[Het Parool, The Netherlands]



Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

Egypt: America's 'Shameful' Faustian Bargain Unravels


"The notion of buying stability and influence with political TLC and $1.5 billion a year has failed. Whether it's a regime in South America or a family clan like the Marcos' in the Philippines - in the end, the will of the people is stronger, and there is no valve that can regulate the cauldron's pressure."


By Stefan Kornelius


Translated By Stephanie Martin


January 31, 2011


Germany - Sueddeutsche Zeitung - Original Article (German)

Egyptian President Mubarak makes his case for remaining in office until September, Feb. 1.


AL-JAZEERA: Live feed of the unfolding crisis in Egypt.RealVideo

For too long, stagnation has been mistaken for stability: Washington bids farewell to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak - and to the idea of money being capable of buying peace and influence over potentates. To its shame, the Western world has to admit failure in Egypt.


When the Cold War ended a good 20 years ago, Hosni Mubarak had already been president of Egypt for ten years, and was perhaps the central figure in the game for power and influence in the Middle East. The Cold War hadnít left much room for shades of grey - just black and white: my dictator or your dictator, my autocracy or your autocracy - in the struggle of the major blocs for influence and followers, the only thing that mattered was who one was for or against. Mubarak dominated the game masterfully, particularly after the collapse of the old order as he took the leading role in the theater that followed: peace in the Middle East. Mubarak was a guarantor of stability, an anchor for the Arab World.


The self-emancipation of Tunisian and now Egyptian citizens from their rulers and decrepit structures puts an end to yet another infamous episode of this satellite policy - a policy that in recent history has much too often done harm. This is reflected in the pathetic see-saw policies of the Obama government over recent days. First, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged calm and reason; then the White House made the abstract observation that people should have the right to express their own opinions and demonstrate; and finally, ally Mubarak was given a clear admonition to silence his weapons and allow a peaceful transition into a new era. The U.S. has bid farewell to Mubarak.


But the Obama government must also bid goodbye to the notion that stability and influence over potentates can be purchased and retained for the long term. The notion of buying stability and influence with political TLC and $1.5 billion a year has failed. Whether it's a regime in South America or a family clan like the Marcos' in the Philippines - in the end, the will of the people is stronger, and there is no valve that can regulate the cauldron's pressure. No matter how understandable the motives for a policy may be, it can't work if it ignores the ancient power of an oppressed people.†††



The satellite model is not an exclusively American phenomenon. The U.S. is only the most exposed because it has such a long reach. But even German foreign policy had faith in Mubarak and came to terms with the deal offered by the potentate: stability in the region and some hope of peace for Israel in exchange for silence - silence on human rights, on the modernization of politics and society, and on corruption and a lack of transparency. The uprising in Egypt isn't directed against the influence of foreign powers. They only play a minor role. The people of Cairo have their ruler in their sights. However, the patron nations of the Mubarak regime are tainted by the old system and are now paying a price - even if the U.S. quietly urged Mubarak in recent months to open up the system and grant more freedom.




Guardian Unlimited, U.K.: Mubarak Regime 'Still Very Much in Power'

Hankyoreh, South Korea: Egypt: Will U.S. Pick the Right Side this Time?

Global Times, China: Egypt, Tunisia Raise Doubts About Western Democracy

Kayhan, Iran: Middle East Revolutions Herald America's Demise

Sydney Morning Herald: Revolution is in the Air, But U.S. Sticks to Same Old Script

The Telegraph, U.K.: America's Secret Backing for Egypt's Rebel Leaders

Debka File, Israel: Sources: Egypt Uprising Planned in Washington Under Bush


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For the powers that were patrons of Mubarak, the fact that he's being ousted by the "street" proves their powerlessness. The U.S. was unable to move Mubarak to introduce reforms, but neither could they disconnect him from his financial intravenous drip. The Faustian bargain worked, and the deep fear of fundamentalists and nationalists created a dependence that, in the end, even strengthened the dictator. Mubarak used the attention to solidify his regime and pay for his security apparatus. What was meant to suppress the Islamist threat also helped suppress the modernizers and democrats. In the end, the fear of the Muslim Brotherhood made Mubarakís helpers abroad blind to the danger that came from the regime itself. Now there is a danger that anarchy and fanaticism could uncontrollably escalate, and that this mighty nation could implode.


Stability cannot be purchased from without, especially if stagnation is mistaken for stability. Egyptís future will now be determined by Egyptians themselves. They have realized that they must drive out those who object to modernity, so that once again, they have some air to breath. The U.S. and the rest of the democratic West, who with some justification prize their own democratic and free systems and who are aware of their superiority, must, to their shame, acknowledge that they have failed. For a meager benefit - a little stability, a little peace - they turned a blind eye to the disregard of the most important political values. And they failed to show their allies where they draw the line.


All of this will do nothing to diminish the attraction of the U.S. and Europe for many in the Arab world. But the opportunity for direct influence and respect for the policies of the West are dwindling. The Arab world is tumbling into a dramatic period of transition, and the West can do nothing but watch. The aftershocks of the Egyptian earthquake will be felt from Tangiers to Tehran, in Rabat and Riyadh. Regimes everywhere follow the same pattern - and nowhere has the West withdrawn its support from the powerful.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US February 2, 5:07pm]


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