With the Obama administration belatedly conceding tyranny and anarchy are each enemies of liberty, amidst the protests and power plays, the “Egyptian solution” becomes clear: a real constitution. How can this be achieved?
First, the peaceful path to freedom proceeds from reforming existing institutions from within; and, yes, the orderly exit of Egypt‘s President Hosni Mubarak. In their exuberance over Mr. Mubarak‘s first step yesterday toward relinguishing power, reformers must resist the temptation to rush into an undisciplined and chaotic transition. That would serve only to scare supporters of the old regime into an entrenched and potentially violent opposition to reform. It would also splinter the responsible opposition beneath the weight of rushed elections and reforms, thus creating an anarchic power vacuum the most radical and organized opposition group, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, is prepared to fill – just as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his fanatical followers proved all too willing and able to usurp power during the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Second, as is known in our own constitutional republic, democracy alone is not enough to secure the liberty, prosperity and security of a people. Thus, Egyptians demand and deserve a real constitution that recognizes citizens’ sovereignty over the state and guarantees citizens’ unalienable, God-given rights are protected against infringement or abrogation by the government or other coercive agency’s actions, regardless of the actions’ popular support. To this end, the U.S. State Department can provide the services of constitutional scholars capable of facilitating reforms that provide the Egyptian people the same guarantees and protections that our Bill of Rights achieves.
Third, Egyptians must protect their new constitution from internal subversion and destruction. The new constitution must preclude from political participation any organization that has, does and/or will advocate terrorism as a legitimate means to political ends. Nowhere on Earth is enshrined the insane notion that the freedoms to speak, assemble and petition for the redress of grievances (among others) constitute a suicidal pact between a government and its murderous enemies. Importantly, this also applies to a discredited government clinging to power. As a result, any provision pertaining to the imposition of martial law must be severely circumscribed or eliminated altogether.
Fourth, to ensure the internal felicity of and international comity for the Egyptian people, the new constitution should expressly incorporate guarantees of the 1979 Peace Accords with Israel, and the free commercial navigation of the Suez Canal. These are two longstanding, indispensible pillars of peace, prosperity and security. Consequently, the elimination of either will have dire strategic and economic ramifications for Egypt and all nations.
True, the Egyptian people, who will undoubtedly propose and adopt a multiplicity of reform amendments, are free to embrace or reject all or some of the above suggested constitutional reforms. However, if they do reject them, Egyptians will jeopardize the emergence of the free, pacific, pluralistic and prosperous nation they seek.
Yet, even if the perfect reforms are written and adopted into a new Egyptian constitution, they will be irrelevant if not honored and defended by the Egyptian people – all the more reason to include only responsible parties within the political process. Whether Egyptians will adopt, honor and defend a real constitution is not in doubt after their courageous sacrifices for freedom to date.
Still, as our Founders understood, establishing a new government that does not constitutionally guarantee the citizenry’s God-given rights is to invite a “tyranny of democracy” – a brutal state of loosely organized anarchy wherein the powerful prey upon the frail, the few and the disfavored both at home and abroad.
In consequence, the responsible opposition and its international supporters have too much at stake to facilitate the establishment of anything less than a real constitution for Egypt. The only question is whether there exists the prudence to do it.
By Thaddeus G. McCotter, a Michigan Republican and author of Seize Freedom.