The violence in Egypt has made me incredibly angry, mainly because this could have been prevented had Mubarak simply stepped down. And even worse, my own government is making the situation worse when it could have helped. So, I sent an email to the White House this morning. Text of the email below the fold.
The protests in Egypt were largely peaceful demonstrations against the government. The peace ended this morning with a round of violence by pro-government forces, with reports of dozens dead and more injured. For years, the people of Egypt wanted a change in their government and have finally demanded a change, saying that the status quo is unacceptable.
The protests are something that the US should support. If we claim to be for democratic principles worldwide, our ideology demands that we support the people else be proven hypocrites in our treatment of disfavored ethnic and religious groups.
President Obama, you could have demanded that Mubarak step down immediately and could have issued a statement supporting the protesters. Instead, you appear to have given Mubarak a green light to stay on until September. Regardless of intent, this is seen as yet another betrayal of the people by another American president, whose grand rhetoric of a couple of years ago is simply another lie to placate the people of the Middle East.
The speeches by you and Mubarak are going to be seen as you authorizing him to deal with the demonstrators however he sees fit, including a brutal and bloody crackdown. Further, in the people’s eyes and imagination, the time Mubarak wants to step down will enable another dictator to be groomed, one that is palatable to the West but who the people of Egypt will hate. The US government is supporting a dictator who cares far more about maintaining his own power than he does about the people of Egypt, when the US should be supporting the people in creating a government that they want. This will be remembered for a generation.
The people are not going to go home – they have nothing worthwhile to return to. And with a population that is desperate, angry, and hopeful because of the recent overthrow of the Tunisian dictator, anything can happen: continued protests, armed revolt, or another bloody suppression.
The US should be siding with the people and not with the hated government. Contrary to propaganda, an extremist Islamic group is not waiting in the wings to take over and create an Islamic republic. Anyone who truly believes this is either ignorant of the facts or is living in the past when an Islamic republic might have been possible. At most, Islam would be one faction in the government, and if the people of Egypt want that is must be respected instead of feared.
What can emerge in Egypt is a vibrant democracy, made up of different political groups; one that is at peace with its people and neighbors. This could have happened bloodlessly if Mubarak had simply stepped down now. Instead there is a brutal crackdown by the regime, using weapons given or sold to Egypt by the US.
It is not too late to support true reform, not some vague promises of future change that the people believe will never materialize. We can, and should, issue a strong statement supporting the people’s demands for immediate change and for a cessation to the current crackdown.