John Kerry: Islamic Movements Hijacked the Arab Spring

Kerry said that the Egyptian revolution was stolen by the Muslim Brotherhood.

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I have to ask, is John Kerry just screwing with Susan Rice and Obama now?

What he's doing is sensible enough from a diplomatic standpoint, but it flies in the face of every position that Obama and his people have taken on the overthrow of Morsi and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Kerry may not even believe what he's saying, but he understands that no one in Egypt is going to listen to anything an American diplomat has to say as long as the Muslim Brotherhood = United States equation remains in place. The only way to defuse the political bomb is to disavow the Muslim Brotherhood. That's something that both Obama and McCain refused to do.

Strangely enough, Kerry is showing more foreign policy competence than either of the two men who ran in 2008. It might be just his natural appeasement instincts kicking in though, but it's a rather clear defiance of the White House position.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Egyptian revolution was "stolen" from the youth who started it by the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Those kids in Tahrir Square, they were not motivated by any religion or ideology," Kerry told an international security forum at the State Department on Wednesday.

“They were motivated by what they saw through this interconnected world and they wanted a piece of the opportunity and a chance to get an education and have a job and have a future. And not have a corrupt government that deprived them of all of that and more…. That's what drove that revolution and then it got stolen. By the one single most organized entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood.”

It is not the first time Kerry has been critical of the Brotherhood and its actions in Egypt. In September, Kerry said the Egyptian military had been "restoring democracy" when it arrested Morsi this summer to quell worsening violence.

A look at the location and the full speech is even more interesting. This isn't a speech that Kerry is delivering to Egyptians, but to American businessmen in Washington D.C.

He's challenging the Obama narrative on Egypt in Washington. And he's doing more than that.

That Tunis fruit vendor who self-immolated and started a revolution in Tunisia – there was no religion, nothing, no extremism and ideology behind it. And he got slapped around by a police officer, he was tired of corruption, and he wanted an opportunity to lead his life by being able to sell his wares.

And those kids in Tahrir Square, they were not motivated by any religion or ideology. They were motivated by what they saw through this interconnected world, and they wanted a piece of the opportunity and a chance to get an education and have a job and have a future, and not have a corrupt government that deprived them of all of that and more. And they tweeted their ways and Facetimed their ways and talked to each other, and that’s what drove that revolution. And then it got stolen by the one single-most organized entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood.

Same thing in Syria. Syria didn’t start Sunni-Shia or anything else. It started with young people who wanted reform. And regrettably, Assad responded to their request for reform with bullets and bombs and violence. And that’s led to where we are today to an increasingly sectarian struggle.

Much of the rest of it is boilerplate stuff about opportunity, but a careful look shows that Kerry isn't just disavowing the Muslim Brotherhood, but the Tunisian Islamists and, to some degree, the Sunni Syrian rebels. He's arguing that the revolutions were hijacked by Islamic secterianism.

It's not a completely radical view, but it's certainly not in vogue in the corridors of power right now. The Arab Spring was supposed to reward Islamic political movements.

Kerry just threw that out the window.

But there’s also risk from it, because there is a clash in certain parts of the world between culture, tradition, history, current mores, and the future, modernity. And as everybody in this room knows, some places are having a harder time managing that transition than others. That’s what we see in some of this emotion, particularly around religious extremism, which we see expressed in many of these suicide – individual suicide operations and other kinds of confrontations that take place.

That's not quite Clash of Civilizations, but it's tiptoeing in that general direction. So far it's still Thomas Friedman territory, indeed the speech reads like watered down Friedman, but it's already a departure from Obama Inc's contention that terrorism is caused by injustice and American foreign policy... rather than Islamic resistance to modernity.

He never uses the word Islam, he never even calls the Brotherhood, the Muslim Brotherhood, but the meaning is still there.

Kerry is tapping into rhetoric from a more moderate liberal worldview. And considering his background, that's certainly an interesting development.

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