Who Should the U.S. Support in Egypt?

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As another day of protests rock Egypt, the Obama administration is preparing to rebuke Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for his regime's violent crackdown against anti-government demonstrators. The White House will encourage him to reform state institutions and loosen his authoritarian grip, reports Bloomberg. However, the administration doesn't want to come down too hard on the 82-year-old leader because he's a key U.S. ally. Here's the debate in the blogosphere:

  • This Is Important for the U.S., writes Flavia Krause-Jackson and Hans Nichols at Bloomberg: "The U.S. has a major stake in what happens in Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, a moderate voice in the Muslim world and a key player in Middle East peace efforts. Egypt is the fourth largest recipient of American aid after Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel, based on the State Department’s budget request for the current fiscal year.
  • The Decision Looms Large, says Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "There isn't just the morning after to think about, there is the decade after. For the U.S. to get out in front now would be premature and potentially dangerous."
  • Obama Must Stand With Egyptian Protesters, writes Laura Flanders at AlterNet: "As massive protests ripple across the repressed world, US leaders can't both claim leadership and show none. They certainly can't claim pro-democracy role and stand firm--until the very last minute--with dictators. And the same is true for the rest of us. When it comes to what's wrong here--we can sit back and wait for chips to fall, or get involved in righting a wrong and do something."
  • We Want Mubarak Out--But Not Just Yet "If the protesters were to succeed in toppling Mubarak--sending him packing to Saudi Arabia, as some of their signs suggest--it could open the way for an even less appealing regime," write the editors at National Review. " It should be made clear to Mubarak--82 years old and up for election in the fall--that he's now a transitional figure, and that the days of our easy tolerance for his dictatorial rule are over."
  • Being Pro-Democracy Has Its Downsides, notes Lesli Gelb at The Daily Beast:
When President George W. Bush made his push for democracy in Arab lands, he ended up with Hamas terrorists winning a democratic election and ruling the Gaza Strip. And this “democratic” thinking also overlooks that Bush’s pressing for democracy in Lebanon helped open the doors to power for the radical Hezbollah group. And yes, the anti-shah revolution in 1979 started out with moderates in power, only to be pushed aside by the clerical radicals who still rule today. In rotten regimes that fall to street mobs, the historical pattern has been moderates followed by new dictators. Just remember the model of the Bolsheviks, a tiny group of extremely well-organized communists, wresting control away from the great majority of discontented and disorganized Russians in 1917.

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