Once you’ve lived through a few of these teetering-dictatorship moments, the images and rhythms of the news stories begin to feel familiar: the sudden surge of energy in the streets, the tanks rolling out, the terse and indirect press conferences.
At this instant of unresolved tensions in Cairo, it’s only natural that a prominent foreign-affairs pundit step forward to say… well, I’ll let the headline tell the story: “Egypt protests show George W. Bush was right about freedom in the Arab world.” And naturally, since the article is written by a diehard neoconservative (Elliott Abrams) who worked in the Bush administration, this argument is made not in an obscure blog post or an ideological-fringe magazine, but on the op-ed page of the Washington Post:
All these developments seem to come as a surprise to the Obama administration, which dismissed Bush’s “freedom agenda” as overly ideological and meant essentially to defend the invasion of Iraq. But as Bush’s support for the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and for a democratic Palestinian state showed, he was defending self-government, not the use of force.
If you know anything about the Bush-Cheney regime’s antipathy toward the popular support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, you’re aware of what a whitewash of history that sentence is. But anyone familiar with GOP propaganda knows that for these folks, history (or current facts, for that matter) can always be rewritten as needed to fit one’s argument.
For those of us who care about accuracy, it’s worth pointing out that way back in the halcyon days of the neocon dream in 2002, their whacked-out vision of the Middle East included Egypt as the ultimate “prize” in a sweeping redefinition of the region that would somehow make it safe for Israel to pursue its own maximalist fantasies. (Indeed, the now-laughable notion that a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq would make peace with Israel was part of how Ahmad Chalabi helped lure the U.S. into that disastrous invasion.)
I won’t bother to make any glib predictions about what the next government of Egypt’s views will be — or even if there will be a new government anytime soon — but I think it’s safe to assume it won’t be any congenial to the neocons’ Israel-first worldview than Hezbollah or Hamas are. Not that it will matter to Elliott Abrams or the Washington Post op-ed page, of course. They’ll simply revise reality to fit their needs, as always.