The Egyptian Revolution That Wasn't

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Eric Trager, one of the most acute observers of the Egyptian revolution, which began a year ago today, doesn't like very much what he's seeing:

It is tempting to believe that things might have turned out differently had Washington worked harder to bolster the young revolutionaries who seemingly exemplified America's own liberal values when they took to the streets last January. These brave activists, after all, had won America's hearts to the tune of an 82-percent approval rating at the height of the revolt, and their photogenic faces carried the promise of a more democratic, friendly Egypt.

But the activists were never who we hoped they were. Far from being liberal, their ranks were largely comprised of Nasserists, revolutionary socialists, and Muslim Brotherhood youths--an alliance of convenience for opposing Mubarak and, later, for denouncing the U.S.

Thus, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Egypt in March 2011, a group of leading activists refused to meet with her. They also turned out to be intolerant conspiracy theorists: When classically Cairoesque rumors that a "Jewish Masonic" ceremony was to be held at the pyramids on November 11, the April 6th Youth Movement's Democratic Front declared that this non-existent event should be prohibited. "We are committed to the achievements of the revolution, which emphasized freedom," they said in a statement. "But freedom is not absolute freedom, and ... it is constrained by the regulations and beliefs of the Egyptian people, who do not accept that these celebrations be protected in the wake of the revolution."

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/the-egyptian-revolution-that-wasnt/251974/