Two paragraphs from The New York Times capture the conundrum that is the U.S.’s current policy in Egypt, a policy advocated by realist foreign policy experts. The first quotes an Egyptian with dual citizenship:
“I brought my American passport today in case I die today,” said Marwan Mossaad, 33, a graduate student of architecture with dual Egyptian-American citizenship. “I want the American people to know that they are supporting one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and Americans are also dying for it.”
The second refers to a report in Haaretz, an Israeli daily:
Jerusalem was also reported to have called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to mute criticism of Mr. Mubarak to preserve stability in the region, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
The Times follows that with a rejoinder from a unnamed Israeli official, a rejoinder that essentially–though maybe unintentionally–supported the Haaretz report:
But an Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity following diplomatic protocol, said that the Haaretz report did not reflect the position of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu spoke cautiously in his first public remarks on the situation in Egypt, telling his cabinet that the Israeli government’s efforts were “designed to continue and maintain stability and security in our region.”
“I remind you that the peace between Israel and Egypt has endured for over three decades, and our goal is to ensure that these relations continue,” the prime minister said on Sunday as Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition united around a prominent government critic in hopes of negotiating with the Army for Mr. Mubarak’s departure.
And there you have it: The U.S. has been supporting a very oppressive regime, and that regime is supposedly essential to stability in the region. My question for the realists is and always has been: In the long run, is supporting oppressive regimes in the pursuit of stability the best way to achieve stability? I think not; to wit: the Philippines (Marcos), Iran (the Shah), Iraq (Saddam), and now Egypt (Mubarak)–and that’s just off the top of my head.
There is no long-term stability without freedom, and there is no freedom without democracy. The people must be sovereign.