Der Spiegel pointed out the obvious: “A certain role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the transition process [to ‘democracy’] in Egypt seems acceptable to the Obama White House.” It was early February 2011, the moment when the uprising that would oust Hosni Mubarak was bubbling over in Tahrir Square. The prominent German newsmagazine figured, who better to ask about the Muslim Brotherhood than the American political establishment’s resident foreign-policy genius, John McCain?
So, the reporter asked him, does Obama’s tolerance of the Muslim Brotherhood “concern you”?
Senator Maverick shot back without hesitation: “It concerns me so much that I am unalterably opposed to it. I think it would be a mistake of historic proportions.”
Senator McCain elaborated that he was “deeply, deeply concerned that this whole movement [toward democracy] could be hijacked by radical Islamic extremists.” And what, he was specifically asked, “is your assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood”? McCain pulled no punches:
I think they are a radical group that, first of all, supports sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic — at least as far as women are concerned. They have been involved with other terrorist organizations and I believe that they should be specifically excluded from any tra nsition government.
In fact, so apprehensive was he over the Brotherhood and its sharia agenda that McCain was quick to brand Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate, as a Brotherhood tool. Many of us watching developments at the time noted the apparent collusion between ElBaradei and the Brothers. McCain went farther: “Oh yeah, I think it’s very clear that the scenario is very likely he could be their front man.”
Senator Straight Talk reasoned that since ElBaradei appeared to be on the same page as the Brotherhood, and was being hailed as a potential Mubarak successor despite having “no following nor political influence in Egypt,” we should assume that he must be in cahoots with the Brotherhood. It did not matter that ElBaradei was a renowned international figure and an important leftist ally of President Obama’s. So pernicious was the threat posed by the Brotherhood that, in McCain’s considered opinion, you just had to assume the worst.
The Spiegel interview was classic McCain; the senator is never at a loss for bloviation. His professed anxiety, only a year ago, over the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as his blithe willingness to assume that ElBaradei must be an Islamist coconspirator, are worth remembering today. For the sage has suddenly decided that the Brothers — unapologetic Islamic supremacists who say outright that they are on a “grand jihad” to destroy America and the West — are a pretty swell lot, after all. Instead, McCain reserves his signature “shoot first, think later” ire for the target he has always preferred: conservatives.
The Arizonan took to the Senate floor this week to lambaste five conservative members of the House who, unlike McCain, are actually serious about addressing threats the Brotherhood poses to American interests. McCain’s bipartisan “Islamic democracy” promoters seem content to keep burning through taxpayer trillions until the Brotherhood is finally running every government in the Middle East. To the contrary, the House conservatives — Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Tom Rooney (Fla.), and Lynn Westmorland (Ga.) — have concluded that the Brotherhood needs to be regarded as the serious anti-American business that it is.
Toward that end, the quintet is justifiably concerned that the Brotherhood’s sharia agenda — the one to which McCain used to be “unalterably opposed” — is being abetted not just by some Nobel-toting Egyptian progressive, but by officials in highly sensitive positions inside the United States government.