Egypt, Revolution, Democracy, The Arab Street and America’s Friends

The situation in Egypt is very fluid. No one knows what the outcome will be. Yet there are things that we do know now…

 1)      Wikileaks mattered: despite the efforts of some pundits to downplay the impact of the leaked diplomatic cables, it helped lead to the fall of Tunisia’s government. Perhaps soon Egypt, and then next….who knows? Julian Assange changed the world –for better or for worse we may not know for years.

 2)      The Arab Street cares more about the price of cooking fuel than American interventions. While the invasion of Iraq was supposed to blow up the Arab Street it did not. Rising prices, unemployment and unresponsive governments are the root causes sited by the protestors on the street. Sounds like the Arab Street has more in common with Greek protestors than with Al Qaeda or radical clerics.

3)      Arab nations do yearn for Democracy. In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, some very clever pundits opined that the Arab and/or Muslim world did really want democracy, as an argument against President George W. Bush’s policies. Score one for Bush, Pundits zero.

4)      This CAN be like Iran in 1979. The lesson from previous revolutions is that it is often an authoritarian counter-revolution that takes control. Examples: French revolution (the world does not need an Arab/Egyptian Napoleon), Russian Revolution, Iranian Revolution. Mubarak may not be good news, but the alternative could be worse.

Then there are the things we don’t know:

What about the price of oil if the protests spread to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states? What would that do to the fragile world economic recovery?

Will Hamas take advantage of the now unguarded Egypt/Gaza border to bring in weapons and terrorists to renew hostilities with Israel?

President Obama has taken the Sun Tzu approach of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. Poland and the Czech Republic got this treatment for missile defense versus US accommodation with Russia. Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan is getting similar treatment. Obama even did this domestically when he placed Hillary Clinton in his Cabinet and praised John Boehner during the State of the Union speech.  

If Mubarak does not survive in Egypt will the world note that it is better to be America’s enemy than America’s friend at this time? A dangerous lesson when there is a cash rich China willing to make new friendships in the Middle East – especially oil rich countries.

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  1. #1 by Elizabeth Delaney on January 30, 2011 - 10:02 pm

    Very interesting, Dan.

    It will be interesting to see not only where in the Middle East the riots may spread, but just how far into Europe they could spread. Right now, Albania (in southern Europe right next to Greece) has also been inspired by the Tunisia riot for the same reasons as high unemployment, hyperinflation and high price of food.

    • #2 by Dan Godzich on January 31, 2011 - 1:48 am

      Good point. Spain has 20% unemployment. And France has 13% Muslim population. This could really spread.

  2. #3 by Al Figueroa on January 31, 2011 - 1:00 am

    In the simplest form, an alternative fuel is one that is not produced by using crude oil. They are simply fuels that replace conventional gasoline as a means of powering vehicles. Alternative fuels have desirable energy efficiency and pollution reduction features.

    • #4 by Dan Godzich on January 31, 2011 - 1:50 am

      Arizona tried to encourage Alternative fuel over a decade ago-but it was poorly done and became a financial febocal.

  3. #5 by Al Figueroa on January 31, 2011 - 1:05 am

    Nice Post . My Comment is : The 1990 Clean Air Act encourages development and sale of alternative fuels.

    Thanks

  4. #6 by Al Figueroa on January 31, 2011 - 1:09 am

    Nice Post . My Comment is : More specifically, the Energy Policy Act (EP Act) of 1993 gave a more in-depth definition of what they consider to be alternative fuels.

    Thanks

  5. #7 by mayabisamra on March 12, 2011 - 11:50 am

    You can’t assume that it is Julian Assange who “changed the world”. Your comments are over simplifying what is really happening.

    We are not living in the 80s anymore! Iranian scenario is not likely to happen in Egypt, Muslim brotherhood were used by the Mubarak regime to have American support.

    • #8 by Dan Godzich on March 13, 2011 - 4:22 am

      Assange served as a catalyst. As for Egypt going the way of Iran only time will tell.

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