2011-02-17 / View From the Middle

President Playing Cards Right On Egypt— So Far

View From The Middle
By Charles Rogers

Mr. Obama kept quiet, as he was supposed to. And it was the right thing to do. One would have thought he might have jumped into the Egypt fray early-on, but wise heads prevailed and, well, it seems (so far) that perhaps democracy — or a reasonable semblance of it — might result.

No matter, at this point. We have seen, without a shot, how the words “of the people” can mean something in the long run; can mean that a direction might be found for their future.

For decades, the dictatorship that belonged to Hosni Mubarak told his minions what to do, how to do it, and what might result from the doing. “This is no way to live,” they finally said. “We can’t stand it for much longer.”

These were the “elders,” so to speak; the ones who had followed the dictator through so many years, despite his corruption and disdain for the proletariat. Most of them were comfortable and didn’t want to rock the boat. It’s called apathy, and it’s an awful disease that can defeat countries if someone doesn’t recognize it and take hold.

But what happened in Cairo within the last three weeks occurred when some younger minds took a hand in it and turned to the elders and said, “Help us. Support us. We’ll do the work you haven’t done, but be there — in case we need your wisdom.”

Meanwhile, the U.S., under a leadership that knew no more about what was going on than anyone else, sat back and waited. What was Barack Obama to do? What could the leader of the most successful democratic country ever known find as an objective and intervene upon? Would he interrupt a burgeoning revolution? True, the rebellion was against a friend, but sometimes the ties MUST be broken.

Mubarak and Co. had been good to us along the way. Anwar Sadat, Mubarak’s predecessor, who was assassinated, broke the mold and made Israel a friend of his country — and Mubarak continued that friendship for these many years. His country became probably our second-closest friend in the Middle East, with Israel on the top of the list. We could depend on him almost always, it was said.

But when it came time for the people to rise up, it also became impossible to ignore. Although his closeness to us was a foregone conclusion, we looked past the frauds and the deceit and those discrepancies that, in reality, should have been handled. But it was too easy to look the other way; oil was too necessary and there was this complacency that told us to leave it alone. And we did. We became as apathetic — or maybe complicit — as his countrymen were.

So the people rebelled. Shaking themselves — and us — from our stupor. We could see this was not anarchy, after all. The palace wasn’t stormed, as in grand epics past. The people expressed themselves without even a general semblance of violence. They taught the world that it CAN be done! That was the first part; the hard part, of course, will be matched only by the upcoming scenes in this deep, intense drama.

The coming chapters are going to be interesting. Already we are congratulating the literal winners, with the hope that we will be able to continue our valued relationship with them, no matter what consequences evolve.

Our president is quietly playing the waiting game now. This is a time for him to pay attention to more domestic things, all the while watching the Middle East…waiting for the people of Egypt to make their move. We have to be strong, but we must be wise. Whoever eventually becomes the ruler of this powerful land, and the other countries around it — already fomenting upheaval within their own ranks — will need to be watched closely. Although we have “played the game” up to now, we can’t forget what our own morals are — nor can we forget those principles upon which we were founded.

Indeed the people who have just won their first battle need our country as a stabilizer in their choice of government, in their choice of a future that will be completely different from anything they’ve ever known.

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