Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Egypt Game

I have to take a different view than Gail Collins on this:
I’ve actually been a little sad watching the coverage from Egypt, because of the way the United States is reacting. It’s like that Claude Rains moment in Casablanca. We’re shocked! Egypt appears to be a repressive government! Who knew! Then after 30 years of American presidents being B.F.F.s with Mubarak, suddenly Obama is coldly hinting — then insisting — that he start packing. I understand the pragmatic reasons for all this, but it sure does undermine our self-image as champions of democracy.
But isn't this what you want from Obama, especially if you're a foreigner who hopes that America will be good and reasonable and was horribly disappointed by Bush? That Obama will start turning American foreign policy in a more enlightened direction? And really, nobody grades on consistency here. Whatever we were doing wrong in the past, you don't get points for doing it wrong some more. Coldly hinting / insisting that Mubarak get gone is the right direction.

Marc Lynch's post evaluating the Obama administration's handling of Egypt is a few days old now, but it's good and useful. I don't know how to parse diplomat-speak but if Lynch is right things are running in the right direction.
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