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Wizards or woozies

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Philip Whitfield

Philip Whitfield

By Philip Whitfield

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors – Plato. For what it’s worth, the election degenerates into a scrap between bigots and zealots.

Tactical withdrawal? Tacit defeat? Haughty hogwash? Take your pick. Either way the self-styled democratic opposition has hung their supporters out to dry. As have Obama, Cameron and Merkel.

Virtually all the candidates label themselves Islamists. The Salafis are a thorn in the Muslim Brotherhood’s side. Their on-and-off courtship will end in tears. The Copts’ 10 million have no reason to vote, only to fear an Islamic republic.

It’s hardly worthwhile raking over the coals. Hijacking the revolution was the Brothers’ coup d’état, bloody and undemocratic. Ineptitude handed their lacklustre leaders victory on a plate.

The opposition had a poor grasp of the art of the possible. Bickering among themselves was churlish. They lacked charisma and often seem as addle-headed as Mubarak. Egos got in the way of common sense. If they couldn’t stomach a fight, they should have stayed at home.

Ominously the National Salvation Front has abandoned democracy, leaving the street to decide what happens next.

The election of a new lower house will provide Morsi with the means to distribute patronage to the party faithful: jobs, houses and handouts that could apotheosise Islamic rule for decades.

President Obama threw in the towel in a phone call to Morsi. He said as much by welcoming Morsi’s commitment to serve as a president for all Egyptians, including women and people of all faiths. Weasel words. Obama will gladhand Morsi ritually at the White House in July.

According to Al-Ahram the US ambassador Anne Patterson bypassed Morsi to dot the Is and cross the Ts with Khairat El Shater, an unelectable running the show.

Thus Morsi the mouthpiece can be assured of billions of dollars in civil and military aid. Obama emphasised Morsi’s responsibility to protect the democratic principles that the Egyptian people fought so hard to secure. He encouraged Morsi to build consensus and advance the political transition.

That’s like petting the fox that culled your henhouse.

Once again democrats have been let down by America and its allies, such as the UK, whose capricious policy of accepting the will of the people is arbitrarily applied.

Now you know how it feels to be a Palestinian or a woman in Afghanistan.

Apparently it’s OK to send gunboats to the other side of the world to free people in the Falkland Islands who espouse your beliefs. Quite another if they live in Arabia craving freedom and justice.

Prime Minister David Cameron makes a show of apologising for the evils inflicted on Northern Ireland by spies and soldiers. He asks the world to forgive the wanton post-war dispatch of children to the colonies to be raped and abused.

The Awakening exposed the West’s vacuous affiance. Who will apologise for the abandonment of young people in Egypt? Who will lay a comforting hand on the shoulders of grieving relatives? Who will explain the expedience of diplomacy?

Not Cameron. He’s staring at his own demise in the face of a right-wing surge.

The British Foreign Office has defended Arab causes for more than a century. They lost influence once Cameron grabbed the helm of popularism, kowtowing to the USA, eschewing principles for profits, denying verisimilitude.

History records the effectiveness of Reagan, Thatcher and Kohl, bound by an ideology that forbade the Communists from getting away with evil. Together they ended the Cold War. Kohl reunified Germany and solidified the European Union.

History will record the abject failure of Obama, Cameron and Merkel to think likewise. History will record they condoned rape and the trampling of human rights in Egypt and Syria. They promised youth a bright future, only to cut them loose and abandon their future to dogmatists.

Beggared by their excessive greed, poleaxed by their own inability to reverse their spendthrift ways, the West jettisons those it could count on: educated youth.

This foreshadows an Egypt far removed from its aspirations: necrosis, mortification by intolerance. The reins of power are held by cynical sectarian men, indifferent to pleas to release youth’s potential or women’s power. It’s that which condemns the opposition for walking away from the fight for justice.

At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst, Aristotle declared. I doubt the Muslim Brotherhood considers Aristotle’s logic. To them the revolution was about conquest.

Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself, said Khalil Gibran (1883 –1931) the Lebanese poet and writer whose books sold second only to Shakespeare.

A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle, Gibran says. Isn’t that condemnation of the Egyptian democrats? They are passive when they should be most active.

Morsi called their bluff.

Election fraud? Europeans have been gerrymandering constituencies for centuries. Even today the Conservatives in Britain are redrawing constituencies in their favour before the next election.

The Democrats made changes favouring Obama before his re-election. Jack Kennedy was elected president in1960 after Mayor Daly tampered with the results in the crucial Chicago poll. Allegations of vote rigging in South Africa are rife.

Zimbabwe? Despite being branded a pariah, Robert Mugabe’s shameful leadership over more than 30 years has seen their economy collapse, stagnate and now prosper, brazenly described by the IMF as buoyantly achieving economic growth.

The IMF has no scruples. It provides credit to trade with the IMF’s backers, chicanery ignoring the consequences of a debt-ridden world.

That could be Egypt’s future: decades of misery, led by martinets, but eventually digging itself out, with little if any betterment for the people for whom the revolution heralded hope. They’re left with a devalued currency, rising inflation, no new jobs and inadequately prepared to figure it out thanks to Obama’s craven cowardice.

His new secretary of state John Kerry deceives himself if he thinks he can resolve the Middle East conundrum, cozying up to contumacious caitiffs.

You can’t extinguish hope. Another time, let’s hope leaders emerge serving the people’s cause, not self-centred pompous gaucheries.

Tahrir Square? Betrayal’s roundabout.

Philip Whitfield is a Cairo commentator. 


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