Egypt: Revolutions Are Always a Messy Affair

by Paul Siciliano


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Shock of all shock, I am finally posting on something not involving the George Zimmerman trial (that will be next).   

I consider myself a student of the French Revolution and I have studied the development of democracy and rule of law in nations.  One thing is for sure in these matters, they are never clean or easy (not even in the United States).  That is why I have great interest in what is occurring in Egypt. 

There is this inherent tension with a democratically elected government being deposed by the military in the name of popular will.  You basically have the military behaving in an extra-constitutional manner to save the constitution.  It is all too common a theme.  South America, especially, had been plagued by decades of political instability resulting from democratically elected governments being deposed for being perceived as governing in an inappropriate matter.  In many of those countries, it took the horrors of state-sponsored violence (and in Argentina a failed military adventure) to so discredit the military that they returned to there barracks for good.  An aside, there had been so many military coups in Argentina that the final coup which deposed Isabel Peron was expected (the only question was the timing).

So, what is one to make of what is going on Egypt?  Yes, the Morsi government was governing against the will of most of the people.  Maybe that is true - it depends on how you define the popular will.  But there are procedures in place for the people to vent their disapproval of the governance - elections.  Granted, the institutions, at this time, are not as strong to ensure that the expression of popular will are responded to by the government.  It is all such a complicated mess, which is why I say revolutions are always messy.

I am going to return to Argentina for a moment.  I believe the reason Peronism has endured in Argentina for so long (may we can say had endured since now everyone claims the mantle of Peronism) was because the military never gave it a chance to fail.  I am not arguing that the Egyptian military should have allowed the Morsi government to fail.  But, by not doing so, you have the potential of having a large segment of dissatisfied citizens who will never see political legitimacy in the next regime. 

It is going to take a time for Egypt to come to some sort of democratic order with a respect for basic rights and the rule of law, and there little the United States can do about that.  It's all a mess, but will be interesting to see how it plays out.