Saturday, February 05, 2011

Kristol backs democracy in Egypt

He offers some counter-examples here to the examples we are seeing cited frequently of revolutions that led to dictatorships. Ultimately, we should not let the outcomes of other countries determine our course of action in Egypt. What counts is not what happened in Iran (or in Indoneseia, as Kristol points out).

What do we know about the Egyptian people's inclinations? What I've seen cited most frequently is a recent Pew survey. I am now going to correctly paraphrase its often carelessly paraphrased findings: Unlike Turkey and Pakistan, where most respondents who thought Islamists and "Modernizers" are in conflict sided with the Modernizers, in Egypt, most respondents who saw a conflict sided with the Islamists. Majorities in Egypt also want hands cut off for theft and the death penalty for apostasy, as is not the case in Indonesia and elsewhere. So yes, if the choices are a democracy or continued dictatorship, the West should support free elections. If the real choice is the army or the Ikhwan, the West should try to keep the army in power. If there is Egypt-specific evidence that the first possibility is actually the case, I would like to see it.

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