After originally posting this it occurred to me that while I speculate that the bravery of the crowd in Egypt might be attributed to divine intervention, I hope that the democracy movement goes toward secular government. It seems that religious differences, even among factions within the same faiths, poison free government. True democracies allow freedom of religion, while religious-based governments do not.
I agree with the Egyptian crowds — God is Great! I’m not religious in the conventional sense, but surging masses unafraid, maybe because they were so frustrated they lost their fear, makes it almost seem as if there was divine intervention. An initial report out of Cairo said that crowds shouted “God is Great” on hearing that dictator Hosni Mubarak had stepped down from power after all, after an 18-day standoff in a revolt of the people.
(There was some violence and death, but overall it was minimal compared to what the potential was. Things still could go bad, of course.)
Moses, an outsider, said all those hundreds of years ago, “let my people go”. This time the Egyptian people themselves told the modern-day pharaoh, three-decade-long autocrat Mubarak, let us go, and in fact, you go (and he finally did, by all reports, after his one last desperate attempt to hang on by saying it was his duty to finish out his term and not be swayed by “outsiders” — his own countrymen? — but then in the last many hours reportedly fleeing to his resort home in the Sinai, with the official line being he was quitting anyway but he flubbed his lines in his last speech).
I’m not naïve enough to think it will all be happiness and light now, but certainly there is some potential for good here.
And thank God that the United States played it fairly cool here. I don’t know what our government (the U.S.) did or did not do behind the scenes, but as far as I can see President Obama played it correctly.
The military has reportedly taken over for now in Egypt, promising a transition to democracy, and the good news there is that since it has been and still is, I would suppose, highly dependent upon U.S. support, we should have a continued ally.
One thing the Egyptian protestors had going for them was the fact that the Egyptian Army was basically on their side and apparently made it clear they were not going to fire on their own citizens en masse. Anti-government opponents have not had that luxury in places such as Iran. But one does wonder if this revolt of the people, augmented by social media, and so far seemingly free of Islamist rhetoric, will not be contagious. One could only hope.
Although I really don’t think we can nor should try to control or try to manipulate what goes on in Egypt’s internal affairs, there is always a danger that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood might unduly insert its influence wherever there might be a void. That organization is a danger, as I understand it, because it is, despite its efforts to mask itself as a peaceful, non-violent, and nearly secular order (why the name then?), it is really a proxy for Al Qaeda or whatever movement that wants to install Islamist, non-democratic and Western-hating governments in the Middle East and everywhere it can.
But, again, for now I have to give our own president, Barack Obama, credit for playing it cool on this one.
And you know, the encouraging thing that has transpired here is basically the same thing that happened in the old Soviet Block and the old Soviet Union itself. Once the people get a good picture of the outside world and begin to realize that they really shouldn’t have to live in poverty (economic realities notwithstanding) and under repressive and corrupt governments they revolt in relatively peaceful fashion by their sheer numbers (of course what comes next is always a question). Back then it was images via satellite TV (I think I’ve described that right) and now it’s the internet and social media, which not only tells everyone how the rest of the world is, it also allows instant communication that is hard for even dictators and police states to control (Egyptian authorities were not able to completely shut down the internet, as I understand it).
This could all go bad still — but I don’t think so.
There is something to be said for law and order, and sometimes dictators provide that and make quite a few people happy. A few decades back I saw a documentary or maybe a television news magazine piece about the days of Francisco Franco in Spain. A rich man interviewed looked back with nostalgia and said: “He took care of everything. He was like your father”. And just a day or so ago I saw a television piece in which a rich Egyptian said of Mubarak: “We love him. He is our father”. Even those who are not rich will support a despot if he looks out for their interests. But Mubarak got old, too comfortable, and lost touch with the common man (and woman), as I understand it.