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Monday, May 21, 2012

Etch-a-Sketch, Islamist style

You may recall that back in March, a Romney adviser got his candidate in a lot of trouble by saying that Romney's positions were written on an Etch-a-Sketch, and would change once he got the nomination.

On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland came out with this regarding Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a candidate for Egypt's Presidency.
People say things in a campaign and then when they get elected they actually have to govern.
What Foutouh had said, in an Egyptian Presidential debate, was that Israel is racist, that it is an enemy of Egypt, and that it is a state based on occupation (that is, has no right to exist). He then called for altering the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.

Barry Rubin points out that it is rare that a statement like that is not indicative of the way that the candidate in an Egyptian-like election is likely to govern.
So let us parse Ms. Nuland’s sentence, which does accurately reflect U.S. foreign policy today and is indeed a death or prison sentence for many people in the Middle East. Nothing is easier, of course, than finding examples of politicians who did not keep their election promises. But that’s not what we are dealing with here. No, the case here is:

Do radical ideological movements say things in their campaigns to gain power, including election campaigns, which disappear due to the pragmatism forced by the need to govern?

Examples please?

I’ve heard this argument before, most notably in 1978-1979, when the Islamist revolution came to Iran. The Islamists have won every election since and have not been moderated by the need to govern. On the contrary, they have used their extremism to continue to govern.
Radical movements aren't really into Etch-a-Sketch's.

Read the whole thing.

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