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A good read, but this stuck out -

"Liberals in the west look on baffled and horrified. What they thought was a glorious revolution in the Arab world is morphing into something they don't understand."

Really? I'm (pretty) liberal but I watched the revolution with the knowledge that while evil was being ousted, revolutions seldom seem to end well. The developments in Egypt since then have, if anything, been comparatively mild. The Military either stepped aside or were made to step aside, without coups or mass bloodshed, and now there is an elected president that everyone is protesting over because he's given himself insane powers.

This is not a good situation, don't get me wrong, but for (almost) two years after a revolution? We're lucky we're not reading about massacres and mass graves.

At the same time, I can understand it was easy to underestimate the weight of the Brotherhood, with medias playing on the name of El Baradei and other secular figures. I agree with your point that it could have been a lot worse.

I get that our propensity for wishful thinking made it easy to underestimate the post-revolution popularity of Islamists, but their rise shouldn't have been that much of a surprise.

In Egypt at least, the Muslim Brotherhood had a number of pretty significant advantages compared to liberals and secularists. Whereas Mubarak basically crushed secularist dissent, he seemed to tolerate the Muslim Brotherhood (on a very short leash) for use as boogeymen. They were also able to organize in mosques, which were more or less untouchable, whereas nobody else had such a safe place to organize. Finally, the Mubarak regime was largely secularist, which tainted other liberals by association.

The end result was that, after the revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood had a very well-organized political network ready to go, while everyone else was going, "Hmm ... time to form a political party. How do we do that?"

Oh sure, I agree that the western media was very optimistic about stuff like secularism (when it wasn't scaremongering about the muslim brotherhood).

Maybe I'm just an old cynic, but expecting the best possible outcome from a revolution seems naive. It's what everyone goes in hoping for, maybe what the revolting masses intend, but in the power vacuum that follows then someone or some group will fill it with a 'strong' leader. This leader then proceeds to take the place in his own direction, usually protected by a combination of true believers and self-interested hangers-on. Which then screws over most of the people that got them there. Look at the Iranian revolution - many female students took part in that one, only to find themselves far worse off afterwards.

The fact we only have a potential despot in Egypt so far is actually really positive!

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