Egypt: Patience is a Virtue

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Posted on: 07/07/2013 by Pat O'Brien

"We choose the order and certainty of petty despots over the uncertainty and chaos of developing democracies," President Jed Bartlet of The West Wing TV Series.

Except, this time we didn't. I wrote in "The Radical Moderate" that the Muslim Brotherhood might use the fall of Mubarak to seize power and further restrict the rights of the Egyptian people and that is what they did. In the past, the United States has tried to influence the leaders that other countries pick. We did that with Mubarak. For 30 years, we supported Mubarak because he was the devil that we knew. We choose certainty over uncertainty. But this time, President Obama chose uncertainty. He let the chaos of a developing democracy play itself out. In short, he let Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood backers fail. And failure is usually the greatest teacher.

We were once a developing democracy ourselves. It took nearly a century and a Civil War for the United States to fully and finally decide that we would be one nation and that all levels of our government would be legitimate. We would not be the greatest country on Earth had our unique history not been allowed to play itself out. There is a reason why they call it "growing pains". I argued in my book that America needs to start playing the long game in foreign policy. We need to quit being reactionary and instead start supporting principles over personalities. In short, we need to start trusting the people of the world to stand up for themselves from time to time. This is what has happened in Egypt.

Egypt will likely have a long and bumpy road ahead. Democracy is messy. But, it is the only true path to success. The Egyptian people, instinctively, understand this premise. That is why they took to the streets by the millions and forced the ouster of Morsi. They understand that theocracy will not fix their potholes or bring them jobs. Only freedom, both personal and economic, can accomplish these goals. The Egyptian people will make mistakes along the way. They made one by electing Morsi in the first place. But, mistakes teach us. And, mistakes can be fixed. The Muslim Brotherhood is done in Egypt not because the United States intervened but because we didn't. They were just a house of cards with no economic plan or competence in running government. They had nothing to offer the Egyptian people and their penalty will be irrelevance.

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