Après Mubarak, le Déluge

I genuinely, sincerely wish the very best for the Egyptian people. I wish them freedom, health, peace, and prosperity. However, the skepticism in this post of Doug’s and the mockery it elicited in comments fails to recognize that, when Egypt’s president dictator strongman ruler says that if he left office immediately it would bring chaos, he may well be right.

Successfully stamping out viable opposition over the period of more than a generation, as Mubarak has done, inevitably presents great challenges. How can Egypt make the transition from the present situation where there are no extant liberal institutions, many Egyptians can’t name a prospective leader they’d find acceptable, anybody they can name is part of the present regime and unacceptable to many Egyptians, figures (like Mohammed ElBaradei) who are recognized by foreigners (like us) don’t live in Egypt and are virtually considered foreigners by Egyptians, and the economy is in a shambles, serving primarily the interests of a chosen few?

What’s a poor superpower to do? Short of jumping in the Wayback Machine, setting it to 20 years ago or more, and exerting efforts (which may well have been beyond our abilities) to nudge Egypt gradually in the direction of liberal democracy, it’s hard for me to imagine a course of action that serves our interests or ends well for the Egyptian people.

One suggestion I’ve heard, having the U. S. or a consortium of world powers prop up the Egyptian economy during the transition, simply isn’t on politically. The campaign ads practically write themselves (“he donated $x to Egypt while Detroit (insert city name here) fell into ruin”).

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Dave,

    You do have a point. I guess I am just incredibly skeptical that Hosni Mubarak actually cares about his countrymen anymore.

  2. The problem is that if there is Chaos, it’s because Mubarak has spent the last 30 years stamping out any other institution in Egypt that could possibly provide such order. So this is the proverbial person who kills their parents and then throws themselves on the mercy of the court on account of being an orphan.

    Even if he is right, he still deserves mockery for it.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    The problem is that if there is Chaos, it’s because Mubarak has spent the last 30 years stamping out any other institution in Egypt that could possibly provide such order.

    To add insult to injury we’ve supported his government for the entirety of that time. And we wonder why people are skeptical about our commitment to democracy.

  4. John Burgess says:

    Sometimes, the unknown future can be a better choice than the status quo devil.

    The US need not give supplemental aid to Egypt; it can just insist that the current $1.5 billion be directed solely as social services, food. and energy.

  5. Dave,

    You are largely correct.

    However, if one cannot make the occasional derisive comment about a dictator, who can one make fun of?

    And, indeed:

    And we wonder why people are skeptical about our commitment to democracy.

  6. And Dave:

    While I concur that an immediate trip to the airport by Mubarak might lead to more chaos, I would note that: 1) it is hardly calm now and 2) the level of chaos at an exit would depend on the nature of the exit.

    Indeed, I think that an exit could lead to calmer streets as many who are currently protesting will be less motivated, even if the exit leads to a transition to another military-linked figure.

  7. Mithras says:

    I don’t think there would be chaos if Mubarak steps down, but that’s because I believe what we’re watching is a palace revolution, with the military playing the protesters for suckers. Effectively Mubarak has already been replaced by his new VP, a general and national intelligence chief, who has the full backing of the army.