Monday, January 31, 2011

The Fate of Mubarak

Stephen J. Hadley, former national security advisor to George W. Bush, writes in today's Wall Street Journal about the possible fate of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  Given the intense political upheaval in Egypt, Hadley sees Mubarak ending up a lame-duck president until presidential elections in September (where it is, in his opinion, unlikely that Mubarak will run again) or alternatively, the army replaces Mubarak to allow for a transition to open democracy.  He provides an interesting argument and it is a worthy read.

Any outcome of the Egyptian protest entails the risk of a seizure of power by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood - an outcome that would be bad for Egyptian democracy and US and regional interests.  The eternal struggle between stability and transition to democracy is starkly clear, as the US is in an awfully difficult position.  The best course of action is for the US government to announce its support for greater democracy, regardless of what parties bring it about.  This puts the US on the side of the pro-democracy protesters, while limiting the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, without cutting Mubarak loose, affording him the opportunity to at least attempt to make true reforms from within.  Regardless of the outcome, it ensures a greater likelihood of committed democratic reform, while minimizing the destabilizing costs of an unknown and possibly Islamist "freedom" movement.

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