It is unbelievable that Obama has been so mealy mouthed over Egypt. He has $1.3 billion a year leverage with the Egyptian army, which means that he could pick up the phone and politely inform them that either they give Mubarak the push, or participate in an austerity budget of their very own.
Obama and Hilary Clinton are not well served by the State Department, which ignored clear warnings that Egypt was going to blow, from the respected, Working Group on Egypt.
It is obvious that the Adminstration chooses to prioritise their need to have a dictator who serves their Middle East strategy over the raw uncertainties of democracy. This need is so strong that it causes them to blank the warnings of the Working Group, and to be blind to the obvious fact that their man, and his regime, is history.
It is fear of the Muslim Brotherhood, that drives their policy. This despite the fact that US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday that Egypt’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood movement was "a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam."
In failing to support democracy, the Administration makes it more likely that a few frustrated youth will turn to militant Islam if Mubarak's regime crushes the protest. Already they are arresting and torturing many of them.
The State Department is clinging to a dead strategy. as we learned a few days ago, Israel has been unyielding in its negotiations. Wikileaks show that the Palestinian Authority was offering huge concessions to Israel, without any reciprocity from the Israelis.
A democratic Egypt, with a less complaisant attitude towards Israel's position, would re-balance negotiations and would offer a chance of a meaningful progress towards a just peace. In this climate,
Israel would no longer be able to carry out
Right wing ideologues identify the Muslim Brotherhood with Islamic extremism. They see Egypt as the new Iran, despite the manifest difference, in that in Iran Ayatollah Khomeni was handed Iran on a plate. In Egypt, the MB is one party among a secular democratic movement. True, the MB is better organised, but if the secular revolutionaries maintain their unity, they will take a majority of seats.
In essence, the position of right wing ideologues requires that any nation with a significant Muslim population should be denied democracy. Muslims, in their view, must be ruled by a pro-western dictator, no matter how ugly, because they cannot tolerate that Muslims should elect a Muslim party.
They see the world in absolutes - any Muslim political party means Al Qaeda. There is no shading, no continuum between moderate and extreme.
This is the mindset of the policy wonks in the State Department who missed the Working Group's warnings, and are now desperately trying to preserve some continuation of the Mubarak regime.
The sobering conclusion is that the US Government, which of course includes the UK Government, both value "stability" over democracy.
It is very sad. And very worrying.