02 February 2011

Egypt

By now pretty much everyone with a microphone in front of them has weighed in on the ongoing situation in Egypt. I have some reactions of my own.

1) This is not Iran either from 2009, or 1979.
2) This is probably not Tunisia either. Egypt has a much stronger nation-state, partially because we've propped it up with very large sums of military aid.
3) Some concessions will be made by the Mubarak government, temporarily at least.
4) Large numbers of media people (particularly of the Faux persuasion) are really, really, really afraid that this is Iran circa 1979. I've seen little evidence that the protests are a) specifically anti-American/anti-Western, as the Iranian protests often were, or b) are more about politics than economics. Pretty much what brought down Tunisia and is agitating Egyptians is a corrupt government presiding over a very rough economy.
5) These same people speculating about the possibility of large populist uprisings in the US are idiots. Much as people are pissed about things, and there is corruption or abuse of power by government, we actually have it pretty good relative to about 85-90% of the planet (basically parts of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are about the only real contenders). Most people do not protest en masse when things are "good". That includes Americans. We also have a much stronger and resilient state with a process of regular democratic uprisings built into our system already (free and fair elections). Egypt does not. Tunisia did not.

Basically the net result is uncertain, and not being a certified expert on Egypt, I prefer to wait and see what kind of government emerges, or if the same one stays in power, before I start condemning popular uprisings to the possibility that they are, lets say, fundamentalist in nature. Or somehow at all threatening to the US and its immediate interests.

It's very possible that this makes the Israeli situation vis a vis Gaza/Palestine less secure, but Egypt's already relaxed the blockade on the land side from Israel's raid last year. And I don't see how that's our problem. Israel can handle itself on these matters, or should be able to conduct its own affairs for its own security without us orchestrating the governments of nation-states surrounding it into a certain more pliable sensibility on this one issue.
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