They know us; we don’t know them
This morning (March 25, 2011), the New York Times published an important article, “Islamist Group is Rising Force in a New Egypt.” We should not be surprised at this development. For all the NPR, NYT, and CNN talk of a "moderate," new Muslim Brotherhood (MB), what has really changed is their level of political sophistication, not their alleged, new moderation. NYT has done a service by publishing this article, especially after all of its nonsense about MB moderation. The really scary thing is that the Islamists know us; We don't know them.
My (educated) guess is that the MB will take over slowly and not do so completely until they are really ready to govern effectively. Then, as former U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Israel, Edward Djerejian, once wrote, it will be, "One man; one vote; one time."
Is it possible that we can learn something about the political springtime in Araby from other revolutions, the French, for example? The ground breaking Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (August 26, 1789) was followed by the Committee of Public Safety (April and July 1793), the Jacobin Club, and the rapid rise of the "incorruptible" Maximilian Robespierre. Perhaps his most famous public address was "On the Principles of Public Morality,"(February 5, 1794). It included the following reflection on the connection between virtue and terror:
If virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that government during a revolution is virtue combined with terror: virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country. ... The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.
I would hazard a guess that the MB is the most incorruptible movement in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world today.
Posted on 03/25/2011 10:52 AM by Richard L. Rubenstein