Thursday, February 10, 2011

After Mubarak...the Army

Amidst rumors that Mubarak will finally "step down," it is important to realize that the removal of an aged dictator who has already appointed his clone to replace him is no victory. It is certainly not defeat, and the protesters did an impressive job of behaving with vastly more legality and decency than did the regime, including the army with its illegal arrests and torture of opponents and innocents alike and its repulsive non-action while Mubarak's goons attacked the people. Nevertheless, the vicious Egyptian security state remains astride the population, for the good of U.S. empire, Israeli mini-empire, and its own greed.

The significance of Mubarak's removal is the degree to which it is perceived by Egyptians--and the rest of the Muslim world--who are not yet in the streets as evidence that victory for democracy, civil rights, and a government based on law with the consent of the governed is now possible. Mubarak's removal would not be victory, but it might well provide the protesters with a winning hand.

That winning hand, in turn, could lead to the emergence of a new type of Muslim politics. Given the sophistication of the Egyptian and Tunisian transformations, a genuinely innovative combination of Arab nationalism, Islam, and Western civil rights just might be in the process of emerging and taking power in the Arab world. Precedents already exist in Indonesia, Lebanon, Turkey, and Pakistan, but moderates have almost always been on the defensive, pinned between the Scylla of imperial extremism and the Charybdis of Islamic extremism. The removal of Mubarak would be a big step in the direction of a most welcome combination of Arab moderation and justice, but that victory remains far from assured as the world awaits the decision of the Egyptian military high command.

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