Jonah Goldberg
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Meanwhile, the stakes for Israel are nearly existential. Already, Stratfor.com reports that Egyptian police no longer patrol the border with the Gaza Strip. No doubt Hamas is taking advantage. Now imagine the threat if the Muslim Brotherhood, which has sworn to tear up Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, came into power.

These are all valid reasons to watch the news from the Middle East with gritted teeth.

And yet, I remain cheered by the news. This is a moment in which political decency and, eventually, freedom and democracy at least have a shot. That wasn't true a month ago.

U.S. support of dictators is always shameful, even when it is occasionally necessary. But it is unforgivable when necessity gives way to mere complacency. We passed that point with Hosni Mubarak years ago. As Condoleezza Rice said, we traded freedom for stability in the Middle East and got neither. Now, the stability is collapsing, which at least makes freedom possible.

Unlike many pundits who've miraculously become Egyptologists overnight, I don't pretend to know what will happen next. But I do know that you can't get where we need to go without going through moments like this.

Moreover, it's worth noting that chaos cuts both ways. The Muslim Brotherhood sees this as its moment too. But that doesn't mean the path for it is clear. Many Egyptians joined the Brotherhood because it seemed like the only conduit for their justified hatred of Mubarak's regime. The days when the Brotherhood was the only game in town are over as well. Tomorrow remains a blank page. That alone is hopeful news.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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