Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Neocons’ Egypt Dilemma

On the surface, the situation in Egypt right now would seem tailor-made for automatic neocon approval: a country chafing under the rule of a repressive and entrenched leader, its people eager for more democracy, and protesting in the streets on their own behalf. And yet it’s not so simple.

Amal, a head-scarfed Egyptian woman in Tahrir Square, is quoted as saying, “We need democracy in Egypt. … We just want what you have.” But if Amal were asked exactly what she means by the word “democracy,” would she include the safeguards that go hand-in-hand with democracy in order to secure liberty, and without which it can so easily decline into “one person, one vote, one time”? What if forces for oppression in Egypt that are far worse than Mubarak end up opportunistically coming into the ascendance in the vacuum left by his departure?

But why would some neocons who supported the invasion of Iraq, and the overwhelmingly difficult task of establishing a democracy there, advocate more caution in Egypt? Likewise, why would some who criticized Obama’s 2009 recalcitrance to support the pro-democracy forces in Iran now advocate going slowly in Egypt?

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