I’ve been a bit slow on the theology lately because I’ve been working on a “prophetic dossier” of Egypt. However, as usual the birth-pains of the Messiah have outpaced my ability to keep up with them. To wit:
Not too many people in my own generation remember this, but in the 60s and 70s, Iran was actually a secular, pro-Western nation. As the American Thinker noted in an article a few years ago,
The Shah implemented broad economic and social reforms, including enhanced rights for women, and religious and ethnic minorities. Economic and educational reforms were adopted, initiatives to cleanse politics of social upheaval were systematized, and the civil service system was reformed. When sectors of society rioted to demand even greater freedom, the Shah promised constitutional reform to favor democracy. In the face of Soviet and fundamentalist Islamic pressures, constitutional reform remained on the back burner, as the Shah built what on paper was the world’s fifth or sixth largest armed force. . . . The Shah used Iran’s military might to address regional crises consistent with foreign relations goals of the United States. The Nixon and Ford administrations endorsed these efforts and allowed the Shah to acquire virtually unlimited quantities of any non-nuclear weapons in the American arsenal.
So how did we get from a secular, reasonably progressive, pro-Western nation that we could freely sell weapons to without fear that they would be used against us an our allies to a fundamentalist totalitarian regime whose coming acquisition of a nuclear arsenal is one of the greatest threats to stability in the Middle-east?
The election of Mr. Carter as president of the United States in 1976, with his vocal emphasis on the importance of human rights in international affairs, was a turning point in US-Iran relations. The Shah of Iran was accused of torturing over 3000 prisoners. Under the banner of promoting human rights, Carter made excessive demands of the Shah, threatening to withhold military and social aid. Carter pressured the Shah to release “political prisoners”, whose ranks included radical fundamentalists, communists and terrorists. Many of these individuals are now among the opponents we face in our “war on terrorism”. . . .
Unfortunately, the Shah’s efforts to defuse the volatile situation in Iran failed, despite the grant even of free and democratic elections. Confronted with lack of US support and unleashed Mullah fury, the Shah of Iran fled the country.
Now, does any of this start to sound a bit familiar? It should. As Mark Steyn noted in his opening monologue while guest-hosting for Rush Limbaugh on Monday,
The administration has now clarified its position on Egypt:
(1) “President Mubarak is not a dictator and he should stay in office…” according to Vice President Biden
(2) “… but he needs to step down immediately…” according to Secretary Clinton
(3) “… and remain President to ensure stability …” according to Special Envoy Frank Wisner
(4) “… and he should have resigned as President yesterday …” according to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
(5) “… paving the way to elections that must be held within three months …” according to senior officials
(6) “… unless he waits till September, which is fine by us…” according to the State Department.
Got that? The official U.S. position is that Mubarak needs to go immediately, he needs to stay indefinitely, he needs to stay for a bit and then go, he needs to stay for a bit longer then go sooner rather than later, unless he decides to stay until September because he is standing in the way of the full bloom of a new Egyptian democracy, unless it turns out that he is all that stands between us and a Muslim Brotherhood takeover, because the Muslim Brotherhood are a radical theocratic tyranny in waiting, unless of course it turns out that they are reasonable moderate types we should have been talking to all along. So that’s the official Obama position verbatim from WhiteHouse.gov.
If you’re making that critical 3:00 AM call to the oval office and you get voicemail press buttons #1 through #6 for whichever Obama position on Egypt suits you best. (Our thanks to macquire for the transcript.)
Thanks at least in part to all of this vascillating, we once again have a secular, reasonably pro-Western leader of a Muslim country being forced to step down in the face of a joint military/Islamist coup:
CAIRO (AP) â€” Egypt’s military announced on national television that it stepped in to “safeguard the country” and assured protesters that President Hosni Mubarak will meet their demands in the strongest indication yet that the longtime leader has lost power. In Washington, the CIA chief said there was a “strong likelihood” Mubarak will step down Thursday.
State TV said Mubarak will speak to the nation Thursday night from his palace in Cairo.
The military’s dramatic announcement showed that the military was taking control after 17 days of protests demanding Mubarak’s immediate ouster spiraled out of control. (from news.yahoo)
Sadly, the military taking control is the one ray of light here, but it’s a dim one. While the Egyptian military is in itself secular, they will either have to come to terms with the Muslim Brotherhood or will have to root them out. In the latter case, expect to see human rights violations on a grand scale that will make us pine for the relatively stable and humane Mubarak government. If they make some kind of alliance with the Brotherhood, we’ll still see human rights violated on a mass level on the street–especially against Egypt’s Christian population–and Egypt’s relationship with Israel will continue to erode.
Mind you, that erosion can ultimately be laid at Mubarak’s feet, since while he kept his peace treaty with the Jewish nation, he did not work to prepare his people for a lasting peace. Like most Middle-east dictators, he used Israel as a convenient place to redirect his own people’s anger at the abuses of their government–a strategy, as we have seen not only in Egypt but across the Middle-east in the last few weeks, which can only work for so long before the internal unrest reaches its boiling point.
Nevertheless, we are witnessing as radical a sea-change in the Middle-east as we did during the Carter administration, and for pretty much the same reasons. We have failed to learn from history, so we are now repeating it.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and pray for the peace and safety of our Coptic brethren in Egypt.
- Protests and Rumors of Riots (returnofbenjamin.wordpress.com)
- Egypt, Obama, & The Muslim Brotherhood: Undermining Mubarak May Hasten Muslim Power & Middle East Catastrophe (frugal-cafe.com)
- Uprising in Egypt (michellemalkin.com)
- Muslim Brotherhood eyes comeback in Egypt – Washington Post (news.google.com)
- Mubarak, Obama, and Jimmy Carter: Is the U.S. making the same mistake with Egypt that we did with the Shah of Iran in 1978? (slate.com)
- “Egypt Unrest Mirrors Iran – Beware of Muslim Brotherhood” and related posts (theliberalslies.blogspot.com)
- Mideast Allies: “U.S. Go Easy on Egypt” (cbsnews.com)