Marc Lynch (ForeignPolicy.com): …This was an unprecedented victory for the Egyptian people, and at last a vindication of the Obama administration’s patient and well-crafted strategy.
There is no question that the first, second and third drivers of this Egyptian revolution were the Egyptian people. The creativity of the youth and their ability to mobilize a wide range of Egyptian society around a common demand against daunting odds are simply an inspiration. The fact that these massive crowds avoided violence under incredibly tense conditions and under great uncertainty speaks volumes.
…The Obama administration also deserves a great deal of credit, which it probably won’t receive. It understood immediately and intuitively that it should not attempt to lead a protest movement which had mobilized itself without American guidance, and consistently deferred to the Egyptian people. Despite the avalanche of criticism from protestors and pundits, in fact Obama and his key aides backed the Egyptian protest movement far more quickly than anyone should have expected.
Their steadily mounting pressure on the Mubarak regime took time to succeed, causing enormous heartburn along the way, but now can claim vindication. By working carefully and closely with the Egyptian military, it helped restrain the worst violence and prevent Tiananmen on the Tahrir – which, it is easy to forget today, could very easily have happened.
No bombs, no shock and awe, no soaring declarations of American exceptionalism, and no taking credit for a tidal wave which was entirely of the making of the Egyptian people – just the steadily mounting public and private pressure on the top of the regime which was necessary for the protestors to succeed.
The Obama administration also understood from the start, and has consistently said, that removing Mubarak would not be enough. It has rejected “faux democracy,” and pushed hard for fundamental systemic reforms….
By the way, for those keeping score in the “peacefully removing Arab dictators” game, it’s now Obama 2, Bush 0. The administration has been subjected to an enormous amount of criticism over the last two weeks for its handling of Egypt, including by people inspired by or who worked on the previous administration’s Freedom Agenda. It was also attacked sharply from the left, by activists and academics who assumed that the administration was supporting Mubarak and didn’t want democratic change. In the end, Obama’s strategy worked. Perhaps this should earn it some praise, and even some benefit of the doubt going forward….
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.
Full article here