Feb 11 2011
I have to admit I think events, timing and the US position on the turmoil in Egypt as been as good as could be hoped. Clearly the people wanted a clean slate for their elections, and did not feel comfortable with the old regime hanging around too long. This would have at least allowed the argument that the candidates and subsequent winner were the result of incumbent power (see Putin and Russia for the perfect example).
Mubarak and the military also did the right thing by taking their time in making these changes. They were not really chased out immediately, but did not try to hang on by use of force. The delay in stepping down has lanced a huge boil of frustration on the streets of Egypt. Now there is celebration for a new democratically elected government, which actually neuters the Islamicists.
I am optimistic that all the hand wringing by the far right is all for naught. Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood is a problem, but after assassinating two previous Presidents their credibility is probably not as broad as some fear. Whatever the risk, it is better to test democracy than throw it aside just because there are no guarantees (the old way of doing business in the Middle East). We have heard these cries of panic before in Iraq with the Sunnis, then the Mahdi Army, then Iranian influence – all of which never really came about. We heard it about Pakistan and Afghanistan. While imperfect and not the same as Western democracies (some of which in the EU America would resist to its dying breathe), we have to be positive and have faith in the essence of freedoms we cherish and defend to the death.
Democracy is beginning to spread in the Middle East. It was never going to be pretty or risk free or easy. It is why the fringes left and right feared the Bush doctrine. The jury is still out and will be for a decade at least. But there is renewed hope in today’s news.
In Egypt there are celebrations of a new hope, an undiscovered country and a new journey on the road of democracy. Don’t let the hand wringers and the doubters belittle what is happening. And I applaud the Obama administration so far. This is very risky business, but so far we have avoided a violent, Islamist revolution and a bloody dictatorial crack down. You could only expect more from Hollywood fiction.