There was an Egyptian coup d’état this July, and there was another one, on July 23, 1952. The earlier one begot a military regime that remained in the saddle for six decades. It came in the “nick of time,” a renowned historian of Egypt, the late Harvard scholar Nadav Safran, wrote in his seminal Egypt in Search of Political Community (1961). There was political chaos in the land, a feeble and corrupt monarchy, extremist political parties bereft of wisdom and practicality.
To the American imagination over more than two centuries, some nations have seemed more “real” than others – and it is in fact true that a few states in today’s international world convey a seemingly eternal essence while most are ordinary modern creatures.
A wave of change is sweeping the Middle East, but the foreign policy of the Obama administration has failed to meet the challenge. In case after case, Washington has refused to confront repressive regimes and given short shrift to popular movements for democracy.
Fifty years ago, the historian Elizabeth Monroe published a beautifully written book with a dismissive title: Britain’s Moment in the Middle East, 1914-1956. Although one can quibble with the description—the British impact in the region really should be clocked from A
What happened to Egypt’s liberals? Jackson Diehl’s question in the Washington Post is not a new one. In the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution and as Islamists swept every electoral competition, the question was being sincerely posed.
You know a country is benighted when no less a figure than Tony Blair, the world’s official envoy for the Middle East (whatever that means), turns apologist for a coup d’état, stating blithely that the army had no choice but to unseat the elected president.
Grant Egypt its redeeming consolations: it is neither Algeria, nor Syria. The terror that came to Algeria in the 1990s, a scorched earth war between Le Pouvoir (The Power Structure) and the Islamists which took a toll of no les