I must note that per the New York Times, the memo appears to have gone out that Mubrak no longer has US support, but that is a very long way from saying that the US is in favor of uncontrolled outcomes, despite the sudden adoption of “pro democracy” spin:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition to meet the democratic and economic needs of the people” in Egypt, stopping short of asking its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to resign, but laying the groundwork for his departure.
Mrs. Clinton, making a round of Sunday talk shows, said Mr. Mubarak’s future was up to the Egyptian people. But she said on “State of the Union” on CNN that the United States stood “ready to help with the kind of transition that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.”
Speaking more bluntly than administration officials have so far, Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Mubarak’s appointment of a vice president was only the “bare beginning” of a process that must include a government dialogue with the protesters and “free, fair, and credible” elections, scheduled for September.
I’d love to have overheard the call with Netanyahu.
This little piece strikes me as a tad closer to the truth:
Given the fact that our little policy of backing dictators that are willing to bend to our interests has just backfired in a rather serious way, one might think a fundamental reassessment might be in order. As former CIA director Emile Nakhleh writes in the Financial Times:
The possible toppling of the regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, following unprecedented street protests, will be as dramatic for US policy as the removal of the Shah of Iran over three decades ago. US policymakers were caught just as off guard in 1978 as they were last week. The question of “who lost Iran” that bedevilled US policy and intelligence leaders must now be crackling again in the air as those sitting in Washington watch Cairo burn. They were not prepared for the chaos following the Shah’s collapse, and they are not prepared for what may follow Mr Mubarak today…
The problems that faced the US since the ayatollahs took power in Iran could quickly be repeated in post-Mubarak Egypt. When Tunisia’s dictator was ousted three weeks ago, Washington and other western capitals did not believe the scenario could be replicated in Egypt, for the same tired arguments: the state is too strong, the security services are in full control, and the army is loyal to the ruler. A variant of this argument says that secular elites, frightened of Islamists, would not rise up against a fellow “secular” regime. Or even more condescendingly: the Egyptian people are apathetic and afraid….
Failure to anticipate the intensity, size and persistence of these anti-Mubarak protests show that US policymakers have ignored the social and economic realities. They have been lulled by a pro-stability narrative that has been spun out by Mr Mubarak and other Arab autocrats. Unfortunately for Cairo and Washington, the street is saying the game is up.
Before I left the US government four years ago, my colleagues and I on numerous occasions briefed policymakers on Egypt’s dire economic and social conditions. If those conditions were not addressed, we argued, the “Arab street” would boil over. We said the tipping point would occur when different segments of the population – notably secular and religious – coalesced against the regime. Yet when our policymakers expressed concern to Mr Mubarak and other autocrats, they were told: “Don’t worry about it, we have it under control.” No longer fighting foreign wars, their militaries and security services were trained against their peoples.
So the uprising was not a “whocouldanode”; the powers that be were warned, but changing course no doubt looked inconvenient and costly. And while Nakhleh is hopeful that Obama will live up to his promises of a “new beginning” in Cairo, those of us who have seen his “change” bait and switch at close range know better.