The Regime's True Character

by Patrick Appel

George Packer looks at Egypt from 10,000 feet:

When the people rise up, there’s no guarantee they’ll succeed. Just ask a Burmese or an Iranian. Egypt’s revolution has a number of counts against it, the main one being the hollow core where Egyptian civil society ought to bethe absence of institutions, groups, and leaders that could shape this massive expression of popular will into an organized counterforce to the regime’s violence, with the means to reach deep into the military hierarchy and a strategy for victory. Instead, Mubarak systematically closed off that space, so that he could say to the world: me or the Islamists, choose. In Burma in 2007, there was a similar void of opposition leadership, other than the moral power of the monks. Young Burmese later told me that they considered their headless revolution more flexible and durable than the older kindone student called it “post-modern”but the regime crushed it without much trouble, and hundreds of young Burmese are now rotting away in far-flung prisons.

(Photo: Egyptian anti-government demonstrators gather at Cairo's Tahrir square on February 3, 2011 By Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)