Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Presidential Principles

When in 2009 Hondurans acted constitutionally and properly via the military, Supreme Court, and the legislature to remove a president who gave signs of becoming a dictator and despot, the Obama administration was outraged and demanded that the president, Manuel Zelaya, be reinstated despite the wishes of the peoples' representatives.

When the Iranian people rose in protest of the fraudulent elections in 2009 which returned Ahmadinejad to power, the Obama administration justified their silence by saying that we shouldn't meddle in the affairs of other nations.

When the leader of China, one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, visited the U.S. several weeks ago, President Obama, himself a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, feted his Chinese counterpart with a lavish state dinner while many Chinese, including another Nobel Peace Prize winner, languished in prison.

Now, when the people of Egypt rise to demand the resignation of a man who has been one of our best friends, President Obama throws in with the Egyptian masses and demands that Mubarak leave office immediately.

Set aside the unseemliness of Mr. Obama sounding as though he was dictating terms to Mr. Mubarak rather than advising him. Let's grant, moreover, that taking the side of the pro-democracy protesters is the proper thing to do.

The question I wish to pose is what principles guide this president in making decisions as to whom he will support in these conflicts? What guides him to side with the people in the case of Egypt, but with a likely despot in Honduras, and to remain silent while the people of China and Iran suffer under the crushing weight of tyranny?

It would be very interesting to hear him explain the principles, if any, which light his path in these matters.

The Egyptian Uprising

The American Thinker has a very good account of the events of the last several days in Egypt written by a politically astute young man who witnessed them close up. His report is at odds in several respects with what we've been hearing in our own media, and his insights are very helpful. Anyone interested in the history behind the present turmoil and what will come of it really should read his essay.

Here's the lede:
One week ago, Egypt was a stable authoritarian regime, prospects of change were minimal and every expert in Washington would have betted on the endurance of its regime. Today, Egypt is in a state of chaos. The regime, even after using its mightiest sword is not able to control the country and the streets of Egypt are in a state of utter lawlessness. As the world stands in awe, confusion, and worry at the unfolding events, perhaps it is important to write the evolving story that is happening in Egypt before any reflections can be made on them.

Contrary to pundits, it turns out that the Egyptian regime was neither stable nor secure. The lack of its stability is not a reflection of its weakness or lack of a resolve to oppress. It is a reflection of its inherent contradiction to the natural desire of men to enjoy their basic freedoms. Egyptians might not know what democracy actually means, but that does not make the concept any less desirable. Perhaps it is precisely its vagueness and abstraction that makes the concept all the more desirable.

For two weeks calls were made using new social media tools for a mass demonstration on the 25th of January. Observers dismissed those calls as another virtual activism that would not result in anything. Other calls in the past had resulted in very small public support and the demonstrations were limited to the familiar faces of political activists numbering in the hundreds. As the day progressed, the observers seemed to be correct in their skepticism. While the demonstrations were certainly larger than previous ones, numbering perhaps 15,000 in Cairo, they were nothing worrisome for the regime. They were certainly much smaller than the ones in 2003 against the Iraq War. The police force was largely tolerating and when they decided to empty Tahrir Square, where the demonstrators had camped for the night, it took them less than 5 minutes to do so.

But beneath that, things were very different. The social media tools had given people something that they had lacked previously, an independent means of communication and propaganda. Hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians in a matter of minutes were seeing the demonstration videos being uploaded on youtube. For an apolitical generation that had never shown interest in such events the demonstration was unprecedented. More remarkable they were tremendously exaggerated. At a moment when no more than 500 demonstrators had started gathering in that early morning, an Egyptian opposition leader could confidently tweet that he was leading 100,000 in Tahrir Square. And it stuck.
Read the rest of it. You probably won't find so much information on the Egyptian uprising in one place anywhere in the mainstream media.