It seems to me the best thing for the United States to do in relation to the situation in Egypt is to lay low and let things play out, and the same for Tunisia where the current revolt of the Arab people began and in other parts of the Arab world where the unrest over the old order seems to be spreading.
At last report I read it looks like what could be an all-out revolt of the oppressed masses (ADD 1: which seem to include young and old and middle class and lower class) in Egypt against a long-time dictator supported by the U.S. It seems a little late to be urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to be nicer and more attentive to the needs and rights of his people. Where were we on that all this time as we helped him militarily and economically?
Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of supporting brutal dictators. At one time the thought was it is better to have a non-communist dictator as our ally in power than a communist in power. Now we seem to look for anyone who might hold back the Islamic fundamentalists/terrorists.
I recall that back in the late 50s many people contended that we should have supported Fidel Castro whose forces eventually ousted our anti-communist dictator Fulgencio Batista. The story goes that Castro was not yet a communist but our opposition to him threw him into that camp. Actually, from what I have read about his sidekick Che Guevara, that revolution was going the communist way anyway. But we sure had egg on our face when our bully was kicked out.
It is not our business what the Arab world does with its governments. It is only our business what they might eventually do to us — but we are not going to be able to engineer things the way we want them to work out, nor should we.
Many probably don’t recall or ever paid attention to the fact that Saddam Hussein was at one time our boy on the block, simply because he was against Iran. And the Iranians had pushed out our other boy, the Shah of Iran.
This time around, let’s just keep out of it.
And good luck to the oppressed masses in Egypt or Tunisia, or wherever.
I don’t care how many tanks, or to be more accurate, armored vehicles (I used to be a tanker), or riot troops the Egyptian government has, if enough people are unhappy, the current regime or president will not stand. Also, there are even indications, from the story I read from the New York Times, that as in Tunisia, the military is or might ally itself with the protestors (to a certain extent anyway). And, some Egyptian protestors actually applauded the military troops when they were dispatched to guard certain public places, it was reported. And in one case riot police in Egypt gave up and threw off their badges, it was reported.
I don’t know if I have this quote exact, but I thought I heard a protestor in Egypt say for the benefit of the camera: “we don’t want this bunch anymore. We want them to go out of Egypt.”
Meanwhile, sometime after midnight after a long day of violent protest, Egyptian president Mubarak said he had asked (told) the government ministers to step down and he promised to continue to work on reforms but refused to step down himself and warned against outright insurrection or anything but peaceful protest (and this is my interpretation based on the reports I read). It seems to me that he has had enough time to do something since he has been in office for 30 years. If I were an Egyptian I’d say don’t let the door hit you in the rear end on the way out!
In the original version of this post I erroneously referred to the former U.S.-backed Cuban dictator as Juan Batista, but it should have read Fulgencio Batista.