Coyne v. Wells on the protests in Egypt

Coyne v. Wells on the protests in Egypt

  1. Can't believe I'm saying this but better than O'Reilly. Reason being–neither talking over the other. Having said that Coyne needs to toughen up as he acquiesces to Coyne. Coyne I believe is an articulate dreamer. History is full of very smart people making very wrong conclusions. The extremist Muslim movement cannot be compared to anything in the western world. The Muslim Brotherhood is involved and it is a leap of faith to believe this is for democracy. On the surface, yes, but underneath? I have very strong doubts. I hope Coyne is right; I believe he is wrong.

  2. Can't believe I'm saying this but better than O'Reilly. Reason being–neither talking over the other. Having said that Coyne needs to toughen up as he acquiesces to Coyne. Coyne I believe is an articulate dreamer. History is full of very smart people making very wrong conclusions. The extremist Muslim movement cannot be compared to anything in the western world. The Muslim Brotherhood is involved and it is a leap of faith to believe this is for democracy. On the surface, yes, but underneath? I have very strong doubts. I hope Coyne is right; I believe he is wrong.

    • You're right. I have to stop being such a pushover: I'm letting myself walk all over me.

  3. The past two weeks, instead of uploading the new video to iTunes, you've just uploaded the old Guergis and Charest video from April 2010. Your iTunes person needs to look into this. Thanks.

  4. The past two weeks, instead of uploading the new video to iTunes, you've just uploaded the old Guergis and Charest video from April 2010. Your iTunes person needs to look into this. Thanks.

    • That Guergis/Charest video was awesome, though.

    • Hear, hear!

  5. You're right. I have to stop being such a pushover: I'm letting myself walk all over me.

  6. It seems clear from the demonstrations that that vast majority of the protesters are not radical muslims, but rather average folks that want freedom and democracy.

    But there will be a power vaacum and it could very well be filled by the next most powerful, organized group out there, which is in fact the Muslim Brotherhood. Another dictatorship, but this time a Islamic radical one which would be another proxy for Iran would be an unmitigated disaster for the region and the world.

    Let us all hope that the quest for freedom will carry through and overwhelm the MB before they can take root.

  7. It seems clear from the demonstrations that that vast majority of the protesters are not radical muslims, but rather average folks that want freedom and democracy.

    But there will be a power vaacum and it could very well be filled by the next most powerful, organized group out there, which is in fact the Muslim Brotherhood. Another dictatorship, but this time a Islamic radical one which would be another proxy for Iran would be an unmitigated disaster for the region and the world.

    Let us all hope that the quest for freedom will carry through and overwhelm the MB before they can take root.

    • Before the foreign journalists were attacked, a video captured people on the streets of Cairo screaming, "Destroy Israel!". You can be sure that the Muslim Brotherhood is behind this so-called "democracy movement".

  8. Before the foreign journalists were attacked, a video captured people on the streets of Cairo screaming, "Destroy Israel!". You can be sure that the Muslim Brotherhood is behind this so-called "democracy movement".

  9. Hear, hear!

  10. Democracy is about more than just free and fair elections (and it is a stretch to assume Egypt can have those). A real democracy must also have a vibrant civil society, in which issues are debated and information is disseminated. It would be fair to say that Egypt lacks these things, and is unlikely to develop them overnight. Secondly, a legitimate democracy requires respect for the civil rights of citizens. I'm not sure the Muslim brotherhood (if they are the group likeliest to win an election) is any better than Mubarak on this score.

    The real question is not whether we get a democracy or an authoritarian regime. No, it is whether we get an authoritarian regime that upholds the treaty with Israel or one that does not. Mubarak is tainted enough that there needs to be a transition (he was going to die soon anyway), but the objective of Obama's backchannel diplomacy should be to ensure that whomever replaces Mubarak can be "our man in Cairo".

    The peaceful settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict is a prerequisite for a peaceful Middle East. However, the willingness of Israel to work towards resolution is closely linked to Israeli security. If faced with a conventional military threat on their southern border, Israel is likely to shoot first and ask questions later in their dealings with Palestinians, and with other Arab states. Like the Shah of Iran, we may come to miss Mubarak yet.

  11. Democracy is about more than just free and fair elections (and it is a stretch to assume Egypt can have those). A real democracy must also have a vibrant civil society, in which issues are debated and information is disseminated. It would be fair to say that Egypt lacks these things, and is unlikely to develop them overnight. Secondly, a legitimate democracy requires respect for the civil rights of citizens. I'm not sure the Muslim brotherhood (if they are the group likeliest to win an election) is any better than Mubarak on this score.

    The real question is not whether we get a democracy or an authoritarian regime. No, it is whether we get an authoritarian regime that upholds the treaty with Israel or one that does not. Mubarak is tainted enough that there needs to be a transition (he was going to die soon anyway), but the objective of Obama's backchannel diplomacy should be to ensure that whomever replaces Mubarak can be "our man in Cairo".

    The peaceful settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict is a prerequisite for a peaceful Middle East. However, the willingness of Israel to work towards resolution is closely linked to Israeli security. If faced with a conventional military threat on their southern border, Israel is likely to shoot first and ask questions later in their dealings with Palestinians, and with other Arab states. Like the Shah of Iran, we may come to miss Mubarak yet.

    • You channeling John Foster Dulles? It's a brand new centuary man – the age of American exceptionalism is over. And i suspect you are wrong to some degree on Egypt not having a middle class, the question is which way are they going to jump?

      • No one actually misses the Shah.

        • You should. He was no worse than his successors on human rights, but was at least able to uphold western foreign policy goals. Khomenei's diplomacy also helped spark the Iran-Iraq war, which resulted in the death of about a million people. The Shah may have been a bastard, but at least he was OUR bastard.

          • Putting "our man" in place is exactly what made the west and the US specifically so despicable to the Iranians, fed anti-American rage and in fact made the revolution happen. We should stop trying to play this games at all anywhere – meaning really the US but the western countries like our own who support these puppet regimes and so-called regime change generally.

            In fact, why not keep it simple and abide by the golden rule. Treat others as you would be treated. What country would find it acceptable that foreign nations select their leader? Especially when those nations have a long track record of picking (and being content with) iron-fisted tyrants.

      • When did I say Egypt lacked a middle class, or that a middle class was essential to a democracy? The notion that a middle class is essential to democracy is a concept that thrives largely on the notion that it flatters a large proportion of the electorate. The twin to that argument, modernization theory (as countries develop they are more likely to become democratic) has been thoroughly debunked (Wilhelmine Germany in the 19th century and China today are two excellent cases in point).

        I said that a working democracy needs a vibrant civil society. That means:
        -people have to be willing to accept victory by their political opponents (instead of say, rioting in the streets)
        -there has to be a fair and free media
        -people must accept constitutional limits that protect people's civil rights – even when it goes against religious traditions

        Egypt does not have these conditions in place, and isn't even close.

        • Fair enough – my bad. I still think your idea that upholding foreign policy goals necessitates the denial on occasion of democratic rights in favour of authoritan stability is outmoded as per PW's point on Isreal not having a lock on democracy in the region – it's ultimately self-defeating.

          By the by. Are there any examples of undeveloped countries having a working democracy in our sense of the word – i would exclude traditional models myself? Can't think of any at the moment.

          • Off the top of my head, how about India, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica (heck, lets say most of Latin America), all of eastern Europe except maybe Serbia (all of whom score at least 8/10 on the Polity IV scale). I am less familiar with African cases, but South Africa and Botswana would be strong candidates there. Also, plenty of countries were developing countries when they transitioned to being democracies.

            By the way, I'm not saying we should never encourage democracy. In fact I am suggesting that there is a better way than simply saying "hey, have elections". You need the right conditions, and the right conditions take time. Should we hope that they evolve organically? No. Obviously the US has a lot of leverage over Mubarak and whomever his successor is (and Egypt relies on the west for aid anyway). We could use that leverage to encourage steps toward democratization. The end result in that case could be a working democracy, and hopefully a peaceful one too (transitional democracies tend to be warlike, while well-established democracies are not).

          • I'd hardly classify many of those countries as undeveloped – but i can't remember if that was my terms of reference or yours.:) and many of those countries do have a middle class of some sort.

  12. You channeling John Foster Dulles? It's a brand new centuary man – the age of American exceptionalism is over. And i suspect you are wrong to some degree on Egypt not having a middle class, the question is which way are they going to jump?

  13. Nearly 80 million people with 40% living in poverty. Perfect storm for the radicals and activists like the Muslim Brotherhood. How is getting rid of Mubarak going to give them employment and economic growth or bring down the price of food?

    Al Jazeera did an excellent documentary – well worth watching for some insight.

    A Nation In Waiting http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/general/2

  14. Nearly 80 million people with 40% living in poverty. Perfect storm for the radicals and activists like the Muslim Brotherhood. How is getting rid of Mubarak going to give them employment and economic growth or bring down the price of food?

    Al Jazeera did an excellent documentary – well worth watching for some insight.

    A Nation In Waiting http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/general/2

    • Spot on Leo. Western pundits are erroneously labelling the social unrest in these countries as pro democracy movements because that's what they want to see. Those involved however, simply want food on their table and will support anyone who can make the case that they can do just that.

      • What Leo doesn't say is Mubarak has delivered neither basic democracy or food on the table, jobs et al.,
        Kind of sh'itty deal for them eh! You lose, you lose.

  15. Good discussion, good coverage of the issues, but optimism is unjustified. Could you list all Muslim countries operating as a true democracy?

  16. Good discussion, good coverage of the issues, but optimism is unjustified. Could you list all Muslim countries operating as a true democracy?

  17. Why did Well state that Israel was an illegal democracy? Maybe he should look at the Euro-Arab propaganda.

  18. Why did Well state that Israel was an illegal democracy? Maybe he should look at the Euro-Arab propaganda.

  19. Spot on Leo. Western pundits are erroneously labelling the social unrest in these countries as pro democracy movements because that's what they want to see. Those involved however, simply want food on their table and will support anyone who can make the case that they can do just that.

  20. No one actually misses the Shah.

  21. I dont actully think that the Muslim Brotherhood will actully be able to take over goverment after all this because they aren't very secure on the inside. Mohamed El Baradi only wants to take over the transition government and ,personally, think he's a the right man. Egypt is very behind in many subjects and El Baradi has been long enough exposed to the Western way of thinking and he could bring the country forward.

  22. I dont actully think that the Muslim Brotherhood will actully be able to take over goverment after all this because they aren't very secure on the inside. Mohamed El Baradi only wants to take over the transition government and ,personally, think he's a the right man. Egypt is very behind in many subjects and El Baradi has been long enough exposed to the Western way of thinking and he could bring the country forward.

  23. What Leo doesn't say is Mubarak has delivered neither basic democracy or food on the table, jobs et al.,
    Kind of sh'itty deal for them eh! You lose, you lose.

  24. I'm struck by the irony of those who pooh pooh the idea of real democracy in a muslim country – how many of these folks were saying Bush had the right idea, you could instill democracy by force in Iraq. Seems to me the optimists, those who thought Bush wrong are being consistent when they hope that internal democratic change is the way. Why are the nay sayers so worried about instability in Egypt [ there are good reasons of course] and not at all in the case of Iraq?Ah, must have been all those elusive WMD i guess?
    Edit:
    I'm referring here to the dissonance of those who thought violent impositon of democracy in Iraq was justifiable but now have all kinds of reservations about the prospects of what has been a largely no-violent demand for democracy from the street.

  25. I'm struck by the irony of those who pooh pooh the idea of real democracy in a muslim country – how many of these folks were saying Bush had the right idea, you could instill democracy by force in Iraq. Seems to me the optimists, those who thought Bush wrong are being consistent when they hope that internal democratic change is the way. Why are the nay sayers so worried about instability in Egypt [ there are good reasons of course] and not at all in the case of Iraq?Ah, must have been all those elusive WMD i guess?
    Edit:
    I'm referring here to the dissonance of those who thought violent impositon of democracy in Iraq was justifiable but now have all kinds of reservations about the prospects of what has been a largely no-violent demand for democracy from the street.

  26. When did I say Egypt lacked a middle class, or that a middle class was essential to a democracy? The notion that a middle class is essential to democracy is a concept that thrives largely on the notion that it flatters a large proportion of the electorate. The twin to that argument, modernization theory (as countries develop they are more likely to become democratic) has been thoroughly debunked (Wilhelmine Germany in the 19th century and China today are two excellent cases in point).

    I said that a working democracy needs a vibrant civil society. That means:
    -people have to be willing to accept victory by their political opponents (instead of say, rioting in the streets)
    -there has to be a fair and free media
    -people must accept constitutional limits that protect people's civil rights – even when it goes against religious traditions

    Egypt does not have these conditions in place, and isn't even close.

  27. Here is why Egypt will not successfully transition to a democracy (results from the World Value Survey)

    Rate the degree to which the following characteristics are an essential characteristic of democracy:
    "religious authorities interpret the laws"
    7-10 (highly essential): 75.2% (including 48% saying 10)

    "the army takes over if the government is incompetent"
    7-10: 59.4%

    Very few Egyptians engage, or would engage in activities that are essential to democratic life

    "Would/have you engage in a petition"
    Would never do: 78.5%

    "Attending peaceful demonstrations"
    Would never do: 91.3% (incidentally, this is why it is PROFOUNDLY STUPID to draw inferences about the popular will from protesters, though I guess the current riots hardly count as peaceful)

    Other questions challenge the notion that Egyptians are secularists, and/or likely to remain peaceful with their neighbours:

    Importance of religion
    Very important: 95.4%

    "Men make better leaders than women"
    Agree: 92.5% (73% strongly)

    "Trust: people of other religions"
    Not very much/not at all: 60.8% (22% not at all)

    "Trust: people of other nationalities"
    Not very much/not at all: 78.5% (40.1% not at all)

    I'm sorry, but no matter how hard you wish, Egypt ain't exactly Sweden.

  28. Here is why Egypt will not successfully transition to a democracy (results from the World Value Survey)

    Rate the degree to which the following characteristics are an essential characteristic of democracy:
    "religious authorities interpret the laws"
    7-10 (highly essential): 75.2% (including 48% saying 10)

    "the army takes over if the government is incompetent"
    7-10: 59.4%

    Very few Egyptians engage, or would engage in activities that are essential to democratic life

    "Would/have you engage in a petition"
    Would never do: 78.5%

    "Attending peaceful demonstrations"
    Would never do: 91.3% (incidentally, this is why it is PROFOUNDLY STUPID to draw inferences about the popular will from protesters, though I guess the current riots hardly count as peaceful)

    Other questions challenge the notion that Egyptians are secularists, and/or likely to remain peaceful with their neighbours:

    Importance of religion
    Very important: 95.4%

    "Men make better leaders than women"
    Agree: 92.5% (73% strongly)

    "Trust: people of other religions"
    Not very much/not at all: 60.8% (22% not at all)

    "Trust: people of other nationalities"
    Not very much/not at all: 78.5% (40.1% not at all)

    I'm sorry, but no matter how hard you wish, Egypt ain't exactly Sweden.

    • If you had been able to poll Canadians in 1867 you would have come close to the same result. And yet we elected our own government.

      • Bill Mahr had some more worrying stats on his show….84% of Egyptians believe in Sharia law…..that women should be stoned for commiting and adultry and people should be ?put to death for leaving the muslim faith…how does that work with democracy?

  29. And to the poster above me, thanks for the suggestion. How do Iraqis score on these metrics (FYI Iraq survey was taken in 2006, Egyptian one in 2008)?

    (7-10) Religious authorities interpreting laws an essential characteristic of democracy: 57.4% (27.1% said 10)
    (7-10) having the army take over when gov't incompetent an essential characteristic of democracy: 48% (18.8% said 10)

    Importance of religion: 96.1%

    Would never sign a petition: 58.8%
    Would never attend peaceful demonstrations: 51%

    Men make better leaders than women: 90.2% (69.1% strongly)
    Trust: other religions: not asked
    Trust: other nationalities: not asked

    Iraq was not exactly fertile ground for democracy, but was actually far more fertile than Egypt. Iraqis are much more likely to engage in the functions of democratic life, and to accept separation between church and state.

  30. And to the poster above me, thanks for the suggestion. How do Iraqis score on these metrics (FYI Iraq survey was taken in 2006, Egyptian one in 2008)?

    (7-10) Religious authorities interpreting laws an essential characteristic of democracy: 57.4% (27.1% said 10)
    (7-10) having the army take over when gov't incompetent an essential characteristic of democracy: 48% (18.8% said 10)

    Importance of religion: 96.1%

    Would never sign a petition: 58.8%
    Would never attend peaceful demonstrations: 51%

    Men make better leaders than women: 90.2% (69.1% strongly)
    Trust: other religions: not asked
    Trust: other nationalities: not asked

    Iraq was not exactly fertile ground for democracy, but was actually far more fertile than Egypt. Iraqis are much more likely to engage in the functions of democratic life, and to accept separation between church and state.

    • So would you say then that Iraq was more fertile ground for democracy[ seems about right] hence ok to invade it. While Egypt clearly isn't so shouldn't even give tacit support to internal change, much less invade it? You did say that Egypt will not transition to democracy successfully – maybe you should heed PW's words about undue pessimism a la Mitterand?

      • 1. Neither country (Iraq or Egypt) is fertile ground to democracy.
        2. Changing a country's institutions by force (or having them change internally due to force) is unlikely to produce a working democracy. The oft-cited examples Japan and Germany involved a lot more force than the US is willing to muster in Iraq/Afghanistan, and both countries had previous experience with a democracy (Germany in the Weimar Republic and Japan in the Taiwo period).
        3. I don't think there is any undue pessimism at work here. Most attempts at democratic transitions fail. This one is more likely than most to fail (with the added cost that its failure endangers regional stability). Hell all we know is that there is a transition going on, we don't know if it is a democratic one yet.

  31. You should. He was no worse than his successors on human rights, but was at least able to uphold western foreign policy goals. Khomenei's diplomacy also helped spark the Iran-Iraq war, which resulted in the death of about a million people. The Shah may have been a bastard, but at least he was OUR bastard.

  32. That Guergis/Charest video was awesome, though.

  33. Which voting system would be the best for Egypt? First-Past-the-Post or some form of proportional representation? Since the Canadian system of First-Past-the-Post is so great for us, Egypt deserves the same voting system that Canada has.

  34. Which voting system would be the best for Egypt? First-Past-the-Post or some form of proportional representation? Since the Canadian system of First-Past-the-Post is so great for us, Egypt deserves the same voting system that Canada has.

  35. Fair enough – my bad. I still think your idea that upholding foreign policy goals necessitates the denial on occasion of democratic rights in favour of authoritan stability is outmoded as per PW's point on Isreal not having a lock on democracy in the region – it's ultimately self-defeating.

    By the by. Are there any examples of undeveloped countries having a working democracy in our sense of the word – i would exclude traditional models myself? Can't think of any at the moment.

  36. So would you say then that Iraq was more fertile ground for democracy[ seems about right] hence ok to invade it. While Egypt clearly isn't so shouldn't even give tacit support to internal change, much less invade it? You did say that Egypt will not transition to democracy successfully – maybe you should heed PW's words about undue pessimism a la Mitterand?

  37. Which voting system would be the best for Egypt? First-Past-the-Post or some form of proportional representation? Since the Canadian system of First-Past-the-Post is so great for us, Egypt deserves the same voting system that Canada has.

  38. Which voting system would be the best for Egypt? First-Past-the-Post or some form of proportional representation? Since the Canadian system of First-Past-the-Post is so great for us, Egypt deserves the same voting system that Canada has.

    • I hear an echo.

  39. 1. Neither country (Iraq or Egypt) is fertile ground to democracy.
    2. Changing a country's institutions by force (or having them change internally due to force) is unlikely to produce a working democracy. The oft-cited examples Japan and Germany involved a lot more force than the US is willing to muster in Iraq/Afghanistan, and both countries had previous experience with a democracy (Germany in the Weimar Republic and Japan in the Taiwo period).
    3. I don't think there is any undue pessimism at work here. Most attempts at democratic transitions fail. This one is more likely than most to fail (with the added cost that its failure endangers regional stability). Hell all we know is that there is a transition going on, we don't know if it is a democratic one yet.

  40. Off the top of my head, how about India, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica (heck, lets say most of Latin America), all of eastern Europe except maybe Serbia (all of whom score at least 8/10 on the Polity IV scale). I am less familiar with African cases, but South Africa and Botswana would be strong candidates there. Also, plenty of countries were developing countries when they transitioned to being democracies.

    By the way, I'm not saying we should never encourage democracy. In fact I am suggesting that there is a better way than simply saying "hey, have elections". You need the right conditions, and the right conditions take time. Should we hope that they evolve organically? No. Obviously the US has a lot of leverage over Mubarak and whomever his successor is (and Egypt relies on the west for aid anyway). We could use that leverage to encourage steps toward democratization. The end result in that case could be a working democracy, and hopefully a peaceful one too (transitional democracies tend to be warlike, while well-established democracies are not).

  41. I'd hardly classify many of those countries as undeveloped – but i can't remember if that was my terms of reference or yours.:) and many of those countries do have a middle class of some sort.

  42. I hear an echo.

  43. Putting "our man" in place is exactly what made the west and the US specifically so despicable to the Iranians, fed anti-American rage and in fact made the revolution happen. We should stop trying to play this games at all anywhere – meaning really the US but the western countries like our own who support these puppet regimes and so-called regime change generally.

    In fact, why not keep it simple and abide by the golden rule. Treat others as you would be treated. What country would find it acceptable that foreign nations select their leader? Especially when those nations have a long track record of picking (and being content with) iron-fisted tyrants.

  44. If you had been able to poll Canadians in 1867 you would have come close to the same result. And yet we elected our own government.

  45. Bill Mahr had some more worrying stats on his show….84% of Egyptians believe in Sharia law…..that women should be stoned for commiting and adultry and people should be ?put to death for leaving the muslim faith…how does that work with democracy?

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