President Barack Obama is briefed on the events in Egypt during a meeting with his national security team in the Situation Room of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy): After President Obama spoke last night about the situation in Egypt, my Twitter feed and inbox filled up with angry denunciations, with lots of people complaining bitterly that he had endorsed Mubarak’s grim struggle to hold on to power, missed an historic opportunity, and risked sparking a wave of anti-Americanism.
….I think the instant analysis badly misread his comments and the thrust of the administration’s policy. His speech was actually pretty good, as is the rapidly evolving American policy. The administration, it seems to me, is trying hard to protect the protestors from an escalation of violent repression, giving Mubarak just enough rope to hang himself, while carefully preparing to ensure that a transition will go in the direction of a more democratic successor.
….What they do need, if they think about it, is for Obama to help broker an endgame from the top down … 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.
…anything short of Obama gripping the podium and shouting “Down With Mubarak!” probably would have disappointed activists. But that wasn’t going to happen, and shouldn’t have. If Obama had abandoned a major ally of the United States such as Hosni Mubarak without even making a phone call, it would have been irresponsible and would have sent a very dangerous message to every other U.S. ally. That doesn’t mean, as some would have it, that Obama has to stick with Mubarak over the long term – or even the weekend – but he simply had to make a show of trying to give a long-term ally one last chance to change.
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University
Fascinating article – read it all here
Thank you so much for the link Carole
Protesters at a demonstration in Cairo January 29
Robert Fisk (UK Independent): A people defies its dictator, and a nation’s future is in the balance …. It might be the end. It is certainly the beginning of the end. Across Egypt, tens of thousands of Arabs braved tear gas, water cannons, stun grenades and live fire yesterday to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak after more than 30 years of dictatorship.
Read the full article here