This was in reference to the Egyptian military overthrowing the elected government of Egypt, arresting its leaders, shutting down opposition media, and shooting its supporters in the street.
The U.S., who bank roll Egypts military to the tune of $1.3bn a year, are still refusing to call it a coup, and as the above quote shows, are basically suggesting that the overthrow of the Morsi government was legitimate, because it had a degree of popular support. And a degree of popular support it does seem to have had.
New evidence discovered by the New York Times, however, suggests the old Deep State in Egypt had deliberately cultivated an energy crisis and sense of insecurity on the streets to try and turn people against the Morsi government, and that some of the anti-Morsi campaign was being bankrolled by pro-Mubarak business elites. So some of that popular support may not have been entirely spontaneous, so to speak.
Now, while I agree that obviously democracy isn’t just about simple voting – the systems in the U.S. and U.K., where people get to vote for who is going to lie to them, ignore them and fleece them every five years, are a testament to that – I can’t say i’m convinced that the State Department have suddenly been won around to the concept of grass roots, popular organising. Further to that, ‘simply winning the vote at the ballot box’ is surely still a far more legitimate way to come to power than coming to power on the back of a tank.
And a fuller and more honest quote from the State Department might have been: ‘democracy is not just about simply winning the vote at the ballot box – it’s also about making sure you promote and defend the interests of the United States, or else’.