(NY Times Op-ed) Tom Freidman—Egypt’s Perilous Drift

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt needs a revolution.

Wait, isn’t that what happened two years ago? Not really. It is now clear that what happened two years ago was more musical chairs than revolution. First the army, using the energy of the youth-led protesters in Tahrir Square, ousted Mubarak, and then the Muslim Brotherhood ousted the army, and now the opposition is trying to oust the Brotherhood. Each, though, is operating on the old majoritarian politics — winners take all, losers get nothing....

“The other day,” [Ahmed el-]Droubi said, “I was standing on a main intersection in downtown Cairo, where two one-way roads meet. As I stood there, I saw cars going both ways down both one-way streets — cars were coming and going in four different directions — and other cars were double-parked. I was standing next to a shop owner watching this. ‘This is a complete mess,’ he said. ‘No one has any civic responsibility. They each only care about themselves getting to where they are going.’ ”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

11 Comments
Posted June 18, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br. Michael wrote:

“Each, though, is operating on the old majoritarian politics — winners take all, losers get nothing….”

And how exactly is this surprising?

June 18, 6:23 am | [comment link]
2. Katherine wrote:

Egyptians are beginning to fear more widespread violence and bloodshed.  Please pray for them, and especially for Egyptian Christians.

I had an elderly agnostic Muslim friend, now deceased, who thought that the best government for Egypt would be an enlightened monarchy.  In my opinion, the best outcome now (not good, but better than the present) would be another military coup to install a more Western-facing dictator.  It’s hard to know if such a person now exists in the military after the purges.  Egypt is breaking down.

June 18, 7:56 am | [comment link]
3. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Another military coup would be a major headache for the WH which is backing the Muslim Brotherhood 1000% and for the WH’s alter ego, the House of Saud.

June 18, 8:49 am | [comment link]
4. Karen B. wrote:

Am praying for Egypt.  Had to laugh at the description of the traffic chaos, however.  It’s nothing new!!  When I lived in Cairo back in 1985, my apartment building was at the intersection of a major road with a small one way street.  Every day I saw cars going the wrong way down the one way street…, so this article made me laugh.

As for the shop owner’s comment “No one has any civic responsibility. They each only care about themselves getting to where they are going,”  I see that same attitude in the N. African country where I currently live and work as well.  It’s as old as Judges:  “Every man did what was right in his own eyes.”  (Judges 17:6)

June 18, 10:44 am | [comment link]
5. Katherine wrote:

Yes, Karen B., traffic chaos in Cairo is perpetual!  I’m hearing and reading reports about crime and hungry people which are much more alarming than the traffic.  “Every man for himself” was kept in check when there was a policeman on every corner.

June 18, 11:45 am | [comment link]
6. Katherine wrote:

This photo essay at Business Insider shows the deteriorating conditions in Cairo.

June 18, 12:11 pm | [comment link]
7. Karen B. wrote:

Hi Katherine,
yes, I too am seeing similar reports of increased problems in Cairo and throughout Egypt.  My comment about traffic was not meant to undermine the seriousness of the current situation, but merely to note that not ALL of Egypt’s problems are new, and that in terms of sin there is truly nothing new under the sun.  But yes, in some times and seasons sin is held in check more effectively by outward authorities and the rule of law.

June 18, 1:03 pm | [comment link]
8. Katherine wrote:

I know, Karen B., and didn’t misinterpret your comment!  Even if Egypt becomes free and prosperous, every Egyptian driver is still going to go wherever he can, no matter where he “should” go.

June 18, 1:11 pm | [comment link]
9. Ad Orientem wrote:

I had an elderly agnostic Muslim friend, now deceased, who thought that the best government for Egypt would be an enlightened monarchy.

+1

June 18, 3:10 pm | [comment link]
10. Vatican Watcher wrote:

The commentator at Asia News Online under the pen name Spengler called it in Egypt /years/ before the ouster of Mubarak.  Egypt has mouths to feed and little or no resources to pay for the food.  No matter who won in the Arab Spring or Tom Freidman’s proposed new revolution, the winners will still face the same dilemma: mouths to feed and no resources to pay for the food.

June 18, 8:55 pm | [comment link]
11. Katherine wrote:

What the Brotherhood and the Salafis say is that “Islam is the answer.”  Egypt is now discovering that Islamism does not have answers for Egypt’s economic woes.  To the contrary, it is driving tourism away, one of the country’s few sources of foreign money with which to buy the imported food it requires.  Nasser and his successors established a semi-socialist centrally controlled state, the sort of thing that was all the rage among the newly independent third world states.  Many of them still suffer the consequences.  Business reforms under Mubarak tended to benefit the elite, not the country at large.  If the current mess threatens the military’s businesses enough, perhaps they’ll do something about it; or perhaps nobody will do anything and people will starve.

June 18, 9:34 pm | [comment link]
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