Andrew D. Pochter, a student at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio had been drawn to Egypt because of the political unrest. At 21, as an Arabist and a linguist, a country in turmoil held no fears for him. During clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents of the president, Andrew Pochter was stabbed in the chest. After a few suspects were rounded up, his body was turned over to the American representatives. Andrew had been an idealist who saw the best in everyone.
Andrew is an American tragedy in the midst of an Egyptian fiasco.
Journalist and politicians will be analyzing the Egyptian coup for weeks to come, but there additional factors that we can recognize at this early date. Let us delve further into the fiasco that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood produced. In the last blog, I gave a brief analysis of why religious extremist create frightening governments. Let’s go further.
Extremist that are Christian, Muslim, whatever, have a fatal flaw. They are long on emotional excess and short on long-range plans. They love a bonfire pep rally and plan to take over the school, but once they’ve got it, they have no idea what to do next. In the case of jihadists , they’re long on killing and short on rebuilding. As was the case in Iran, once they got everybody kneeling with their face on the ground, they thought they had arrived. Wrong.
Some years ago, I was in a Damascus restaurant when a group of Iranian tourists came in. One couple came over to talk with me because they thought I was a Canadian. Americans generally never come to Damascus. The charming couple were planning to immigrate to Canada. At the time, I had worked in Canada and knew the country well. I asked the couple why they wanted to immigrate to Canada. In a whisper, they said, “Because the leaders of our country are crazy.”
A loss of perspective might be considered crazy. In the case of Iran, we could come up with half a dozen quick examples. Another example of crazy came on TV this morning. The Brotherhood attacked the military and ended up with over 40 dead and 300 in the hospital with 200 arrested. A good case of lost perspective.
While the Brotherhood has fallen from power, the conservatives are not gone. The ultraconservative Islamist Party threw it’s weight against the selection of Mohamed El-Baradei to become the interim prime minister. The Nobel Prize-winning diplomat had international backing as a gifted and honest leader. However the Islamist Party refused to work with him because they considered him too secular. Apparently El-Baradeu has now been pushed into the background even though he is one of the most qualified politicians in Egypt. The Islamist now say they have decided not to work with the interim government.
Undoubtedly, the powers-that-be who are now running the country were bending over backward to give the appearance of being inclusive. This struggle over the prime minister’s office is only one example of why the Egyptian generals will have a difficult time keeping the country under control. The Morsi regime has left a legacy of distrust that will not be easy to overcome.
As the struggle in Egypt unfolded, President Obama was in Africa’s Goree Island where slaves had once been shipped to America. Acknowledging this terrible piece of American history, Obama said that today we must continue to make the fight for human right paramount. The Morsi mess made religion paramount regardless of human rights.