Now that I’m back from Hawaii and Hillsdale — the two H’s as they’re known far and wide — it appears that I’ll be one of the few relatively glassy-eyed optimists around here when it comes to Egypt.
I think all of the concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood are legitimate. I think the potential for things to get much worse is great. And we can talk about all that.
But there’s a strange fatalism bubbling up across the conservative realm that the future is already written for Egypt. I don’t buy it. Again, I don’t think it’s guaranteed that things will go swimmingly either. But this is a moment of possibilities and that alone is progress of a sort.
For starters, I am very dubious that the “Iran scenario” will play out with the Swiss precision some of my e-mailers predict. History never repeats, it rhymes, as Twain said. So even if the Muslim Brotherhood did succeed in unilaterally hijacking the revolution, the parallel with 1979 Iran would merely be instructive not predictive. Egypt isn’t Persia and 2011 isn’t 1979. I could go into all of the differences (Egypt is dependent on tourism, trade, and Western aid; Iran has lots of oil, which makes the consolidation of economic, and hence political, power much easier, and so on). But, again, I don’t know if those differences will determine the outcome of unfolding events. All I know is that no one can persuasively assert that the similarities between the Muslim Brotherhood of 2011 and the Khomeinists of ’79 will guarantee a single outcome either.
As for what America should do, I think we should be careful. But we should be carefully moving in a singular direction: toward political decency, the rule of law, and, ultimately, democracy.