Michael Tomasky (The UK Guardian): ….President Obama’s remarks on Friday afternoon were appropriate and powerful: the people of Egypt have inspired the world. For all the understandable frustration on the part of Egyptian protesters over the fact the the US wouldn’t commit to them more fully earlier, I think Obama and his people ended up playing this rather well. They turned up the heat incrementally, and but for one or two missteps, the timing was actually pretty good.
Critics, neocons especially, will say he didn’t lead, he followed. That’s true. And that was appropriate. It was up to the Egyptian people to lead this, not the United States.
And the Egyptian military. Someday, we’ll get the back story on how, in just 24 hours, the military went from evidently backing Mubarak to ditching him. This was crucial, and I doubt very much the US played no role in this. I’d wager that Pentagon chief Robert Gates and Mike Mullen, the heads of the joint chiefs of staff, had quite a lot to do with that.
With the Egyptian army relying on US military aid basically to exist, their words surely carried weight. Maybe all that aid over years, excessive as it has been in many ways, paid important dividends in the last two weeks….
….Finally: no, I will not say that Obama deserves much credit for this. At the same time, I have no doubt in my mind that if President McCain had given a speech on democracy in Cairo 20 months ago and now this happened, the neocons and Fox News and the usual suspects would be calling it “the McCain Revolution” and baying about how it proved that a bold stance by an American president had made all the difference.
I won’t parrot that kind of inanity. I’ll simply say that, from his Cairo speech until today, Obama has helped this process more than he’s hindered it. And we didn’t have to invade two countries, either. That’s the right side – for him, and for us, the people of the United States. Now, we need to stay there.
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