Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on What the Upcoming Egyptian Presidential Elections Really Tell Us About the Arab Main Street


Neoconservative worrywarts repeatedly caution that we should not lull ourselves into believing that a post-Arab Spring Egypt will be a hospitable place for liberal democracy. They argue that the forces of Islamist extremism are alive and well and might eventually replace Mubarak's odious dictatorship with an ever more odious Islamist theocracy. They point to the big wins that the Muslim Brotherhood enjoyed in the parliamentary elections last December as evidence for their views.

But Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dakmia examines the run up to the presidential elections in Egypt in her morning column at The Daily and suggests that neocon worries might be overblown. The Egyptians, she notes:

are engaged in a complicated and delicate balancing act, using the Islamists to check the military and vice versa. They are intuitively acting on Lord Acton's maxim that "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," and are using the upcoming [presidential] elections to divide power among the country's major — though problematic — political players.

Whether they'll ultimately succeed, Allah only knows. But if they fail and pave the way for something odious like a theocracy or a military dictatorship, it'll be despite — not because of — their true desires. Trying to understand their entire struggle from the narrow standpoint of whether they want sharia law both cheapens and oversimplifies the epic events unfolding on the ground.

Read the whole thing here.