Does the US fail to understand what will happen to its strategic interests in the region if the Muslim Brotherhood is the power behind the throne of the next regime?
The Egyptian multitudes on the streets of Cairo are a stunning sight. With their banners calling for freedom and an end to the reign of President Hosni Mubarak the story these images tell is a simple one as old as time.
On the one hand we have the young, dispossessed and weak protesters. And on the other we have the old, corrupt and tyrannical Mubarak. Hans Christian Andersen taught us who to support when we were wee tots.
But does his wisdom apply in this case?
Certainly it is true that the regime is populated by old men. Mubarak is 82 years old. It is also true that his regime is corrupt and tyrannical. Since the Muslim Brotherhood spinoff Islamic Jihad terror group murdered Mubarak’s predecessor president Anwar Sadat in 1981, Egypt has been governed by emergency laws that ban democratic freedoms. Mubarak has consistently rejected US pressure to ease regime repression and enact liberal reforms in governance.
This reality has led many American commentators across the political spectrum to side enthusiastically with the rioters. A prestigious working group on Egypt formed in recent months by Middle East experts from Left and Right issued a statement over the weekend calling for the Obama administration to dump Mubarak and withdraw its support for the Egyptian regime. It recommended further that the administration force Mubarak to abdicate and his regime to fall by suspending all economic and military assistance to Egypt for the duration.
The blue ribbon panel’s recommendations were applauded by its members’ many friends across the political spectrum. For instance, the conservative Weekly Standard’s editor William Kristol praised the panel on Sunday and wrote, “It’s time for the US government to take an active role… to bring about a South Korea/Philippines/Chile-like transition in Egypt, from an American-supported dictatorship to an American-supported and popularly legitimate liberal democracy.”
The problem with this recommendation is that it is based entirely on the nature of Mubarak’s regime. If the regime was the biggest problem, then certainly removing US support for it would make sense. However, the character of the protesters is not liberal.
Indeed, their character is a bigger problem than the character of the regime they seek to overthrow.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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