Matters in Egypt seem to be coming to a head. My impression is that within the next few hours Mubarak will either have to crack down hard with martial law or leave the country. According to Salon, the White House has signaled it would prefer the latter. But there are new reports that the army is siding with Mubarak. At the moment, it doesn’t seem that Mubarak is leaving.
A writer for Forbes says that what a majority of Egyptians want is not a western-style democracy, the tender hopes of the NRO staff notwithstanding, but some form of Islamic theocracy.
Egyptian values, in other words, are far from liberalâ€”even if some of the protesters currently out in the streets might be. This, of course, runs counter to the idea that has taken hold in many quarters: that the end of the Mubarak era will inexorably lead to democracy in the heart of the Arab world. But numbers donâ€™t lie; Egyptian society as a whole is both religious and deeply conservative.
Israel probably has good reason to be worried. And there’s no question that if Mubarak goes, the extremist teabagger Right in the U.S. will howl that Obama “lost Egypt.” But if there’s one thing I wish people would learn, it is that the U.S. can’t control what goes on in another country. And propping up pro-western dictators because the alternative seems worse always seems to backfire in the long run.