Patrick J. Buchanan: Egypt's army crosses the Rubicon
That was the message one of his generals gave the young czar Nicholas I in December of 1825, as thousands of civilians and soldiers massed in Senate Square to challenge his claim to the throne.
Such was the moment Egypt's army faced on Wednesday, with thousands of backers of the Muslim Brotherhood encamped in Cairo, challenging its rule. The slaughter that ensued, 500 dead the first day and thousands wounded, means there is no going back.
While we Americans are babbling about a new politics of "inclusiveness," even some of the Twitter-Facebook liberals of Tahrir Square are coming to see Egypt as it is. Us or them. And the one issue on which Egypt's Muslim militants and Egypt's militarists seem to agree is that the Americans cannot be trusted.
For two years, America has been loyal to no one, and consistent in nothing. Thus, Egypt's soldiers decided to do what they had to do to save their country. And if new elections are likely to produce a regime that threatens their Egypt, they will dump the democratic procedures rather than lose Egypt to the Brotherhood.
As our interests dictate maintaining the peace between Egypt and Israel, keeping Egypt as an ally against Islamic terrorism, and protecting Christians, we cannot sever ties to the army that runs the country. But if we were to retain any credibility as the champion of peaceful protest, we had to signal that what was done by Egypt's security forces was done without our approval. President Obama did that by canceling the military exercises with the Egyptian army in Sinai.
While we do not know what will succeed in the Middle East, we do know what has failed. Nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq has left us bleeding and near bankrupt. Our flipping and flopping in Egypt's turmoil has alienated all sides. Our wars have accomplished what?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"
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