Egypt’s Future … and Ours

I suppose I need to say something more about Egypt. Since I last wrote about the situation there, much has changed—not the least the abrupt departure of Hosni Mubarak, just hours after he said he wasn’t going to step down until September. Well, September arrived earlier than expected.

Then there was James Clapper, the Obama administration’s Director of National Intelligence, commenting in a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the Muslim Brotherhood is not necessarily an organization to fear. Here are Clapper’s precise words:

The term “Muslim Brotherhood” … is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera. … In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.

What are we to make of such an assessment?

This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that spawned Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. This is the organization that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and to the setting up of an Islamic caliphate from Spain to Indonesia.

This is a terrorist organization.

For now, the army is in charge of Egypt, and it has been trained by and has ties to the U.S. military. The hope is that it will be able to maintain control and methodically lead the nation into representative government. Of course, the larger problem is that the people of Egypt are not practiced in the art of self-government. Indeed, it can be questioned whether any majority-Muslim nation can handle a legitimately representative form of government, given the Muslim mentality. Some say it has worked in Turkey, but there are signs it is breaking down there. We have tried to install workable government in Iraq; the result is still uncertain.

What of Egypt? Why should it be any different? I fear it won’t be, and if the attempt fails, the Muslim Brotherhood is waiting to pick up the pieces. In fact, it already has received the proverbial “place at the table.”

The next few weeks and months will be critical, not only for Egypt, not only for Israel and the entire Middle East, but critical for the United States as well.