Rage Against the Mubarak Machine
The world is closely observing the images of chaos streaming from Egypt. Reactions differ from those that are excited and heartened at the prospects of a better future for the Egyptian people, to those who fear that the potential alternatives could only be worse. Many others remain undecided and are waiting to see what the future holds.
In seeking to understand the direction that this new political order in Egypt may be taking (as it is in its embryonic stage, and thus perhaps open to outside influence), it is crucial to recognize the wider context. It is important to be aware of the historic implications, as well as the social climate and influences under which all of this is taking place.
Firstly one must keep in mind that the protesters are primarily calling for an end to Mubarak’s leadership and régime. This seems to be the one issue on which all dissidents are united. Otherwise, there seems to be little direction or focus regarding what or whom he is to be replaced with. Understandably, in the Middle East this is the most telling symptom of upcoming danger.
At the 2008 Republican National Convention, once presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani mocked the campaign of now President Obama by saying “‘Change’ is not a destination, just as ‘hope’ is not a strategy.’ His words echo true in Egypt today; if the Egyptian people don’t have a specific destination in mind, then the final status is open to manipulation, and there are always forces looking to seize the moment. The rage against the Mubarak machine is a strategy, but not a destination.
History has shown that there is no greater threat to the security of Western interests in the Middle East than the emergence of a gaping power vacuum. Consistently, these holes have been filled by the most organized, well structured, aspirational, well-funded groups on the ground, that are – in almost every case in recent history- also Islamist. From the Iranian Revolution to the Israeli pullout of Gaza and Lebanon, almost the entire Axis of Evil (including most Middle Eastern territories and countries that are openly hostile to the United States), experienced their genesis through a power vacuum.
While some are suggesting that this event may be the catalyst for the development of a free and open society in Egypt, I believe that this may in reality be unachievable for the following reason:
After years of indoctrination and misguided education, controlled media and religious impositions, it is impossible for Egyptians to make truly free decisions. Hatred of Israel and the West is part of a deeply ingrained culture, and although a revolution may free their bodies, the minds of the masses are still under the influence of Islamist ideology. The ongoing struggle of many of the world powers is precisely how to deal with this dichotomy. On the one hand, democracy and freedom is their ideology, yet on the other is the frightening reality of where the allegiances of the Arab street would lie. What if the will of the people is war with Israel? What if they are so steeped in a culture of hatred that the only point of solidarity is in organized animosity towards the Jewish State? This clearly came to light following the democratic victory of Hamas in the Gaza strip.
A society must mature before it is ripe for the gift of pure representative government and democratic freedoms, just like a child must reach a stage of maturity before being allowed to make certain autonomous choices. The reality is uncomfortable, but the alternative is disastrous.
There can be no doubt that although only a temporary solution, the only immediate choice for the Western world is to support the establishment of a benevolent dictatorship under the direction of General Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief Mubarak just last week appointed as Vice President. Support must be conditional on a proven commitment to snuff out the spread of Islamist influence, ensuring that the power vacuum is quickly filled.
The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.