Turns out that Trump is quite popular…in Egypt. Shadi Hamid, writing for the Atlantic, discussed how Trump’s proclivity for authoritarian regimes where they are opposed to radical Islamists is being reciprocated.
I, like many Americans, have relatives who are Trump supporters. The only difference is that they live in Egypt, which, like Alabama or Texas, is Trump country, at least among a certain group of so-called liberal elites. These “liberals” (who are liberals in some senses but not in others) and of course Sissi himself, did little to hide their enthusiasm for the Republican nominee. Most of my relatives enthusiastically backed the August 14, 2013 massacre of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. And this is what they like about Trump—that he seems to hate the Brotherhood just as much as they do.
So we get to one of our classic foreign policy dilemmas. Do we support the brutal dictatorship that supports our foreign policy against our enemies or do we stay true to our values and stand up for human rights and democracy?
To me, it’s obvious. The Sissi regime is the strong horse we should be supporting as the only other viable force for governing Egypt with popular support is fully unacceptable: the Muslim Brotherhood. Make no mistake about it, had the military not intervened and overthrown the Brotherhood, they’d be bulldozing the Great Pyramid at Giza right now.
Trump’s affinity for brutocrats like Duterte, Erdogan, and Sissi might be distasteful. However, we’re moving back into a world where we don’t have the luxury of promoting democracy for its own sake all over the place. It’s starting to resemble the Cold War, where we needed the odd Nasser, Noriega, Marcos, and scores of others to support our interests in various regions against bigger problems.
Far from simply snuggling up to dictators, I think Trump deserves praise for embracing political reality.
What do you think? Is supporting guys like Sissi worth it for the blemish on our reputation and the risk that an anti-American regime will take their place should they get overthrown?