Whither to go on, Egypt is not so much an ideological or partisan matter. There are former Reagan, Bush (1 and 2) and Clinton foreign affairs officials on both sides of the divide. Even hardheaded realists recognize the political implications of a people's ideas and faith. And even some idealists recognize that certain laudatory goals are not yet attainable.
The big questions on Egypt are mere factual ones: What will follow? Can we influence the decision? Can we avoid paying a price for not acting now? Presidencies, kingly reigns, premierships, dictatorships -- even if they last for decades -- are often remembered in history for one decision or one phrase uttered in a moment of confusion and doubt. ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"). Some men get it right; others get it wrong.
President Obama may be facing one of those fateful moments now. Of course, if the path were obvious, it would not be fateful. But history and current conditions would suggest that the odds of the revolution resulting in a Western-oriented democracy that serves the interests of the Egyptian people are slim.
Providing public and private support of Mubarak and the provision of help to keep some semblance of the status quo (perhaps in the form of an army-led regime) is likely to serve both our immediate geopolitical interests and our ability to shape that regime in the interest of the Egyptian people.
President Obama had a chance in 2009 to respond with strong support for the Iranian green revolution -- but his almost silence crushed the hope of many young Iranians and surely aided (inadvertently) the hated enemy Iranian regime.
Now, the president risks getting it wrong in the other direction: undercutting a friendly regime by sincere but ill considered support for a revolution that is more likely to result in a government adverse to our -- and the Egyptian people's -- interests. Note that a recent Pew poll of the Egyptian public disclosed that they preferred "Islamists" over "modernizers" by 59 percent to 27 percent (cited by Barry Rubin at the GLORIA Center website). Instant democracy, anyone?
Also, and importantly, if America undercuts its ally of 30 years, we would be seen as feckless -- and thus we would undermine the value of our support for allies current and future.
As Ari Shavit wrote in Israel's leading liberal paper Haaretz: "(The failure to support) Mubarak symbolizes the betrayal of every strategic ally in the Third World. Throughout Asia, Africa and South America, leaders are now looking at what is going on between Washington and Cairo.
Everyone grasps the message: America's word is worthless; an alliance with America is unreliable; American (sic) has lost it. A result of this understanding will be a turn toward China, Russia and regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Brazil. The second result of this insight will be a series of international conflagrations that will result from the loss of America's deterrent power."
So, for both our own reputation and our interests in the Middle East and beyond: Support Mubarak. Down the revolution. Up orderly progress.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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