The first, unfolding now across the Middle East, primarily in Egypt, where 30 years of brutal, despotic rule have finally pushed the people too far. Nearly a week ago, Egyptians began pouring into the street, demanding a greater voice in how they were governed, greater economic opportunity, and far more respect for their human rights. This movement originally was spontaneous, borne out of a similar movement in neighboring Tunisia that resulted in the relatively peaceful removal of their longstanding dictator. The revolt in Egypt has since taken a dark turn, with the Islamist forces of the fearsome Muslim Brotherhood laying in wait while joining up with Iranian patsy Mohammed al-Baradei to look like they’re a reasonable governing partner. If the MB assumes power in any way, the people of Egypt will be consigned to the perpetual darkness of Islamist rule.
Team Obama flails. Like the majority of Egyptian protesters (who do not want an Islamist government), they grasp in the descending darkness. They are torn between our interests (having a stable regime with good ties to the U.S. and a continuing respect for the peace agreement with Israel) and our values (having a free Egypt with full and fair elections, a thriving free market economy, and a full respect for human rights.) Barack is literally between a Barack and a hard place.
The Egyptian people are trying to skake off three decades of iron fist governance. There has been violence. There has been looting. There has been brutality and imprisonment and death. This is what happens when dictatorships fall. But what replaces it might be much, much worse. In 1979, the Iranian people had similar complaints about the Shah. They revolted, and President Carter stood back, betrayed our American ally, the Shah, and thought he could manage the ascent of the Islamists. He was wrong.
The moment is dangerous. This could go any possible way, but the immediate future looks to be more volatile.
Contrast what we’re seeing in Egypt with what we’ve seen in the United States over the past two years. Unprecedented spending has led to record $1.5 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see, a national debt that has been increased by nearly $5 trillion, the undemocratic passage of ObamaCare, a massive new entitlement that the clear majority of Americans did not want and knows we can’t afford, bailouts, wasteful “stimuli”, and an overall cavalier disregard for the will of the people. Like the Egyptian people, the American people took to the streets when they were being abused by their leadership. Unlike the Egyptians, Americans did it peacefully, through the Constitutionally guaranteed processes of peaceful assembly and expression. We have also done it peacefully at the ballot box, removing the abusive party and replacing it with the party we hope will respect our wishes and bring the country’s public finances under control. We have also done it peacefully through the judicial process, filing lawsuits against the most egregious abuse, ObamaCare. Today, another federal judge, Roger Vinson in Florida, ruled that “because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void.”
Because we have a durable Constitution that provides for individual liberty, a limited government, and guaranteed protected avenues for the redress of grievances, we do not have blood in the streets or brutality inflicted on the people in the name of the regime.
The people of Egypt may want to get there. But they have a long way to go, and they’re going to have to steer around the evil, atavistic forces of Islamism and tyranny to achieve it. It took us years and a revolutionary war to break free of the tyranny that oppressed us, and it took decades for those behind the Iron Curtain to do the same. It will not be easy, and it could fail.
As the Beatles put it: “You say you want a revolution/Well, you know/We all want to change the world…”
We went through a violent revolution in order to establish a system in which the rule of law–and not of men—was the law of the land. The Egyptians are going through their own revolution. They are changing the world. But the question remains: which way will it go?
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