Viewed from afar what’s happening in Egypt presents a simple choice of what side to support. But domestic policy in other nations and their international policy are two very separate things and for decades, America has been willing to look the other way on one for the sake of the other. Those days are over. Americans, if they choose, are getting the unbelievable opportunity to watch a revolution live via the Internet, despite the relative disinterest of the major domestic TV news organizations (For a guide on how to do it, see this Wired article).
Things are following a predictable course. Late this morning, the military in Egypt started getting involved, according to Al Jazeera.
U.S. news organizations are struggling to find the relevancy of the story. Christine Amanpour, who knows plenty about the Middle East, did a fine job this morning explaining the reality. Taking down a corrupt and authoritarian government in Egypt and Yemen, she points out, could give rise to something equally bad “if it’s not managed properly.”
But revolutions are hardly manageable things, and the U.S. is clearly paralyzed in trying, as Time’s Tony Karon points out:
The Obama Administration’s dilemma over how to respond to Egypt’s democracy movement became a little more acute on Thursday when the country’s largest opposition party, the banned Muslim Brotherhood, declared its intention to openly participate in Friday’s protests. Years of operating in conditions of twilight legality have given the Brotherhood an unrivaled organizational network — its members expect to be arrested and roughed up by the regime — and it is widely viewed as by far the most popular party in the opposition. That’s a problem for the U.S., given its singular allergy to Islamist parties in the Arab world, particularly those that challenge its longtime allies.
By the way, this afternoon on the U of M campus, students will rally in support of the protesters.