Thursday, February 03, 2011

All The Bazaar Men By The Nile

The Egypt crisis is interesting in the fact that opinions don't neatly fall along the usual political spectrum. I thought I'd weigh in with my thoughts on the subject.

President Mubarak (does his name translate to slightly less popular than Barack?) clearly fails to enjoy popular support in his country, and anyone that believes in self determination wants to see him step down as quickly as possible. I can't help but think that his offer to resign after a September election is his attempt to either: a) hope tensions die down over the next six months in order to find a way to undermine his enemies and stay on or b) a plot to give him time to move a significant amount of the country's treasury to a private offshore bank account. In any event, the people of Egypt aren't buying his offer and the situation continues to deteriorate.

America is supposed to stand for freedom and we should support this (and any other) popular effort to throw off a dictatorship and replace it with a representative government.

Unfortunately, this is complicated by the Muslim Brotherhood, a jihadist group that appears to be behind some of the escalation of protest violence. They want to take control of the government and that would be a bad result for the world. Some commentators point to Iran of the 1970's. A strongman friendly to the US was overthrown by a fundamentalist Muslim government that has essentially been at war with America ever since. That is a pretty scary bogeyman, and it is one real scenario.

I believe our democratic principles are worth the risk. I believe that any pressure that President Obama has put on Mubarak to step down quickly is well warranted. I believe that by supporting the people of Egypt, the US can avoid the tensions that we experienced with Iran. Unfortunately, this will take real diplomacy, and sadly our president and his leadership team have not proven to have much expertise in that area.

I'm a critic of misplaced idealism. However, I don't think it's misplaced idealism to fight for freedom and self-determination for all peoples. Let's just hope (and work to ensure) that the Egyptian form of self-determination includes the views of its women and Christian citizens.