Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sifting through the Obama administration's posture towards Mubarak, the revolution

Critics in Egypt and in the United States have criticized the Barack Obama administration for holding back in criticized Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt. While Obama was critical of Mubarak, they faulted Obama for positing a moral equivalence between the official forces of the Egyptian state and the protesters. After all, the former has tortured in the past. And the former is the entity that has committed the killings in the current unrest in Egypt. (Admittedly, protesters have injured police forces in the battles of the last few days, in addition to the of course far more numerous assaults by the police against peaceful protesters. Then again, we should note that the lion's share of the injuries in the hospitals are civilian victims of the police.)

the Huffington Post, cited Marc Lynch in Foreign Policy argued,
What they do need, if they think about it, is for Obama to help broker an endgame from the top down --- to impose restraints on the Egyptian military's use of violence to repress protests, to force it to get the internet and mobile phones back online, to convince the military and others within the regime's inner circle to ease Mubarak out of power, and to try to ensure that whatever replaces Mubarak commits to a rapid and smooth transition to civilian, democratic rule. And that's what the administration is doing.
The administration's public statements and private actions have to be understood as not only offering moral and rhetorical support to the protestors, or as throwing bones to the Washington echo chamber, but as working pragmatically to deliver a positive ending to a still extremely tense and fluid situation.

It is no surprise that Obama is being tentative, playing both sides. He is a state leader, we can't forget, gauging his relationship another state leader, yet demonstrating his interest in qualitative change by Mubarak.

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