Egypt and the American Dilemma

The fall of Hosni Mubarak is justice by any estimation. I must admit, the skepticism I carried throughout the waves of protest melted at the scenes of ecstatic triumph from Cairo. Now, nearly a month after the events that have forever changed the calculus of the Middle East began, those concerns and worries cannot be ignored for much longer. What will this “New-Egypt” become?

Liberalism has many enemies in the modern world. Amongst these foes, none carries the violent energy and psychological momentum now embodied by Islamic fundamentalism. By the actions of the secular, repressive regimes that have stifled much of the Muslim world for the last half century, and by our own nation’s arrogance and cynical indifference, radicals calling for a government firmly founded in religious dogma have emerged as the main voices of dissent across the region. The ridiculous campaign against the Cordoba House in New York, and the ban on Sharia law in Oklahoma display both an ignorance and bigotry out of place in the flagship of the free world. That said, as disciples of freedom, we cannot allow our own extremists to temper our opposition to the reactionary forces intent on removing the so-called “decadence” of western philosophy.

Thirty years ago, the world watched the hopes and dreams Iranian Revolution slip into the hands of the faithful, never to be seen again. However, at this moment, there is no evidence that events in Egypt will follow the example of Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest opposition party in the country and star of Glen Beck’s latest nightmares, have promised not to field a candidate for president in the coming elections. Assurances have been made that the treaty with Israel will not be broken. With the army providing a degree of stability and continuity in this transition period, there is good reason to believe our greatest fears might not come to pass.

Democracy has little or no precedence in the Arab world. The victory of Hamas in Palestine’s last elections, followed by the disgraceful attempts by Egypt, Israel, and the US to overturn the result through blockade and selective empowerment of Fatah, means that neither the West, nor the Egyptians embark on this new frontier with mutual trust. The Obama administration now must now decide how this country will behave as the post-American age dawns in the Middle East. The regimes and kleptocracies supported for decades by US guns and money can see their day of reckoning on the horizon.  This being an opinion piece, tradition requires that I offer a solution to the problems presented. What road will Egypt take? As inspiring and cathartic as the scenes from Cairo may be, we cannot shut our eyes with childlike belief that good triumphs over evil. I remain deeply conflicted by what has happened and what is still to come. But for all my fears and reservations, I still have faith. Faith in the people who risked so much in the face of stubborn repression. Faith in the emerging leaders seeking to build meaningful institutions that will breed a civic culture of accountability and accesability. But most of all, I have faith in the inevitability of freedom’s victory over oppression. Let the joyous cry of the multitudes in Tahrir Square echo in the halls of Pyonyang, Beijing, Khartoum and Washington. Let us pray that no tyrant will ever feel safe again.

Nick White is a sophomore history major.

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