As the events swirl barely under control in Egypt there is both excitement and danger for all involved. We hope for the best for the Egyptian people but we fear the worst in another out of control Islamic state bent on mischief and mayhem in the name of Allah.
The danger for Egyptians is that there is not much of a foundation for true democratic government after a half century of military rule after Nasser and the Colonels overthrew the monarchy. But what started in Tunisia is spreading to Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan and the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Syria are hiding out and Iran is both thrilled and terrified.
The best outcome is that the demand for freedom, the rule of law and fair, democratic elections will be realized and the people will act responsibly not tolerating a new batch of dictators to replace the ones run out. We recognize it is asking a lot, but we must pray for Egypt and for its best interests.
Change is coming to the Middle East. Why the world’s best intelligence services did not see it coming is a good question President Obama and other leaders should be asking. The president missed his golden opportunity to stand up and support the people of Iran as they demonstrated in the streets and he seems to have learned from that mistake by his steady pressure for change in Egypt. Keep it up. The longer Mubarak hangs on the more trouble it causes without changing the outcome—his time is over.
But it is not Egypt where the battle for the Middle East will be fought—it’s Lebanon. and now is the time to serve notice that Hezbollah will not be permitted to take over Lebanon nor deny the Levant its freedom while the rest of the Middle East celebrates.
And so in this time of danger there is also opportunity. Syrian also has a choice to make Iran and Hezbollah or the rest of the world. And if we are lucky surrounded by democracy unwilling to be returned to bondage.
America has depended upon dictators to keep the lid on Islamic radicals and Palestinian terrorists, but sometimes at the expense of our real strategic values and interest. But if we believe in redemption we will stand up for the legitimate democratic aspirations of the people of the Middle East and offer our help anyway we can. But we must also say this honestly and clearly—and mean it.
America strategic interest is in a secure, free and responsible Middle East that participates fully in the world community of nations. Nations that respect their neighbors, respect their people and act honorably will be embraced and supported. But just as we did not tolerate threats to our strategic interests and our allies in the region from the old dictators we will not tolerate them from new regimes either.
As for Iran the message is clear—your time is running out and the whole world is watching the legitimate democratic aspirations of your neighbors emerging from bondage and fear. Be afraid, be very afraid—everywhere you look the people of Iran are wearing green and they too will not be denied.