Egypt's Sixty Years of Misery
by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
July 24, 2012
This week marks 60 years since Egypt's self-proclaimed Free Officers overthrew the constitutional monarchy of King Farouq - and the first anniversary when one can imagine the demise of the military despotism that so long has wounded the country. Sadly, its most likely replacement will bring on an even worse rule.
The era of monarchy had plenty of faults, from iniquitous income levels to violent movements (foremost among them, the Muslim Brotherhood) but it was an era of modernization, of a growing economy, and of increasing influence in the world. Industry had begun, women threw off their face coverings, and Egyptian soft power had a wide impact in Arabic-speaking countries. Tarek Osman recalls this time in his excellent Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak (Yale) as "liberal, glamorous, cosmopolitan."
The dreary rule of generals and colonels began on July 23, 1952, led by the ambitious Gamal Abdul Nasser (r. 1954-70). The grandiose Anwar el-Sadat (r. 1970-81) followed him, then the pompous Husni Mubarak (r. 1981-2011). Nasser, much the worst of the trio, danced to the demons of anti-capitalist resentment and anti-imperialist frustration; his rule saw crippling confiscation of private property and inane foreign adventures (with Syria, against Israel, in Yemen), incurring costs the country still pays.
The regime specialized in deception. The junta donned mufti even as the military's reach extended over the economy, the security services, the legislature, and the judiciary. Unity with Syria masked bitter hostility. Ostentatious rivalry with Islamists hid a squalid competition over spoils. Peace with Israel disguised continued warfare through other means.
During the long, painful, and regressive reign of the army boots, Egypt moved backward according to every meaningful index, from standard of living to diplomatic clout, even as the population quadrupled from 20 to 83 million and Islamist ideology flourished. Egypt and South Korea, Osman notes, were on a socio-economic par in 1952; now, Egypt has fallen far behind.
He writes how "society did not progress" under the soldiers' rule but, to the contrary, "on many fronts, it actually regressed." He discerns since 1952 "an overarching feeling of an irreparable sense of damage, a national defeat." From football games to poetry, one senses that defeatism.
On approaching his 30th year in power, Pharaoh Mubarak decided, in a paroxysm of hubris, to sideline his military colleagues. He aspired to steal yet more money, even if that meant denying the officers their share, and (under pressure of his wife) sought to have, not another military officer but his son, the banker Gamal, succeed him as president.
The outraged general officers bided their time. In early 2011, when brave, secular, and modern young people in Tahrir Square announced their impatience with tyranny, the junta exploited them to push Mubarak from office. Liberals thought they won, but they served merely as a tool and pretext for the military to be rid of its despised master. Having served their purpose, liberals were shunted aside as officers and Islamists competed for loot.
Which brings us to the present: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces still runs the country, the Muslim Brotherhood wants to push it aside. Which of these unworthy, autocratic forces will win? SCAF has, in my view, an 80 percent chance of holding power, meaning that Islamists will prevail only if they display enough talent.
SCAF cleverly sidelined the Muslim Brotherhood's most charismatic and capable leader, Khairat al-Shater on dubious technical grounds (his imprisonment by the Mubarak regime). That left the much less competent Mohamed Morsi as the brotherhood's standard-bearer and the country's new president. His first few weeks have shown him to be a mumbler and bumbler with no aptitude for waging political battle even against the incompetents who staff SCAF.
As Egyptians endure the 60th anniversary of the military's power grab, they have little to look forward to. If more July 23rd celebrations likely await them, at least they are not suffering through the first anniversary of Islamist rule. Better domination by greedy soldiers than by Islamist ideologues.
But Egyptians and their supporters abroad can aspire to better. The liberals who rallied in Tahrir Square remain the country's only hope and the West's only allies; they deserve support. However remote they are from the corridors of power, their rise uniquely offers an antidote to sixty years of tyranny and decline.
Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. 2012 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.
- Glenn Roberts Jr.
- Even atheists should celebrate Christmas
- Some important campaign issues for Christian voters October 2004
- Ten Commandments are God's absolutes, not law
- Leslie J. Sacks:
- Israel's Quiet Revolution
- Syria - A Minefield
- Political Correctness - Our Titanic
- Why Islam is in Desperate Need of a Reformation
- A Dangerous Game Changer (With Israel)
- What we can all learn from our Latino community
- Muslins Exterminate Christians/Jews, But Israel is the apartheid state!
- Crony System That Makes Israelis Poorer
- While Americans sleeps, the Jihad Advances
- Islamists Target Christians 'Wherever They Can Reach Them'
- Scourge of Meth Across Tri-Cities Tennessee
- Saudi Prince and the Bush Family
- Proud to Be Muslims While Producing Nothing
- Racist' Mob Attack, Violence is Simply Black Manhood
- Who Supports Israel? Not Leftist Jews
- Philadelphia Mayor Speaks Out on Black Lawlessness
- VA. Colleges May Bar Illegal Immigrants (2004)
- >Islamists Want to Kill Us All
- Rise of Rational Religion in the United States
- Egypt's Sixty Years of Misery
- Mass Immigration Displaces Black Worker
- From David Mendes:
- Christian Morals
- The Demoralizers
- Why Judaism Is The Key To Deism
- Judaism and politics
- About Jewish proselytizing
- Who is the God of Deism?
- On Religion and the Fall of Civilization: Quotes from Will Durant
- Thoughts on Theistic Evolution and Deism by Lewis Loflin
- My Answer to a Secular Fundamentalist by Lewis Loflin
- Also on Virginia-Local Crime:
- Virginia Crime Stats 2012
- Virginia Crime Stats 2015
- Lakeem Scott and Press Incitement to Murder
- Also See:
- Lakeem Scott and Press Incitement to Murder
- Machete Wielding Hispanic Shot Dead
- Christina Eilman Rape Costs Chicago Police Millions
- 12-Year-Old Emily Haddock Murder
- Emily Haddock killers Get Plea Bargain
- 15-Year-Old White Girl Gang Raped at California School
- Pedophilia Surrounds Afghan-Muslim Culture
- Myth of Early Islam
- Multiculturalism - Self-Liquidation of Europe
- Europeans Flee Third-World Hell Created by Multiculturalism
- Fear and Loathing of Islam is not Islamophobia
- Europeans as Victims of (Muslim) Colonialism
- Barbary Pirates and the Muslim Slavery Industry
- Muslim Wars Against Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
- Muslim Terror in the Balkans
- Debunking the Myth of Colonialism and Science
- Liberals & Islam Apologetics
- Updated September 2017:
- Web Master
- Bristol, Southwest Virginia Revealed
- Science & Technology
- 2017 Website Updates & Deletions
- Hobby Electronics
- US Constitution
- Christianity 101
- Religious Themes
- Guestbook Archive
» Archive 1 » Archive 2 » Archive 3
» Archive 4 » Archive 5 » Archive 6
» Archive 7 » Archive 8 » Archive 9
- Jesus the Man
- Apostle Paul Founder of Christianity
- Why we should know John Calvin
- Egyptian-Christian Connection
- Judaism Meets Zoroastrianism
- Judaism Meets Hellenism and the Logos
- Pelagius Why He Was Right
- Saint Augustine Introduction
- Saint Augustine His Christian World View by Lewis Loflin