While BMG generally focuses on domestic politics, I’m sure that the last week’s events in Egypt have everyone fixated on this incredible uprising. I’ve been following the events non-stop since last week and, as I’ve read and listened to seemingly every possible opinion, I’ve been struck at how incoherent the U.S. position is regarding the protests. We’ve gone from Obama stating that the US stands with “the people of Tunisia and all people striving for democracy” to the State Department and White House merely stressing the importance of an orderly transition of power within Egypt.
Again and again, Mr. Gibbs, who will also leave the White House next month, endorsed what the White House has decided should be a bedrock principle in this kind of situation: an “orderly transition” to a government that respects the human and political rights of its people.
But Mr. Gibbs would not say whether such an orderly transition would require the departure of Mr. Mubarak, as many of the protesters in the streets of Egypt are demanding.
“That is not for our government to determine,” he said repeatedly. “That is for the people of Egypt to determine. So I have not weighed in on anything other than – as we have throughout this process – on the side of the people of Egypt to determine what Egypt looks like in their future.”
From The New York Times 2/1/11
So we stand with the people of Tunisia but leave the people of Egypt to whatever may come?
It’s time for the United States to take a direct and coherent stand. The official policy of the United States must be that the Mubarak government has lost its legitimacy with the Egyptian people and must step aside. The White House and State Department must be seen by the “Arab Street” as clearly backing the aspirations of the Egyptian people, even if many short term concerns (Gaza, Israel, alliances) are not immediately addressed.
We must think of the dangerous long term consequences of being seen as supporting an oppressive regime even in the face of mass uprisings. I believe that if we do come out as supporting this revolution we may yet have a say in its outcome. But if we remain nuetral or only offer tentative diplomatic non-answers, we will have lost even more credibility in a region where we barely have any at all.
So what do you think about all this? Do you agree or disagree with the current US policy? What is to be done?