Washington Institute analyst Eric Trager has written an article analyzing a RAND report that discusses how the U.S. government can further engage with the Muslim Brotherhood while insulating themselves from “domestic criticism.” The article begins:
November 12, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 09 There is one curious beneficiary of the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that cost four American lives: Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood government. The attack in Libya and subsequent controversy has almost entirely obscured the siege that same day of the American embassy in Cairo, and President Mohamed Morsi’s irresponsible handling of a very dangerous situation. It was only when President Obama phoned Morsi two days after the protests started and read him the riot act that Morsi denounced the attack and vowed to secure the embassy. The Brotherhood’s first response to the attack—to praise it and schedule its own protests—was not surprising. The Obama administration’s pursuit of friendly engagement with the party has led it to believe that it can get away with just about anything. The Brotherhood’s emergence as Egypt’s new ruling party has substantially altered the U.S. policy debate over dealing with Islamists. Given Egypt’s cultural and strategic centrality within the Arab world, the question is no longer whether we should deal with Islamists, but how. The White House’s answers leave much to be desired. Rather than put conditions on America’s generous package of economic and military aid, the administration has often appeared to believe that through deeper engagement, the United States can build richer, friendlier relations with the organization and convince it to soften its hostile, intolerant views. For instance, in early September, the White House arranged for a U.S. business delegation to visit Egypt and meet with top Brotherhood businessmen. Unfortunately, just as the delegation made a point at a Cairo press conference to praise Egypt’s stable business climate, across town an angry mob was laying siege to the U.S. embassy, while the Brotherhood hardly played the role of stabilizer. Nonetheless, the effort to engage the Brotherhood on its own terms instead of ours continues. A new RAND report, ‘The Muslim Brotherhood, Its Youth, and Implications for U.S. Engagement,’ calls on Washington to engage Muslim Brotherhood youth figures, who may be the organization’s—and Egypt’s—future leaders.
‘Engagement offers both sides an opportunity to dispel misunderstandings,’ the report states. Engaging ‘up-and-coming youth within the organization who are not used to engaging the West’ will make long-term U.S.-Brotherhood relations more sustainable.
The report recommends a variety of ways in which U.S. policymakers can use engagement to encourage the Brotherhood to act more cooperatively, such as coordinating American speakers for Brotherhood student events; inviting Brotherhood youth leaders to speak at American universities; and offering Brotherhood youth opportunities to study in the United States.
Read the rest here.
The RAND report says at one point
U.S.-MB engagement has progressed largely without incident and with surprisingly little domestic pushback within the United States. Positive statements about MB positions from Republican leaders such as Senator McCain and regular congressional meetings with MB members insulate the administration from domestic criticism of engagement policies.
1) regularize and routinize engagement, including among members of Congress and FJP parliamentarians, to reduce politicization of engagement efforts.
The more regular and normalized that contact becomes, the less engagement is vulnerable to becoming a target of political attacks in the United States and the more it will be viewed as the normal course of diplomacy. As Nathan Brown argues, now that the MB operates a legal political party and has become a dominant player in Egyptian politics, “having normal diplomatic contact with the [MB] makes sense. But trumpeting the policy . . . is a mistake—it generates exaggerated expectations and fears all around.”50 Engagement can also be insulated from domestic political attacks by having more members of Congress, rather than just administration officials, directly meet MB members. The Obama administration has already reached out to the Hill to educate members on the MB, address concerns, and plan more parliamentary exchanges.51 Exchanges between American congressional and Egyptian parliamentary staff could also prove fruitful. In addition, Congress can host FJP parliamentarians and staff to observe American political processes, such as nominating conventions.
In other words, this a deliberate plan to sell the Muslim Brotherhood to the U.S. public through a campaign of psychological manipulation.
GMBDW notes that this is one of the most egregiously manipulative documents on the Muslim Brotherhood that we have seen to date.
The entire RAND report can be found here.