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Is Democracy the Solution in Egypt?

Gil Kaufman 2011/02/05 11:00:00
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It’s a simple choice, really, between the dictator-lite devil we know and the possibly worse democratic leadership we don’t. After first siding with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the Obama administration has done a 180 over the past few days and expressed sympathy with the masses in the streets demanding change.

Despite a cozy three-decade long relationship with the Egyptian leader, considered one of the most stable in the Middle East, the White House appears willing to throw caution to the wind and let the democratic process play out. The question is: will things turn out like they did in Iran in 1979, when the U.S.’s ally the Shah was overthrown by an anti-American theocracy, or will democracy take root as it has in Germany?

The most current plan is to have Mubarak step down immediately – not before the next election as he’s stated – and replace him with recently appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman. The transitional government would then invite members of a broad coalition of opposition groups to work on opening the country’s electoral system to pave the way for free and fair elections in September.

Some have warned of a takeover by the banned Muslim Brotherhood, a large Islamist political group that shuns violence and preaches the importance of social justice and political freedom, but only to the extent allowed by Islamic law. This has raised fears of a totalitarian government replaced by a fundamentalist one, which is a potentially volatile rotten apples-for-rotting apples exchange in the eyes of many foreign policy experts.

But if you’ve been watching the pitched battles in the streets of Cairo, this citizen uprising is part of the burgeoning Twitter Revolution and the genie will be impossible to shove back into the laptop.

We’re seeing young people who’ve harnessed the power of social media to organize mass protests (despite Mubarak's government’s attempts to choke off access to the Internet) and get their message out to the world. This is not an Islamic revolution, it’s a people-powered revolution and when reporters brave the scrum to speak to the protesters they have democracy on their minds, not Sharia law or Islamic radicalism.

Change appears to be moving quickly, as evidenced by a resolution passed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday calling for Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a democratic rule. While we haven’t sent boots to the ground in Tahrir Square, it would be foolish to think the U.S. will not play a strong hand in the fashioning of a free, democratic government in Egypt.

America’s staunchest ally in the region, Israel, has reportedly been upset with how the U.S. has handled the situation, but in an article entitled “Betting on Egypt Democracy is Israel’s Only Choice,” the country’s daily Ha’Aretz newspaper made a strong case for the new movement.

“For decades Israel’s overall strategy was based on two conflicting assumptions. One is that Israel’s strategic position depends on the survival of authoritarian regimes like those of Mubarak and Ben Ali. Common ‘wisdom’ has been that the alternative to these dictatorships is Islamic fundamentalism, and this means endless, often armed conflict with Israel’s neighbors,” the paper wrote on Wednesday.

On the flip side, common wisdom has also held that there will never be peace in the region if there is no democracy in Arab countries.

“This theory is based on the rather strong evidence that developed democracies tend not to go to war with each other, because, once a strong middle class is established, war is contrary to the interests of the people.”

Yes, the author argued, the process of democratization is messy, but because this is a people-powered revolution and not a party-powered one, there is hope that true change may come.

As NPR pointed out, the solution so far is far from ideal. Mubarak and his army cronies have cleverly installed military leaders in the vice presidential and prime minister slots.

But even if the current temporary government isn’t The One, the baby steps toward democracy forced by the ire of the people is proof that change can happen. If the ultimate outcome is not acceptable, the bloodied protesters in the streets now know that their voices can be heard and they’re likely to take to the streets again, and again, until they are.

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Top Opinion

  • ruffedge 2011/02/05 19:17:36
    No
    ruffedge
    +13
    Democracy is nothing more than mob rule. True liberty will not come from Democracy. Ben Franklin put it best; "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding on lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

    I don't believe for a second that this uprising is the result of nothing more than common people striving for freedom. I don't doubt that they want freedom but the call to action is coming from a specific source. Personally I believe it to be the Brotherhood of Muslims.

    If the BoM does gain control of the Egyptian government, any inkling of fragile peace which now exists in the Middle East will give way to the annihilation of Israel. If enemies of the west gain control of the Suez Canal, the cost of energy will strangle the economic systems of the U.S. and her allies leaving true liberty virtually paralyzed.

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  • LesWaggoner BN 1 2011/02/10 07:43:46
    Yes
    LesWaggoner BN 1
    Not enough choices here. Whether they would prosper under a democratic government or not is unknown.
  • baboula 2011/02/10 04:44:10 (edited)
    No
    baboula
    Democracy is not good for anybody-it is the uncontrolled rule of the mob. The freedom from oppression is different and would be very good as it would allow growth and prosperity not stagnation.
  • Tom 2011/02/08 15:56:14
    Yes
    Tom
    Yes, democracy is the solution for people around the world. Allowing people to chose their leaders and form their government is the beginning of freedom. However, with democracy many times the outcome may not be to the US liking. Religoius zealots may be elected to rule, military generals may be elected to rule, and the US may be perceived as a threat and not an ally.
  • big dipper 2011/02/08 15:05:25
    Yes
    big dipper
    Unfortunately, over the decades America has support dictatorships in the Phillippines, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, etc. Some were fair, others are contradictory to our values. Today, still people don't know that the Vietnam Declaration of Independance was patterned after our own yet we support France in its effort to remain in power. Just like in Vietnam, people who want true freedom will fight to the death to get what they want and the United States must stand with them regardless of the risk because we now must walk the walk after Bush effort at forcing Democracy down the throats of Iraqis. Democracy must be a free choice and if we support that we will win more allies than any army can conquer. I personally don't believe muslims will want the religious oppression of radicals, the muslim brotherhood, or the Taliban after they taste true freedom.

    Muslims must defeat other Muslims to get their freedom without our interference.
  • Raymundo 2011/02/08 09:05:26
    Yes
    Raymundo
    The people of Egypt will make their choice for the type of government pursuing president Mubarak resignation. This week is key for the Egypt because their are many influential parties who are trying to get a stab sort of speak at a new formation of rule in this strategically positive area. Democracy would solve a majority of their problems for the people rising up against Mubarak's thirty plus years of rule as president. Their governmental system before this whole debacle was similar to a republic where the people had a vote on issues but the president would figure out what was best for the country. Similar to the United States, we live in a democratic republic where citizens votes do not go unheard yet their is still a president who will make decisions for the people by the people. (not including congress and senate yet) Other parties that are influencing the situation are the Brotherhood of Muslims which are another strong organization who seeks control of another powerful state. Though they have the ideals of a freedom state for the people, their is an underlying cause and effect which in turn could result in another radical Islamic state. Their reasons, implimentations and actions for freedom do not include the freedoms and actions similar to the United States, United King...
    The people of Egypt will make their choice for the type of government pursuing president Mubarak resignation. This week is key for the Egypt because their are many influential parties who are trying to get a stab sort of speak at a new formation of rule in this strategically positive area. Democracy would solve a majority of their problems for the people rising up against Mubarak's thirty plus years of rule as president. Their governmental system before this whole debacle was similar to a republic where the people had a vote on issues but the president would figure out what was best for the country. Similar to the United States, we live in a democratic republic where citizens votes do not go unheard yet their is still a president who will make decisions for the people by the people. (not including congress and senate yet) Other parties that are influencing the situation are the Brotherhood of Muslims which are another strong organization who seeks control of another powerful state. Though they have the ideals of a freedom state for the people, their is an underlying cause and effect which in turn could result in another radical Islamic state. Their reasons, implimentations and actions for freedom do not include the freedoms and actions similar to the United States, United Kingdom but more towards Iranian, Pakistani, Afghanistan, Chinese and Russian liberties. The underlying effect here that this has not only become a crisis on political agendas for different parties but also has a religious pull on things. Speaking as a United States citizen we live in a republic democracy where church is separate from the state; but if a state and religion were one in the same, then this could be a very powerful entity. I guess to wrap things up similar to transformers "their is more than meets the eye" and in this situation or debacle their are many fingers jabbing at a say in the whole ending scenario or rebirth of Egypt. One thing I hope for is that this strong beginning civilization keeps a steady grasp on its own agenda as well as the global serenity for a peaceful earth. (aww)
    (more)
  • Sir Psycho Sexy 2011/02/08 06:26:54
    Yes
    Sir Psycho Sexy
    +1
    I Only Answered Yes Because There Was Not A Third Alternative...
    I Really Don't Know Enough About Egypt's Problems To Offer An Opinion.
    However, Since They Are EGYPT's PROBLEMS. America Should Stay Out of It. We've Got Enough On Our Plate.
  • Elmo~WAWU~Bn-2~ 2011/02/08 05:58:14
    No
    Elmo~WAWU~Bn-2~
    +3
    Dudes, just let them get on with it.
    It's their country, not ours.
  • judge Elmo~WA... 2011/02/11 06:06:27
    judge
    I agree we don't need to send our tax dollars over seas. While being the "One nation under God" with a Constitution has worked well for us, other countries who don't share our belief system may need some other form of government to control their people. If John Adams was correct, and I believe he was then perhaps Egypt and most other foreign countries may need some other form of government, and perhaps we in America also if we loose our Godly Christian roots. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
    John Adams quotes (American 2nd US President (1797-1801), 1735-1826)
  • 49er 2011/02/08 03:22:16
    Yes
    49er
    SOME COUNTRY SHOULD MAKE SURE IT TURNS OUT THAT WAY. AVOID ISLAMIC RADICALISM AT ALL COSTS
  • MadAsHEck 2011/02/08 03:17:05
    Yes
    MadAsHEck
    If they get it. But Iran was supposed to get Democracy after we helped them kick out the Shah.

    What do you think the chances are that this will turn out the same, but with a Nucleur Egypt in the hands of a Theocracy controlled by an Ayatolah?
  • XZQZQ 2011/02/08 01:37:54
    No
    XZQZQ
    Show me a single non-Jewish democracy in the Middle East.... Why should Egypt be any different ?
  • npotter 2011/02/08 00:55:21
    Yes
    npotter
    It's a solution, but I doubt it could ever happen with the MB's interference.
  • PhilipSurg 2011/02/07 23:29:34
    Yes
    PhilipSurg
    Young egyptian people in need to share others ,not to be controlled by islamic ways or to be of religious direction .Also,islam is not a democratic at all,and they need freedom,power of speech freely with an open minded authorities .They need to feel HUMAN ,not that in ISLAM (slave).
  • MadAsHEck PhilipSurg 2011/02/08 03:17:51
    MadAsHEck
    Check on freedom of Speech under Sharia Law.
  • PhilipSurg MadAsHEck 2011/02/13 23:15:17
    PhilipSurg
    No dear ,we check our christ,who give us our ways facing and solving any bad law.
  • Barfly 2011/02/07 22:50:06
    Yes
    Barfly
    Yes, keep it secular like the one guy said!
  • Laffing at Liberals 2011/02/07 22:30:04
    No
    Laffing at Liberals
    The Muslim Brotherhood has been around since the 1920's they backed Hitler and Arafat's uncle was a personal friend of Adolph!
    Killing Jews, Christians and anyone else that got in their way was their stock in trade!
    So not just no but hell NO until those people know what the hell they are doing and getting into!
    Look at what is happening here we have an administration that only follows what court ruling they agree with!!!
  • hisomouth 2011/02/07 22:16:09
    No
    hisomouth
    To have Democracy and a Republic you have to know what they are. The reason that in the US we are losing a lot of our freedoms, people are forgetting what they are.
  • Wise Soul 2011/02/07 21:54:29
    Yes
    Wise Soul
    If it is they will have to be the ones who want it.
  • HL 2011/02/07 21:54:06
    Yes
    HL
    But it is non of our business.
  • MadAsHEck HL 2011/02/14 04:10:13
    MadAsHEck
    See how you feel about that when they close off the Suez Canal. That will surely make it our business.
  • gamman 2011/02/07 20:55:11
    Yes
    gamman
    keep it as secular as possible
  • Chris D 2011/02/07 20:33:27
    Yes
    Chris D
    If you truly believe in democracy you will have to say yes - The question people really want to ask is what is best for the US in terms of the stability of the region. If the people of Egypt want to be ruled by religious zealous and have no freedom - then that is democratic...as long as the election isn't rigged (which has been a major problem in the past) then let the people choose and the US will have to deal with the outcome - although I can't understand why anyone would vote to have no freedom
  • MadAsHEck Chris D 2011/02/08 03:19:15
    MadAsHEck
    Kind of like the elections in Iran a year or two ago?
  • Chris D MadAsHEck 2011/02/08 03:23:41
    Chris D
    those were rigged - i said not rigged
  • MadAsHEck Chris D 2011/02/08 04:09:26
    MadAsHEck
    Ah there's the rub. And how do you do that? Why didn't we support the Democracy protesters in Iran like we now are supporting them in Egypt?
  • Chris D MadAsHEck 2011/02/08 18:15:28
    Chris D
    I agree in principal but I think the reason we didn't support them outwardly was because the anti-American atmosphere is so charged in Iran that the hard liners would have used it against the protesters and us
  • MadAsHEck Chris D 2011/02/08 18:34:24 (edited)
    MadAsHEck
    There is a new Hardline Cleric in the background in Egypt now by the name of
    Muhammad Badi. He could be the Ayatolah Khomeni of Egypt. So without Mubarik, Anti-Americanism will be next.

    Then there is the old Jihaad arm of the Muslim Brotherhood coming back into the picture the Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya are sneaking in with support from Hamas to create more havoc.

    And something that has been totally "Not Mentioned" is the presence of WMD's in Egypt. Lots of them, and Nulcleur material, and a faint possibility that they had a Nuke Weapons program. Getting more scary by the day.

    http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide...
  • MadAsHEck MadAsHEck 2011/02/14 04:13:38
    MadAsHEck
    And then there were the Peaceful protests in Iran. The Democratic Government caused Hundreds Killed, thousands wounded, and all the leaders hung.

    Thats your kind of Democracy????
  • Kane 2011/02/07 20:26:26 (edited)
    Yes
    Kane
    yes and no.... if it empowers the MB then the answer is no. If it empowers the MAJORITY then the answer could be yes. In America the majority is not in power
  • peterb37 2011/02/07 20:06:01
    Yes
    peterb37
    I'm going to answer yes to this question since it it the better of the two options. The question properly asked is whether self determination is the solution. You can call damn near anything a democracy if you have elections, We call ourselves a democracy , and look at the shape we are in. Athenian Democracy had no elections, so elections don't make a democracy. In the first true democracy the only people in government who had a voice were the people, and the leaders did as the people decided. They have no voice or lot to cast. There were no political alliances allowed either, and if your were caught politicking you were banished for ten years and you forfeited all your goods.

    If that is the Democracy of which you speak, then absolutely it would be the solution, in fact it would be the best solution. If you mean what we have here in hte US , I would say they are doomed to failure, in so far a system of government is concerned. In a Corperate Democracy , where Corperations are legally artificial people and afforded all the same rights and priviledges as a citizen, they are as big as godzilla, and have godzilla money. Godzilla guarentees you that you have a right to vote and doesn't give a crap who you vote for since they own the winner no matter who wins .
    If the Egyptian...

    I'm going to answer yes to this question since it it the better of the two options. The question properly asked is whether self determination is the solution. You can call damn near anything a democracy if you have elections, We call ourselves a democracy , and look at the shape we are in. Athenian Democracy had no elections, so elections don't make a democracy. In the first true democracy the only people in government who had a voice were the people, and the leaders did as the people decided. They have no voice or lot to cast. There were no political alliances allowed either, and if your were caught politicking you were banished for ten years and you forfeited all your goods.

    If that is the Democracy of which you speak, then absolutely it would be the solution, in fact it would be the best solution. If you mean what we have here in hte US , I would say they are doomed to failure, in so far a system of government is concerned. In a Corperate Democracy , where Corperations are legally artificial people and afforded all the same rights and priviledges as a citizen, they are as big as godzilla, and have godzilla money. Godzilla guarentees you that you have a right to vote and doesn't give a crap who you vote for since they own the winner no matter who wins .
    If the Egyptians are smart , which ever way they decide they should take heed to disallow Corperations to have influence on your government what so ever and under no circumstances. Corperations will reshape your culture and you will just become another set of widjets.dedicated to money and the worship of it . I mean that of course as a metaphore, but Americans have developed a culture based or irrational persuit of money, and over comsumption.

    Make sure your government is made up of real people and not giant artificial ones that will control your lives. You have an opportunity to get it right the first time if you put real people in your government to start with and everything else will follow.
    (more)
  • Matt 2011/02/07 19:49:55 (edited)
    No
    Matt
    "Democracy", doesn't appear to be working too well for Iraq or Afghanistan. What ever is going to eventually replace Sadaam Hussein is going to have to be just as mean and authoritarian.

    democracy working iraq afghanistan eventually replace sadaam hussein authoritarian
  • Kane Matt 2011/02/07 20:30:03
    Kane
    +1
    imperialism should have ended by now
  • judge Matt 2011/02/11 05:33:27 (edited)
    judge
    +1
    Right on. While being the "One nation under God" with a Constitution has worked well for us, other countries who don't share our belief system may need some other form of government to control their people. If John Adams was correct, and I believe he was then perhaps Egypt and most other foreign countries may need some other form of government, and perhaps we in America also if we loose our Godly Christian roots. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
    John Adams quotes (American 2nd US President (1797-1801), 1735-1826)
  • Rooster 2011/02/07 17:26:26
    No
    Rooster
    +1
    the problem with this is that america is sticking our nose in buisness that isnt ours i mean its none of our buisness
  • MadAsHEck Rooster 2011/02/08 03:21:49
    MadAsHEck
    Say that when the MB shuts down the Suez Canal as they have said they want to do. How do you feel about maybe $10.00 gas, or our naval fleet being unable to get through the canal. I knw minor things we can handle here at home.
  • Rooster MadAsHEck 2011/02/09 16:04:51
    Rooster
    +1
    yea i understand wat ur saying but let egypt handle there own stuff
  • Matt Rooster 2011/02/11 07:58:35
    Matt
    Your spelling is not too good but your ideas are very profound !
  • Rooster Matt 2011/02/11 16:01:59
    Rooster
    im juss trying to type fast i know how to spell
  • Matt MadAsHEck 2011/02/11 07:56:47
    Matt
    In the grand scheme of things, our gasoline prices are not important. When they shut off the flow of oil to Israel, then things will matter !
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