"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Feb 1, 2011

Too little too late from Mubarak

Tonight President Mubarak of Egypt went on state TV to finally respond to the growing clamour from the Egyptian people demanding that he step down. If he thought that his statement that he would not stand at the next election would satisfy his people in the current revolutionary atmosphere then he has badly misjudged their mood. The risk now is that, while he clings to power using the need for "stability" as the excuse, his stance will merely fuel further instability in his country. It is a position which will almost certainly not defuse the current situation.

Egypt is now in the throws of a genuine peoples revolution and little but the actual departure of Mubarak will now satisfy his people as they continue to demand freedom. So far the US government has wished to be seen as not interfering in these developments in Egypt. While this position was to a degree understandable there is now a grave danger that the US stance is being rapidly overtaken by the momentum of history. The US government has so far confined its pressure on Mubarak to encouraging him to stand down from the future elections but this is a position that is no longer adequate to the situatiuon.

The time has now come for the US to be seen to clearly stand with the forces of democracy, freedom and change in Egypt. The only credible position now is for the US to make clear that it sees Mubarak as a leader withput legitimacy and for it to put its weight fully behind measures to create some form of interim national unity governement able to take Egypt forward to a new political settlement.

There are risks of course and the concern in the US will be the potential for a rising influence of Islamist groups in Egypt. But that risk is far outweighed by the risk that the US will be seen as betraying the Egyptian people if it fails to act to clearly to show support for their legitimate demands. The standing of the US could be significantly enhanced at this point if it was seen to throw it's full support behind the forces crying for real democracy.  No observer of US foreign policy would bet on the US following this course of action sadly. It seems more likely that it will continue to try to hedge it's bets and that as a consequence it will further entrenche the view in the Middle East that the US has no real concern for the legitimate democractic demands of people in the Arab states.

5 comments:

Looney said...

I am still trying to process a Pew Research article on Egyptian attitudes towards democracy and Islam.

If the US does speak up, do you think we can do any better now than Jimmy Carter did?

rummuser said...

I do not believe that the American establishment wants democracy anywhere else in the world other than in the West. If they did, what they did when Hamas got elected was and is shameful. Precisely and only this fear drives American decision making. Events in the ME are likely to get more volatile and I do not believe that anyone can predict what will happen any more than how no one has been able to predict anything about Iran or Russia.

For me, as an Indian, living in another volatile neighbourhood, the possibilities of spill-over into Afghanistan and Pakistan besides Bangladesh, is nightmare enough.

Bunc said...

The situation is clearly very volatile and made more so now by the unleashing of pro-Mubarak thugs onto the streets.

I thought Obamas TV statement was not too bad but it still didn't go far enough in my view. I suspect that the US government was hoping that a transitional period might lead to a more orderly handover and leave democratic forces in the ascendancy.

I think they have badly misjudged this though - the longer the oppression drags on now the more volatile the situation will become. Egyptians who might have seen moderate groups as the solution will begin to conclude that only violent and often Islamist opposition groups can get Mubarak and his cronies out.

Egyptians will not be satisfied with speeches which give only a weasel worded form of support that hedges its bets. If we expect the Egyptian people to still look to the west and other democratic countries for their alliances after all thus then our governments need to start being much more explicit in supporting their demands. Obama went someway down this path but not far enough.

Bunc said...

Good link by the way Looney

rummuser said...

Bunc, you must read this fascinating book."A World Without Islam" by Graham E. Fuller. Fuller contends that the violent polarization of East and West is not based on religion so much as politics and culture.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Fuller

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