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If you want to bark back at the legacy media praise of the cease-fire our president recently had a hand in arranging, then this Powerline piece , emphasizing the assertion of emergency-powers by Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi in the immediate aftermath of his role in that cease-fire, is just the thing for you. I am in full agreement with its mocking those whose characterize Obama’s Middle East foreign policy as obviously “smart,” without myself claiming to know what the obviously “smart” U.S. policy would be, at least towards Egypt.

A more serious criticism of the cease-fire itself is provided here . Take it for what it’s worth, depending on your theory about whether U.S. diplomacy should or should not continually try to pressure the different parties in the Israeli-Arab conflict to come to the peace table. (I’m in the “should not” camp, BTW. You know, because I hate peace, and love the smell of napalm in the morning.)

But for more informed commentary about Morsi , i.e., about the likely more important topic here is, try these pieces courtesy of the useful Egypt-blog Arabist , the first written by the editor Issandr El Amrani but at the National Conversation :

. . . (Morsi) formally gave himself open-ended powers to make decrees that are immune from judicial oversight (therefore barring any legal recourse against them), giving himself license to do pretty much anything else he pleases in the name of national security. He claims that this is a temporary measure . . .

A pithier commentary is found at Arabist itself, by one Nathan Brown :

But whatever the desirability of elements of these decisions, today’s overall message might be summed up: “I, Morsi, am all powerful. And in my first act as being all powerful, I declare myself more powerful still. But don’t worry—it’s just for a little while.”

This time, ambitious and assertive courts could tell him no. Various political non-Islamist forces could line up against him. Neutral institutions and professional associations could cry foul. But only if they do so in unison, are they likely to be able to force Morsi to back down or to find a way to temper his power. And there is no easy venue for them to carry out their struggle. Those who oppose these moves need not only unity but a strategy. And that has never been their strong suit.

RTWT.  The Arabist is reliably far too critical of Israel, and too Polly-annish about divisions in the Muslim Brotherhood, but is as informed as any English source I’ve come across about the situation on the ground in Egypt and the relevant political details, details which have been devilishly complex ones since Muburak’s fall.

But now much of that sort of complexity may be coming to an end. The next couple weeks look to be critical ones. Either Morsi will have been shown to have over-played his hand, or, he will have become an autocrat that we will simply have to hope really will give up his dictatorial authority in three months as promised, as Brown holds some sketchy hope for.

Any long-term hope that if he doesn’t, he will become a “liberalizing autocrat,” is ruled out in my opinion by his Muslim Brotherhood base.  I.e., if he keeps dictatorial power past the three months, Egypt’s revolution will have traded Mubarak for a Muslim Brother Mubarak.  And IF U.S. policy is so focused on Arab-Israel peace-agreements that it reluctantly welcomes such a leader as at least being a reliable broker of more kick-the-can-down-the-road cease-fires, then it is bankrupt.


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