As of this writing, the Mubarak regime appears to be tottering. He’s 82 years old and has had health problems. Even if he survives this challenge to his power. Mubarak will be gone someday; even if we preserve the status quo, we can’t preserve it for too much longer. And the status quo isn’t that great for American interests (when we’re the perpetual scapegoat in Egypt’s media).Exactly.
It was shameful for Obama to hesitate and dawdle before endorsing the Iranian protesters, and it creates the awkward precedent for the Obama administration speaking sooner, and more positively, about protests against the government of an ally. But in the end, why would an American president tout the virtues of a regime that shoots unarmed protesters? Let Mubarak fall. He’s had his chance, and he has failed the Egyptian people.
I've obviously come out for revolutionary change, for example, "Revolt in Egypt: It's Freedom, Stupid," and "If Mubarak is Toppled?"
Now what's particularly interesting to me is the response on the left to what folks are calling a victory for George W. Bush's freedom agenda. See "George W. Bush in Egypt." Barbara O'Brien can't stand it, and she then somehow finds the Obama administration on the right side of history. Not. See the Washington Post, for example, to the contrary, "The U.S. needs to break with Mubarak now." That's not very nuanced, but Barbara O'Brien's not too bright. That said, here's Elliot Abrams, "Egypt protests show George W. Bush was right about freedom in the Arab world":
For decades, the Arab states have seemed exceptions to the laws of politics and human nature. While liberty expanded in many parts of the globe, these nations were left behind, their "freedom deficit" signaling the political underdevelopment that accompanied many other economic and social maladies. In November 2003, President George W. Bush laid out this question:And even if we give the administration the benefit of the doubt (and considering Barack Obama's abandonment of Iran in 2009, that's being generous), I think the Wall Street Journal captures the right frame:"Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even to have a choice in the matter?"The massive and violent demonstrations underway in Egypt, the smaller ones in Jordan and Yemen, and the recent revolt in Tunisia that inspired those events, have affirmed that the answer is no and are exploding, once and for all, the myth of Arab exceptionalism. Arab nations, too, yearn to throw off the secret police, to read a newspaper that the Ministry of Information has not censored and to vote in free elections. The Arab world may not be swept with a broad wave of revolts now, but neither will it soon forget this moment.
The best course at this late date is for U.S. officials to keep their words and attention focused on the process of political and civil reform. Our stake in Egypt is not in any one ruler but in a transition from dictatorship to a more stable representative government that can better meet the aspirations of Egyptians.Check back for updates ...
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is right to call for the government to restrain the police and stop blocking the Internet, but it doesn't help when Vice President Joe Biden denies the obvious fact that Mr. Mubarak is a "dictator." The post-Mubarak era is coming one way or another, and the U.S. can't be seen as the authoritarian's last friend.