The return of protests, tanks and death to the streets of Cairo this week is harrowing. So is the power of the rampant conspiracy theories that cause Muslim Brotherhood members and their secular opponents to sincerely believe they are defending Egypt’s revolution. Both sides are behaving abominably.
Criticisms of President Mohamed Mursi’s foolish and unnecessary power grab and rushed constitutional process are legitimate. So are complaints that the country’s secular opposition is poorly organized, lacks majority support and refuses to compromise.
Barring a surprising change in direction, Egypt’s experiment with democracy is headed toward failure.
The country’s flawed constitution will likely be ratified in a referendum on Dec. 15. A frustrated and distrustful opposition will boycott subsequent parliamentary elections. Mursi will lead a “soft authoritarian” government similar to that of former President Hosni Mubarak. Small opposition parties will exist, but the Muslim Brotherhood’s dominance of the state, politics and society will never be in doubt.
U.S. officials ‑‑ ever eager for stability in the Middle East ‑‑ will turn a blind eye and establish a “working relationship” with Mursi.