As President Obama’s disastrous Middle East policy “comes home to roost” and he retreats to the safety of TV talk show couches, Egypt’s new president presses his advantage. Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is now demanding a fundamental change (sound familiar, Obama?) in the way the United States relates to Egypt.
In an interview with The New York Times prior to his first trip to the U.S., Morsi said it was up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world, specifically with Egypt. America must change its approach to the Arab world, show greater respect for its values, and help build a Palestinian state, to atone for decades of pent-up Arab anger caused by our support for autocratic Middle Eastern regimes like that of the deposed Hosni Mubarak in Egypt: “Successive American administrations,” Morsi said, “essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region.”
So all the recent anti-American violence against U.S. embassies in the region is our fault. It’s no surprise that Morsi, who seems comfortable speaking on behalf of the Arab world, wouldn’t apologize on their behalf as well. Apologizing might be Obama’s go-to diplomatic strategy, but that’s not the Arab way. Blaming others is.
Morsi shrugged off criticism that he didn’t come down hard or quick enough on the Cairo protesters who recently hoisted the black flag of Islam over the U.S. embassy: “We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely,” he said, adding that the embassy employees were never in danger. How reassuring.
He went on to describe the post-Arab Spring nature of his country: “Egypt now is a real civil state. It is not theocratic, it is not military. It is democratic, free, constitutional, lawful and modern.” Nothing in that sentence after the word “Egypt” is true. A Muslim Brotherhood regime is by definition theocratic. Egypt is militarizing and preparing for war with Israel. The state is not democratic, free, constitutional, lawful or modern in the way that we understand those words.
But Morsi isn’t a member of the Brotherhood anymore, you say? Here is what he told the NY Times:
I grew up with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned my principles in the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned how to love my country with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned politics with the Brotherhood. I was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It’s in his blood. Yet Morsi sees “absolutely no conflict” between his loyalty to that fundamentalist, supremacist organization and his responsibility to govern on behalf of all Egyptians, regardless of religion, sex or class. That must be very reassuring to that country’s Coptic Christians, against whom genocide is being waged.
Asked if he considers the United States an ally, Morsi joked, “That depends on your definition of ally.” He said he does envision our two nations as “real friends.” But the U.S. must respect the Arab world’s history and culture, Morsi demanded, even when that conflicts with Western values. Islamic fundamentalists always demand R-E-S-P-E-C-T but don’t bother reciprocating; they don’t respect our culture or values like human rights, free speech, separation of church and state, women’s rights, religious freedom, and so forth. Remember, Morsi himself said, in condemnation of the controversial film trailer The Innocence of Muslims, that the Muslim prophet Muhammad “is a red line nobody can touch.” If it were up to him, no one, Egyptian or American, would enjoy Western freedoms.
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