Russia moves on Egypt while the West…

Russia is acting on Egypt, while the West blathers. Here’s a great example–first steps toward an economic zone to provide jobs and industry.

A refreshing summer dip in the Nile

A refreshing summer dip in the Nile

While the West, when it pays attention to Egypt at all, talks about the Muslim Brotherhood and the lack of democracy, Russia is moving on one of the two areas that really matter–the economy. The other one is oppression of women.

Military strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is taking real steps to bring the economy under control, though it’s a giant job even for a dictator and would be absolutely impossible for an elected government. He’s cutting subsidies on fuel and trying to reform the welfare system. He’s moving on the “informal” economy–the estimated 40 percent of Egypt’s economy that goes unreported, and therefore untaxed.

What’s the West doing? Human rights. That’s not even on Egypt’s agenda. While 40 percent of the people subsist (or don’t) at or near the international poverty line of $2 a day per person, most Egyptians are more than happy to ignore human rights if they can get enough to eat for a change. But about all you see in Western media is complaint after complaint about the human rights situation in Egypt, quoting the same 14 Egyptian human-rights advocates.

I’m not saying that human rights are irrelevant or unnecessary for nations like Egypt. I am saying that it’s not the West’s job to try to superimpose them on societies like Egypt’s–or impose democracy, either. This mis-focus is one of the reasons I wrote my book. There’s much more about this in Broken Spring.

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