What Would Jimmy Do … This Time?

“Aggression unopposed becomes a contagious disease” – James Earl Carter, Jr., 39th President of the United States

The protests continued in Egypt today. It seems apparent that Mubarak has no real path to holding power – the seal is broken. Still, the dust has not settled, not even close, and it’s not clear what the next Egyptian government will look like.

Amongst the right, there is concern that the fall of Mubarak will give rise to another Middle Eastern theocracy in the style of Iran. While the arguments are reasonable, I’m not sold. Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood has a big hand in the revolt; and any though that they don’t want a theocracy seems a bit silly.

That said, one would hope the end result would be come from a vote of the people. I have doubts that such a vote would lead to a majority for the Muslim Brotherhood. One strains to come up with a theocratic regime that rules by popular will.

So, given that I doubt the theocratic outcome, I would tend to lean in favor of an end to dictatorship. Of course, that was before Jimmy Carter weighed in.

Just the other day, Mr. Carter, who never met an oppressive dictator that he didn’t love or a mass of oppressed people that he wasn’t willing to cast aside in favor of said dictator, weighed in with tacit approval of the protesters. He had nice things to say about Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s supposed successor. Still, he approvingly indicated that “the people have decided.” OK, it wasn’t a ringing endorsement of revolution – but he certainly didn’t  press for anything like maintenance of the status quo.

It always gives me pause when I find myself not that far from Jimmy Carter on any subject. It seems that nobody in modern history has been more spectacularly wrong about more things – whether economic, political, or theological.

I suspect his support, or perhaps just indifference, may wane a bit now that the protestors have come out and declared that the Camp David Accords made Egyptians “slaves” (presumably to Israel). Wow, the one thing that Carter could ever try to hang his hat on as “peacemaker” has been labeled a slave-maker. Ouch.

Israel has been mum – and rightly so. Any involvement on their part would be poison. One imagines that they are burning the midnight oil in Tel Aviv working through all of the implications of upheaval in Egypt and a number of other Middle Eastern dictatorships. Whether the end result in Egypt is freedom and democracy or theocracy, the Israelis probably simply prefer stability.

So we’ll keep watching. I suspect things will continue to change in the reason, and perhaps elsewhere in the world where nobody is looking.

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