Paul Jacob

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson declared, “The world must be made safe for democracy.”

In the century that followed, hundreds of thousands of American sons and daughters paid the ultimate price — and suffered other “expensive” consequences in blood and treasure and peace of mind — pursuing all manner of missions connected directly or ever-so-tenuously to this cause. Today, in Iraq and Afghanistan, my fellow citizens continue to fight and die to uphold that proclamation.

Too bad our leaders couldn’t tell democracy from tyranny if our lives depended on it.

Which, of course, they do.

What would any reasonable person call a leader who has held power for 30 years under an enforced state of emergency? Who wins sham elections wherein his challengers are arrested and opposition parties forcibly disbanded? Who has had his son waiting in the wings to snatch the reins of power as if “divine right” had returned in vogue?

“Dictator!” is the answer.

But what would our nation’s political leaders term this boss-for-life of a government so rife with corruption that his nation’s economy remains a stagnant sewer of structural double-digit unemployment, where friends of the leader get richer and everyone else gets poorer? Who imprisons bloggers daring to question his policies and now turns off the Internet and cell phone communications like we flip a light switch? Who stays in power by employing the various T’s of tyranny: The truncheon, thugs, torture, tanks and a general state of terror?

“Trusted ally.”

Which is it: Is Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek a dictator or a trusted ally?

Asked days ago, if, finally, it wasn’t “time” for Mr. Mubarek to step down, Vice-President Joe Biden told the world, “No.” He went on to offer, “I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton originally pronounced Mubarek’s government “stable” and disingenuously said it was “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

He may be a dictator, but he’s our dictator?

The American state funds the Mubarek regime, and has for decades. In the 2011 budget, President Omaha requests $1.5 billion in aid to the Egyptian government. That’s less than in 2006, when Mubarek took $1.8 billion.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.