15 February 2011
This will disappoint leftists and true liberals (see The Other "L-Word") who want to believe that the people's love of liberty incites them to rise spontaneously against oppression, but what just happened in Egypt was not a "democratic revolution." People who hail it as such might be surprised to learn that Egypt has been considered a republic for decades, and that during Mubarak's three decades in authority, presidential confirmation referendums (1987, 1993, 1999) and then presidential elections (2005 and that which, before the demonstrations erupted, had been scheduled for this September) have taken place every six years. Furthermore, isn't it rather odd that the news of Mubarak's resignation came only a day or so after his announcement that he would not leave office before his current term expired? It seems most logical to me that what has really happened is the following.
Ambitious parties like the Muslim Brotherhood (the assassins of Mubarak's predecessor) and Mohamed ElBaradei (who says that the former "has nothing to do with extremism" and that he has been "reaching out to them") fomented unrest, with help from Google, not to bring freedom to Egypt but to effect the fall of Mubarak in advance of the coming elections, for he might otherwise have done what he did just prior to the 1995 parliamentary elections: have many members of the Brotherhood arrested on the charge of aiding Islamist radicals. (What else explains the protestors' failure to be pacified by Mubarak's announcement that he would not run for another term as president, and their further demand that he step down from his position only months ahead of schedule?) The army, wanting an end to the chaos in their country, but not wanting either to use violence against their own people or to shame an old officer like Mubarak by publicly deposing him, assumed control of his government but put out the cover story that he had voluntarily relinquished the reins thereof.
Now that I've told you what likely has happened, I'll tell you what likely will happen: Islamists will gain supreme power. Whichever particular group does so may accomplish this through free and fair elections, but will that be consolation to those who will subsequently see that the world was better off when Egypt was under Mubarak? As I recall, it was "democratically" that the likes of Hitler, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Putin, Arafat, Mugabe, Aristide, and the Hamas attained the highest offices in their respective lands. Egypt's coup d'état is over; her revolution is still on the way. If only that country were still a protectorate of the UK!