Letters: Egypt’s choices and U.S. options


Re “The limits of democracy,” Opinion, Aug. 27

Tsvi Bisk castigates those “preoccupied” with the concept of democracy in Egypt. His analysis is based on three mistaken assumptions.

First, Bisk says we should focus on “constitutionalism” rather than democracy. Our Constitution has been central to our success. But in Egypt, with its winner-take-all mentality, constitutions are imposed, not negotiated. The Muslim Brotherhood imposed its last fall; now the military seeks to do the same. Neither is legitimate.

Second, he assumes that democracy is only about elections. Not so. A sustainable democracy depends on the rule of law, a free press, the empowerment of women and a strong civil society. These elements were not present during deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak’s three decades nor during Mohamed Morsi’s short tenure. Interim leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi has offered little encouragement that these foundations of democracy will exist going forward.


Finally, Bisk asserts we must “root for” Morsi or the military. Instead, we should hold to our principles and amplify the voices of those in Egypt who share our commitment to human rights and democracy. Egypt’s long-term success and stability rides on them.

Michael Posner

New York

The writer was assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor from 2009 to 2013.


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