Thursday, July 11, 2013

Getting it Right in Egypt

Ever since the “Arab Spring” uprising in Egypt there has been great confusion over whether it was a good or bad thing. Much of this confusion has been fostered by both an ill-informed press and an ignorant body of our own lawmakers. You know the type; the same ones who bought into the War in Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; and basically have mismanaged the Middle East for decades. This includes both Republicans and Democrats.

To understand what has happened in Egypt, it is necessary to look back at the history of Turkey; most notably at the reign of Ataturk; real name Mustafa Kemal Ataturk; who was instrumental in the establishment of a secular government in Turkey after the end of the First World War and the demise of the Ottoman Empire. In the past 12 years; since 9/11 and our misguided war in Iraq; we have been instrumental in restoring the Ottoman Empire, from Afghanistan to the border of Turkey. This bodes ill for the West, as it is a step backwards in time and progress, not to mention freedom.

Basically, pure democracy can be a dangerous thing. We ourselves have an Electoral College to safe guard our democracy against being hijacked by various extremists groups. The founding fathers were very wise in this respect. They saw the potential of the people to make mistakes. And, to safeguard the republic from itself, the Electoral College was formed. It has served us well for over 200 years. It is a restraint which has served as the buffer against our country falling too far to the right, or to the left.

In Turkey, when Ataturk took down the last of the Caliphate in the mid 1920’s, he took a cue from our secular democracy; seeing to it that Turkey’s military would be tasked with upholding a secular government. He also outlawed the Fez and the Veil, seeing them as roadblocks to joining the 20th Century, as well as signs of division among her own people.

As a result of that foresight, Turkey has enjoyed almost a century of stable governance. There have been a few occasions in which the Turkish people have elected an Islamic fundamentalist to the Presidency, only to have the military take over the government until the tide of extremism has ebbed. When that happens, the military returns the government to the people for free elections. I had the privilege to see this system in action while traveling through Turkey in the 1970’s, when extremism was on the rise; and the military took control; and then again in 1984 when they returned the government to the people.

The current leader of Turkey is walking fine line. He was elected on an Islamist platform, and the military did not attend his swearing in; although they vowed to back him so long as he maintained a secular government. Recently, in the wake of the fallout from the Arab Spring, he has tried to take Turkey back a few steps toward Islamic Fundamentalism, but with the military looking on closely, he has not been able to do so.

This brings us to Egypt; which although it has a different constitution; the dynamics are about the same. The people ousted Mubarak; much as the Iraqi’s did to Hussein; and the results of both are plain to see. The power vacuum in both countries was quickly filled by extremists, such as Mursi in Egypt, and the still fractured sects vying for control in Iraq. This is the same dilemma which President Assad of Syria faces in the current troubles in his country. Although he has vowed to destroy Israel, Syria remains more of a pipeline for the supplies and weapons required by the Palestinians than an actual military threat. In his own way, he may still be considered to be a roadblock against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.

On the other hand, we have helped to restore a portion of the Ottoman Empire, unbroken, from Afghanistan to the border of Turkey, which is home to the Kurds. The Kurds are Islamic Fundamentalists who, if they had the chance, would have taken Iraq and Turkey long ago. And remember, that Turkey is the dividing line between the East and West. It was only the repressive policies of Hussein, along with the secular government in Turkey which has prevented them from crossing that line.

When the Arab Spring rolled around, the news media and ill-informed people the world over rejoiced. There was going to be democracy in Egypt! That didn’t last long, as evidenced by the recent overthrow of President Mursi. That the military has stepped in and put a halt to the Islamization of Egypt is a welcome event, but it is easily misunderstood by most Americans, who see it only as a military coup and an affront to freedom.

The truth of the matter is that Egypt has taken a leaf from the pages of Turkey’s history and revoked the powers of the President, setting a respected Judge in place to run the courts, while at the same time planning for free and responsible elections next year. This is actually good news for those who can understand it. It means that Egypt’s military has taken the necessary steps to stop the slide of her country into Islamic Fundamentalism. You can almost feel the sigh of relief coming from Israel, who would soon have found itself surrounded on all sides; once again; by enemies bent on her destruction.

I wish the Egyptian people luck in their effort to maintain a secular government in the face of both the terrorists, as well as the ill-informed people who are clamoring about a military coup thwarting the so-called Arab Spring in that country.

For more about the Ataturk and the formation of the modern Turkish government you can go to; and apply the lessons learned there to the situation now taking place in Egypt.

The photo above is of the Egyptian military helicopters flying over the protesters in a show of support for the ouster of President Mursi last week.

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