Mubarak is the Shah

by nkronos on January 28, 2011

Barack Obama seems destined to undermine the United States diplomatically as well as economically in a way not seen since the Carter years. To be sure, there are no easy responses to what is happening in Egypt, but the timidity and indecisiveness that has characterized this administration gives one little hope of clear and crisp leadership as we face the biggest new challenge to American interests since deposing of Saddam Hussein. North Korea and Iran have continued to simmer during the two-year Obama foreign-policy interregnum, but Egypt commences a new boil.

Consider:

  • Egypt has almost 83 million people, making it the 15th most populous country in the world.
  • The Egyptian military is ranked 10th in the world in terms of personnel
  • Egypt receives approximately one ninth of American foreign aid, most of it military.

Ever since the Camp David Accords, Egypt has been at peace with Israel–and America’s “policeman” in the Middle East, taking the place of Iran after the Shah fell. Largely because of Egypt’s stance, we have not had a general Middle East war for almost four decades.

Should a fundamentalist regime come to power in Egypt, the region’s relative stability will in all likelihood collapse. Israel will, for the first time, face the threat of both Iran and Egypt simultaneously. The combined population of those two countries alone is more than 20 times that of Israel, never mind traditional Jewish foes like Syria.

As with the Shah in 1979, many in the West view Mubarak as authoritarian and illegitimate. Many argue that a peaceful transition to a more representative democracy is what Egypt needs. They pooh-pooh the danger of the Islamic Brotherhood and other terrorist threats. It is worth remembering the failed Bakhtiar regime in Iran and how Andrew Young (Carter’s UN representative) hailed Ayatollah Khomeini as “some kind of a saint.”

Regime change in Egypt may be unavoidable and it may be catastrophic for American interests. We–and the Iranian people–are still suffering the consequences of Carter’s failure in Iran 32 years later. Nevertheless, this is no time to vacillate cluelessly as with the BP oil spill and see how things turn out. Nor is it time to leave the rhetoric and the presumptive US position to Joe Biden.

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