Is The US Selling Out The Revolution?
The United States seems to be backing away from its support for the revolution in Egypt. Yes, we still support democratic change but it is beginning to feel like the way we support an end to Israeli settlements: rhetorically and without teeth.
An editorial in the Washington Post and an analysis in the Los Angeles Times describe what is beginning too look like a sellout. Both are right on target. The New York Times puts it all in context in a news story.
First the New York Times news story:
After two weeks of recalibrated messages and efforts to keep up with a rapidly evolving situation, the Obama administration is still trying to balance support for some of the basic aspirations for change in Egypt with its concern that the pro-democracy movement could be "hijacked," as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton put it, if change were to come too quickly.
The result has been to feed a perception, on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, that the United States, for now at least, is putting stability ahead of democratic ideals, and leaving hopes of nurturing peaceful, gradual change in large part in the hands of Egyptian officials — starting with Mr. Suleiman — who have every reason to slow the process.
Here is the Washington Post editorial:
THE OBAMA administration's latest flip on Egypt - it now publicly backs "the transition process announced by the Egyptian government" - is driven by fear of the dangers that could come with a victory by the pro-democracy movement headquartered in Cairo's Tahrir Square. "There are forces at work in any society . . . that will try to derail or overtake the process to pursue their own specific agenda," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Saturday. Most likely she was referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist movement that many in Washington worry could hijack an uprising currently led by secular liberals.
Egypt's Islamic threat cannot be discounted. But the administration has focused on the wrong problem - and, as a result, has taken the wrong side. The biggest threat to the stated U.S. objective of a "real democracy" in Egypt is not an extreme opposition but the very regime the administration is backing - which is attempting to limit change and perpetuate its hold on power beyond President Hosni Mubarak's announced retirement in September.
And here is the Los Angeles Times:
The Obama administration has reconciled itself to gradual political reform in Egypt, an approach that reflects its goal of maintaining stability in the Middle East but is at odds with demands of the protest movement in Cairo that President Hosni Mubarak relinquish power immediately.
A week after the Obama administration demanded a swift transition to a post-Mubarak era, it has dampened the sense of urgency and aligned itself with power-brokers such as new Vice President Omar Suleiman, who are urging a more stable, if much slower, move to real democracy.
But U.S. officials privately acknowledged that there is no guarantee that Suleiman, a former intelligence chief closely aligned with the military, is committed to substantial reforms.
They have said that countries in the Middle East must be allowed to progress politically at their own speed. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. supports democratic reforms across the region but acknowledges that "some countries will move at different paces."
Meanwhile, today's Telegraph publishes a new wikileak revealing that Egypt's new Mubarak-appointed vice-president has been the Israeli government's choice to replace Mubarak as long ago as 2008. How big a surprise is it that the U.S. may be seeing things the same way?