I have not wanted to write directly political blogs, having no real confidence in the rightness or the usefulness of my opinion. And the virtue of most blogs is that they expose an opinion to the give-and-take of discussion, but I duck and cover from that. I don’t have the energy, the will, or the conviction to take on a public argument about anything other than the Google Settlement. But I can’t keep silent about what’s been happening in Egypt without feeling that silence is a betrayal of something very great that I have honored all my life.
I am bitterly disappointed in President Obama’s withdrawal from his first, apparently spontaneous support of the uprising, his agreement that Mubarak must go and go now for there to be a real movement towards democracy. Once again he vacillated and came down on the side of “compromise,” which in the circumstances means compromising America’s moral position.
The man who told us Yes, we can, now seems almost to have taken for his motto: WWWD?
The men who replaced the Commie Bogey with the Bogey of Islam huddle about him whimpering that the various corrupt Middle Eastern autocracies we fund are all that has stood between us and universal jihad for 30 years and we must go on propping them up with “moderate” policies, i.e. billions of dollars in aid and weapons and oil payments, or the tide of terrorism will descend upon us all.
That the crowds in Tahrir Square are not immoderate, that they are not religiously but politically motivated, that what they are demanding is not the rule of the imams and ayatollahs but democratic process, self-rule, freedom – this means nothing to the people who make their money and get their power out of the three American wars, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and against terrorism. Whatever would we do if we didn’t have all those wars? Take the billions spent on “defense” and spend it on schools and public works and health care and stupid stuff like that where nobody gets killed? Well, the military and corporate war profiteers will see to it that that doesn’t happen, by letting just enough of the profits keep trickling down to their advocates in Congress.
If the American president had delivered a clear message of moral solidarity with the peaceful crowds in Tahrir Square and then stood by it, if he were talking now not just with old-crony-Suleiman but with Mr El Baradei and the leaders of the Egyptian Army and the Moslem Brotherhood, that would do more to defuse radical Muslim terrorists, and to weaken the half-demented regime in Iran, than anything else we could do.
If we want to see Israel survive, Egypt offers us a chance to try to force Mr Netanyahu and his party back from the brink to which, in a death-instinct as determined as that of any jihadist, they keep dragging their people closer and closer.
Old Egypt is offering us a new and great opportunity: to break free from out-dated, noxious alignments and policies in the Middle East, to speak out for freedom from tyranny, to support a people reaching for democracy, to remember what being on the right side is like. The opportunity won’t last long. They never do.
King Dog: A Movie for the Mind’s Eye is now available at the Book View Cafe eBookstore.