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A supporter of ousted President Mohammed Morsi cries at a protest at the Republican Guard building, where 51 people were killed on Monday, in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. After days of deadlock, Egypt's military-backed interim president named a veteran economist as prime minister on Tuesday and appointed pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei as a vice president, while the army showed its strong hand in shepherding the process, warning political factions against maneuvering that impedes the transition. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

What's happening in Egypt is not a second revolution or a "correction" to the first. It is a coup d'etat that puts the military as firmly in command as it was during the autocratic reign of Hosni Mubarak. So much for the Arab Spring in the region's most populous country.

And, the prevailing sentiment in Washington and other capitals, seems to be that some people just can't be allowed to govern themselves.

One does not have to be an admirer of ousted President Mohamed Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood to see what the Egyptian military has done. When vast throngs of self-proclaimed "moderates" began protesting the way Morsi was governing, the generals could have supported Egypt's new democratic order. Instead, they protected their own interests.

Morsi had tried to assert civilian control over the military. How silly of him to think the generals would surrender so easily.

To be sure, Morsi staged a power grab of his own last November, but swelling protests forced him to back down -- an illustration, I would argue, of democracy in action.

Morsi then forged ahead by putting a new constitution, drafted mostly by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, before the electorate. Voters approved it by 64 percent in December. Turnout was low, and opponents cited "irregularities" at polling places. But I have seen no credible claim that this vote was stolen, rather than won.

It is clear that Morsi wanted to make Egypt a more religious, less pluralistic society than it was during the Mubarak years. The rights of Coptic Christians and other minorities were under assault. To Egyptians who are young, secular and middle class -- those who poured back into Tahrir Square, cellphones in hand, tweeting their rage to the world -- Morsi's government must have been a nightmare.

The notion that a military coup will make everything better, however, is a fantasy.

Like it or not, the Muslim Brotherhood is the best-organized political force in the country. Under Mubarak, the group was banned. Egypt's new military-backed rulers claim to want to include Islamist parties in the government, but as a practical matter they're going to have to repress the Brotherhood in some way to keep the group from winning again at the polls.

The Brotherhood might fight with bullets rather than ballots. Or it might just bide its time. Either way, a chunk of the Egyptian population will be unreconciled to the new government .

Meanwhile, I'm betting that the military will now resume the lucrative role it played in the Egyptian economy under Mubarak, with top generals reaping the lavish financial rewards they consider their due.

But a real question is whether the military's assumption of power will make the region safer. I doubt it. Morsi's governement had honored terms of a peace treaty with Israel. Now, alas, we have an example of what happens when an elected Islamist-led government gets too big for its britches. Those who cheer the coup apparently believe the military shares their values and vision. But plenty of historical evidence suggests otherwise. The multitudes of Tahrir Square should try ousting the generals next time. Then we'll see who's right.

Eugene Robinson is a syndicated columnist.