I have watched with interest the events in Egypt the last week or so. Under most circumstances I would be cheering a populace taking to the streets to demand a dictator step down — and make no mistake, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is a dictator.
In this case, however, having his government fall would not be a good thing for U.S. interests.
Much like Shah Mohammad Pahlavi of Iran in 1980, Mubarak may be a dictator, but he's our dictator, and much like Jimmy Carter, President Barack Obama is hanging Mubarak out to dry — likely with similar results.
I had thought this was, once again, a failure of leadership on Obama's part. I'm now coming to a different conclusion. I suspect it now has more to do with an unrealistic and simplistic worldview combined with a lack of understanding of what the Germans called "Realpolitik."
Both of the choices available should Mubarak's government fall, and that's looking more and more likely, are unpalatable at best.
First is the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in 1928 in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is the oldest and largest Islamic political group in the world and has been banned in Egypt. It is widely believed it was the Muslim Brotherhood which assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after he signed a peace treaty with Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly defended killing civilians and terrorism. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, the most powerful Muslim nation in the Middle East becomes Islamist.
The next choice, and perhaps the most likely, is Mohammed ElBaradei. That name may be familiar to some, he was the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. ElBaradei is a mostly secular Muslim, and if that sounds like a good thing, think again. The IAEA is a creature of the United Nations, and ElBaradei has spent most of his adult life working for the UN in one capacity or another.
He has said in the past that nuclear weapons in Israeli hands are more of a threat to Mideast security than they would be in the hands of Iran.
He's also on record saying the U.S. shouldn't have them either. ElBaradei is a committed UN leftist and internationalist and manifestly Not Our Friend.
Mubarak may be a slimy creature, but he is at least our ally and a known quantity.
The Obama administration's simplistic world view sees any popular uprising against a dictator as a Good Thing. This is not always the case. For decades U.S. foreign policy has been to promote stability. Should Mubarak fall, the always unstable Middle East becomes that much more dangerous.
Moreover, Obama is once again telling our allies they simply cannot depend on us. This is not only dangerous to world stability, but dangerous to American Security as well.
If our allies believe they cannot depend on us to protect them, they will quickly seek allies who will — and those may be nations we would rather they did not.
And that brings us back to the Obama Administration's, in my opinion, dangerous naivete where foreign policy is concerned. They seem to truly believe it is their job to managed the decline of America. That the world would be a safer place if the U.S. was not the preeminent power in the world, but simply one more nation among many, no more powerful or important than any other.
The problem is, and this goes to the people who like to say the U.S. should not be the world's policeman as well, is that the U.S. is the only nation on Earth capable of maintaining the peace, more or less, and preventing civilization from melting down.
If that sounds overly dramatic, think again.
Currently the general consensus among the great powers such as England, France, Germany, etc., and the U.S. is that wars of conquest and aggression are not to be allowed. It would appear we use the U.N. to prevent these, while mostly staying out of purely internal affairs like Darfur. The reality is the U.N. couldn't prevent anyone from taking over a paper sack. It is the U.S. backing the policy of "no wars of conquest" which keeps it from happening. The first Gulf War was an example. No one has really tried it since, as they know they'd be facing us if they tried.
If the U.S. is just one more great power, rather than the lone super power, that threat disappears. You want chaos and old night? Let Iran not have to worry about a carrier battle group appearing off shore.
With no threat of American might hauling warring nations apart, the whole international system the progressives are so fond of falls apart — and the world goes up in flames with it. There are too many nations with grudges, or territorial ambitions, to keep that from happening.
What's happening in Egypt right now are the first cracks in the foundation. We need to stand up for our ally there as despicable as he may be, to reassure the rest of our allies we will be there when we're needed.
All IMHO, of course.