Foreign affairs are not the soup du jour, not with a crummy economy and Mother Nature’s hyperactive snowmaking machine torturing the domestic tranquility of Americans.
Nevertheless, we can’t ignore Egypt, where all hell is breaking loose.
Granted, nobody in the United States has paid much attention to Egypt, other than discovering that the Great Sphinx of Giza and those sumptuous Pharaoh tombs are wonderful photo ops for vacationers, ever since Baby Moses stopped cruising the Nile to march the Israelites home.
Protests against President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-rule are rocking Egypt. Inspired by the recent coup in Tunisia, protestors are hissed off because widespread unemployment and poverty are afflicting the younger generation.
The protestors, sick of being smacked down into the trough, want to split Mubarak’s reign like a cantaloupe that has been too long in the sun.
Making matters even hotter for Mubarak is the return from Vienna of democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian Nobel laureate who has called for Mubarak to retire.
Mubarak’s ruling party said today that it is ready to open a dialogue with youths who have staged three days of anti-government protests, but likely won’t offer any meaningful concessions.
So why do we care? Because the Egyptian strongman has been our strongest ally in the powder keg that is the Mideast.
President Obama has put private pressure on Mubarak but apparently now is ready to step up public criticism of the ruling Middle Eastern regime if a government crackdown in that country is not eased. Privately, Obama has told Mubarak that Egypt needs to seize the moment and increase reform, not to expand the security state.
For decades the U.S. gave Mubarak all-out support. But at the risk of losing a good ally in Mubarak, the Americans might be better off to get on the right side of history since corrupt, inept and inefficient Arab strongmen can’t retain power forever.
But the administration is sliding toward the unknown. Senior officials have no idea of exactly who these street protesters are, whether the protesters are simply a mob force incapable of organized political action and rule, or if more sinister groups hover in the shadows, waiting to grab power and turn Egypt into an anti-Western, anti-Israeli bastion.
For now, nobody but perhaps Nostradamus can divine what will happen to power within Egypt if the protesters compel concessions from Mubarak or burrow in and take him apart piece by piece.
Meanwhile, all this turmoil is not going unnoticed in Israel, where pacifism never has been locked in the linen closet.
Guess we all had better do some light reading and brush up on the apocalyptic verses from the Bible.