Friday, January 28, 2011


About the rapidly cursive hand presently writing the history of Egypt, two observations.

The first is that if current reports are accurate, once again our President has shown himself entirely wrong in a crisis. If it is true that he threatened to suspend or seriously curtail foreign aid to Egypt if Hosni Mubarak responded with much force to the uprising, then President Obama is in some measure responsible for kicking the chair out from under the precariously situated leader. In a country which in the past two weeks has seen serious anti-Christian rioting on the part of Muslims, a country in which the Muslim Brotherhood is said to be ideologically powerful, that blow to Mubarak, possibly decisive, could have the effect of bringing a rigidly Islamic regime to power. If that happens, a very important ally of the United States--the one that controls the Suez Canal--becomes an enemy, and Israel will now contend not with a neutral country but a hostile power on its southern border.

The second is that TMH finds it very strange that President Obama, who could find no words of support for the those who rose two summers ago against the Iranian regime now seems to be aiding the protestors (revolutionaries?) in Egypt. The common thread seems to be that if the revolution might result in the institutionalization of Islamic extremism the President is for it, while if the revolution might threaten such a regime, he is opposed to it.

Finally (we at TMH can't count), one thinks back with less than equanimity to other revolutions. In history, these have not often been portents of good. They were for the best in Eastern Europe in 1989; other revolutions have been less reassuring. The French Revolution, the Russian, the Cuban, and the Iranian all ended with regimes far worse than those they replaced; only the American Revolution led to a happier situation, and as Burke argued, 1776 was not so much a revolution, a great change, as it was an attempt to restore the liberties that the colonists had held in the days of salutary neglect before the accession of George III. What is unfolding in Egypt now may be a good thing, but if historical example is statistically reliable, it is more likely to be very messy indeed. In the long term, Hegel (and Fukuyama) may be right. In the short term, this momentous change may not work out well for western democracy and for the United States, which is still the primary guarantor of peace and stability where it may still be found in this troubled world.

No comments:

Post a Comment