Are We Out of Our Mind to Risk Egypt?

Are We Out of Our Mind to Risk Egypt?

Having watched the interview between President Obama and Bill O’Reilly the other day, I couldn’t help describing what I saw. In my view it was relevant for a president of a huge country of 300 million people – a continent in itself.

The president seemed relaxed and as one anchor put it nicely, “he is very charming and a lovable person.”  But for a president of such a great country like the United States, who has a lot of responsibility towards the world, I felt that he is not aware of what is going on in the world, and particularly in Tunisia and in Egypt. Or maybe he is just very astute to play all of us who are watching him at this interview.

It seemed to me like he enjoys watching the revolt in those countries like a football game and his sole role is to orchestrate the events like a conductor. I understand that everyone is hoping to change the Arab regimes into democracies. For many this is even a beautiful dream. The question remains, however, what is the cost for such a change? How many human beings and how much destruction this change would entail and how long would it take? Fifty years, hundred years to reach again stability and prosperity for everyone in those countries?  We should not forget that the West has neglected the Arab countries for centuries and that the colonization took advantage of the Arab misery. It is only now that the West started to understand that the situation of the Arabs cannot remain stagnant and may even destroy the development of the West.

I also understand that the young Egyptian generation has proven its case. I am also convinced that not everyone knows the reason of such a protest and its real meaning. No one took responsibility. Until now we don’t know who had initiated this dramatic event and what the result would be. Let’s say that Mubarak would leave his post today. I am not convinced that the Egyptian revolution if it succeeds would satisfy the entire population.

I don’t believe that democracy can solve all the problems that plague Egypt now and transform it into a so-called western-style country, knowing very well that even in the best country in the world democracy could not immediately satisfy its entire population. Taking the United States as an example, one can easily find poverty, run-down neighborhoods, and starving children. Not every democracy possesses natural resources, the needed capital, and the know-how, etc. And even if they have the resources, they need a lot of infrastructure, equipment and knowledgeable people to create a stable and fruitful economy.

Yes, revolutionary people can eradicate an entire generation which oppressed the people, but that cannot create a prosperous and stable middle class from one day to the next. Even when Germany’s reunification took place, they needed a lot of money. West Germany had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to balance their budget and the people from both sides, west and east, had to cope slowly in order to adjust themselves to the new situation.

With all due respect for President Obama and his administration I wonder if they had verified how this huge protest got all started and who is behind it. For an event of such magnitude it would be odd if there had been no planning and no preparation and nobody to lead the people. I was thinking about the article I read in the London Telegraph which said that the United States was behind it. Even if this is hard for me to believe I can imagine that someone or some organization who promotes democracy could have influenced and actively supported the movement.

I understand the development in the Middle East and the Arab countries need for change, but it takes more than a president or a general to transform the unacceptable situation. No one knows if the result of the change would not produce a worse situation.

On Wednesday February 10, I read an article in El Arabiya titled, “Egypt & US swap barbs as tension mounts.” In the article it says, “Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit accused the United States Wednesday of imposing its ‘will’ on its Arab ally, as the White House warned that Cairo had failed to even reach a ‘minimum threshold’ for reform. Egypt’s top diplomat lashed out in a television interview on a day when Washington took a critical line towards Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, who is in charge of a dialogue with opposition groups. And amid warnings by the Egyptian government of a military crackdown on rejuvenated protests, the U.S. government again pleaded with armed forces it helped build with billions of dollars in aid to show restraint.

Abul Gheit condemned U.S. rhetoric on a crisis sparked by days of opposition protests in Egypt, complaining in an interview with America’s PBS television at Washington’s urgent tone.”

Washington’s urgent tone.  “ When you speak about ‘prompt,’ ‘immediate,’ ‘now,’ as if you were imposing on a great country like Egypt, a great friend that has always maintained the best of relationships with the United States, you are imposing your will on him.”    Egypt FM Ahmed Abul Gheit

I wonder if the President of the United States is not about to lose Egypt to other powers and to turn the entire Middle East into a disaster zone that would generate instability and imperil all the moderate Arab rulers who backed the United States for so many years. Is this the way the West wants to teach democracy in the Arab World? We pretend that only the people of Egypt are going to decide their destiny and their future, but we try to impose our will. Losing Egypt will in fact make us lose the entire Middle East. Is this what we try to accomplish?

Lately it was Netanyahu who was told what to do, and now Mubarak, whom the United States is trying to chase out of office without any consideration. I wonder if we had not inflamed the Egyptian young generation and this had lead to violence. Who will take the blame?

Copyright 2011 Emile Tubiana

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