Egypt on My Mind
With reports today that police fired into a gathering of protestors in downtown Cairo, and several people were killed, the uprising in Egypt puts even greater pressure on the U.S. government to act decisively—to push its client Mubarak out and to make peace with whatever leaders emerge from this revolution.
President Obama is in a position comparable to that of LBJ with Vietnam, where a leftist revolt sought to take power from our client, a corrupt corporate-friendly postcolonial establishment. In the end, the leftists won and today we have stable, friendly, profitable relations with Vietnam.
In a way, Americans who side with Mubarak are like the Tories who sided with King George III during the American Revolution. The forces of repression, fearing the unleashing of popular revolt, usually take the part of the establishment.
In Egypt today the protestors come from a wide range of interests. Among their leaders is Mohamed ElBaradei, 68, a Nobel Prize winner, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and a former assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister. You might remember that ElBaradei inspected Iraq for WMD and reported it had none; he also disputed the American canard that Iraq had purchased Nigerian yellowcake for building nukes. He is, as far as I can determine, an honest broker, and this is what he said about his homeland the other day: "The international community must understand we are being denied every human right day by day. Egypt today is one big prison. If the international community does not speak out it will have a lot of implications. We are fighting for universal values here. If the west is not going to speak out now, then when?"
So will our government heed ElBaradei’s call to support the voice of protest against our repressive client state or will it hope that Mubarak can somehow save his sclerotic police state and continue to do America’s bidding in strategically located Egypt? After Tunisia, and with protests in Yemen and Jordan, the old order in north Africa and the Middle East is changing in a way that will cost the U.S. many of its client states and demand the utmost in diplomacy to maintain its interests in the area. How long till our Barack must desert our Mubarak?