There's no doubt that Morsi was a disaster. There's no doubt that Islamism is the most pernicious strain of politics to grace the global stage today. But I'm torn. To believe in democracy is to believe that people have the right to make their own mistakes, to elect their own pernicious fools, and to suffer the consequences of their own bad choices.
After the downfall of Mubarak, and then the Brotherhood, whoever will hold the reins of power in Egypt, the military included, will have to realize that the new player in town, the Egyptian people, cannot and will not be taken for granted anymore.
From watching cable, you'd think the only news this week was the George Zimmerman trial. But as CNN spent Wednesday breathlessly team-covering every angle of some badly-Skyped-in testimony, a hint of other news appeared in a small box on-screen, captioned "coup under way." That was, of course, referring to the fact that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was being toppled. Is this monomaniacal coverage really the best way to honor Trayvon Martin's memory? It was enough to send me clicking over to the Golf Channel -- and I don't even play, though I did learn what a mulligan is. If the media took one, maybe next time, in addition to Egypt, they'd also cover yet another middling jobs report released on Friday, which showed the economy adding mostly low-wage jobs and still on pace to reach full-employment only by decade's end. But don't tell anybody.
At this time the common Egyptian is happy with the Tamarud transitional plan, thankful for the Egyptian military's role in making it happen, and elated with own his power; the power of the people who ousted Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in a people's coup.
One variant of verbal pyrotechnics in evidence is the contention that there hasn't been a coup because the Egyptian army, while it did unseat the president, isn't running the country. This is nonsense.
Morsi was removed from power not for crimes against the state, but largely for poor job performance and having too many political enemies (particularly in the military). These are issues to be settled at the ballot box, not by mobs and tanks surrounding the presidential palace in Cairo.
Change is never easy and is most often messy. If the events of the last two years have demonstrated anything it is that the Egyptian people want change, they feel empowered to demand change, and, when it is not forthcoming, those in power will be held on a short leash that can be pulled back.
Now it is Egypt's military leadership that faces the temptation to "hold too much." Will this powerful institution exploit the people's anger at the Brotherhood to reconstruct a secular dictatorship?
It is interesting, form a meta-perspective, to observe the debate currently spreading over social networks and the global media as to the definition of the events that unfolded within the last 72 hours here in Cairo. Was it coup or a revolution?
I understand why so many (namely President Obama) are careful not to call this a coup. But whatever we call it, we must acknowledge the basic facts: A president elected in unprecedented free and fair elections was overthrown by an ever-powerful military that took its cues from an unprecedented mobilization of millions of Egyptians challenging his rule. Morsi failed at nearly everything the Egyptian people had hoped and entrusted him to do, chief among them, uniting a divided Egypt. But Egypt's military has failed for far longer, with a lot more blood on their hands. And no one is more ruthless in suppressing the rights of others in Egypt than the American-made military.
What happened yesterday is phenomenal and unprecedented in Egyptian history. While millions of Egyptians cheered and partied until in the early morning on June 30th, and then again yesterday, following the sacking of Morsi, there is, however, a flip side to the coin.
While the U.S. can try to exert pressure for a quick return to a democratic state, ultimately it will be up to the Egyptian military to move the country forward. But its promise of a roadmap for reconciliation will face great challenges because the country is so deeply divided, and the Muslim Brotherhood will be more energized than ever.
The contents of this article are those of the author and do not reflect the position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps. The next revolution w...
Throughout this derailment of Egypt's transition, the U.S. government has managed to appear both disengaged from the brewing crisis and curiously deferential to Morsi's democratic legitimacy, conferred on him in a wafer thin run-off victory against a representative of the discredited Mubarak regime.
Those who don't pay much attention to Egypt would be forgiven for thinking that the images dominating their television sets these days are simply a replay of the popular revolution that overthrew President Mubarak two and a half years ago. They are not. What we are watching today is an attempt by a majority of normal Egyptians to reclaim a revolution that has stalled. They are out on the street in order to reset the conditions for success, and to place the country on a more promising and prosperous path. Make no mistake, these are messy, noisy, uncertain and unpredictable days for Egypt.
Following perhaps the largest national protest in global history, an enormous, diverse group of Egyptians awaits the political results of the rapid erosion of legitimacy of the government of Mohammed Morsi whom they elected very narrowly one year ago.