I still don't really know how things are going in Egypt, and I don't think anyone else in this country has much of a clue either. So it's interesting to me to see how many TV talkers, newspaper writers, talk show hosts etc. who never gave ten minutes' thought in a year to Egypt are suddenly endowed by their creator with infinite wisdom on the subject. Too bad we can't get them all to just shut up until we know a little more.
I was particularly amused by David Gergen on CNN today, struggling to find a way to blame something, anything on Obama, and unable to find any kind of failure in what Obama has done, finally just stated that Obama should have said nothing at all- although we all know that if he had done that, the entire conservative world would have been all over him, unable to distinguish as usual between restraint and weakness, and preferring belligerent stupidity to either.
So, let me make this clear: We don't know what is going to happen in Egypt. Even if a popular coalition drives Mubarak from office, there is no guarantee that they can hold on to power. Look at the precedents: In Iran, the moderate popular government of Bani-Sadr and Bakhtiar was speedily dispatched by the mullahs. Remember the Russian revolution, in which the Mensheviks held onto power for only months before being displaced by the far more radical Bolsheviks? And let us not forget the French revolution, where a whole succession of governments were displaced in their turn by more radical forces: The Girondists, the Jacobins, Danton, even Robespierre found themselves sucked under by the forces of the time, and replaced by ever more radical and irrational groups. The results? Iran ended up with a vicious, intolerant religious dictatorship, Russia ended up with a dysfunctional economic system, and within a few years a murderous tyrant. France too ended up with a dictator- Napoleon, who in retrospect almost seems quaint.
History does not bode well for the Egyptians, I am afraid, and there is virtually not a single thing that our country can do to have any effect at this point. We could, however, if certain people get their way, make things a lot worse. People in the Arab world have a two hundred year history to teach them not to trust Western interference in their affairs. Maybe if we listen to the likes of Elliot Abrams and John Bolton, we can see to it that they hate us for eternity.