He who has not seen Cairo has not seen the world, for she is “om donya,” the mother of the universe.
It’s never too early to discuss how any event, no matter how seemingly insignificant, will effect an American Presidential election – like Park 51, the mosque/community center at Ground Zero. Egypt is, after all, the cradle of civilization, despite its current uncivilized appearance. But then again, democracy can be messy, a contact sport. Most thinking politicians, including those few rare American ones who don’t need to invade a country to learn where it is, know that Cairo isn’t Las Vegas. What happens in Cairo doesn’t stay in Cairo.
With less than two years to the next US presidential election, it’s not too early to start analyzing Cairo’s Facebook Revolution – but it may be too late. I agree with Clinton (the other Clinton) that it’s always about the economy when it comes to American politics. This is something the “shebab,” the Egyptian youth, seem to have figured out.
What happens here will indeed affect the global economy over the next decade in ways that make multinational companies salivate. So, American politicians better pay attention. They won’t be able to wait until after the 2012 election to begin currying favor with the new breed of Arab youth, the ones that will make up the middle class that this time around will be allowed to emerge. Otherwise, those in whose interest it is to detract might want to remind them that the tear gas, the rubber bullets and M1A1 tanks that for the past three decades were the arsenals used to suppress their hopes, dreams and freedom were a gift of the American people.
America can’t afford to alienate the next generation, not only of Egypt but of the entire Arab world. They will be courted by the emerging economic superpowers, like China and Brazil and Russia, as well as the EU. Maybe if the US plays its cards right, it can get it right the first time in this re-do.
Israel always plays a part and never misses an opportunity to tell America it’s the only democracy in the Middle East, thus the only ally to be trusted. American politicians, even if they’re only running for dog catcher, must embrace the 51st state to win. One need only witness the parade of Republican candidates for 2012 visiting Israel now. Cairo, the City Victorious, should be added to the list of must-visit venues. Rest assured, we’ve got plenty of hotel rooms available at the Four Seasons, but maybe not for long.
Alas, the Cairo story has all the danger and intrigue of a classic Hollywood epic. But the heroics lack a hero. The youth of Tahrir, or Liberation, Square are the new casting directors. Baradei and Moussa are auditioning for the role. Soon they’ll be holding auditions for economic partners. American politicians might start rehearsing their lines, with sincerity