A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Sandmonkey" on Liberals Hoping for a Military Coup

I recently blogged on those secular Egyptians who only a year after denouncing SCAF in scathing terms are wistfully hoping for a military coup in Egypt. At Daily News Egypt,  Mahmoud Salem (AKA the blogger "Sandmonkey") has some relevant thoughts on "The Civilian Products of Military Factories," discussing the military's extensive parallel economy (pretty much granted immunity in Morsi's Constitution). He starts with a somewhat snarky but, I think, justified tone:
The notion of the army executing a coup against President Morsi and taking back power is becoming very popular in many circles in Egyptian society, especially amongst the non-politicised factions. If anything, it showcases the deep disenchantment that the average Egyptian feels with the Muslim Brotherhood government and its mismanagement of the country, alongside the political opposition.
As the signs of the vanishing of the state and the impending economic apocalypse that is about to hit Egypt keep piling up, many people are starting to romanticise the good old days of SCAF rule. While not entirely surprising for the average non-politicised citizen to hold such views, the fact that they are being echoed by revolutionaries and conservatives alike is outrageously hilarious to say the least.  Let’s go over the logic of this popular idea, shall we?
When it comes to the revolutionaries who are advocating the idea, logic doesn’t even factor into their argument, for it is based on exhaustion, horror and desperation.
So, instead of actually discussing its many logical flaws, let’s imagine it in a letter form, shall we?  “Dear Army, can you please create a coup against Morsi and quite possibly enter into a state of civil war with armed Islamists, but not rule us? And while you are at it, can you possibly be a dear and stop those military trials against us, allow us to take a look into your finances to regulate them and quite possibly elect a civilian to be your leader? That will be all, we promise.  XOXO, the Revolutionaries. PS: What’s taking so long? ”.
 After discussing the Army's current position, he cuts to the  chase:
But let’s pretend that none of those facts are true, the question remains:  Why should the military overthrow this president for your sake? What do you have to offer them in return? They already have financial autonomy, they can still militarily try anyone they feel like, their US aid money is not being threatened and they can do anything they damn please with zero accountability.
What do you have to offer them? What more could they possibly want? Let’s assume they hate the Muslim Brotherhood and care about your well being as proposed; why would they assume the administrative and financial responsibility of ruling the country as it is entering its worst economic crisis in decades? Wouldn’t it be strategically better for them not to deal with this unruly impossible-to-please-population, let the Muslim Brotherhood carry all the blame, while they remain the shiny better alternative in your eyes?
One last thing to consider: Tantawi and Anan, with all their faults, were old enough to have seen and participated in actual war, which is why spilling Christian blood in Maspiro or revolutionary blood in the Egyptian cabinet sit-in didn’t ruffle their feathers. The current SCAF, on the other hand, is staffed with a generation that has never seen war, and grew in the ranks as the military’s economic empire grew in size.
So, not only are they not mentally or psychologically equipped to handle the civil war that will follow that coup, but for that generation, being the secretary of defence is like becoming the CEO of a billion dollar corporation that doesn’t pay taxes and isn’t regulated by anyone, whose employees can and will get jailed for not doing their job or following his directives, that also has its own food security, and organised trained armed men to defend its assets.
In short, it’s any CEO’s wet dream. Why would anyone leave that job to become the CEO of a bloated bankrupt company whose ever-critical employees don’t work, are always on strike, consumed with in-fighting, refuse to follow his orders, and always want more money?
Very good questions, adding to the puzzling circumstance that some of the very people who were denouncing SCAF a year ago now see them as the hope of the nation.

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