Egypt Erupts … Again

Tell me you’re surprised:

Egypt’s military regime, aided by snipers and bulldozers, swept the streets of Islamist protesters Wednesday—setting off a day of violence that left at least 525 people dead, the government fractured and ties with its international partners in tatters.

Cairo’s streets were calm Thursday morning following a curfew overnight, though funerals for the dead and a march planned by the Muslim Brotherhood are likely to inflame tensions later in the day.

We are witnessing the beginnings of a civil war. A war not between democracy and tyranny but between Islamists and the military. Whoever wins, we lose. I think it’s time — and I know this is shocking — that we consider cutting off military aid.

Egypt On The Brink. Again.

You wouldn’t know it from much of the American media, but Egypt may be having another new government sooner than expected:

Egypt entered a perilous 48 hours on Monday when the military delivered an ultimatum to the country’s first democratically elected president, hundreds of thousands of protesters renewed calls to oust him from office and the president’s Islamists allies vowed to take to the streets to stop what they called “a military coup.”

In a military communiqué read over state television that echoed the announcement toppling former President Hosni Mubarak two chaotic years ago, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces demanded Monday that President Mohamed Morsi satisfy the public’s demands within two days, or else the generals would impose their own “road map” out of crisis.

But instead of soothing the volatile standoff between Mr. Morsi’s opponents and his supporters, the generals seemed to add to the uncertainty that has paralyzed the state, decimated the economy and brought millions into the streets Sunday demanding the president step down. It was not clear what the military meant when it said Mr. Morsi must satisfy the public’s demands, what it might do if that vague standard was not met and who would be able to unite this badly fractured nation.

Basically, there is a significant fraction of the Egyptian public that is already tired of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the Brotherhood is still quite powerful, controls the Islamists and is recognized as having won the last election. It’s not clear what would happen if an actual civil war broke out. Obama is mostly staying out, saying he will support Egypt’s elected government. That’s the right move at this stage.

This is going to get worse before it gets better.

It Is Like the Pharaohs Have Returned

Here we go again:

Protesters stormed the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing in Alexandria earlier Friday, setting the building on fire, according to Ahmed Sobea, spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party.

They were angry at the announcement Thursday by Morsy’s spokesman that the president issued an order preventing any court from overturning his decisions.

Morsy also ordered retrials and new investigations into the deaths of protesters during last year’s uprising against strongman Hosni Mubarak, the spokesman said. That could lead to a new prosecution of Mubarak, currently serving a life prison term, and several acquitted officials who served under him.

Raise your hand if you are surprised. Now we will see if the Egyptian people really want democracy or if they’ve replaced one dictator with a more Islamist one.

Hillary Under Fire

I’ve been somewhat puzzled by the gleeful reaction to Hillary Clinton’s motorcade being pelted with shoes and tomatoes in Egypt. Is anti-Americanism a good thing now? I always hated it when the Left would get smug about anti-Bush protests. Clinton has been — and I hate to say this — a decent Secretary of State. She’s worked her ass off, done nothing to undermine the President and managed to smooth over their innumerable fuck-ups. That we are not at war with anyone after three years of these guys is remarkable and I think Clinton deserves the lion’s share of credit.

But yesterday, the New York Times dug into the story. Apparently, the protests were ignited because the Egyptians think we supported the Islamic Brotherhood in taking over Egypt. (My own opinion? The opposition failed to unite, leaving the Brotherhood as the only coherent political force. You’ll see similar patterns from history in the rise of bad regimes.)

But here’s the more incendiary allegation, one that’s been picked up by every Left Wing blog in existence:

Pressed by American reporters to explain where they got the idea that their new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, had been foisted on them through a U.S. plot, rather than the will of the majority, several Egyptians cited information gathered from American blogs or news sites.

An Egyptian-American Christian who met Mrs. Clinton on Sunday cited recent claims by Representative Michele Bachmann, a Republican, “that the Obama Administration is pursuing a closeted pro-Muslim agenda,” in a conversation with Time magazine’s correspondent, Abigail Hauslohner.

In an online conversation on Monday, when Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal asked an Egyptian blogger named Sara Ahmed for proof that the Obama administration was “financing” the Muslim Brotherhood, she directed him to a blog post about American aid to Egypt by an ultra-conservative Canadian blogger, Judi McLeod. Ms. McLeod’s post was based on a news story posted on Lucianne.com, a site run by Lucianne Goldberg, an American conservative who played a central role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

As Mr. Bradley pointed out to Ms. Ahmed, though, Ms. McLeod had badly garbled the original news report, which simply said that the U.S. had decided to release $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt’s military in April. Ms. McLeod falsely reported that the money had been given instead to a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders who visited Washington around the same time.

Other information came from rabid anti-Islamists like Frank Gaffney.

First things first: it is shameful that this kind of conspiracy mongering has not only been tolerated, but positively embraced by parts of the Right Wing. During the presidential primaries, three non-Romneys directly embraced conspiracy mongering. Bachmann is mentioned above. Cain said he would not hire Muslims or require a loyalty oath. And Gingrich spewed ignorant bullshit about history, religion and property values. Only Paul and Romney specifically rejected it. The GOP has, for far too long, played footsie with anti-Obama conspiracy theorists. And now it’s biting them again.

That having been said, however, this smells like garbage to me. If Egyptian conspiracy mongering is being influenced by American pundits, it is a minor factor. The reality is that the United States is, has been and always will be blamed for the ills of the world. Whenever any country is messed up, its leadership and its people will find a way to blame us. And if they can find support for that blame in the massive and free American media — where every viewpoint is tolerated — that’s a bonus. But these blog posts and statements are being cited as supporting evidence, not the origin. Anti-American conspiracy theories can cook up just fine on their own.

The real problem is that the reality about America’s role in the world is colliding with Obama hero worship. The Left insisted for years that it was only Bush’s incompetence which caused us to be hated. And once we had the Enlightened One, all that would change. I remember Sullivan saying that the simple fact that Obama’s middle name was Hussein was going to help. These hopes for Obama’s foreign policy were always delusional. And now that they have been dashed on the rocks of reality, the media is determined to sustain their messianic delusions by blaming the Right Wing for Obama’s failures. It’s pathetic, really.

(I mean … seriously? You guys have a Nobel Prize winner in office, Hillary as Secretary of State, a new vision for relations and you can’t overcome the rantings of a few bloggers?! What kind of crybaby bullshit is this?)

Finally … and I hate to keep going back to this point, but it keeps being relevant … where were these guys, oh, four to eight years ago? Where they worried that “no blood for oil!” would undermine Bush’s legitimacy? When entire wars were blamed on Haliburton’s lust for profits, did they wring their hands over how this would affect the Arab street? What about 9/11 conspiracy theories being promoted by members of Congress?

This is why I tire of politics. Everything is fine when our side does it but vile when the other side does. Everything is the other side’s fault, never our own. They behave like beasts who hate America; we behave like angels who rescue kittens.

Conspiracy mongering is a vile and disgusting practice. “Reporting” sensational stories without fact-checking is deliberate idiocy. But that’s true no matter who does it. It’s wrong whether it’s Michael Moore or Pamela Geller.

But none of this has anything to do with why we are blamed for the ills of the world. When things go wrong, we will get blamed. When we act, we will get blamed. When we don’t act, we will get blamed. And, in the end, people will invent facts out of whole cloth to blame us. That’s been true long before Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck.