Thursday, October 06, 2011

Egypt: Better or Worse Without Mubarak?

On this site, "human rights first" is fighting to show President Obama that Egypt is better off without Mubarek. One way in which they do this is by urging visitors of the site to send a letter to President Obama. Interestingly, the letter is already written by "human rights first", and is addressed to the White House; so that all one needs to do is push the send button.

Some highlights of the letter include...
"Dear President Obama,

I’m writing because I’m concerned that the transition set out by Egyptian President Mubarak ...does not provide a path for reform. And I’m urging you to push back on the policies of repression and false reform and to support the legitimate demands of the Egyptian people... With Mubarak in power or not, what is clear is that “Mubarakism without Mubarak,” as a witness at a Congressional hearing suggested, is no solution...
For decades, successive U.S. administrations have given their strong backing to President Mubarak, building a bi-lateral relationship on massive foreign assistance, close military cooperation, pursuit of common foreign policy objectives in the Middle East and cooperation on national security and counterterrorism. In fact and in popular perception U.S. support for Mubarak has been a cornerstone of his rule—and the repression he carried out... The U.S. government must break its unqualified support of its despotic ally."

I have a few concerns about such a letter. For one, I think that it is problematic that "human rights first" drafted a letter for people to send to President Obama. The thoughts in the letter are "human rights first" thoughts -- not the American people's ideas.

Also, I do not find the answer to achieving peace in Egypt as easy as "human rights first" asserts that it is. They seem to argue that if the U.S. Government completely reform the Egyptian Government, then all will be solved. First, I do not think the U.S. is capable of reforming a government as they suggest. And second, while Mubarak's rule was oppressive, he was able to maintain a certain level of peace for a long period of time. Once he was ousted, there were many more cases of discrimination, especially against minority groups such as Coptic Christians. Thus, the answer to peace is not as simple as "rid Egypt of all the policies of Mubarek's regime" - many of such policies (although in an oppressive sort of way) maintained peace and order. Transitioning away from these oppressive policies, while still maintaing peace, will be the challenge.

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