From Martha’s Vineyard to the Morgues of Cairo

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16 August 2013


Mojito, anyone?  Manhattan? Or perhaps – why not, nothing wrong with  aspirations – a Cuba Libre?

An estimated 2 000 civilians were massacred by the military dictatorship in Egypt two days ago on 14 August 2013.

What was the reaction of US President Barack Obama?

According to the digital edition of the New York Times on 14 August 2014,

Mr [John] Kerry [US Secretary of State] announced no punitive measures, while President Obama, vacationing…on Martha’s Vineyard [an island retreat for the rich and famous off Cape Cod in Massachusetts], had no public reaction. As his chief diplomat [Mr Kerry] was speaking of a “pivotal moment for Egypt,” the president was playing golf at a private club….he appeared determined not to allow events in Egypt to interrupt a day that, besides golf, included cocktails at the home of a major political donor, Brian Roberts.”

Obama fiddled, then, while Rome burned.

Nice work, if you can get it.

Martini, anyone?  Sex on the Beach? Staten Island Ferry?

The next day, as the full extent of the massacre became known, Obama was flushed out into the open.

Seeking to tailor his comments to the gravity of the situation as the dead lay still unburied in the streets of Cairo, the US President (according to a report in today’s London Guardian newspaper) uttered the following immortal words:

We appreciate the complexity of the situation. We recognize that change takes time. There are going to be false starts and difficult days. We know that democratic transitions are measured not in months or even years but sometimes in generations.”

Verily the words of a Cicero redivivus, a Demosthenes of our time, an Abraham Lincoln redux.

So everything’s all right then.

We’ve given the Egyptian generals “generations” to bring peace to their benighted country.

A generation is generally reckoned to be thirty years.

How many generations does Mr Obama have in mind, we wonder.

And now – pu – leese! – can we get back to that game of golf?

And “Anyone for tennis?”

According to the Guardian, Obama also issued a reminder of why the United States had supported the ousting of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s democratically elected president.

While Mohammed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians. We know that many Egyptians, millions of Egyptians, perhaps even a majority of Egyptians, were calling for a change in course.”


The Egyptian army staged a coup d’état on Wednesday 3 July 2013 toppling the democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, who won 52 % of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Are we to take it then that governments subject to street protests warrant military intervention to topple them?

However you spin it, four legs, a trunk and two tusks make an elephant.

When the democratically elected leader of a state is overthrown by the army, this is a coup d’état. There is no other word for it.

One could equally say this of Mr Obama’s own government:

While Barack Obama was elected president in a democratic election, his government is not inclusive and does not respect the views of all Americans. We know that many Americans, millions of Americans, perhaps even a majority of Americans, are calling for a change in course.”

Does this justify the overthrow of the American Government in a military coup d’état?

Mohamed Morsi assumed office as President of Egypt almost exactly a year ago on 30 June 2012 . Today, unceremoniously stripped of office, he languishes in military custody.  The army has ordered the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s entire leadership in an attempt to decapitate the organisation and so render it ineffectual.

These facts give the lie to the propaganda being peddled by the putschists led by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. After the coup, the following lie was broadcast by the Egyptian army command:

“Wisdom, true nationalism and constructive human values that all religions have called for, require us now to avoid taking any exceptional or arbitrary measures against any faction or political current. Peaceful protest and freedom of expression are rights guaranteed to everyone, which Egyptians have earned as one of the most important gains of their glorious revolution.”

Why, however, the weak-kneed reaction from the West?

Well, in the first place, Mohamed Morsi led a government controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, a motley crew of conservative Muslims, who could not be relied on to toe the party-line set by the global superpower.

In any case, western attitudes towards Muslim-dominated governments have turned increasingly negative since the attack by a group of Muslims on the World Trade Centre in New York on 11 September 2001.

Another running sore was the Brotherhood’s not wholly cooperative attitude towards Israel, America’s principal ally in the Middle East.

Last but not least, the Egyptian military   is receiving annual “aid” amounting to an estimated $1.5 billion from the United States.

In these circumstances, it is a racing certainty that the US was advised in advance of the impending putsch and okayed it.

Actually, a lot of this US “aid” appears never to leave the US. According to media reports, it is used to subsidise the jobs of American workers who make tanks that the US sends to the generals in Egypt. The generals then use the tanks to overthrow a democratically elected president and crush his supporters.

If it looks like the U.S. effectively colluded in a counterrevolution, then all the talk about democracy and Islam, about a new American relationship with the Islamic world, will be judged to have been the height of hypocrisy,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in a comment reported in the New York Times.

During a recent visit to Pakistan, Mr Kerry is reported to have said that the Egyptian military had been “restoring democracy” when it ousted Mr. Morsi.

The New York Times also reports the following:

“Travelling in Amman, Jordan, General Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that he had not yet spoken with his Egyptian counterparts.

“Asked what he planned to say to Egyptian military leaders, General Dempsey said, ‘It’s really the same message: The path forward for Egypt that will allow us to maintain our close military relationship and allow them to achieve their goals is the commitment to a road map, keeping violence levels as low as possible.’”

So that’s the bottom line – maintaining the close military relationship between the Egyptian military putschists and the US Government.

And having a “road map”.

Cheers, chaps. Drink up. Santé. Another Martini for me, if you don’t mind.


We repeat what we said in our post “No, Mr ElBaradei, no!” on 7 July 2013:

The way to remove a president who has been democratically elected at the ballot-box is to vote him out of office at the ballot-box.

 The army has no political role in a democracy.

 It is not for unelected generals to take the law into their own hands and decide off their own bat how a country is to be run.

 What happened on Wednesday 3 July 2013 was the overnight transmogrification of Egypt from a democratic polity, however imperfect, into a military dictatorship.


The end does not justify the means.


 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


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