This video is promising because it implies that the military will not side with the police and crush the people. The military will ensure order but not crush the popular revolt. But this video may be misleading. Nobody knows. Only the unveiling of events over time will tell us what the future holds...
My guess is that the maneuvering by Mubarak and Obama to try and keep some semblance of the old regime in place will fail. I think the longer they string this out the more likely the country will fall into the hands of extremists like the Muslim Brotherhood. Sadly, if quick change had been allowed, moderates with a vision of a pluralistic Egypt probably would have retained control and real democracy might have had a chance to take hold. But with all this back room maneuvering with stage props like having the head of the intelligence service become VP means things will get ugly. (Can anybody think that making the head of the secret police/spies will lead to democracy?) Obama has dithered. This is the Obama who for the last two years has dithered and wasted opportunities to fix the mess in the US. Now he is dithering and condemning the Egyptians to live under either a police state or a radical theocratic regime. Sad.
The most intelligent commentary on the situation that I've seen has been by Ahmed Khalifa in an interview with CTV in Toronto during a rally on Saturday Jan 29 in Toronto. Unfortunately I can't find the video clip. But it is well worth watching for his comments on democracy.
Here is the video. Go to 00:55 to get the start of the interview with Ahmed Khalifa. Points he makes:
- Egyptians do not want "another regime". They deserve freedom.
- Omar Suleiman is a military guy, not an appropriate civilian leader.
- The Western world's desire for "stabilization" shouldn't force Egyptians to choose between democracy and stabilization.
- Notice that he intelligently refuses to speak for "what America should do". What he wants the Americans to get out of this is that Egyptians want freedom. If America decides it must go for "stabilization" then America will be acting as an imperial power and taking away Egyptian freedom so that Americans can be more "comfortable" in their own freedom.
- He shows wisdom in pointing out that "democracy is not purity, it is a self-correcting process" and then walks through examples of the US and Canada have made mistakes in its democracy but over time has corrected these mistakes.
Tragically Obama dithered the last few days. If early on he had let Clinton make the call for "free and fair" elections in Egypt things might have moved quickly to a conclusion before Mubarak came up with his strategy of turning loose criminals and provocateurs to create insecurity and using the Army to slowly strangle the revolution. I think of the many times that the US has found it easy to go beyond words and send in troops: the invasion of Grenada by Reagan over fears of Marxist revolutionaries, the invasion of Iraq over "suspected" weapons of mass destruction by Bush, the bombing and invasion of Panama to "extract" the President of Panama for drug trafficking, etc. Funny how the US felt unemcumbered to flex muscle to do whatever it felt was needed. But it has never flexed muscle to save innocent citizens from a dictator that has been propped up by the US. Very strange how the inhibitions of "morality" are so fickle.
I reserve the last word to a young "revolutionary"...
This little girl is what is scaring Mubarak and Obama. Yes... she is terrifying in her naive honesty. She hasn't yet become jaded and cynical with age.