05 February 2011


Some models for positive, radical reform exist: the "people power" movement that replaced Marcos, in the Philippines, in 1986; fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989; and the overthrow of Suharto, in Indonesia, in 1998.

The Egyptian situation is heading toward a very interesting and important political and strategic denouement, due to Egypt's centrality in a critical region. I believe Egypt does have some grassroots, democratic human capital. At least it is not like Iraq with a tripartite Sunni-Shia religious and Arab-Kurd ethnic-group division.

But, even if power shifts, in Egypt, to some form of moderate, semi-democracy, and does not follow the Iranian model, there is frequently a severe letdown afterwards, such as happened in South Africa, when the new government has had such few resources to increase social development, just at a time when expectations are so high. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, many Russians say they had it much better under the old Soviet regime (no freedoms, but more security).

For the U.S. to have been more active publicly in recent events in Egypt (or probably anywhere) is most likely counterproductive. Remember: the U.S. is extremely unpopular in Egypt and generally throughout the Middle East, as polls have shown. Historical evidence for implanting democracy anywhere is, I believe, nonexistent.

No comments: