This is the first major foreign policy crisis of the Obama presidency in which he has real leverage (not the case in Iran). If Egypt, the Arab hub, manages a transition to some more representative order, that victory will resonate in 2012. If the Egyptian mockery of democracy persists, Obama’s failure will be stark.Mubarak may not be listening. Omar Suleiman and others of Mubarak's hand-picked old/new entourage may dismiss words from Obama-Clinton as unwanted and unneeded advice from an outsider. Some of the protesters may sneer that Obama-Clinton's newly noble rhetoric doesn't jive with the US's actions only weeks ago. But if Obama wants to retain any shred of credibility for himself - and his country - as a beacon of democracy and human rights, now's the time to speak - loudly, and often, and forthrightly.
Already we hear the predictable warnings from Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu: This could be Iran 1979, a revolution for freedom that installs the Islamists. But this is not 1979; and Egypt’s Facebook-adept youth are not lining up behind the Muslim Brotherhood, itself scarcely a band of fanatics.
There is more hope for the Middle East — and ultimately Israel — in Egyptian reform that would establish the first peace between a Jewish and an Arab democracy.
The U.S. can no longer advance its regional interests through double standards long apparent to every thinking Arab. Ambivalent U.S. prodding for political opening has produced “nothing, nothing, nothing,” in the words of one frustrated observer. It’s time to be very clear that Mubarak’s time is up.
In the swirling crowd, I spoke to two Egyptian lawyers, in their robes, from the northern town of Tanta. Ahmed el-Biery, 34, and Ahmed Romeh, 24, had traveled to Cairo, to protest, to end “the only regime we have known.” Why their anger? “First, corruption. A bunch of them control the whole economy” said el-Biery. “Second, no laws. There are thousands imprisoned without trial. Everyone has the right to a trial.”
El-Biery looked at me with his intense green eyes. “I’m here for my children, so they live better.” That’s a very American idea: a better life for one’s kids. Another is this: that a nation of laws is fundamental. Mubarak has been a firm ally, kept a cold peace with Israel and Egypt at peace for three decades. I don’t want to see him humiliated. But Obama must stand now with el-Biery against a corrupted order.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
From the Other Journalist Cohen: Sensible and Stirring Words
In contrast to Richard Cohen's insistence that the Israeli sky-is-falling if Obama doesn't clam up, some stirring, sensible, and much more forward-looking suggestions from the NYT's Roger Cohen:
- ► 2013 (34)
- ► 2012 (165)
- Andrew Bacevich's Excellent Prescriptions for US i...
- Welcome to the New, Democratic Iraq
- Iraq's Deadly "Day of Rage"
- Maliki Tarring Legitimate Protest with Baathist Br...
- Israel's Hard Choices
- Libya, Bahrain, Oil Prices - and Martian Landings
- Egypt's Revolt, Lebanon, and Iraq
- More about the Stakes in Bahrain
- With UNSC Veto, Obama is on the Wrong Side of Hist...
- The Stakes in Bahrain
- Israel says Iranian warships near Suez
- Egypt's "Democracy": Can the Dream be Realized?
- Egypt's Treaty with Israel: the IDF's Enabler?
- Max Boot: US needs to stay in Iraq. Could it happ...
- Egypt's Challenges - Around the Corner, and Down t...
- The Next Crisis? Mubarak Out. Army In. Gaza?
- A Great Day for Egypt, But Heavy Lifting Still Ahe...
- Mubarak: Wily Manipulator, or Defiant Dodderer?
- A New Era of Arab Democracy?
- Afghan Air War Doubles
- Obama ripped in Congress over Egypt, Lebanon
- Tariq Ramadan on the Muslim Brotherhood and Middle...
- America's Islamist Hypocrisy: Egypt and Iraq
- More Hasbara from Richard Cohen
- "Mubarakism without Mubarak"?
- Wikileaks exposes Omar Suleiman as Israel's Favori...
- Mubarak's Going Nowhere
- Egypt's Potentially Bogus Transition
- Hillary's Metaphorical Muff
- Sarah Palin on Obama's Handling of Egypt Crisis
- The Legacy of the Surge
- Did You Think Iraq was Done?
- Egyptian turmoil complicates Israeli-Palestinian p...
- Netanyahu commits to promoting Arab construction i...
- Iraq: Bombs in Anbar Kill 10, Mostly Police Office...
- From the Other Journalist Cohen: Sensible and Stir...
- Egypt Endgame and US Options
- Egypt VP Omar Suleiman: We need to keep Parliament...
- Egypt's Democratic Revolt - from Tahrir Square, An...
- Egypt's End-game Still Far over the Horizon
- US in the Middle East: The Eagle is Grounded, but ...
- Would President Huckabee advocate forced relocatio...
- Bibi and His Boys Bash the Brothers, too
- WaPo's Richard Cohen Bashes the Brothers
- ▼ February (44)
- ► 2010 (305)
- ► 2009 (440)