Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bring Peace to Egypt

Trying to understand Egypt from an American point of view is almost impossible to do. Both cultural and religious prejudices and preconceptions get in our way. Yet we must apply what we know of our own history to find peace for others.
by Charlie Leck

What is going on in Egypt? Why hasn’t America more forcefully intervened? (I’m asking! I’m not saying we should!) Why did Morsi get thrown from office? What’s behind the Muslim Brotherhood (which supported Morsi)?

Further, what happens if a conservative style of Muslim leadership is established as political norm in Egypt? What happens if Egypt becomes a hot-bed of anti-American terrorism?

Why hasn’t America suspended the enormous amount of foreign aid payments it makes to Egypt (most of which goes to the military)?

What happens if America is seen as supportive of the side that loses in this battle for the control of Egypt?…

These are just the beginning (freshman level) questions!

In the face of all the questions, there looms another haunting and odious one. It is: Who shall feed the people?

As EuroNews put it earlier this year (read entire article here)…

“Who will feed the Egyptians, a nation whose population is forecast to grow until 2030 at a break-neck pace of one million people a year? Who will provide jobs for the growing pool of young people of working age in the coming decades? Can the Egyptian state provide them with economic opportunities or at the least sufficient basic goods? Will foreign investment pour in, to make the most of the tremendous opportunities of an expanding, mostly urban market? If left unanswered, these overwhelming issues and their explosive potential can become long term threats to the very future of Egypt.
“The most populous country of the Middle East and the third most populous on the African continent (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), Egypt’s fertility rate is currently 2.9 children per woman and is expected to remain above the replacement ratio of 2.1 for at least the next two decades. As a result, the United Nations projects the Egyptian population to exceed 100 million by 2030. Euromonitor forecasts it will reach 105 million by 2030.”

Egypt is a dangerous and explosive place. Our president has moved gingerly in examining America’s responsibilities in this situation. He seems to creep toward some kind of solution and he keeps back an even greater distance from any kind of military involvement. As well he should!

Egypt could make Iraq and Afghanistan look likes child’s play. There is no easy or quick solution.

If ever the United Nations was needed to wrestle with the solution to a problem, this is the time.

Wouldn’t you know!
A mere two weeks ago, U.S. Senator John McCain was off to Egypt to seek a solution to the problem. A few weeks before that he was off to Syria and returned to America with a message for the President: “Use our military and get involved!” One expects he’ll come home with the same message again. This is a tired and worn-out game plan. It didn’t work anywhere where we have tried it in the last 5 decades. The solutions to these problems are not military solutions. A peoples’ yearning for freedom – for hope – for food – for basic human rights – must come through other sources. War will only further destroy their hopes and leave them more impoverished than they are now.

All that being said, Egypt is a grand possibility for Democracy – if only, by the grace of God, religion and all the vices it brings along with it could be kept out of it. The sad, sad reality is that, in fact, religions probably cannot be separated from the solution.

America does have a well-stated and sensible goal in the mean time. It is to “get power out of the hands of the military rulers and back into the hands of politicians…” [The Atlantic Wire, 5 August 2013]

Does America have leverage?
America gives (out-right gifts) over one billion dollars a year to Egypt in foreign aid. It has not cut off that aid to Egypt even though it, technically, probably should because of the recent military coup (which we refuse to recognize as such). We should therefore have some standing upon the soapbox of international opinion. Aren’t there some things we could ask of the Egyptian military rulers in this current situation in return for our military aid?

In a moment of great idealism, I wrote the following blog yesterday and have today decided to include it here instead. As I read it now it seems to be only the innocent, simplistic dreaming of a mere child, but….  but maybe it is more…

Bring Peace to Egypt

I don’t think the President or Secretary of State or, more important, the Egyptian military will listen to me, but here’s what the Egyptian military ought to do… and right now!
by Charlie Leck

Enough Egyptian citizens have died – too many really! The fighting has gone on and on and it is time now for a real democracy to be granted to the people of that burdened nation. The military leadership should declare immediately that democracy will be instituted in the entire nation and, if peace would descend immediately upon the nation here is what they (the military) will do…

1.       Declare that Egypt is a democratic republic that shall be governed by and for the people.

2.       Assure the people that a new constitution shall be written for the nation – and it shall be written and approved by their own chosen representatives.

3.       Establish the dates for a constitutional convention and invite every region of the country to name representatives to the convention – the number of representatives from a region shall be determined by the population of the region. Such a date shall be approved by the United Nations only after it determines that peace and brotherhood has descended upon the nation to such a degree that a convention would be possible.

4.       The representatives to the constitutional convention shall be determined by an election that shall be organized, established and over-seen by the United Nations.

5.       The convention itself shall also be supervised by the United Nations, which shall also act as an advisor to the convention delegates.

6.       The constitutional convention shall determine by a vote of tw0-thirds of the delegates what form and format the Egyptian democracy shall take.

7.       The constitution should contain a broad bill of human rights that are now and henceforth granted to the people of Egypt.

8.      The convention shall elect temporary political leaders of the nation and those leaders will govern the nation until such time that the first elected officials can be installed and inaugurated

There are enough democratic republics in the world that the Egyptian constitutional convention would have models from which to choose as it begins to sculpt Egypt’s democracy.
 It is time to end the senseless and needless bloodshed and death. The people of Egypt are paying too dear a price.
 The United Nations still retains enough power and punch that it could rattle enough swords to convince the leaders of Egypt’s current military to make the moves toward an open and free democracy for the entire nation.
 This is why the United Nations was created. It is time to end the bluster. It is time to bring both peace and freely elected government to all of Egypt. Such a democracy cannot be a counterfeit. It must be real – and that means it must be of, by and for the people.
Someone, somewhere has got to begin thinker bigger. There is a world falling apart around us and these will not be the last of the nations to erupt into total violence.

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