Let me go ahead and dredge this up before someone else does. On July 5, I wrote a column in defense of the coup against Morsi, under the headline (exceedingly unfortunate from today's vantage point) "A Coup to Celebrate." I believe in pundit accountability, not least for myself, so I inivite everyone to have at me.
Obviously, that column looks pretty horrible today. What happened yesterday is, equally obviously, indefensible by any human or democratic standard. The people who voted for Morsi of course have every right to feel the deepest betrayal, and even Egypt's liberal reformers--the people who really matter most to me--are no doubt chagrined by this turn of events.
I will still say that it behooves us not to forget that Morsi was no democrat. This is being a bit glossed over right now. Rachel Maddow last night had an excellent factual report on the situation, but both she and Richard Engel, NBC's man on the ground in Cairo who was clearly in danger of being shot yesterday, kind of glossed over this aspect of things.
Don't forget the thousands who massed in Tahrir six weeks ago demanding the ouster of a president who, though elected democratically, did not behave remotely like a democrat in office. I know the retort: So vote him out in three years. Well, maybe. On the other hand, I'm sure Zimbabweans unhappy with Mugabe back in 1980-whatever said "Well, we'll just vote him out in three years" (the parallel isn't exact, but you get my point).
I am still on the side that I think liberal Westerners should be on: of the people in Tahrir demanding democratic and secular government, human rights, equal rights, freedom from the corruption that helps make Egypt one of the most economically underacheiving countries in the world. Those people have now been thrice betrayed--by Mubarak, by Morsi, and yesterday by the military. Maybe there is nothing but betrayal in store, and that's their fate. If Egypt becomes a military dictatorship, obviously I will have been very wrong about the coup, but I daresay there will be more important drawbacks to such a development than my missed guess. But I just thought I should own up to that this morning.