At the moment, I’m in an Ethiopian airport on my way to Tanzania. However, I’m actually only here because a wedding trip to Egypt was canceled. Instead of celebrating a beautiful union, I instead watch the noise of the turmoil and growing turmoil there in the country. The reaction to the turmoil reminds me of the importance of being honest.
While meeting in London with a Kenyan friend who is studying at Leeds, we began to talk about international issues since he’s earning a Masters in international economics (or something similar). The one thing he kept reiterating to me over and over again is that people around the world like the US but they find the country too hypocritical.
I remember the first time a university professor explained this important and true rule: whenever the geopolitical interests or agenda of the U.S. conflict with its ideals, the U.S. chooses the geopolitical interests. At that time I didn’t know many examples of this but I soon began to learn of them from studying and reading modern history especially from WWII up to the present (and even before). Truth be told, this is not specific only to the U.S. However, it is more noticeable with superpowers and superpowers who so vocally tout their ideals and their goodness to all the world. So when the military ousted the president of Egypt from office, there was a conflict.
On the one hand, in a strange way, it’s actually great that the people have power like that because it really keeps the leaders accountable. The UK and the US, among others, don’t really like the Muslim Brotherhood. So the ousting was seen as a bit of a relief. Add to that the fact that the economy had not really improved under the president and he was consolidating a lot of power under his control and away from other bodies like the courts. Besides, goes this line of thinking, a democracy is about giving the people a voice, and this is what the people want. It’s true that the Muslim Brotherhood did not win the presidency by a large margin. So it only takes a certain percentage of disgruntled voters to put the majority of the population against President Morsi. Accordingly, this line of thinking sees throwing the president out as a “democratic” move, the voice of the people.
And there’s the rub. In a democracy, every voice is heard, but every decision does not reflect every voice. Every decision is supposed to be informed by all the heard voices. Then a decision must be made, a particular direction taken. Secondly, in a democracy there should be a democratic process by which you can vote someone out of office for doing a bad job. We usually call this “the next election.” Thirdly, in a democracy there should be a democratic process by which you can vote someone out of office for doing illegal or unethical acts. We usually call this “impeachment.”
So it begs the question: if it fits the textbook definition of a coup, why not call it a coup?
This of course is a bit complicated and deals with the fact that the U.S. is obligated to stop the sale of arms to Egypt while in the state of a coup. Not only is the US arms trade a profitable business, but some view it as a stabilizing force in the region. Stop selling arms to Egypt and who knows what will happen. I’m going to ignore the validity of that statement for now as we can discuss it another time. What concerns me at the moment is what would have happened if the president were from a political party that the U.S. supported and favoured? What would have happened if a president from this favoured and supported party was ousted? Would it be a coup then?
And if the answer is yes, then that means that the definition of a coup and our support is not based on our ideals, but rather on our geopolitical agenda.
In other words, if the answer is yes, our actions are not based on democracy but on whom we like. And that’s a strange place to be, tobelieve. Because hypocrisy always comes to bite you back.