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Home »» Dialogues

Democracy, Egyptian style


By Hesham El Abd
 
Democracy,-Egyptian-style

Never in recorded history, dating way back to the Pharaohs, has Egypt had what many in the west would call democracy. But democracy, like Baskin Robbins, comes in 31 flavors. And it’s up to the Egyptian people to find the flavor that works for them, without outside interference. Many here fear America is trying to recast Egypt in its own image.

America’s Middle East policy was shaped by a “brotherhood,” the Dulles brotherhood, of John Foster and Allen Dulles, who told Nasser “there is no such thing as neutrality … you’re either with us or against us.” And with that statement, American foreign policy towards Egypt has been shaped - from withdrawing support for the high dam, which ushered in the Soviet era, to the lending of support for the repressive regime of Mubarak.

America now has a chance to redefine its relationship with the man on the Arab street, and for once, do the right thing. But can American recognize what the right thing is? Egypt, and the Arab world at large, gave Obama the chance, with his Cairo speech … and we’re still waiting.

Churchill one said of the American people, “Americans will always do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.” The people of the Lotus Revolution want America to know, there’s nothing left to try. Jefferson wrote, “Self government is better than good government.” Let the Egyptian people find their own way, with support, which is different than interference.

America can’t tell us what to do, but it can help – starting with the freezing of the assets of the Mubarak regime and of those who benefited from it, to the tune of $100 billion-plus in foreign accounts. This money is badly needed to build a democracy and an economy.

As the Dulles brothers would’ve put it, in contemporary terms, the US is either with the Arab youth or against it, but it can’t sit this one out, claim neutrality after decades of support for an oppressive regime with its deeply entrenched corruption and bankrupt ideas. 







 
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