The Middle East is unraveling. Tunisians forced out their dictator. People in Yemen are protesting. Now the Egyptians are expressing their frustration and anger at the Mubarak regime. It's inspiring to see people out in the streets and forcing change their governments won't give them. Yet it can present a lot of problems for the US of A.
If the demonstrators succeed, they may not want to be our friend. We have given Mubarak billions to support his army—oh and incidentally a little also to improve the lot of the Egyptians. And some of the support we give him goes to keeping up his security apparatus to put down grumbling among his own people.
I have long hated this realpolitik our government practices (from Wikipedia—realpolitik is a theory of politics that focuses on considerations of power, not ideals, morals, or principles.) It led us to support brutal dictatorships in Guatemala, El Salvador, and other countries in the Americas; it led us into the Vietnam war, and it has caused people around the world to hate us, because we help their oppressors stay in power. I understand that at some points we have to think that way, but that political attitude has been used far too indiscriminately.
Fighting Communism used to be our excuse; these days it's fighting terrorism. Such a great way to fight terrorism—support a strongman who is denying freedom to his own people, and creating a breeding ground for more terrorism.
Rachel Maddow had an interview with the amazing Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC news. He'd been out in the streets covering the demonstrations. He said that many Egyptians believe that it is the blanket support of the US which enables dictators like Mubarak to ignore the needs of their own people and stay in power. He said protests are not anti-American (he was able to go around without any threat to himself) but—at one point he held up a tear gas canister that had been fired at the demonstrators. There are many all over the street. He held it up and read what was printed on it—Made in the USA, in Jamestown, PA. He said a protester had picked it up and showed it to him, saying "This is the democracy America is bringing us."
It's got to be one of the most powerful instances of reporting I've ever seen.
I hope somebody in our government is paying attention to this kind of thing.
Hey, I have an idea. Let's stamp "Made in Iran" on them instead.