David M. Faris
Mr. Faris is an assistant professor of political science at Roosevelt University.
Egypt's travails since the January 25, 2011, uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power have the outlook of even the most ardent optimists. After three tumultuous years, Egypt is arguably less democratic, less peaceful and even more fractious than it was before 2011. Egypt's elites failed to agree upon a workable set of institutional arrangements for a complex and difficult democratic transition, or to reform the country's sprawling security apparatus. They also turned viciously on one another in a prolonged street confrontation that began on June 30 and led to the military coup against President Mohammad Morsi, eroding all trust among Egypt's political factions. Unfortunately, Egypt's problems are much deeper than mere political polarization and the refusal of political elites to follow the rules of democratic politics. The July 2013 putsch that deposed President Morsi with the enthusiastic backing of the political opposition, the military and formerly disgraced elements of the Mubarak-era state highlighted Egypt's most vexing long-term problem: the determination of a set of predatory, extractive elites — the so-called "deep state" — to sabotage movement toward more inclusive economic or political policies. These elites have proven over a long period of time that they are incapable of bringing prosperity to the country or resolving sectarian tensions. And they are unwilling to participate in a reform process that would ultimately impinge on their interests.
How should U.S. policy makers approach this volatile situation? Unfortunately there are no easy answers. For too long, U.S. discourse about Egypt in particular, and the Middle East in general, has revolved around a false dichotomy between supporting soft authoritarianism or allowing political Islam to establish control over key regional states. As the approval of Morsi's ouster from many quarters of American political discourse proved,1 far from moving us past this debate, the events of the Arab Spring have only intensified it by giving what was once a theoretical debate the fraught tension of actual politics. Yet it remains the wrong debate. It reinforces a tendency to believe that the United States has more influence in Egypt and on Egyptian politics than it actually does, and it obscures the very real policy changes amenable to some U.S. influence that might lead Egypt in a more sustainable political direction. Ultimately, while the prognosis for a genuine transition to inclusive democratic rule is quite dim, there are steps that can be taken immediately to lay the groundwork for positive change. The first and most important step is recognizing and eliminating the ongoing U.S. role in perpetuating crony capitalism in Egypt, and to refocus policy efforts on building democratic institutions.
UNDERSTANDING THE FAILED TRANSITION
Because of a set of disastrous decisions made shortly after the uprising that deposed Mubarak, Egypt is plagued by a dangerous lack of institutions beyond the military and the presidency. The initial error was to entrust political forces with writing the constitution. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) rammed an interim constitution through in March 2011, when the bodies of the revolution's martyrs were still warm and the country's bewildered voters and political forces had barely caught their breath from the exhilarating uprising. This interim constitution was little more than a warmed-over version of the authoritarian document that had been in force since 1971 (this was to become an unfortunate pattern) and was bitterly opposed by the young revolutionaries and opposition political forces. They correctly foresaw that it would eventually cede control of the country's founding document to the political Islamists, who were almost certain to triumph in the upcoming parliamentary elections. With one disastrous decision, the military had succeeded in immediately pitting the Islamists against other members of the opposition. This was not necessarily a "mistake" as institutional scholars might view it. It was just the latest instance of a pattern of authoritarian co-option long ago recognized by scholars as the successful essence of elite domination in Egypt.2
With constitution writing successfully punted down the field, the SCAF elites moved to the much more arduous task of organizing parliamentary elections, perhaps to give secular-nationalist opposition forces more time to organize. The electoral law itself was reasonably sophisticated, creating a parallel system that awarded seats in parliament both through individual district-level elections and through a system of proportional-representation elections. But even an optimistic interpretation of the law could not paper over the fact that the seats reserved for "workers and farmers" were largely a vehicle for placing former military elites in positions of parliamentary power (and immunity).3 But while preparations for this campaign were taking place, Egypt was gripped by the first of many bloody street confrontations, at the Maspero state television building on October 9, 2011. To call it a confrontation is somewhat inaccurate; it largely consisted of army forces wantonly killing peaceful Coptic Christian protestors. The disaster cast a pall over the elections and proved to be an ill omen of things to come, with numerous instances of deadly clashes between protestors and security forces in the following months.4 At each increasingly dispiriting turn, political forces with the upper hand have pursued their advantage ruthlessly, to the neglect of reforms that would ultimately benefit everyone except the entrenched elites of what Steven Cook once called "the military enclave."5 It has since become known as the "deep state," the presence of unaccountable, unelected elites that exert control over elected or civilian officials. It has long been understood that in Egypt, climbing the ranks of the military serves as a springboard for commercial or political privilege; recent research has only underlined the severity of the problem. For instance, all but one of 49 governors appointed during Mubarak's tenure was a military man.6 As Mehtap Söyler argues, "In deep states, the military-industrial complex is either ruled by a too powerful executive branch or by military men in their multiple guises as ‘an industrialist, a merchant, a ﬁnancial investor, and a rentier.'"7
As expected, the Muslim Brotherhood's newly legalized Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) dominated the legislative elections held in December 2011 and January 2012. The surprise was that the second-best showing came not from liberal opposition forces but rather from the ultraconservative Salafis. They proved shockingly adept at retail politics, with an ability to organize electoral victory that was underestimated by nearly every serious observer of the Egyptian scene. Together, the FJP and the main Salafi party, the Nour, won 70 percent of the seats in parliament. With presidential elections on the horizon, this was not necessarily the end of the world for the opposition. But with the SCAF having unwisely ceded to this now deeply conservative institution the right to choose who would write the constitution, Egypt lurched from one crisis to another over the composition of the constitution-writing committee. The SCAF, meanwhile, together with Mubarak's loyalists in the judiciary, threw the presidential elections into massive turmoil by disqualifying a number of candidates on ridiculous technicalities, including the FJP's popular Khairat El-Shater and the Salafi politician Hazem Abu Ismail. In the end, with the country's "liberals" split among multiple candidates, including former Brotherhood fixture Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahy and former Arab League chairman Amr Moussa, the final round of the presidential elections pitted FJP nominee Mohammed Morsi against Mubarak-era holdover Ahmed Shafiq. In what was perhaps the last time in a generation that the liberals and Islamists worked together, Shafiq was defeated, 52-48, in an election that was characterized as extremely close, but that actually represented a fairly substantial victory for Morsi in conventional democratic terms.
Morsi rose to an office whose powers were ill-defined and governed by an interim constitution that was about to be thrown out. To make matters worse, the Mubarak-era judges had dissolved the lower house of parliament on a legal technicality just before the presidential election, leaving unclear who was going to appoint the constitution-writing committee, and with whom exactly Morsi was expected to govern. Weak parliaments and overly empowered executives are well-known wreckers of democratic transitions, most recently in Russia and Ukraine. This self-inflicted, multi-level constitutional crisis would have vexed a democratic society with several hundred years of consensual rule under its belt, let alone a country like Egypt, teeming with poverty, suspicion, mistrust and incipient violence. Taking away the Islamist-led parliament essentially doomed Morsi's tenure before he had a chance to govern, since there was no way for him to rule with any kind of legitimacy. And, in order to have any power at all, Morsi was forced to concede ongoing extra-legal powers to the Army and to cancel any plans for serious reform of the hated Ministry of the Interior.
When Morsi drew the ire of the opposition by claiming constitutional powers for himself on November 22 and then unleashing Brotherhood militia on peaceful protestors on December 3 and 4, the stage was set for a confrontation. It could not take place in the country's nonexistent politics, so, yet again, people took to the streets. With no parliament, no regional governments and no hope of successfully challenging the military-capitalist complex at the heart of Egypt's dysfunction, Morsi's presidency was all but formally over. Into this void stepped the newly formed National Salvation Front, a political alliance including over a dozen parties and headed by Mohammed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabahy and Amr Moussa. By the spring, their plans to force Morsi to call early elections had crystallized into what became known as the Tamarod (rebellion) campaign, which began organizing massive nationwide protests for June 30. It did not help Morsi that key military and Mubarakist elites had seemingly been sabotaging the delivery of public services, fuel and security since the beginning of his term or that Morsi may have passed up several opportunities for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.8
By throwing in their lot with the military, the opposition has only delayed the day of reckoning, when Egyptians stop repeating platitudes about the army and the people being "one hand" and start systematically tackling the military's economic and political lawlessness. Worse, by throwing in with the reactionary crony capitalists who actually run Egypt, opposition activists and political figures have made a mockery of representative democracy, ceding the moral high ground to the Islamists — whom they likely could have crushed in upcoming parliamentary elections. In throwing in with the military, the Tamarod front and its supporters endorsed a form of political competition in which it is legitimate for the army to remove an elected president if enough protestors ask for it. The military quickly appointed a little-known civilian, former Supreme Constitutional Court chief jurist Adly Monsour, to the post of interim president and filled the cabinet with a hodgepodge of opposition figures like ElBaradei and the neoliberal economist Hazem El-Bablawi.
The military then moved, somewhat predictably, not just to depose Morsi, but to shatter the political apparatus of the Muslim Brotherhood, detaining Morsi and scheduling a trial that was to begin on November 4, 2013, and filing charges against dozens of senior figures of the organization. That the interests of military elites were paramount in this coup can be seen in "President" Adly Monsour's "constitutional declaration," which did little other than to affirm the military's freedom from any kind of civilian oversight. This seems part of the military's novel plan to put a constitutional lawyer in charge of a country with no constitution. On July 8 and again on July 28, the military unleashed extraordinary force on the largely peaceful protestors who supported Morsi and were calling for his reinstatement as a precondition for any talks with the military or opposition forces toward a transition. The Brotherhood, in the meantime, launched an open-ended sit-in at the Rabaa el-Adweya mosque in Nasr City, which was also the scene of considerable violence even after July 28, though the culprits remain a subject of heated debate. The voraciousness of the military's crackdown shocked even many members of the Tamarod coalition. Under the cover of national unity, the military had indeed launched a short and brutal project to reestablish its hegemony over the Brotherhood, and hence over the entire political sphere. In a rhetorical move that must have shocked U.S. policy makers, many members of the Tamarod coalition attacked Washington for being in the pocket of the Brotherhood. The accusation is preposterous. However, while it is true that while Morsi and his administration did little right during their time in power, his removal by force, and with the cooperation of the so-called liberal opposition, has done untold damage to the prospects of a genuine Egyptian transition to democracy.
America's options are quite limited. U.S. policy might have played a small role, at the last hour, in arranging for Mubarak's departure, but the U.S. role has since been largely one of watching from afar. Any successful movement toward resolving Egypt's problems therefore requires a clear-eyed recognition of its fundamental political and economic problems. That Egypt is poor and will require generations of growth to meet the employment needs of its population goes without saying. But Egypt's economic predicament does not fit neatly into either the neoliberals' prescriptions nor those advocated by their loudest critics.
The economic "reforms" undertaken in Egypt over decades have been those that precisely no one in any economic camp would actually advocate. They produced a predatory system of privatization that has enriched a tiny core of connected families and military elites, and one that is kept in place by a pernicious military-industrial-service complex that excludes most productive competition and leaves ordinary Egyptians with no way to improve their lot in life. Notably, these "reforms" have only deepened the schism between ordinary Egyptians and any meaningful participation in the country's political and economic life. Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson succinctly capture the basic problem in places like Egypt as one of "extractive political institutions":
Extractive political institutions concentrate power in the hands of a narrow elite and place few constraints on the exercise of this power. Economic institutions are then often structured by this elite to extract resources from the rest of society. Extractive economic institutions thus naturally accompany extractive political institutions. In fact, they must inherently depend on extractive political institutions for their survival.9
Unfortunately, Egypt also lacks successful precedents for what needs to be achieved over the coming decades. The scale of the problem is enormous enough to seem intractable. The capital allocated to maintaining the country's system of internal security, together with the nefarious networks of influence and enrichment at the heart of the military-dominated economic system, make it difficult to even conceptualize how the country might successfully reform. Even obtaining an accurate estimate of how much of the economy is monopolized, directly or indirectly, by military elites has proven to be impossible. Rather than castigating Egyptians for failing to tackle these problems in two years — something that has never before been achieved in human history, even at vastly smaller scales — policy makers should craft ideas meant to set in motion long-term processes of change that can, over time, bring more Egyptians into inclusive political and economic institutions. At the core of these policy recommendations must be a system of political reform that, while it may achieve little in the short run, is the country's only hope. And the best way to help bring about that reform is to cut U.S. military aid and refashion our assistance in a way that actually leads to long-term benefits for both Egypt and the region.
The starting point of any project to reckon with Egypt's failed transition should be a recognition of the limits of American policy making. The United States cannot force a process of democratization on an Egyptian elite that has no interest in pursuing it. The coalition that brought down Morsi has consistently grumbled that the U.S. agenda in Egypt was too narrowly focused on democratic rules and procedures and not enough on outcomes. Nor can American policy makers safely broker economic reform processes from the offices of Washington think tanks. Policy makers should instead proceed along two primary tracks, in the hope that one might successfully influence the other. First, the country must be encouraged to put into place institutions that feature genuine accountability and competition, and which grant civilians the right to oversight and regulation of the whole economy.
During the Morsi era, the lack of competing legitimate political institutions came into sharp relief; Morsi used what little power he did have in a way that seemed to maximize the alienation of opposing political forces, women and minorities. For some reason, in a country of 90 million people split across 18 provinces, the president of the republic was still allowed to appoint governors by fiat. One can have a legitimate debate about the utility of decentralization as a governing strategy, but there is simply no argument for this kind of top-down policy making in a modern democratic state. Subnational elections are a key incubator of new elites as well as an opportunity for the political opposition to demonstrate dissatisfaction with the existing government and a strong incentive not to treat national politics as a zero-sum (and hence the only) game.
With the political class stuck on foundational questions about Islam and politics, a debate about developing these kinds of institutions never took place; therefore, Egypt remained stuck in national-politics overdrive, with disastrous consequences for all parties. The Cairo-centric focus of politics has the perverse effect of heightening the importance of every battle, making each contest do-or-die for all political forces. This zero-sum competition is precisely the kind of dangerous contestation that political scientist Juan Linz decried in his seminal article, "The Perils of Presidentialism."10 When the opposition feels it has lost not just an election but also any opportunity to participate in or shape the political order, the potential for deadly conflict is increased.
In South Korea, for instance, the initial period of democratization in 1987 took place in a context of a heavily centralized state. As local elections were introduced, citizens gradually demanded more and better participation.11 Together with the fiscal crisis of 1997 and widening regional inequalities, a "nationwide consensus emerged that central bureaucrats and politicians posed barriers to reform efforts."12 It is possible to imagine Egypt gradually benefitting from processes of decentralization and formal political participation through representative institutions, although as Falleti cautions, not all processes of decentralization actually empower mayors and governors.13 It is therefore not enough simply to advocate that these institutions be put into place (however unlikely even that might seem from this juncture). Policy makers must ensure that new participants are both drawn into a process of local governance and also empowered to affect policy debates and outcomes. National elites will obviously be threatened by such moves toward local governance, which might undermine the capacity of central elites to continue processes of rent seeking and rent capture, unmolested by new political participants. As Heller cautions, "Under these conditions, institutions are likely to be captured by elites or governed by modes of engagement such as clientelism that have perverse effects on citizenship."14
How might Egypt avoid yet another process of elite reconfiguration? The country may not need federalism — the constitutional sharing of power between regional governments and the national state — but it certainly needs to empower citizens who live in more remote provinces, and to give electoral losers the opportunity to triumph in local settings prior to the next national election. Astonishingly, each iteration of Egypt's post-transitional constitutional order has failed to provide any role for regional government, preferring instead to focus on polarizing debates about the role of Islam in public life, or rehashing the electoral rules for parliament. While the new "Committee of 50" constitution-amending body was scheduled to submit its report by December 2013, there is no sense that foundational institutional questions will be revisited. While the Committee may abolish Egypt's Shura Council — the weak upper house whose powers are poorly defined — the country seems likely to remain a centralized state with a weak parliament, a powerful executive and a military-industrial complex that remains above the law and beyond oversight. The ideal institutional arrangement for Egypt would be a parliamentary system, whose rules would make it less likely for charismatic military elites to assume executive power. Even though recent research has challenged the idea that presidential systems break down at higher rates than parliamentary ones,15 the most common path for democratic breakdown in presidential democracies occurs when presidents violate term limits and assume power indefinitely.16 This is a significant risk in Egypt, where General Sisi himself may run for the presidency in 2014. But if, as likely, Egypt continues to employ a presidential system of government, the legislature must be made much stronger than it appeared to be in the 2012 constitution. This would both improve the survivability of democratic regimes17 and provide at least the theoretical possibility of holding the deep state accountable. As Ming Sing writes, "Powerful legislatures can more capably perform effectual oversight of the military."18
U.S. aid donors might have a role to play in these processes, if only opportunities for meaningful change could be recognized and acted upon. Efforts should be directed to the local level, where, over the long term, citizens might be able to achieve more direct participation in government. Egyptian localities, for instance, if properly empowered institutionally, might be the site of experiments with participatory budgeting, in which citizens help determine financial allocations for a given municipality.19 Such experiments in local governance have had generally positive effects on both civic participation and levels of equality in policy outputs.20 Of course, for such experiments to even be conceptualized requires institutional reform that is unlikely to be forthcoming from Cairo. Development has been notoriously top-down, elite-focused and subject to capture by elites in the military-industrial complex. American military aid does nothing to bring about these changes; in fact, it actually makes it less likely.
Whatever constitutional system is put into place, Egyptians must imbue their refurbished representative institutions with broad-based legitimacy and the power to function independently of mass protest. The early returns on this matter are unpromising. Egypt squandered a historic opportunity in the past year to begin to dismantle the structures of repression and authoritarianism. A vital first step is to put into place institutions that have been successful in comparative perspective and that might, in the long run, lead to better economic and social policy. It is no panacea; the problems go so far beyond formal political institutions. However, reform is impossible without better institutions. If asked, the United States should offer its assistance in building these new institutions, either in crafting the founding documents or helping in the difficult work of creating these institutions from scratch. It is unlikely that anyone is going to ask for U.S. assistance, but our policy makers and diplomats should at least be able to toe a coherent party line in private conversations with Egyptian elites about best practices.
THE STABILITY FAIRY
On October 9, the Obama administration announced cuts in parts of the U.S. aid package to Egypt, stirring intense controversy about the goals and effects of American assistance.21 Debates about whether to cut off military aid to Egypt can be unproductive. Scholars critical of the aid as part and parcel of an exploitative U.S. foreign policy line up predictably against policy makers who see the aid as a sacrosanct feature of the regional order. Rather, the United States should recognize that it is distributing the wrong kind of aid to the wrong kinds of people. On the one hand, arguments that assume cutting off the aid is impossible or preposterous seem to be attempting to pre-empt debate by appealing to a nonexistent authority. Either the aid is a tool of American policy or it is a permanent bribe to keep Camp David in place; it cannot be both. Conceptualized in this way, as a timeless feature of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship that would have catastrophic, though rather poorly specified, consequences were it to be disrupted, the aid can never be cut off or even seriously questioned. It becomes not an instrument of American foreign policy, but simply an external rent, subject to capture by rent seekers on both sides of the equation. It is well known that much of the military aid gets returned to the United States via expensive military contracts. It is not even clear at this point that either U.S. military attachés in Egypt or the Egyptian military itself actually want or need all the hardware that is being delivered to them.22 As Shana Marshall notes, "Egypt is now home to more tanks than all of Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America combined."23 Continuing to sign such contracts in the absence of any actual need only gives credence to more cynical interpretations of the aid. While the benefit to domestic arms contractors is often spoken about for its electoral value (in swing states), this subsidy for U.S. arms contractors could be replaced in minutes with budget reallocations so as to avoid job losses in the United States. $1.3 billion is a rounding error in the context of a $700 billion defense budget.
This leaves the question of whom or what the aid is actually for, and whose benefit it serves. The aid was of course originally conceptualized as a reward for Egyptian participation in the Camp David peace process, a kind of informal and open-ended bribe for the Egyptian military, which was granted access to advanced (but not too advanced) military hardware in exchange for demobilization on the Israeli front. However, anyone interested in actual confrontation with the Israelis has long departed from the scene. Egypt does not need to be bribed to continue abiding by Camp David, as its abrogation would be economically disastrous for precisely the predatory economic elites who benefit from the cold peace. Defenders of the status quo therefore argue that the United States must preserve its "leverage" with the Egyptian military and that cutting off the aid will only serve to deprive the United States of vital influence.24 Others have made even loftier claims, arguing that any change in this aid relationship will endanger the regional nonproliferation regime or imperil shipping through the canal.25 Proponents of cutting or restructuring the aid are painted as naïve at best and as wreckers of regional "stability" at worst.
Who is really being naïve here? It requires willful ignorance to regard the situation either in the region or in Egypt today as stable. During the Great Recession, opponents of government intervention in the economy frequently argued that such moves might interfere with investor confidence. Economist Paul Krugman has taken to mocking this position as tantamount to believing in a mythical "confidence fairy." American policy discourse about the Middle East is similarly plagued, but by a fairy of stability. This mythical creature is invoked to oppose any change in a status quo that benefits only arms contractors and rent seekers. The truth is that continued support for the military-industrial elites only pre-empts the kinds of changes — genuinely competitive privatization of industries — that we should be most forcefully articulating. It would work the difference between crony privatization and genuine competition in certain industries. Aid proponents typically impute an almost mythical power to the aid assuming also a nonexistent policy divergence between U.S. regional interests and Egyptian military strategy. That there is no actual proof of such a divergence is an inconvenient truth that invoking the stability fairy only serves to obscure.
To recognize why the military aid spigot must be cut off requires us to identify the Egyptian military as the problem rather than the solution, and to understand that our aid is very much part of the complex of policies and incentives that keeps it that way. For instance, the M1A1 tank, "manufactured" in Lima, Ohio, is actually better thought of as a "tank kit" whose final assembly takes place in Egypt by military-owned manufacturers.26 And the Egyptian military often uses military manufacturing to launch dual-purpose, commercial civilian manufacturing enterprises with the assistance of conscript labor.27 As if this is not bad enough from a rational-planning perspective, the military pays no taxes on the revenue generated by these enterprises. Ultimately, the United States is subsidizing unproductive economic activity and then helping to reduce the capacity of the already poorly resourced Egyptian state to direct tax dollars toward areas — health, infrastructure, education — where they are most needed. And rather than preserving U.S. "leverage" in Egypt, the Egyptian military has cleverly enlisted American policy makers in its plot to take over the state, monopolize key industries, and direct precious resources away from those sectors that desperately need them. It may be naïve to think that Egyptian military-commercial ventures will go away, but their outputs, even if not strictly economically rational, can be more broadly shared by the general public. The United States should resist the temptation to restore the cuts that have been made until real oversight of the armed forces is granted to Egyptian civilian institutions. In fact, Washington should consider broader moves against any aid that is not directly tied to Egypt's anti-terrorism efforts.
Egypt currently sits at a classic critical juncture of the type that specialists of comparative politics usually associate with serious long-term consequences. The removal of Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011 did not necessarily represent a decision by elites to move toward a more inclusive economic and political system, yet an opening was created. If military elites are allowed to reformulate the existing predatory institutions of the country and do so with the consent of Egypt's most important ally, this opportunity may be lost for another generation. This would be even more disastrous for Egypt than the closed authoritarian system put into place by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952-54, since Egypt's contemporary problems are now more complex, more serious and less amenable to short-term mitigation. In 1952, Egypt was, as observers never tire of pointing out, economically on par with most of the countries undergoing decolonization.28 Egyptians at the time, finally free of their British overlords, could look forward to a future determined by their own elites, one in which the country could capitalize on its strategic position in the Middle East and join the family of advanced industrial nations.
Today, a bleaker future looms: a long struggle for piecemeal economic progress or a potentially catastrophic breakdown of state institutions, with elites continuing to enrich themselves and society engaging in violent jockeying over who will be the least subordinate, all the while failing to recognize the identity of their true tormentors. Better institutions of participatory democracy are a first step in a long process, but they are not in and of themselves the answer. As Heller argues, "Representative democracy in the global periphery has proven to be a weak instrument for directly securing redistributive gains."29 Direct U.S. intervention in the political sphere will also be counterproductive in Egypt so long as American policy remains unpopular across the region. As this situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, aid cuts that have taken place should not be restored without strict conditions, and other assistance should be redirected to smaller projects at the local level, and not restricted to infrastructure or classic development projects. And, by eliminating the operating subsidy for Egypt's crony capitalist military complex, the United States can both send a strong signal of preference as well as incentivize different behavior. America's geostrategic policy convergence with Egyptian military elites will remain undisturbed, and precious aid dollars can be channeled to projects that might help shift the balance of power against the military and toward competent civilian governance.
The purpose of statecraft is not to make friends, and it may not even be the promotion of a particular set of values. But if American foreign policy is to have any moral content whatsoever, U.S. policy makers need to revisit their relationship with Egyptian elites, using what little influence they have to move the country in a more inclusive direction. It doesn't require sudden or drastic changes in policy, but a coherent approach to institution building and economic progress that puts the interests of Egypt's neglected masses first. True stability can only be realized when justice is served.
1 See, for instance, David Brooks, "Defending the Coup," New York Times, July 5, 2013, A19; and Thomas Friedman, "Can Egypt Pull It Together?" New York Times, July 7, 2013, SR11.
2 See, for instance, Joshua Stacher, Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Syria and Egypt.
3 Shana Marshall and Joshua Stacher, "Egypt's Generals and Transnational Capital," Middle East Report 42 (Spring 2012), http://www.merip.org/mer/mer262/egypts-generals-transnational-capital, accessed August 8, 2013.
4 Issandr El Amrani, "Sightings of the Egyptian Deep State," Middle East Report Online, January 1, 2012. http://www.merip.org/mero/mero010112, accessed August 9, 2013.
5 Steven Cook, Ruling But Not Governing: The Military Enclave in Egypt, Algeria and Turkey (The John's Hopkins University Press, 2007).
6 Hicham Bou Nassif, "Wedded to Mubarak: The Second Careers and Financial Rewards of Egypt's Military Elite, 1981-2011," Middle East Journal 67, no. 4 (Autumn 2013): 509-529.
7 Mehtap Söyler, "Informal Institutions, Forms of State and Democracy: The Turkish Deep State," Democratization 20/2 (2013): 310-324.
8 David Kirkpatrick, "Sudden Improvements in Egypt Suggest a Campaign That Undermined Morsi," July 10, 2013, A4.
9 Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (Crown Business, 2012).
10 Juan Linz, "The Perils of Presidentialism." Journal of Democracy 1, no. 1 (Winter 1990): 51-69.
11 Yooil Bae and Sunhyuk Kim, "Civil Society and Local Activism in South Korea's Local Democratization," Democratization 20, No. 2 (2013): 260-286.
12 Ibid, 279.
13 Tulia Falleti, Decentralization and Subnational Politics in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 5-6.
14 Patrick Heller, "Democracy, Participatory Politics and Development: Some Comparative Lessons from Brazil, India and South Africa," Polity 44 (2012): 643-665.
15 See, for instance, Jose Antonio Cheibub, Presidentialism, Parliamentarism and Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2007); and Ming Sing, "Explaining Democratic Survival Globally (1946-2002)," Journal of Politics 72, no. 2 (April 2010): 438-455.
16 Ko Maeda, "Two Modes of Democratic Breakdown: A Competing Risks Analysis of Democratic Durability," Journal of Politics 17, no. 4 (October 2010): 1129-1143.
17 Scott Mainwaring and Matthew Shugart, "Juan Linz, Presidentialism and Democracy: A Critical Appraisal," Comparative Politics, 29, no. 4 (July 1997): 449-471.
18 Sing (2010), 450.
19 William R. Nylen, "Participatory Institutions in Latin America: The Next Generation of Scholarship," Comparative Politics 43, no. 4 (July 2011): 479-500.
20 Berhard Leubolt, Andreas Novy, and Joachim Becker, "Changing Patterns of Participation in Porto Alegre," International Social Science Journal 59 (September 2009): 439.
21 Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landon, "In Crackdown Response, U.S. Temporarily Freezes Some Military Aid to Egypt," New York Times, October 9, 2013.
22 Julia Simon, "Egypt May Not Need Fighter Jets, But U.S. Keeps Sending Them Anyway," NPR.org, August 8, 2013. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/08/08/209878158/egypt-may-not-need-fighter-jets-but-u-s-keeps-sending-them-anyway, accessed August 8, 2013.
23 Shana Marshall, "Egypt's Other Revolution: Modernizing the Military-Industrial Complex," Jadaliyya, February 10, 2012. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/4311/egypts-other-revolution_modernizing-the-military-i, accessed August 8, 2013.
24 See, for instance, Eric Trager, "Making the Most of Limited U.S. Leverage in Egypt," Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2013.
25 Khaira Abazi, "No, Don't Cut Military Aid to Egypt," CNN.com. August 12, 2013, http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/12/no-dont-cut-military-aid-to-egypt/, accessed August 12th, 2013.
26 Shana Marshall, "Why the U.S. Won't Cut Military Aid to Egypt," Foreign Policy, Middle East Channel. February 29, 2012, http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/02/29/why_the_us_won_t_cut_military_aid_to_egypt, accessed August 9, 2013.
28 Alan Richards and John Waterbury, A Political Economy of the Middle East (Westview Press, Third Edition, 2008).
29 Heller (2012).