonstration was said to have gotten twenty two million signatures in a few days, all asking President Morsi to step down.  There is overwhelming popular disgust with the president.

What makes this necessary is the fact that there is no constitutional mechanism for impeachment and removal of the president in Egypt, and even if there was, there is no functioning legislature because their election was tainted and was thrown out by the court.

Mohamed el-Baradei, a Nobel prize winner whose opinion I respect, has promised that due process will prevail and that being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood will not be considered a crime.  The Brotherhood has issued statements refusing to deal at all with any of the “usurpers.”  If they refuse to participate in elections, they will lose out on a legitimate and powerful voice in the government.

There will be elections, and soon.  The character of this coup guarantees that the Army has no desire to hold power longer than absolutely necessary.  Any delay would lead to more demonstrations in Tahrir Square.

The Muslim Brotherhood and some other Islamists will claim that this is just another incident in a long line of outrages in which democratically elected Islamists have been ousted by military or foreign intervention.  They will say that this further undermines their trust in democracy.

This is a shame but Islamists never liked democracy in the first place.  They have only been using it as a strategy to attain power, after which they can impose their theocratic system and violate the civil liberties of the rest of the people.  Morsi himself followed this same strategy, and his allies crafted an Islamist constitution that ignored civil liberties.   The people saw through his strategy in a year, and that is why they demonstrated in Tahrir Square.

We must remember, as democrats, that Hitler came to power through the democratic process, although he never had a majority of the popular vote.  Demagogues with propaganda machines can fool voters, at least long enough to get elected.  After that, if there is not a mechanism for impeachment and removal of the president, it is too late.

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