Leslie Gelb on Egypt: Hold Your Nose and Back the Junta!

by | Aug 18, 2013

Egypt Tienanmen

Long-time foreign policy insider Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, believes democracy is when the guys he likes win. Free elections that produce “enemies” of the US or Israel are by definition not democratic and the winners should be overthrown by the US and its allies.

Last month, in a column urging President Obama to avoid the “democracy-elections trap in Egypt,” he argued that pushing democracy too strongly may bring unacceptable results, as happened in Gaza. He wrote:

Remember, President George W. Bush and his advisers pushed the people of Gaza into quick elections in 2006 that were free and fair. Guess who won? Hamas, by far the best organized party, whose mottoes were filled with hatred of Israel and the United States.

Gelb is back this weekend, penning a piece as Egypt drowns in blood in the aftermath of the military massacre of supporters of the deposed president Morsi. He warns us against getting bogged down in “moral posturing about democracy in Egypt” and urges that we “hold our nose and back Egypt’s military.”

He argues that neither the Hamas victory in Gaza nor the Muslim Brotherhood victory in Egypt were valid because those parties “were organized to turn out the votes.” Presumably what is needed is a few more years of US government opposition support and “democracy training” through the National Endowment for Democracy. Because nothing says “democracy” like foreign sponsorship of political parties.

In his most recent piece, Gelb writes that while Egypt’s military leaders are “no democratic sweethearts” they “back U.S. interests on the Suez Canal and Israel.”

That is possibly true, and the feeling is mutual, it seems. As a New York Times look behind the scenes at the Egyptian military coup pointed out:

The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.

Gelb claims that although the military crackdown has been bloody, the current junta must be backed because it counts the “moderates” among its supporters and could therefore lead to more palatable (for him) democracy when the smoke clears. He fails to mention, however, that one week before the bloody military crackdown which has claimed close to 1,000 lives, it was the so-called “moderates” and US-trained “liberals” who were loudest in their demands that the military move in against the protestors.

This video is how Gelb’s “democracy restoring” Egyptian army handles a Tiananmen-style unarmed standoff with an Egyptian tank. Warning, it will make you ill.

Democracy is what we say it is, says Gelb and his fellow neoconservatives.

Who do we non-interventionists support in Egypt? No one. End aid, end positioning, end training bloodthirsty “liberals,” end support for proxies in the region who only draw us further into conflict. No more corporate welfare for the US military industrial complex disguised as “military aid” to Egypt. No more “Made in America” on the tanks that crush unarmed protestors. No Morsi, no Sisi, no Elbaradei, no nobody. Let us know when you get it sorted out and we will come back and check out your pyramids.


  • Daniel McAdams

    Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and co-Producer/co-Host, Ron Paul Liberty Report. Daniel served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense/intel policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, MD (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer.

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