Egypt’s Military and the Arab Spring
Things are bad, and they are going to get worse.

General Sedky Sobhi, Egypt’s new army chief of staff


Andrew C. McCarthy

Withal, the Times report is very enlightening. As NR readers know, I’ve been arguing for the better part of a decade that the Islamic democracy project is a fool’s errand because Islamist ideology, far from being an outlier, is the mainstream Islam of the Middle East. I even wrote a book, The Grand Jihad, that both explains Islamic supremacism and illustrates that this ideology’s chief proponent — the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by deep Saudi pockets — rightly perceives itself as the avant-garde of a dynamic mass movement. Other than a few appearances on the bestseller list, which I’m sure must have pained the Gray Lady, the book was studiously ignored by the Times. Elsewhere, it was pooh-poohed as Islamophobic tripe. Imagine my surprise, then, to find that my theory, virtually overnight, has gone from an object of ridicule to a truth so undeniable it warrants judicial notice.

Now, the Times tells us:

Samer Shehata, a professor of Arab politics at Georgetown University, said American policy makers would be naïve to think that the positions held by Mr. Morsi and the Brotherhood — including criticisms of the United States and strong support for the Palestinians — represented fringe thinking.

On those issues, “the Brotherhood is the Egyptian Kansas,” said Professor Shehata. Their positions on foreign policy “reflect rather than oppose what the Egyptian center is thinking,” he said.

Well, I’ll be darned. I thought it was hysterical “Islamophobia” to believe that such thinking represented “the Egyptian Kansas.”

Also remarkable is the paper’s matter-of-fact mention of the source of General Sobhi’s anti-American broadside. Turns out he wrote it seven years ago, when he was a student at the United States Army War College in Pennsylvania.

Think about that. As we’ve illustrated here time and time again, it is delusional to assume the Egyptian military is pro-American and thus a reliable bulwark against the advance of Islamic supremacism. Cairo’s armed forces reflect the broader society, whose able-bodied men are required to serve — and, as even the Times now concedes, the Egyptian mainstream is Islamist. Plus, the Egyptian army has always had Islamists (including violent jihadists) in its ranks. Its historical tendency, moreover, has not been to lead; it has been to follow the shifting political programs of whatever dictator happened to be running the show.

Nonetheless, you’ve spent nearly two years being told not to worry: Bet the farm on these generals we’ve been training and funding. Yet, now we see that not only is our government well aware of the Egyptian army’s Islamist streak (or shall we say swath?); Egyptian officers, who often study in the U.S., actually submit sharia-driven “get out of Dar al-Islam” term papers to their American military professors. And I’m betting Sobhi got an “A.”

Finally, the military promotions are not occurring in a vacuum. Things are going very badly in Egypt, and the reporting ought not be so vested in a rose-tinted narrative that it evades this unhappy bottom line. Contemporaneous with ousting the pro-American Mubarak remnants, President Morsi assumed dictatorial powers. He indicated that he would unilaterally oversee the drafting of a new constitution. There is not much mystery about what it will say: During the campaign, he vowed that Egyptian law would be “the sharia, then the sharia, and finally, the sharia.”

Meanwhile, dissenters and journalists are already being imprisoned and beaten — if not worse. (There are unconfirmed reports that crucifixion is making a comeback.) Terrorist leaders have been sprung from the prisons. The Sinai has become a jihadist haven. Women are attacked in the street if they fail to don the veil. A fatwa that prohibited eating during Ramadan was issued. Christians are fleeing in droves, their churches torched behind them. And the emirs of Hamas are warmly received as brotherly dignitaries.

No amount of whistling can obscure the graveyard. Things are bad, and they are going to get worse.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.