The Egypt Situation: A Distinction Without A Difference?

The uprising and turmoil in Egypt presents a serious dilemma for many. It could be considered a distinction without a difference. But I do see difference, somewhat.

Mubarak is a secular dictator. Oh, he has the title of President, but the truth is he’s a dictator. He has outlawed the very dangerous Muslim Brotherhood and he has destroyed the moderate opposition insofar as a coalesced force. But the Muslim Brotherhood is still strong in Egypt, and chances are very strong that MB will gain power in Egypt, creating a Mohammedan dictatorship.

So, the only practicable choice is between supporting a dictatorship of one color and supporting a dictatorship of a different color. Therein lies the dilemma, the distinction without a difference. The Brothers Warner give a good example:

But for a more scholarly explanation, Mister Webster offers up the following:

Dilemma \Di*lem”ma\, n. [L. dilemma, Gr. ?; di- = di`s- twice + ? to take. See Lemma.]

1. (Logic) An argument which presents an antagonist with two or more alternatives, but is equally conclusive against him, whichever alternative he chooses. [1913 Webster]

Note: The following are instances of the dilemma. A young rhetorician applied to an old sophist to be taught the art of pleading, and bargained for a certain reward to be paid when he should gain a cause. The master sued for his reward, and the scholar endeavored to elude his claim by a dilemma. “If I gain my cause, I shall withhold your pay, because the judge’s award will be against you; if I lose it, I may withhold it, because I shall not yet have gained a cause.” “On the contrary,” says the master, “if you gain your cause, you must pay me, because you are to pay me when you gain a cause; if you lose it, you must pay me, because the judge will award it.” –Johnson. [1913 Webster]

2. A state of things in which evils or obstacles present themselves on every side, and it is difficult to determine what course to pursue; a vexatious alternative or predicament; a difficult choice or position. [1913 Webster]

A strong dilemma in a desperate case! To act with infamy, or quit the place. –Swift. [1913 Webster]

There is no true option for liberty for Egypt, only for which version of dictatorship comes out the other side. It is definitely a “pick your poison” situation. About that situation, neo-neocon has some pertinent information.

I’m old enought to remember 1979 and Iran quite vividly. Some of those same brave voices, that same exhilaration. And we know how it turned out. And that’s why I worry.

That, and polls such as this, which was taken in December of 2010. It indicates that the populace of Egypt may mean something quite different from what Americans mean when we use words such as “an end to injustice.”

Some of the findings:

Egyptians who support Hamas: 49%

Egyptians who support Hezbollah: 30%

Egyptians who support al Qaeda: 20%

82% of Egyptian respondents favored stoning as punishment for adultery, and 84% favored death as punishment for apostasy (leaving the Muslim religion).

54% approve of suicide bombing in some circumstances.

It’s sobering, to say the least. When the real Arab street stands up, what will it be saying?

As it stands now, Egypt’s Coptic Christians are persecuted, terrorized, and murdered for being Christian. While it’s currently illegal, there is no real government protection. But if MB gains power, the Coptic Christians will most definitely be targeted for death, all legal-like. And the women will most definitely be stripped of their liberty and comparative equality.

What’s worse, Egypt is one of two middle east countries at peace with Israel, the other being Jordan. There are truces but no actual peace agreements, and there can be no peace agreements because the Quran prohibits peace with Israel. Truce to rebuild your armaments, yes. But not peace. And the Muslim Brotherhood has made it abundantly clear if they gain control over Egypt, Egypt will once again be at war with Israel.

So the question becomes, which Egypt do you want? An Egypt where Christians are second-class citizens, Egyptians lose their citizenship if they marry Israelis, and liberty is not an option, but the Suez is open and Israel is at peace? Or an Egypt where Christians are terminated, women are second-class citizens, liberty is not an option, and Israel is at war? Those are the two options.

When it comes down to it, the Egyptians will decide for themselves which evil they desire. But it’s likely to make the world a much more dangerous place.

Sidenote: Mubarak’s shutting down the internet has shown the danger of giving the kill switch to DC.

19 Comments

  1. As I see it, there is a revolution going on in Egypt against dictatorship and for democracy. That is a good thing.

    If this revolution succeeds, as it appears it will, I am going to wait to see what emerges, rather than to make many predictions. I will admit to some concern based on the findings of the Pew Research Poll referenced; nevertheless, it is difficult to predict the outcome when a people obtain a new outlook on their nation’s changed government.

    I note the selectivity in reporting the Pew Research results to support your predetermined conclusions which I do not find convincing. For example, if one choses to report the percent unfavorable instead of the percent favorable to such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda, one then might alter one’s take on these results.

  2. If it was the TEA Party demonstrating in the streets of Washington DC and calling for Obama to step down, would the prospect of rejecting a tyrant be met with opinion polls and a “wait and see” attitude?

  3. Shorter John Hitchcock: “Freedom” only counts if we get to bomb sand niggers.

  4. Egypt Makes New Concessions to Opposition Groups
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/02/06/egypts-brotherhood-hold-talks-government/

    The opposition groups represented included the youthful supporters of leading democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, who are one of the main forces behind the protests.The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood*, Egypt’s largest opposition group, and a number of smaller leftist, liberal groups also attended the meeting, according to footage shown on state television.

    *Here’s the major problem. The Muslim Brotherhood gets their foot in the door, and in a few months – IRAN WEST. Then war with Israel.

  5. “If it was the TEA Party demonstrating in the streets of Washington DC and calling for Obama to step down, would the prospect of rejecting a tyrant be met with opinion polls and a “wait and see” attitude?”

    Who is the tyrant of whom you speak in your hypothetical, ropelight? Moreover, in this country we already have a democracy, or I should say, a corrupted democracy, so I wouldn’t be surprised at a demonstration in DC over their policies, as the American Middle continues it’s slide due to the takeover of our government by corporations, aided and abetted by the SCOTUS and a bribed Congress.

  6. Perry, that would be the tyrant currently occupying the White House, the one who should resign before he’s run out of town by the American people he’s so disgracefully betrayed.

  7. ropelight says:
    6 February 2011 at 14:59
    Perry, that would be the tyrant currently occupying the White House, the one who should resign before he’s run out of town by the American people he’s so disgracefully betrayed.

    He’s Betrayed Our Best Ally in Europe – Great Britain by telling the Ruskies where England has the Trident Missiles just to get a Treaty he was desparate for. It weakens all of us. He should be impeached for handing over secrets like that. But the weasels in Congress won’t do that. http://commonsensepoliticalthought.com/?p=13627

  8. NZT shows yet again that he thinks very much about race before thinking about anything else. It is clearly NZT who is the racist, and he’s a major projector, to boot.

  9. Perry, that would be the tyrant currently occupying the White House,

    First he was an “usurper”, and now he is a “tyrant” who is “occupying” the White House?

    Most people see him as a President who was democratically elected. Well, as democratically elected as the Presidency of teh US gets.

    Whatever can be… colouring… your view of him, ropelight?

  10. John Hitchcock says:
    6 February 2011 at 16:15
    NZT shows yet again that he thinks very much about race before thinking about anything else. It is clearly NZT who is the racist, and he’s a major projector, to boot.

    Would I be a racist if I color NZT “Invisible”?

  11. For example, if one choses to report the percent unfavorable instead of the percent favorable to such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda, one then might alter one’s take on these results.

    And what were those favorables, again?

    Egyptians who support Hamas: 49%

    Egyptians who support Hezbollah: 30%

    Egyptians who support al Qaeda: 20%

    With favorables that high, getting unfavorables appropriately high is an impossibility. Although, it is possible to get similar numbers here in the US. One only has to poll the American Left.

  12. Egypt is the second largest recipient of American foreign aid, $1.5 billion a year, most of it military aid. If the United States eliminates that foreign aid, Egypt will face the choice of either diverting money from other sources to keep pumping up its military, or seriously cutting military spending.

    We have been buying off Egypt giving Egypt foreign aid along those lines ever since President Anwar al-Sadat signed the peace treaty with Israel. If the Muslim Brotherhood gains control of, or even a significant share of control of, the government, and we cut off that military aid, the Muslim Brotherhood might find itself in the same position as Hamas in Gaza: being part of the actual government, they may be too busy with keeping the streets in shape and the lights on to have the time or money to be a greater threat to Israel.

    Note that I stressed the word “might.” With the lunatics who lead political Islam, anything is possible.

  13. Note that I stressed the word “might.” With the lunatics who lead political Islam, anything is possible.

    But, of course, a torturer who offers to cut off people’s arms to provide DNA samples isn’t a lunatic. As long as he’s pro-American, of course.

  14. The aid that we give to Egypt give us sizeable leverage over the incoming government that we did not have in Iran or Palestine. That’s why we have little to fear from a Muslim Brotherhood government* – they wouldn’t want to do anything that will cause somewhat large-scale collapse in their country. As long as we keep engaged with them, we can keep them from doing anything stupid.

    And Phoe, the comment about Suleiman is a bit unfair. Our government wants him as a stopgap so Mubarak can step down immediately without causing discontinuity, not as a permanent solution as leader. He’s a jerk, but if we can get elections within the next few months he won’t be in there for long.

    *The Muslim Brotherhood are unlikely to gain a majority in elections, so they’d probably have to rule with secularists as part of a coalition. But we’ll ignore that for the time being.

  15. Jeff says:
    7 February 2011 at 10:23
    The aid that we give to Egypt give us sizeable leverage over the incoming government that we did not have in Iran or Palestine. That’s why we have little to fear from a Muslim Brotherhood government* – they wouldn’t want to do anything that will cause somewhat large-scale collapse in their country. As long as we keep engaged with them, we can keep them from doing anything stupid.

    I don’t know what to label it, maybe intuition, maybe that feeling in the gut, a nagging doubt, but the Muslim Brotherhood has its tentacles all over the world. But the MB is Hamas, the MB hides in shadows throughout Egypt. We’re lead to believe the MB in Egypt has a small footprint, the some of the polls we have seen have Egyptians in sync with the MB. My gut says once Mubarack clears Egyptian airspace, we will see the true underground of the MB rise like zombies right out of the ground. My God I hope I’m Wrong. But time will tell. We can not afford to have an Iran West.(that is west of Israel)

  16. I don’t know what to label it, maybe intuition, maybe that feeling in the gut, a nagging doubt, but the Muslim Brotherhood has its tentacles all over the world.

    The word you’re looking for is “xenophobia”. HTH.

  17. Yorkshire, the best estimate I’ve heard is that the MB gets 20% of the vote. They’re hangers-on in this revolution – ElBaradei and Nour are going to come out of this as serious challengers to the Brotherhood, and my guess is one of those will end up on top of this. Worst-case scenario is that the Brotherhood rules with one of the secularists in a coalition.

    And the Brotherhood in Egypt, though distasteful in their theocratic tendencies and their anti-Israel fanaticism, are a lot milder than Hamas.

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