Exit Strategies

Egypt: A Bridge Too Far for the Democratists

Washington's various responses to the Egyptian crisis have reveled the contradictions--perhaps fatal ones--at the heart of the Postmodern Superpower. Mass democracy and tolerance are inherently wonderful, except when they aren't. And the democratic forces that Washington actively seeks to unleash are beginning to threaten its desired world order.    

Stephen Sniegoski notes the neocons' tepid enthusiasm for Egyptian democratic revolution:   

The uprisings currently taking place against the autocratic regimes in the Middle East would seem to be in line with the neoconservatives’ advocacy of radical democratic change in the region. But there is one significant difference. The neocons had sought to use democratic revolutions to overthrow the enemies of Israel, even applying it, much less successfully, to countries such as Saudi Arabia, which were client states of the United States; but now democratic revolution is engulfing the Mubarak regime in Egypt, which maintained friendly relations with Israel. As Israeli writer Aluf Benn points out in Ha’aretz, “[t]he fading power of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government leaves Israel in a state of strategic distress. Without Mubarak, Israel is left with almost no friends in the Middle East.” In a situation where Israeli interests would be harmed by democratic revolution, the neocons’ ardor for this development has cooled dramatically.

Barack Obama looks at Egypt and sees Change he can believe in:

Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.

But note that in his Superbowl Sunday interview with Bill O'Reilly, Obama wishfully posited that the Muslim Brother was but a small "faction" in Egypt and that the country is actually brimming with "a whole bunch of secular folks" (read pro-American and Israel-friendly consumers), so there's nothing to worry about. In some part of Obama's soul, he must know that the true spirit of the Arab people is anti-American, anti-Jewish Islamism. He probably understands it better than others.   

The Opinion on the Arab Street

At any rate, one could read Obama's throwing of Mubarak under the bus as a truly revolutionary act, one in which a new regime was casting old friends and allies aside in favor of the whims of the mob. The reality is that the betrayal of Mubarak--who, by the way, is hardly one of those Totalitarian Mad Man depicted on the History Channel, but a cowardly and subservient pragmatist--is yet one more example of Washington betraying allies who had served it well. Ngo Dinh Diem and Saddam Hussein come to mind; there are many others. As Kissinger noted, America doesn't have friends--only acquaintances.