The current struggle being waged by the Egyptians is a wonderful example of a people finally finding the will and determination to be free. It is not as Glen (the sky is falling) Beck and others think the beginning of a fundamentalist uprising to implement Sharia Law on a global basis. It would seem to me that both sides of the aisle and the administration should have already come down on the side of the people of Egypt if only because what they are demonstrating for is closely aligned with the principals and values our nation was founded on.
Despite the fact that we have supported a dictator for thirty some years in the mistaken belief that there would never be any consequences to our turning our backs on our professed values and engaging in blackmail as a way to keep Egypt out of conflict with Israel we owe it to the Egyptian people and our own founders to support their desire for freedom and a democratic form of government. We either believe in democracy for all or we don’t really believe in it at all.
The second sentence in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence says “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the very next sentence it says governments are instituted among men to secure those rights and that they obtain their just powers from the consent of the governed. We either still believe that or we don’t. You can’t qualify those principals or change them for some one way and for others another way.
So if we really believe that “all men are created equal” there should be no discussion about whether or not we support the Egyptian people in what they are so courageously trying to do, win their freedom. In a lot of our nation building efforts around the world our government has talked about setting people free. Bush proclaimed Iraq free after he invaded it and said that even though no WMD were found the gift of freedom we gave the Iraqi people was worth the cost in lives, money and material. It is still an open question in my mind if Iraq will remain free after we pull out all combat troops and the Iraqi people become responsible for their own freedom and each other.
Freedom is not a gift you can bestow on someone who has not evolved intellectually and morally to the point where they are willing to die for it. It sounds like a cliché but freedom is not free. It requires “a willingness to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty” to quote from the inaugural address of John F Kennedy. The Iraqis have so far not shown that they are ready for freedom but the tens of thousands of Egyptians that have lived in Tahrir Square in Cairo for the last two weeks surely have convinced me that they are.
President Obama today gave his most forceful endorsement yet to the Egyptian people and called for the Egyptian government to give meaningful and concrete answers leading to free and fair elections and democracy. There are to be sure practical considerations to consider in how we respond to this situation but not supporting these people in their quest for their god given rights is not an option that would leave us with any credibility or honor.
Should they be successful and they will be eventually their success will help to enlighten those who are denied their liberty and freedom by their repressive regimes and governments. Should the Egyptian government resort to a violent repression of the people in the streets they will only postpone the inevitable. The cauldron of freedom is boiling in Cairo and it will surely boil over if they create more martyrs and try to delay the changes the people are demanding. A civil war is not only possible it is probable if the authorities don’t agree to the righteous demands of the people.
Hopefully that won’t happen and there will be a peaceful transfer of power to a more democratic form of government willing to respond to the just demands of the governed.