Much of the right wing has been in full freak out mode this week with news of a White House meeting with representatives from Egypt’s ruling political party the Muslim Brotherhood. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) tweeted news of the meeting, adding, “Their motto includes ‘jihad is our way.’ We cannot overlook this.” The Heritage Foundation and those such as Islamophobic leader Pam Geller piled on. Geller called it an example of “Obama’s tacit support for a worldwide organization whose stated goal is a universal caliphate.”
But Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, the right’s go-to foreign policy thinkers, suggested on Fox News last night that conservatives should stand down:
KRISTOL: This is a tough policy, situation they are dealing with. I don’t — I think ultimately the failure to deal with Syria and Iran is what the administration is going to be judged on more than this complicated minuet with of different groups of Egypt. [...]
KRAUTHAMMER: You have to speak of the Brotherhood because it’s now in control of parliament and it’s likely to win the presidential election. It will end up sharing the power or monopolizing it with the military, depending whether the military can hang on the part of the power it has now. So to be realistic, you have to talk to them.
Watch the clip:
White House spokesman Jay Carney said called the meetings “the appropriate and right thing to do” because of the Muslim Brotherhood’s post-revolution leadership position. Carney added that Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had also recently met with Muslim Brotherhood representatives.
Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, noted the context of the meetings:
“And to everyone’s surprise, the threat to the Muslim Brotherhood ended up being less from the liberals and more from the more conservative Salafis, including their presidential candidate, who is doing far better than anyone would have expected a few weeks ago. And so, in that sense, the Muslim Brotherhood looks a little bit more moderate, I think.”
Indeed, as the New York Times noted this week, that conservative candidate, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, “is an old-school Islamist.” “His success,” the Times adds, “may help explain why the United States offered signs of tacit approval over the weekend when the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamic group, broke its pledge not to field its own candidate.”