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Why Morsi fell

Why Morsi fell

A terrible candidate who won due to the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood but never attained the political support necessary to govern.

The Misadventures of Morsi

Commenting on Reuel Marc Gerecht’s thesis that having Islamists take power was probably a necessary step for political liberalization in the Arab world, Ross Douthat writes:

As I said two years ago, I have serious doubts about whether Gerecht’s thesis — which sees Islamist rule in Middle Eastern countries as a necessary-if-fraught step on the way to any kind of liberal democracy in the region — can serve as a guide for responsible U.S. policymaking. But it has always offered the most plausible script for how the Islamic world might eventually escape from its current cycle of repression feeding extremism feeding repression and so on.

The question is whether this week’s events in Egypt are following the Gerecht script or not. Is the failure of the Morsi government an example of how “time moves quickly now,” with the Egyptian public swiftly seeing Islamist rule for what it is and rejecting it decisively, opening the door for more liberal alternatives? Or is this a case where the process Gerecht hopes for hasn’t even had time to get off the ground, and the military’s intervention will just return us to the same old cycle of secular dictatorships pre-empting democracy in order to keep the lid on fundamentalists, whose popular appeal endures and eventually prompts another upheaval down the road? The Morsi government was in power long enough to produce a mass protest movement against the Muslim Brotherhood, but was it in power long enough to actually discredit the Brotherhood (at least in its current form) as the most plausible alternative to military rule? If the military actually holds new elections now, will they produce anything like a viable third way between Islamism and dictatorship, Morsi and Mubarak, the minaret and the tank?

If Douthat’s first possibility is correct, the swift failure of the Muslim Brotherhood was largely Morsi’s.

Jeffrey Goldberg recalls:

A few months ago, King Abdullah II of Jordan told me about his meetings with Mohamed Mursi, the now-deposed president of Egypt. The king wasn’t fond of Mursi, both because the Egyptian was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and because Abdullah found Mursi exceedingly stupid.

“I see a Muslim Brotherhood crescent developing in Egypt and Turkey,” the king said. He despises the movement, partly because it is revanchist, fundamentalist and totalitarian, and partly because in Jordan it seeks his overthrow. “The Arab Spring highlighted a new crescent in the process of development.”

The saving grace in Egypt, he said, was that Mursi seemed too unsophisticated to successfully pull off his vision. “There’s no depth to the guy,” he said of Mursi. The king compared him unfavorably to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist prime minister of Turkey. Like Mursi, the king asserted, Erdogan was also a false democrat, but one with patience. “Erdogan once said that democracy for him is a bus ride,” Abdullah said. “Once I get to my stop, I’m getting off.”

(Goldberg notes that Erdogan’s style has now lost some of its luster.)

Eric Trager describes how Morsi became president. He had no charisma and didn’t win based on his charm but on the effective organization of the Muslim Brotherhood. Thus:

Morsi thus won the presidency without having to be liked – thereby making it easy for people to start hating him as soon as his many flaws became apparent.

Morsi’s total reliance on the Brotherhood for his political success had another damaging effect: it made pleasing his Brotherhood colleagues a top priority, even though he campaigned promising to govern inclusively.

Morsi thus continually expanded the number of Brotherhood ministers and governors with each round of appointments, further alienating non-Islamists.

Trager then goes on to recount how Morsi sought to seize power for himself last November. Though this is slightly off topic, it’s important for another reason.

David Kirkpatrick is the Cairo bureau chief of the New York Times, an thus one of the more influential reporters in the region. He sees no threat from the Muslim Brotherhood as a political party. The other day he tweeted:

Morsi’s power grab last year was an attempt to bring the judiciary under his control but the reporter for the New York Times didn’t bring it up. (The context of the tweet is important too. Someone had argued that there was no justification for arresting Morsi.) Instead he tweeted that Morsi had been arrested unjustly before.

It’s important to remember that the New York Times’ lead reporter from Egypt is an apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood generally, and Morsi, in particular.


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Carol Herman | July 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Unlike Erdogan who slipped the noose slowly around Turkish necks.

There’s still the antisemetic hue and cry that brings out overexcitement to muslems. (And, look what happened when hitler won his first election in Germany? Do germans even admit to the harms that happened under hitler? The devastation? The big foot of Stalin stepping in?) Sometimes, I think hitler’s still popular in some parts of germany. With the good news is that it hasn’t overtaken “all.”

Turkey’s path ahead? Probably downhill. Turkish workers, in abundance within the “under 25 group” … still are part of a culture dependent on “baksheesh”)

Jim Rodgers, who used to do financial analysis on TV, when I watched TV, wrote two books. Adventures around the world. Where he, on his motorcycle, toodled from Ireland, then throughout Europe. Into China, back up through Russia … commenting about investment opportunities along the way.

In his second book he drove a Mercedes. Instead of his motorcycle. He said Mercedes was the one car that could be fixed anywhere in the world. Because despots, everywhere, drove them. As an aside, in Russia, a mechanic would just take the part from another car, leaving the “donor car” broken. But spare parts weren’t really available. Just this “human ingenuity.”

Anyway, Jim Rodgers arrives in Turkey. With a busted driver’s side mirror. It takes 3 weeks for a replacement mirror to arrive from Germany. So Rodgers got a lot of time to “poke around.” And, he came to the conclusion that Turkey will never become a factory zone for EUropeans, because his mirror didn’t many, many stamps, as it passed through customs. Everyone with a stamp and pad had their hands out. (That’s the way the Turkish are used to doing business.)

And, now we know what’s flared up in Turkey looks like disgust at the Islamists. Who’ve got a killer grip around the whole country. Erdogan has seeded education; by demanding islamists hold top jobs. He’s practially built a mosque on every corner. And, he wants to wipe away Ataturk’s influence. Like a cancer, he is metastasizing his “message.”

Obama likes the MB boys. So I’m sure he’s sitting in the White House disappointed at what citizens are doing all over the Mideast. (This is one reason Kerry went on the attack to revitalize the dead Oslo.) But Americans are no longer liked through a huge sleuth of countries whose options are going downhill.

Here, at home? Americans don’t want to be bothered.

    snopercod in reply to Carol Herman. | July 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I say again. “Whoever is down-dinging you is an ass.” He or she should be a man and fess up.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Carol Herman. | July 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Erdogan didn’t slip the noose around Turkish necks. I submit it was already there: Islam and the Koran. Erdogan merely just tightened it in readiness for kicking the stool of secularism out from under the feet of the Turks.

Erdogan is certainly the exception among the islamists. He has some concept of organizing and planning and isn’t a complete idiot, building his one-party state slowly over time.

Most islamists insist all you need to know about anything is the Qur’an, so they know nothing else, and it shows.

But if the thesis about the Middle East needing a taste of islamism as a precursor for democracy were valid, how to explain Iran?

Anything but a secular governance will not serve the majority well.

There is no place for official religious affiliations in ANY form of government. It has been said that money is the root of evil but religion can often be associated with tyranny.

That’s why Morsi was outed and hopefully, his tyrannical brother in Turkey will follow his foot steps..

    snopercod in reply to GrumpyOne. | July 7, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Bravo, Mr. Grumpy. The relationship between politicians and religious leaders is symbiotic. The religious leaders give the politicians “moral authority” in exchange for money and power. It was always thus…

Henry Hawkins | July 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Islamism and democracy are mutually exclusive.

If you want to sell a ‘Vette you don’t start by showing off its trunk space or mpg – that’s not why the customer wants a ‘Vette. If you want to sell democracy in the Middle East, first show them capitalism. After they’re hooked on making money, sneak in egalitarianism. Give them money and they won’t respect it. Help them to make money and you’ll have their attention. Let U.S. businesses provide seed and venture capital, not the U.S. government. Relegate the State Dept to tour guide status between American business and the Egyptian government, facilitators, not participants. It also affords Egyptian leaders the appearance of coolness towards the U.S. government, so the other Middle East kids will still like them.

Some good old bribe-happy American entrepreneurial imperialism is what is needed here.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Henry Hawkins. | July 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Capitalism has to work within the framework of a strong Constitution, a good set of logical/rational/just laws that are upheld/enforced, and stable civilized society, where trust can be established…only then can capitalism/free enterprise operate safely and sanely.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      Who said anything about safely and sanely? And I know plenty of venues where capitalism flourishes without much trust and quite despite the law. What you describe is the goal in my thesis, not the start-up.

      US diplomacy in Egypt has ranged from bad to barely tolerable for six decades, because they’ve dangled the wrong carrots. I’m saying that if all those years of top notch, experienced, nuanced diplomacy led to nothing, try something more basal and deeper. I’m saying appeal to their greed.

      To reconcile democracy with Islamism, which typically means a theocratic dictatorship, you’ve got to get around Islamic law and custom. Only money’ll do that.

I used to think we had the best political system in the world, bar none.

But now I wonder.

We have a dangerous, detached, incompetent, ideologically driven megalomaniac as our so-call leader and, unlike Egypt, we can’t get rid of him, no matter how much destruction he causes.

Meanwhile, he and his henchmen work around the clock to destroy a system that used to work, if imperfectly, fairly well. The Zimmerman trial is a case in point. And most of us can fill a hundred posts with other examples.

It appears to me that the Egyptian people have more interest in their own affairs than Americans have in our own. Apparently, when more than half of a population have achieved the status of being able to freely take from the other half, there is no recourse for the people on the other end of the shaft.

Egypt’s Morsi would probably still be in power if he had paid just a bit more attention to the lessons America’s Morsi was so freely (and admiringly) giving.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to donmc. | July 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    “I used to think we had the best political system in the world, bar none.”

    And you were 100% correct.

    “But now I wonder.”

    Don’t blame the airplane for a bad pilot.

The men who founded America new very well the evil that would result from a state-sanctioned religion. The barbarians in the Middle East haven’t figured it out yet.

    Browndog in reply to snopercod. | July 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm


    Evil flows through men, religion or no religion.

    That is what the Founders understood.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Browndog. | July 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      I have to agree. The would-be masters, when they are evil, use it as an opiate to manipulate the uneducated, underclass masses who have no other context in which to place religious belief.

      snopercod in reply to Browndog. | July 7, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Then what’s your theory on why the Founders inserted Article V and the 1st Amendment to the Constitution? Could it be that they knew their history?

      “For centuries, monarchs ruled by the idea of divine right, which said the king ruled both Crown and Church…

      In the West, the issue of the separation of church and state during the medieval period centered on monarchs who ruled in the secular sphere but encroached on the Church’s rule of the spiritual sphere. This unresolved contradiction in ultimate control of the Church led to power struggles and crises of leadership…

      In the 1530s Henry VIII, angered by the Catholic Church’s refusal to annul his marriage with his wife Catherine of Aragon, decided to break with the Church and set himself as ruler of the new Church of England, The Anglican Church, ending the separation that had existed between Church and State in England.”

      Need we mention the Spanish Inquisition?


JackRussellTerrierist | July 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Both domestically and internationally, MB butt-boy obastard is seen to have been thrown soundly under the bus with the Morsi beatdown.

No other president, not even Bubba, would have worked to overthrow Mubarak. The only one who might have been strongly tempted would have been Carter if he was in office in recent times.

Given 9/11, obastard’s support for the MB is traitorous.

BannedbytheGuardian | July 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Not enough bread & no circuses – that is why.

Uncle Samuel | July 8, 2013 at 5:36 am

Obama has a Plan B to restore Islamic Thugocracy to Egypt:

Meanwhile the despicable Muslim Brotherhood beasts are killing Christians and burning their homes.