Austin Bay

Yet religion breeding poverty and corruption is where Cuba's and Iran's failed revolutions entwine. Marxism was a religious cult swaddled in magic. Once the economics were right, the Communist Man would appear, the dictatorship of the proletariat would wither, and no one would be poor and everybody would be equal. Khomeini's Shia Islamic revolutionaries argued that when everyone got religion right, and the supreme leader would know when that happened, the infidels would burn in hell and the faithful would prosper in spirit and pocketbook.

Yes, people believed this magical hooey, and some still do, unfortunately.

The question of the moment -- and the truly buried news hook of this column -- is: Does Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government believe it?

If they do, recent events ought to give them pause.

Morsi isn't Khomeini, and 2013 Egypt isn't Khomeini's Iran. It took about 15 years for the majority of Iranians to agree that Khomeini's religiously garbed tyranny was an economic flop. Why? Iran has oil to sell. Egypt doesn't -- at least, not in exportable quantities. Egypt's Arab Spring revolutionaries, secular and religious, both decried the Mubarak government's corruption. Morsi, however, instead seeking economic justice and revitalization, first sought to enshrine Islamic law.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood revolutionaries chose to cram an Islamist constitution down the throats of Egypt's secular and liberal revolutionaries, and revolutionary unity shattered. The Brotherhood got its religious victory; it also got political turmoil, and the turmoil is savaging Egypt's frail economy. Happy New Year: On Jan. 2, the Egyptian pound hit a new low and debt insurance costs skyrocketed.

Morsi and his fellow religious zealots failed to use their political and moral capital to confront Egypt's Great Satan: its own systemic corruption and poverty. Unless Morsi and his government reverse course, rapidly, the Egyptian people will soon be seeking alternative leaders. If the change doesn't come democratically, they will be fighting a bloody civil war.


Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
 
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