Will Egypt Get a New Dictator like the Old Dictator?
“The Who” sang about it, warned about it, and Egypt got it:
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss.
Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi “issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.” He “also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it, a threat that had been hanging over the controversial assembly.”
Now there’s a new boss, and there’s no guarantee he won’t be like the old boss.
Egypt is much like the United States. We got the leader we voted for. In the case of Egypt, the nation got what the nation protested to get. This is not to say that the former president was any better. He wasn’t. But in the end, it all comes down to the people and what they expect the State to do in their name.
A few years ago, I wrote the following about the forced Democracy imposed on the Iraqi people in the name of war:
“The talk from both ends of the political spectrum is that democracy’ will cure the ills of Iraq, Iran, and the surrounding Muslim nations. What if the ‘liberated’ people of Iraq, with their newly acquired right to vote, decide that they want a Taliban-style social and political system whose goal is to defeat the infidel West and impose Sharia law on all Muslims? Democracy in the hands of wild-eyed fanatics is perilous. They will use the democratic process to deny the democratic process once they gain power through the democratic process.”
What’s true of the people generally is also true of those who finally get into power. They ride the wave of popular sentiment, but in the end you never know what you’re going to get because people can’t be trusted with power.
“In questions of power,” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.” But even that’s not enough.
Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. There are democratic elements in our constitutional system, but these are balanced with courts and elected representatives. Moreover, western-style democratic principles are built on the remnants of a Christian moral order. Self-government under God’s government tempered the potential harmful effects of a pure democracy that could be manipulated by evil men.
Attempts to export our political form without the worldview that gives it its heart will lead to unintended consequences. Democracy in Egypt and the Middle East generally will only lead to the imposition of the prevailing worldview that is anti-Christian and anti-Western.
“There is,” in the words of James Madison, a “degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust.” Madison speaks of the “caprice and wickedness of man,” and of the “infirmities and depravities of the human character.”
If Egypt is to survive, the people will have to change. Simón Bolívar (1783–1820), the George Washington of Latin America, wrote, “He who serves a revolution plows the sea.” Bolívar understood that democracy is not easily exported when the people are under the “triple yoke of ignorance, tyranny, and vice.”