Like many people, I’ve been trying to understand the latest crisis in Egypt. Here are some observations.
It appears that Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi did not learn the lessons that Nelson Mandela learned and implemented in South Africa soon after his election in 1994 — namely, that the aggrieved and defeated whites needed a few olive branches (such as Mandela’s initially peculiar embrace of rugby, largely a white man’s sport), not literal or figurative billy clubs, in order to join forces with blacks and try to move the country forward together.
Juan Cole in “Nation of Change,” an online news service, writes: “Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, represents the equivalent of the American tea party in Egyptian politics — captive to the religious right, invested in austerity and smaller government, and contemptuous of workers and the political left.”
His Fourth of July op-ed piece was eye-catchingly titled “How Egypt’s Michele Bachmann Became President and Plunged the Country into Chaos.”
The best leaders find ways to reach out to their opponents and former foes, soon bringing them into the circle. Abraham Lincoln did it, Lyndon Johnson did it and (to cite just two examples) Barack Obama appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and retained George W. Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates.
In Egypt it’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of overreaching, even if you were democratically elected. Indeed, “the people” ultimately have the final say.
— Dan Shenk